Nalivka: Cattle And Climate Change


By John Nalivka, Drovers    

February 19, 2021


We spend a great deal of time analyzing the cattle cycle and the factors that impact the decisions to build or cull down cattle herds in the U.S. I always preface my comments with regard to the cattle cycle that it抯 all about forage availability and making or losing money in the cow-calf business.  The cow-calf operation is where it all begins and numerous events, anticipated or unforeseen, short term or long term, can and will occur to change the status quo.


Just over the past 12 months, we have dealt with COVID, severe winter weather, and second-guessing China buying in U.S. commodity markets.  Those three factors alone are enough to keep any market economist busy.  However, this current situation is short term and almost minor when looking at another event that could have much greater impact on beef production ?the focus on climate change and cattle.


I will get right to the point.   After reading Bill Gate抯 interview in MIT Technology Review concerning 搒ynthetic beef,?if my business was raising cattle and producing beef, I think that I would become more than a little concerned about the longevity of my business. To quote Gates in this article, 揑 do think all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef.  You can get used to the taste difference, and the claim is they抮e going to make it taste even better over time?  Further he commented, 揺ventually, that green premium is modest enough that you can sort of change the [behavior of] people or use regulation to totally shift the demand.?


Gates does concede that U.S. beef production is highly efficient so carbon emissions are less per pound of beef produced which is not the case in developing countries.  We tout that single true statement with 搆eep up the good work!?nbsp; Gates follows that true statement with rich countries should move toward 100% synthetic meat.  So, if you are efficient at producing food and helping to feed the world, then you shouldn抰 do it anymore?  I am confused...





Bill Gates: Rich nations should shift entirely to synthetic beef

In his new book, 揌ow to Avoid a Climate Disaster,?the Microsoft cofounder lays out the tech breakthroughs and sweeping policies we抣l need to take on global warming.


by James Temple, MIT Technology Review

February 14, 2021


In his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates lays out what it will really take to eliminate the greenhouse-gas emissions driving climate change.


The Microsoft cofounder, who is now cochair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and chair of the investment fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures, sticks to his past argument that we抣l need numerous energy breakthroughs to have any hope of cleaning up all parts of the economy and the poorest parts of the world. The bulk of the book surveys the technologies needed to slash emissions in 揾ard to solve?sectors like steel, cement, and agriculture.


He stresses that innovation will make it cheaper and more politically feasible for every nation to cut or prevent emissions. But Gates also answers some of the criticisms that his climate prescriptions have been overly focused on 揺nergy miracles?at the expensive of aggressive government policies.


The closing chapters of the book lay out long lists of ways that nations could accelerate the shift, including high carbon prices, clean electricity standards, clean fuel standards, and far more funding for research and development. Gates calls for governments to quintuple their annual investments in clean tech, which would add up to $35 billion in the US.


Gates describes himself as an optimist, but it抯 a constrained type of optimism. He dedicates an entire chapter to describing just how hard a problem climate change is to address. And while he consistently says we can develop the necessary technology and we can avoid a disaster; it抯 less clear how hopeful he is that we will.


I spoke to Gates in December about his new book, the limits of his optimism, and how his thinking on climate change has evolved.


Gates is an investor either personally or through Breakthrough Energy Ventures in several of the companies he mentions below, including Beyond Meats, Carbon Engineering, Impossible Foods, Memphis Meats, and Pivot Bio. This interview has been edited for space and clarity?/span>


Q: In the book you cover a broad array of hard-to-solve sectors. The one I still have the hardest time with, in terms of fully addressing it, is food. The scale is massive. We抳e barely begun. We fundamentally don抰 have replacements that completely eliminate the highly potent emissions from burping livestock and fertilizer. How hopeful are you about agriculture? ...


Q: Do you think plant-based and lab-grown meats could be the full solution to the protein problem globally, even in poor nations? Or do you think it抯 going to be some fraction because of the things you抮e talking about, the cultural love of a hamburger and the way livestock is so central to economies around the world? ...


Q: You talk a lot in the book about the importance of carbon-removal technologies, like direct air capture. You also did come out and say that planting trees as a climate solution is overblown. What抯 your reaction to things like the Trillion Trees Initiative and the large number of corporations announcing plans to achieve negative emissions at least in part through reforestation and offsets? ...


Q: I do have to ask this: Microsoft is in the process of trying to eliminate its entire historic emissions, and there was a Bloomberg article that had a figure in there that I was a little surprised by. The company apparently wants to do it at $20 a ton? Do you think we can achieve reliable permanent carbon removal for $20 a ton eventually? ...


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