J Morris Hicks

J Morris Hicks

Posted April 14, 2011

Published in Animals, Green, International

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Flatulent cows...and saving the planet

Read More: causes of global warming, cows, global warming, greenhouse gases, livestock, methane

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Every two-year old knows that flatulence is funny, they just haven't learned that fancy word for it yet. But the environmental impact of the 60 billion animals that we raise for our dinner tables is no laughing matter.

In a March 30 article in Time(online) by Jeffrey Kluger, there was an article all about the methane emission from cattle and its corresponding impact on global warming. Quoting from the article (See link at end of this post)...

The emissions produced by nature's woodwind section contain a nasty mix of many gasses, among them methane. Though carbon dioxide is the first gas that comes to mind when we think of greenhouse emissions, pound for pound, methane is more than 20 times more powerful in terms of its global warming potential. Methane doesn't linger in the atmosphere quite as long as CO2, and it's not produced industrially in anywhere near the same quantity, but it does its damage all the same — and livestock toots out a surprisingly large share of it.

This news is not new. In a 2006 UN Report entitled Livestock's Long Shadow,there was compelling data showing that livestock contribute 30% more to global warming than ALL of transportation combined. So why didn't Al Gore tell us about that in his movie that same year? Remember An Inconvenient Truth, for which he won the Nobel Prize?

Flatulent cows.jpegHow could a man win a Nobel Prize for a movie about global warming and not even mention the #1 cause? Actually since that 2006 UN Study, the World Bank has come up with data suggesting that the livestock contribution is closer to 50% of the cause of greenhouse gases as opposed to the 18% reported in the UN Study.

So, once again, why didn't Gore mention it? One reason is probably money. The other is the continued belief by the vast majority of the most educated people in the world that we truly "need" to eat animal products in order to be healthy. This belief, despite overwhelming scientific and clinical evidence to the contrary, continues to be widely held.

But now there's a former president of the United States (Bill Clinton) who is beginning to learn that not only do we not "need," animal products -- they are in fact the primary drivers of disease throughout the western world. But the writers of the Time piece haven't been enlightened to those facts yet and are still focusing on things like eating kangaroos or changing what we feed the cattle....

Since nobody is going to re-engineer the ruminant digestive tract anytime soon, the solutions are limited: stop eating meat or at least eat other kinds. (A 2010 study from the Science and Environment section of the Library of the U.K.'s House of Commons reported that a pair of Australian biologists have recommended eating marsupials instead of livestock, since kangaroos and their kin produce almost no methane when they digest.) But there's one more answer too: reformulate the diet of the animals themselves. If you change what goes in, you should be able to change what comes out.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Photo Newport.jpgBottom line. In the western world, we are eating a totally unnatural diet for our species and we're growing 60 billion animals a year to feed less than 2 billion humans. That number is projected to increase to 120 billion by 2050.

Not only is this toxic diet destroying our own health, it is destroying the health of the planet in a very long list of ways -- global warming is just one of them.

Complex problem -- refreshingly simple solution. Just begin a deliberate shift back to the health-promoting natural diet for our species. Our 4-Leaf Program will help you get started. On a plant-based diet, we can feed twenty times as many people on the same amount of land and simply eliminate the sources of vast damage to the environment. A blinding flash of the obvious to be sure.  From the the Starbucks on Astor Place in New York City – Be well and have a great day…

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

Silence the Cows and Save the Planet - Ecocentric -