Saturday, September 11, 2010


January 2003

Dear Mr. Monbiot,
I am all for Vegan diets, but I think we may be doing more damage to the cause than good by engaging in hyperbole. Specifically:
"Every kilogram of beef we consume, according to research by the agronomists David Pimental and Robert Goodland, requires around 100,000 litres of water."
I am not familiar with these gentleman, but this figure presented is meaningless in any practical sense. Consider: the United states produced approximately 26.1 billion pounds of beef in 2001. At 100,000 liters of water per kilo, that would have the U.S. beef industry alone using over 1.1 quadrillion liters of water per year. This is not realistic or even possible as an estimation of water usage by the industry.
Please consider adding some kind of caveat or qualifier to the statement, such as 'It can take as much as...", though it may still be difficult to find any actual production that could reach this 100,000 liters per kilogram figure.

Thanks and best regards,
Karl Smith

His answer:
this is water used and not returned to the aquifer or rainclouds (ie runs off). Includes rainwater. what they were measuring was the total which becomes unavailable for future use

I replied:
Mr Monbiot,
If you are unfamiliar with mathematics of scale, just say so and I will not trouble you further. The implied annual water consumption is equivalent to the entire flow of the Mississippi river for 2 years and 8 months. There is simply not that much water available in one year to the U.S. beef industry or any other.
The last several years have seen a backlash to the environmental movement, and it is mistakes such as this that are fueling the negative reaction. There are plenty of valid reasons to advocate lower meat consumption worldwide. Fabrications will ultimately do the cause more harm than good.
Best regards,

His final answer:

check out the paper Karl: the guys work for the World Bank!

September 2010:

"I should have listened to Chaon"


mike said...

Vintage Moonbat! Thanks for sharing.

Robin said...

I linked to this from Debunkers.

Vader said...

Why is it that some grown men never learn to do basic arithmetic?

Anonymous said...


Why didn't you tell us you had a blog?

So lazy.


Karl said...

Credit where credit is due, guys. Anyone can be spectacularly wrong about something.* But not many can do the honorable thing and publicly admit it.

*Ask me sometime about the freedom and democracy domino-effect that was going to occur in the middle-east as a result of the Iraq invasion.