Cows Make Things Warm and Cosy

It was only a matter of time: The ethical vegetarian/global warming alliance has turned on third world cows:

Selectively using mining data from a report from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), they argued that livestock fart. Their methane and carbon dioxide contributes to 15% of global warming. Livestock apparently cause more damage than driving.

Carlos Seré, the Uruguayan who heads the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, is peeved at the suggestion that all cows are equally harmful. He pipes up in defense of the bovine residents of developing nations:

“Research tells us it would make little difference to global warming if we somehow removed all the livestock in, say, sub- Saharan Africa,’’ Seré responds to the campaign. “The impact on livelihoods there, however, would be catastrophic.”

“Before setting ourselves the task of ridding the world of animal flesh, we might try ridding it instead of unspeakable poverty, hunger and disease,’’ Seré points out.

More methane here and here.

A song about militant cows here:

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  • ||

    I love those horns.

  • Guy Montag||

    This is just silly. All of the informed people know that DHMO is the greatest contributing chemical to Global Warming.

    However, the effects of Dihydrogen Monoxide could, theoretically, be reduced through the use of unobtainium, if only the unobtainium were not being hoarded.

  • ||

    Why do environmentalists always exempt the developing world from all of their schemes? China and India don't have to cut their emissions in the Kyoto Plan. And according to the vegan/environmentalists, they can keep their livestock, too. But the developed world has to give up both?

  • ||

    I like the part where there isn't any evidence, or even argument, offered to rebutt the "selectively mined" thesis that the methand and CO2 from cattle contributes to global warming.

    Knowing a little bit about the subject, I'll point out that cows fart a lot more methane when they are raised on a corn-feed-based diet (as they are in the West) than on a browsing/grass-based diet, as they are in Nigeria.

  • ||

    Yeah I encountered that song a few years ago; I found it very amusing.

  • ||

    Unobtainium is being hoarded for the space elevator, silly.

  • Guy Montag||

    Alternatively, indestructium has been suggested as an alternative to unobtainium. The jury is still out on that one.

  • Thinking Like Joe||

    There's little evidence to counter the fact that humans contribute the most to global warming. Therefore, we need to cut the human population to 2 billion to save the planet.

  • Guy Montag||

    Therefore, we need to cut the human population to 2 billion to save the planet.

    Then why isn't there more support for the Scorched Earth Party?

  • Episiarch||

    Alternatively, indestructium has been suggested as an alternative to unobtainium. The jury is still out on that one.

    Maybe you are confusing these with weapons-grade balonium?

  • ||

    Just to make a slight correction here, while cows do of course fart some methane the greatest contribution comes from their burps.

    That is most of the methane is formed in the first stomach. When they regurgitate the cud they also expel the gas.

    The methane is produced as a by product when cellulose is converted into various nutrients.

    Every so often a cow is unable to expel the gas. The condition is painful and often fatal.

  • ||

    Making up argument for your opponents, and then disproving them, as an alternative to considering what the dissenters actually had to say, worked out so incredibly well during the Iraq War.

    Good one, "Thinking Like Joe." Now you get that warm fuzzy feeling of superiority. And really, that's what politics is all about.

  • ||

    Of course, speaking of cow farts is much more satisfying to those with a juvenile sense of homor (which I freely admit to having).

  • ||

    You could easily make a case for reducing world population to 1-2 billion. Unfortunately, nobody is volunteering to leave.

  • ||

    I've tried thinking like joe, but the whole liking the Red Sox thing nauseates me.

    I'm pretty sure joe's not looking to convert a substantial portion of the world population into Soylent Green. He's only foolish (sorry, joe), not maniacal. Not that there may not be a few people out there who'd like to purge Gaia of mankind altogether.

  • ||

    Anyone else notice the cow hero, referred to as "he" in that movie, had udders?

  • Episiarch||

    It's fascinating how the causes of global warming always seem to line up with somebody's hobby horse (cow). Whether it's those damn SUV's driven by bourgeois soccer moms from their McMansions or cows (meat is murder!--thank you Morrissey), somebody's pet peeve is always to blame.

