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Let's Talk About Ranching

An honest conversation about the future of beef production
We know eating less meat has huge climate benefits. If every American replaced four of every ten meals containing beef with chicken or pork, it would reduce US agricultural emissions by about 20%.

But achieving those levels of reduction means the beef industry suffers — there is no plausible way around that fact. This presents a dicey political prospect given the prominent place of the livestock industry in the American food system and cultural landscape.

An honest conversation about the future of beef production demands similar honesty about harm to ranchers and other beef producers, as well as changes to American geographic and cultural landscapes. That conversation will be long and we should not pretend that it will be easy.
Unavoidable trade-offs >>>
Alex Smith on a just transition for the cattle industry

What surprised me about researching the cattle industry and transitions?

Really, I was most surprised by the lack of conversations on the economic impacts of reducetarian claims against beef. While it’s commonplace to hear environmental arguments against beef consumption, or people citing GHG emissions for their own vegetarianism or veganism, there is very little talk about what would happen to the workers, producers, and other parties who rely on the industry. This is especially surprising when seen against the focus on transition work, clean jobs, and economic prosperity and equality in environmental movements like the Green New Deal. It is clear, though, that in order for any environmental program to be politically expedient and practically effective, it must also engage with the economic and social consequences that follow. 

Announcing the 2020 Paradigm Award Winner
It is our honor to present Steve Rayner with the 2020 Paradigm Award. 

It has long been a rule of thumb at the Breakthrough Institute that if something is worth saying about climate change, Steve Rayner said it 25 years ago. Rayner argued that more and better climate science would not reduce the uncertainties associated with climate mitigation, that this is centrally a technology and innovation challenge, that the impacts of natural disasters had more to do with infrastructure than intensity of the phenomena.

Rayner was one of the first Breakthrough Senior Fellows, a great champion of Breakthrough’s work and an even greater influence upon it. Read more about him, the Award, and our upcoming Dialogue here.
Steve Rayner Knew >>>
📚This is what we're reading this week 📚
"The power-market rules, the bureaucratic hurdles — those were all created by governments. In the end, whether America can be repowered with green technologies in a decade, or even two, comes back to politics."

A new startup has developed a tool that monitors the fruit on a biological level, making it possible to predict how much time it has on the market before it goes bad.

The battle over California's eucalyptus trees, explained in comic form.
Correction: last week, we wrote that without greater agricultural efficiency gains, we risk expanding agriculture's global footprint by 3.3 hectares by 2050. Whoops! As much as we wish that were true, we meant to say 3.3 billion hectares.
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