Monday, August 10, 2009

Cow farts cause global warming!!!

An oft-repeated statement in the last few years has been that cows (or more accurately, their methane, um, "excretions") contribute some ludicrous amount of carbon to what is typically now referred to as climate change. This is typically done, it seems, to shame us meat-eaters into changing our carnivorous ways and joining the soy-munching brigade at a vegetarian love-fest.

Except, as this article points out, that is a load of, well, cow crap. A typical grass-fed cow is not in any way pulling carbon out of the deep earth - it's performing what is typically called the short-term carbon cycle. Basically, plants take in CO2 and store it as sugars and starches, cows eat the plants, break down the sugars and starches, and release some (but not all) of the same CO2 back into the atmosphere. Livestock can't create new carbon atoms at will - that requires fusion, something that only occurs in that giant blazing ball of fire we call the "sun". Our meat-on-the-hoof is only re-releasing carbon that has already been in the atmosphere quite recently.

The article also points out something that the anti-meat brigade often omits when talking about how much land is required for farming plants versus animals - there's an awful lot of land out there that is useless for growing industrial crops, but is just perfect for our four-legged friends to roam and eat and grow big and fat and succulent. Sorry, I was drooling for a second there.

Anyway, my point (and I do have one, honestly) is that if you're eating locally-sourced, grass-fed, free-range beef (or other such animals), and somebody tries to tell you that you're contributing to the death of the planet, just try to refrain from whacking them with a club, no matter how much it might seem like the "caveman thing to do".

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