Saturday, July 21, 2007

Vegetarian entryism combatted

The latest axe-grinders to hitch their wagons to the groaning train of global warming alarmism are vegetarians:

"Everybody is trying to come up with different ways to reduce carbon footprints," says Su Taylor of the Vegetarian Society in the UK: "But one of the easiest things you can do is to stop eating meat."
[From the House Journal of cargo-cult science, New Scientist]

This in response to a report from Japan that says:
A kilogram of beef is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution than driving for 3 hours while leaving all the lights on back home.
The team looked at calf production, focusing on animal management and the effects of producing and transporting feed. By combining this information with data from their earlier studies on the impact of beef fattening systems, the researchers were able to calculate the total environmental load of a portion of beef.
Not everyone agrees. From a recent post by Gary Jones:
Meat is not responsible for green house gasses, except for the trivial amounts produced by animals breathing. It's good to have a planet with lots of animals, even if they do breathe. Joking aside, the CO2 they produce would be produced even if they didn't exist since the organic matter they consume, from which the CO2 comes, would be consumed anyway by aerobic bacteria that would otherwise do the organic matter recycling. That's the carbon cycle. If not for those bacteria the planet would be covered with dead leaves and stalks - mulched to death.

The same is true for CH4 in belches and farts, but it would be anaerobic bacteria doing the recycling. Every mulch pile and wetland does the same. The parts that are aerated support aerobic bacteria that need oxygen to live and work, and the parts that are not support anaerobic bacteria that use different metabolic pathways and produce different gases.

The carbon cycle, in which atmospheric carbon is drawn down by plants and later released back to the atmosphere by bacteria, is not a cause of climate change. It's a closed loop. It is mainly the release of extra carbon that had been sequestered as fossil fuel that increases the working set, the amount of carbon in the loop.
Growing crops to feed to animals, especially field crops such as maize, does not help the atmosphere. The soil is impoverished rather than improved. It doesn't matter whether the crops are fed to meat animals, people, or even used to make ethanol. The result is the same. Atmospheric carbon increases. But permanent pastures growing deep rooted perennial grasses and forbs, maintained by herds of ruminants (cloven hooves, cheweth the cud), can suck massive amounts of carbon from the air over time. Prairie ecosystems such as the (former) Great Plains of N. America created their deep rich soils in just this way. Plowing them up to grow veggies has released the carbon back to the air.
Worth reading in full - this from someone who is not a climate sceptic/realist/denier/Nuremberg-tribunal-fodder.


dearieme said...

I've become a climate cynic. They're lying, some of them.

Peter Risdon said...


Dr Dan H. said...

The easiest thing to do is to carry on eating meat, and do as our ancestors did: use animals to exploit land areas where we cannot grow crops.

So, on our roadsides and hedgerows there are always plenty of rabbits; a pest to many and they eat grass that otherwise would go to waste.

On moors and uplands, start farming these areas purely for meat. If sheep don't taste good enough, try farming llamas or deer there instead; they're equally good at eating poor pastures, they're cold-hardy and don't need shearing.

Oh, and stop growing crops to feed to animals; this is a waste.