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Professor Richard York publishes new article in Nature Sustainability

Congratulations to Dr. Richard York on the publication of his article, “Poultry and fish and aquatic invertebrates have not displaced other meat sources,” in the high-impact journal Nature Sustainability! In this paper, Dr. York identifies an empirical puzzle of global environmental consequence regarding the production and consumption of animal meats and applies the “displacement paradox” – a concept he identified with energy use nearly a decade ago – to this puzzle of meat consumption. The Academic Times describes Dr. York’s analysis in their recent write-up:

Chicken, fish and aquatic invertebrate foods such as mussels and scallops produce relatively less carbon and are relatively less resource-intensive in the food production system than beef, mutton, goat, buffalo, and pork. But even though the consumption of pigs, fish and aquatic invertebrates doubled over the study period, and chicken consumption increased fivefold, other meat consumption remained steady. “Consumption,” notably, means foods produced and sold for human food, and thus include the 17% of food the U.N. says is wasted. Notably, food waste also drives the climate crisis.

In his statistical analysis, York said he measured consumption per capita, “so we take care of population growth, which will of course lead to more food consumption. I control for gross domestic product, affluence – you know, people get richer, they change their diet – urbanization. I control for a variety of things, and then I look at, if you have a rise in poultry consumption in nations, does that have an effect on how much consumption of other meat is happening? The finding is, it doesn’t.”

These results are sure to stimulate ongoing research and public consideration. If you would like to read more about this engaging and important work, check out Dr. York’s Behind the Paper piece with Springer Nature.