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Author

Vox

Grades

6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects

Science, Earth and Space Sciences

Resource Type

  • Video, 4 minutes, 37 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus

Global

Format

YouTube Video

Why Beef Is the Worst Food for the Climate

Synopsis
  • This short video discusses greenhouse gas emissions related to common foods in the human diet, explaining why some foods have a greater climate impact than others. 
  • It explains how land use changes, enteric fermentation, farming processes, and distribution can all lead to greenhouse gas emissions. 
  • The video leads the viewer to consider how changing their food choices could help reduce emissions. 
Teaching Tips

Positives

  • This video uses a simple bar graph to help students visually compare the emissions associated with different foods.
  • This video is a great way to introduce how consumer choice can influence climate change.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be able to read bar graphs.
  • Students should already be familiar with the greenhouse effect, types of greenhouse gases, their differing capacity to trap heat, and sources of these emissions.

Differentiation

  • Teachers can pause the video to check that students understand how each bar of the graph is broken up into different parts (land use changes, farming process, distribution, and animal feed).  Classes can discuss ways that food products differ in their proportion of each of the categories.
  • Teachers may need to pause the video to further clarify the concept of enteric fermentation.
  • Students can create a visual representation of the explanation for why beef is one of the worst foods for greenhouse gas emissions.
  • For further engagement, students can research the greenhouse gas emissions of their favorite foods using the Environmental Impacts of Food Data Explorer.
  • Cross-curricular connections can be made with health classes by having students identify foods that are both good for your body and the climate.
  • Additional resources that may be helpful include the and video How to Change your Diet to Fight Climate Change and the lesson The Carbon Footprint of Food.
Scientist Notes
It is an objective fact that the production of beef is harmful to the climate. This Vox video explores how this is true and why there is such a disparity between carbon emissions for beef production and other forms of food. This resource is recommended for teaching.
Standards
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
      • MS-ESS3-4 Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth's systems.
      • MS-ESS3-5 Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
      • HS-ESS3-3 Create a computational simulation to illustrate the relationships among management of natural resources, the sustainability of human populations, and biodiversity.
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