Filed under: Food + Health | Tags: agriculture, beef, carbon dioxide, cattle, cow, emissions, fart, global warming, Kansas, Lauren Keith, meat, methane, sustainable, vegetarian
Art by Lydia Marano, flickr.com
Carbon dioxide soaks up the limelight as the big bad wolf of global warming, but its partner-in-carbon-crime, methane, might huff and puff and build up in our atmosphere first.
A large source of atmospheric methane is from the world’s cattle.
Every day, one cow farts and burps 240 liters of methane. That’s 120 two-liter bottles filled with silent-but-deadlies multiplied by the world’s 1.3 billion cattle.
It’s the most inconvenient truth of all, Al Gore: Eating steaks and hamburgers is killing the planet (among other things).
Not once in his 96-minute presentation did Gore mention methane. But methane is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and emissions have increased by 240 percent since 1994, when carbon dioxide has increased only 30 percent in the same time.
Scientists are attempting to correct the problem by altering the bacteria in the cow’s stomach. But we are failing to address the real problem: our increasing consumption of meat.
Not to toot my own horn, but becoming a vegetarian is a more sustainable lifestyle. I wouldn’t dare suggest that everyone become a vegetarian, but saving meat for certain occasions may save the planet. All food can be made with meat substitutes or without meat.
Feedlots, especially in western Kansas, forget that global warming will hurt them from rising temperatures but no extra rainfall. Warmer temperatures will force them to pull water from the already water-stressed aquifer.
Global warming is playing its own version of natural selection by changing the types of plants found in Kansas. Plants resistant to droughts survive while native species die. If grazing animals refuse to eat these new plants, companies would move north to find suitable plants again, taking a devastating portion of Kansas’ $7.3 billion agriculture industry with it. (PDF)
Eliminating beef from your diet may seem a little un-Kansan, but making up for that by eating locally grown produce should keep farmers in business.
Whatever the solution, we can’t keep farting around with such a serious problem.
Cows, cows, the musical food. The more you eat, the more we’re screwed.
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