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New study claims white people's diets disproportionally contribute to climate change


'It's very clear that whites are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gases emitted...'

Cate Gillon/Getty Images

If you're white, then your dining choices contribute to climate change more than the diets of any other ethnic groups, a new study boldly declares.

What are the details?

The study, released last week in the Journal of Industrial Ecology, determined the diet of typical Caucasian Americans includes a greater variety of foods than African-American and Hispanic diets, therefore requiring the use of more land and water, which leads to greater greenhouse gas emissions.

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In the study, white Americans' eating patterns had the highest per capita greenhouse gas and water impacts of any demographic group due to their consumption of "environmentally intense food items" such as potatoes, beef, apples, and milk. Black Americans' diets had the highest per capita land impact "due to their consumption of land‐intense food items in the fruit and 'protein foods' food groups," but had the lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions of the three groups examined.

"The food pipeline – which includes its production, distribution and waste – contributes significantly to climate change through the production of greenhouse gases and requires significant amounts of water and land, which also has environmental effects," Joe Bozeman, a student in the University of Illinois who co-authored the study, said.

However, the differences between each demographic group were not significant.

In fact, data provided by the Environmental Protection Agency and National Institutes of Health, which included more than 500 foods and water, found that white people produce, on average, 680 kilogram of CO2 each year. By comparison, Hispanics produce 640 kilograms and African-Americans produce 600 kilograms.

The diets of each community required more than 300,000 liters of water per year, the study found.

"While the difference may not be enormous, these numbers are per individual, and when you add up all those individuals, it's very clear that whites are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gases emitted as a result of their food choices," Bozeman declared.

The study comes just weeks after a separate study claimed that white people disproportionally produce air pollution.

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