The Long Shadow Gets Shorter on Earth Day

Published on: 21:30PM Apr 20, 2010

Perhaps I’m on a hot streak…or at least subject to a warming period.  Regardless, the other hoof dropped today, figuratively and literally speaking, in the whole issue of the contribution of global dairy production to  overall greenhouse gas inventories.

My previous post (and yes, it’s a bit of a broken MP3 file, so no more on the topic for a while after this) focused on the huge ozone hole in the 18% figure that the United Nations claimed several years ago was the livestock contribution globally to greenhouse gas emissions and, ultimately, the role of cows, sheep, pigs, and goats to global warming.  Today, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization issued its reassessment of the dairy portion of that number.  Presumably, after they’re done with dairy, they’ll parse out the impact of the other four-legged brethren.

And the result:  2.7%.

But wait, that’s not the whole story.  Two important caveats:  first, when you add in the beef and leather contribution of dairy cattle farming, the portion rises to 4%.  Dairy cattle, as it turns out, are mighty productive throughout their life cycle, and then they continue to feed and clothe people afterwards.

The second factor, and the real news, is that the U.S. dairy sector is actually far more efficient when compared to dairy production in most other places.  No surprise there, but it was gratifying to have the U.N. admit that modern farming is a better user of energy, and results in a lower carbon output per gallon of milk, then in other places where husbandry practices aren’t as advanced.  (You can find the regional breakout in Seciton 4 here in the full report). Yes, the Prius is more efficient than the Yugo. 

Now, even in spite of this unequivocal evidence, we’re still seeing the same old crap out of the veganazi crowd.  Check out this Earth-Day rant from PETA’s Ingrid Newkirk, where now, somehow, she’s convinced herself that livestock production is fully HALF of all greenhouse gas production.  I guess some wild-eyed advocate needs to hike the number still higher, since the experts at the U.N. are headed the other direction.  It’s their version of the big lie:  repeated often enough, but mostly, loudly enough, some will believe you.

Which goes to show you that the animal rights crowd is scared now of losing an issue that they long have hoped would give them traction:  cutting out cheeseburgers will save the Earth, and lots of cows in the process.  Even though that’s not their agenda, it was a convenient message to use.  Or it used to be, prior to Earth Day 2010.

Sorry, folks, time to move on from that falsehood.  There's nothing more to see here.  Or at least if you want to reduce the footprint of what you eat, buy American cheese next time.