Which is worse for biodiversity, a dollar of beef or gasoline?

ConsumerismWhich produces more climate change, consumption of gasoline or beef? We have a good idea about the answer to this question.  But now ask, which displaces more biodiversity?  We have no idea–until now.  Just today our article on biodiversity impacts of economic consumption was released in Conservation Letters.  Spearheaded by Justin Kitzes and chaperoned by John Harte, this analysis considers all the direct and indirect impacts of consumption across the entire world economic system.  For example, agriculture directly displaces biodiversity, but so does the insurance industry by its need for paper, transportation, energy, and so on.  Personally, I am surprised by the impact of eating rice versus, say, buying paper–the Earth would be much better if we could digest the latter!

Kitzes, J., Berlow, E., Conlisk, E., Erb, K., Iha, K., Martinez, N., Newman, E.A., Plutzar, C., Smith, A.B., and Harte, J.  In press.  Consumption-based conservation targeting: Linking biodiversity loss to upstream demand through a global wildlife footprint.  Conservation Letters.

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