Forecasting as a Tool to Effectively Communicate Pressing Information: A Look Into Meat Consumption, Climate Change, and Alternative Food Networks

Information Theory (Winter 2020)

by Rakan Albarghouty and Kyle Walker

It is estimated that cattle are responsible for about 65% of the livestock sector’s emissions, which, worldwide, is responsible for between 14.5 percent and 18 percent of the total annual human-driven greenhouse gas emissions. [1] At the same time, global meat production is projected to be 16 percent higher in 2025 than in the base period (2013-15). [2] Not only does the current system raise disconcerting ethical questions on animal treatment, resource use, and public health – afterall, high meat consumption is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and several cancers, but it is also highly unsustainable and is a leading greenhouse gas emitter. [3]

To help fight climate change and improve public health, it is clear that there needs to be a drastic change in our meat consumption behaviour. This change can be manifested globally by cutting down total meat consumption, replacing meat with alternatives like plant-based proteins and alternative meats, and/or transitioning to alternative, sustainable food systems. All three of the aforementioned approaches must happen simultaneously to communicate a clear, action-driven message: the world needs much less traditional meat production. Behaviours that limit the success of the meat industry’s business model today must be practiced by both the public and industry leaders themselves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our project seeks to find ways in which forecasting can be used to effectively disseminate vital information to consumers.

Please find an attached copy of our full report here.