    Curious, dat.

  • ||

    Although insisting that environmentalists all want to kill off billions of humans and have the rest live in unlit huts isn't actually what environmentalists advocate, if we pretend that it is, we can call them hypocrites for living in heated homes and living 21st century lifestyles!

  • ||

    ...the whole liking the Red Sox thing nauseates me.

    Well, I'm going back to the movie. I'd rather watch a hermaphroditic cow revolutionary than the Devil Rays.

  • ed||

    Leave it to joe to poo-poo the fart theory.
    Red Sox win one World Series in a century and their fans get all uppity.
    The end will surely be nigh if Cleveland wins it all.

  • ||

    Here's what I don't understand whenever environmentalists talk about methane... Methane levels inexplicably stopped increasing in 1998. (Don't believe me? Listen to NASA). While there are a few theories as to why methane concentrations leveled off (some of which were mentioned in that NASA story), scientists still don't have a good handle on what happened. So if you're concerned about global warming, shouldn't you worry about gases that contribute more than 15% of observed warming and whose concentrations ARE increasing? It just seems to me that if I were a hardcore environmentalist, I would pick a better battle.

    Oh, and "Cow Town" by They Might Be Giants is much better than the militant cow song.

  • jimmydageek||

    I don't know one person who doesn't find Red Sox fans incredibly obnoxious. Just saying...

  • Miggs||

    "Good one, "Thinking Like Joe." Now you get that warm fuzzy feeling of superiority. And really, that's what politics is all about."

    Wow, he really IS thinking like joe.

  • ||

    BakedPenguin,

    I'm a Braves fan, my man. Though I'll readily acknowledge a fondness for the hapless Rays. After all, I am a near native of the area. Hardly the Rays' fault that they (1) are new and (2) suck.

  • ||

    Red Sox fans have the same problem as the GOP.

    Having spent so many decades getting the short end of the stick, they developed the habits natural to those on the outs.

    What we/they haven't yet realized is that the same behaviors that look cute and plucky for the aggreived underdog come across as arrogant, petulant, and thuggish when perfomed by The Man.

  • ||

  • ||

    Man, libertarians never sound stupider than when they're attacking their favorite environmental strawmen.

    Newsflash guys: there is no "ethical vegetarian/global warming alliance". You've been tricked!

  • Libertexian||

    Eat more chiken' ! ! !

  • ||

    ed - hey, some of us have been uppity for a long time yet. Honestly, though, I could stand to see the Sox lose to Cleveland. Anyone but the Yankees.

    jimmydageek - Devil Rays fans have better reason to be affable. No one has to piss in a trough in Tropicana Field.

    Pro lib - yes, I know. Attacking the Rays is just easier, for obvious reasons, although the Sox and the Braves have reached a parity of WS titles for the past 50 years.

  • Russ 2000||

    Blame India!

  • Mike Laursen||

    Every so often a cow is unable to expel the gas. The condition is painful and often fatal.

    According to my dad, the quick-and-dirty Nebraska sandhills rancher's method for dealing with this condition was to poke a knife into the cow in just the right place. And stand well back before doing it.

  • argh!||

    how many times have these poor, poor, poor Red Sox made the Series or were at least contenders since the Eisenhower Adminstration?

    Yeah - the whole town is just a sad, pathetic loser convention when it comes to sports.

    so shaddup and why don't you join the whiny southern types who have the "south will rise again" stickers then snack heavily on fumunda chaez sandwiches while watching NASCAR and complaining that they dont get taken seriously.
    /rant

  • ||

    It's fascinating how the causes of global warming always seem to line up with somebody's hobby horse (cow). Whether it's those damn SUV's driven by bourgeois soccer moms from their McMansions or cows (meat is murder!--thank you Morrissey), somebody's pet peeve is always to blame.

    God knows I'd love to be able to blame global climate change on the way my girlfriend licks her fingers before turning the page of a book.

