Pulpit Bulls

Policy, Politics, and What's In Between

Moocows’ Methane Madness

Posted by Eric on June 7, 2009

CowJamelle has an interesting post up about the environmental threat of cattle. Methane gasses emitted by cow burps and farts severely damage the environment, and curbing the amount of methane released will undoubtedly have to be a part of any adequate plan to address the threat posed by global warming. Studies have shown that converting a cow’s diet from (heavily-subsidized) corn and soybeans to easily digested feed like flaxseed and alfalfa would be an important step.

Jamelle mentions the political problems posed by shifts away from corn feed, although I think he gets it backwards when he writes, “our high rate of beef consumption is key to maintaining an absurd and outdated subsidy regime. And while reducing our beef consumption certainly won’t put an end on our massive and unsustainable agricultural (read: corn) subsidies, it could play a part in reducing the “need” for said subsidies.” But corn isn’t subsidized because cattle farmers needed cheaper feed, rather corn is fed to cattle because it’s cheap, in part because of heavy federal subsidies.

One last note: even changing cows’ diets, won’t make beef production sustainable. It takes about 15 pounds of feed to make 1 pound of beef, 6 pounds of feed for 1 pound of pork and 5 pounds of feed for 1 pound of chicken. Red meat just isn’t efficient and if we are serious about addressing the harms of anthropogenic climate change, there are going to be some tough choices to make in the coming years regarding our diets.

Lastly, I apologize for the title of this post and promise that in the future I will refrain from any use of the word moocow.

Advertisements

One Response to “Moocows’ Methane Madness”

  1. […] by Eric on June 10, 2009 A couple of days ago we discussed the environmental consequences of cattle farming, specifically how corn (rather than grass or grain) diets fed to cows leads to […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: