8.07.2008

Woo - It's What's For Dinner


Q: What does an upside down cow say?
A: Woooooooo

I didn't plan on another post about woo in global warming headlines, but I couldn't help myself when I read this "news" item:
Cattle Don't Have Much To Do With Global Warming

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Since the release of a United Nations (U.N.) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report in 2006, we've heard more and more about the carbon footprints and the green house gases generated in livestock production. That report claims that, on a global basis, raising livestock generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent than use of fossil fuels in driving cars and trucks. This story has appeared over and over again in the media.

A second study that was release by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) didn't receive much media attention, but it should. The EPA report titled "U.S. Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks" crunched the numbers to determine that 80 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels and only 2.3 percent from food animal production.
All the facts are right. The U.S. EPA report (pdf warn) does show that about 2.3% of greenhouse gases are due to enteric fermentation while the bulk of emissions comes from using fossil fuels. Yet, the U.N. FAO report tells us that raising livestock contributes more to the greenhouse gas inventory than does transportation. If I end this post right here, I'm sure you could come up with a few explanations as to why there is no discrepancy here. But I won't stop just yet, because, astonishingly, the next sentence in the article reads
Although the EPA data clearly show the FAO statistics are irrelevant in the United States, mainstream media and online sources have called for Americans to reduce meat consumption to save the planet.
Irrelevant? What do they mean irrelevant? Oh wait...the authors must think you're stupid and that you believe that only the United States can affect the United States' climate! And those nice folks at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization must be stupid as well to suggest that Brazilian cow farts could ever make their way north to blanket our purple mountain majesties and our amber waves of grain. All this in the service of some grand conspiracy to reduce beef consumption and unhorse the iconic American cowboy.

So, who would sell their integrity to provide such misdirection and keep those cries of "Git along little dogie" alive and well (in the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that I loves me a burger or T-bone every other night)? Would you believe me if I said a university? Try this 10 gallon hat on for size: The University of Minnesota Extension. The byline for the article reads "Lori Weddle-Schott is a beef educator with University of Minnesota Extension."

Mrs. Weddle-Schott may know beef, but apparently she knows little about the effect of global livestock on the entire planet. Or maybe she doesn't know the U.S. is actually part of this planet.

4 comments:

Gnukenpaver said...

How do you educate beef?

yunshui said...

Surely an upside-down cow would go, "ooooooooW"?

Gnukenpaver said...

Only if it is educated.

The skepTick said...

Cow says "Mooooo". Rotate 180 deg on horizontal axis, cow says "Wooooo". Rotate 180 deg on vertical axis, and cow says "Oooooow". I was to lazy to do the extra rotation...and it would have ruined the joke anyway.