  • ||

    argh! - yeah, we're so sad. Almost as pathetic as the Chicago Cubs.

    But you can get a brat to console yourself, and then go look at the lovely lake.

  • violent_k||

    I always thought balonium was an alloy of unobtanium and expensitorium.

  • ed||

    Anyway, we're too close to the controversy now, but in about 15-20 years we'll be debating the 2020s "disaster of the decade" and remembering with some embarrassment at how gullible some of us were (again!) over the current non-catastrophe. Good times.

  • ||

    I still have nightmares about the Trough, BakedPenguin.

    What do you think they did with them

  • ||

    Episiarch,

    It's a good thing libertarians don't let their policy preferences influence their thinking about the severity and causes of global warming.

    Right, Mr. Bailey?

  • VM||

    See - it's not a source of pride - and check out the Phillies, White Sox, Indians, etc. They're not proud to have the EMO team.

    That's a difference.

    When was the last time Cleveland won a championship in anything? (something like 1965, the year before the Super Bowl, the Browns won the NFL championship). I don't remember whining about "curses" and stuff.

    So Boston fans calm down and decide: It's either a loser town in sports, or not. You guys decide.

    Which way?

    You want to portray yourselves as these sad, sad little fans, but when you're called on it, you do stuff like that "Cubs". oooh.

    Or a town that has contenders. Has been in the series, what 60s, 70s, 80s, 00s - was a contender frequently in the 80s and 90s and 00s. Basketball 60s-90s... Superbowl in the 80s, 90s, 00s. hockey. So the "poor little us" doesn't fly" or even come across credible.

  • Ron White||

    I'm doing my part for the environment -- I'm eating the cows. But I'm only one man....

  • ||

    joe - I think they were sold to a well connected Harvard frat house that now uses them to haze pledges.

  • JBinMO||

    What percent of global warming can be tied to cigaretts?

  • ||

    Maybe you are confusing these with weapons-grade balonium?

    Weapons-grade balonium seems to be freely available all over the planet, especially since it can be mined from teh intertubes.

    The methane is produced as a by product when cellulose is converted into various nutrients.

    Which would mean that third-world cows eating a high-cellulose diet of grass and brush would be worse offenders than pampered American cows eating corn.

  • JBinMO||

    "You could easily make a case for reducing world population to 1-2 billion. Unfortunately, nobody is volunteering to leave."

    What about the guys in al queda? They seem willing.

  • ||

    RC,

    This issue has been studied. Cows' digestive systems evolved to digest grass, and are not well-adapted to digest corn. As a result, the consumption of corn produces more methane than the consumption of grass.

  • ||

    VM - fair enough. I haven't been a sad fan since '04. I never thought of Boston in general as a sad sack sports town. The Bruins were usually competitive when I was growing up (70's, 80's). Had I cared about basketball, the Celtics were winners.

    FWIW, I don't dislike the Cubs, and I'd be happy to see them finally take one. But if you're gonna tell me to go watch NASCAR, I'm not going to respond well to that.

  • VM||

    No NASCAR watching! - it's just really frustrating listening to peers who live in a town where most of their teams are/were/have been competing, like all the time in our lifetimes. (BTW: The NASCAR was inspired by dhex! It's a southern thing!)

    Srsly - if you're competing that much and are always there, there's nothing to be sad about!

    "Next year" is a real possibility - it really does exist! Hell, "next season" is real. Was it 1986 the year where the Boston teams played the finals in everything?

    So hearing the complaints is like listening to the dude who only gets to bang the Homecoming court and not the queen :)

    naughty moose. sexist comment. sexist. Bad moose! bad moose! *bites self on taint*

  • ||

    This article describes various dietary and handling changes to reduce methane from sheep and cattle.

    Scientists attempting to find new foods for cattle have already exploded the myth that most bovine emissions come from the rear. They have found the majority come from belching.



    joe says:

    the consumption of corn produces more methane than the consumption of grass.



    This paper seems to suggest otherwise. (warning pdf)

    Since most of the methane is produced as a byproduct of converting cellulose to sugars and other nutrients it does not follow that a diet higher in sugars (as a corn based diet would be) would produce more methane.

    I am under the impression that a greater problem with a corn based diet is that the cow might not get enough roughage which can lead to serious digestive problems.

  • ||

    We used to have bison herds that numbered in the millions. They fart just as much as cows. So how come we didn't have global warming back before the caucasians discovered North America? Why wasn't there global warming back when it was wall to wall Bison across twelve states and provinces?

  • ||

    argh! - yeah, we're so sad. Almost as pathetic as the Chicago Cubs.

    When it comes to futility, nobody is even close to the Cubs.

  • ||

    Yeah, wouldn't the fastest way to reduce methane emissions be to actually kill cows rather than just refrain from eating them?

  • ||

    There are, however, excellent reasons for reducing or eliminating corn from cattle diets. But none of them seem to have much to do with methane.

    Conventional corn-based diets can sicken cattle. Cattle are ruminant animals that naturally eat grass and forage. Because corn is low in fiber and high in starch, a corn-based diet allows fermentation acids to accumulate in cows' stomachs. This acid buildup can cause ulcers, through which infectious bacteria can enter the digestive tract and eventually produce abscesses in the liver. Grain-based diets can also promote virulent strains of E. coli in the digestive tract.

  • ||

    What about the guys in al queda? They seem willing.

    Not all of them. I notice OBL is still kicking. Leading from the rear, I guess.

  • ||

    The world ends in flame when the Cubs win the World Series. Therefore, do all you can to prevent such an event--fan interference, whatever.

    Wrigley is a great park, though, even if it's doomed to host the poor, sad Cubs.

  • VM||

    hay - as long as "fans" blame poor Steve Bartman, elevate Mark Prior to godlike status, and miss Michael Barrett, they deserve a losing team!

  • Sophie||

    This is ridiculous! No animal rights group is blaming Africa's poor for climate change. Western animal rights groups target a Western audience; this article is totally misleading.

    Did this journalist also tell the farmer that Western environmentalists want him to change his light bulbs to energy saving brands and to recycle his glass and paper?

  • ||

    Cows' digestive systems evolved to digest grass, and are not well-adapted to digest corn.

    This may well be true - without having studied the subject, it at least seems quite reasonable on its face.

    As a result, the consumption of corn produces more methane than the consumption of grass.

    This however, without further argument, is a complete non sequitur. There is nothing about cows naturally evolving to digest grass that would imply that the process would produce less methane than another non-natural diet, unless you think there was some selective evolutionary pressure for low-methane producing cows. In other words, producing copious amounts of methane is in no way incompatible with a digestive system naturally evolved to eat grasses.

  • ||

    Brian Courts

    See my comments above. If you google "corn, grass, cows, methane" you will find that "the consumption of corn produces more methane than the consumption of grass" is not a well-supported assertion.

    You will actually find articles stating that cows feeding on grass produce more methane.

    One of the articles I linked suggested feeding cows grass with a higher sugar content to reduce methane.

    I also linked an article suggesting reasons why corn was not a good cattle feed but but none of the reasons had anything to do with methane.

  • Paul||

    This issue has been studied. Cows' digestive systems evolved to digest grass, and are not well-adapted to digest corn. As a result, the consumption of corn produces more methane than the consumption of grass.

    I feel the same way when I eat a salad.

  • Guy Montag||

    You could easily make a case for reducing world population to 1-2 billion. Unfortunately, nobody is volunteering to leave.

    Yea, that would be those Al Gore voters who want the rest of us to freeze in the dark while they control the thuromostat.

  • M||

    Are these not the same jackasses who laughed at Reagan when he said basically same thing?

  • Guy Montag||

    Are these not the same jackasses who laughed at Reagan when he said basically same thing?

    I remember Reagan getting the national speed limit raised but I am drawing a complete blank on his Algorisms.

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