The greenhouse gas emissions of cattle should be considered in all policies designed to tackle climate change.
The digestive system of a cow is uniquely adapted to allow the most efficient breakdown of plant matter possible. What this also results in is the production of Methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Should this be capped?
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It has an effect
Methane is 23 times more potent than CO2, and ruminents such as cows and goats produce it in abundance. In New Zealand, livestock emissions are responsible for over half of all C02 equavilent GHG emissions. Similar numbers are true for Australia. These countries are two of the worlds largest beef exporters and, those countries that import beef from NZ and Australia significantly contribute to global warming around the world.
This means that high intensity beef and dairy farming are incredibly harmful to the environment, not only because of deforestation and the amount of land it uses, but because the cattle themselves produce so much greenhouse gas. This is however not a well publicised issue like for example fossil fuels, so there is not the same weight of public pressure behind it. The EU has to step in and legislate on the matter, and the most effective tool at their disposal is including the emissions in existing country tariffs. Another issue of intensive cattle farming is their need of water. Beef cattle need thousands, maybe even millions, of litres of water per head. This water could be sent to countries with water shortage.
Although cattle do produce greenhouse gas in the form of methane, this is naturally produced, and would be produced anyway regardless of human interference (albeit perhaps not in such high volumes). We should concentrate on gases that are produced by unnatural activity and prioritise those above natural processes.
The EU is best placed to act
Global warming is more than a national issue. It takes international cooperation to ensure that everyone is doing their part to combat it. If the EU does not legislate then national governments have no obligation to act on what is a major contributing factor to climate change. The EU has committed to fighting climate change, but by ignoring methane produced by cattle it is failing to deal with the issue effectively.
The idea that the EU is best places to act ignores the fact that a major proportion of cattle farming takes place in Australia and New Zealand and thus this is very much outside of EU legislation.
Unfair to business
Other industries affected by carbon caps have the potential to meet these targets with changes to their methods of production. It is possible for, for example, a factory to get cleaner technology and produce fewer emissions without compromising productivity. This is not true of methane emissions from cattle. A cow will always produce the same amount of methane so the only way for farmers to lower their emissions is to have fewer cows. This is unfair on the farmers as it dictates that they must lower their production in a way not demanded of any other industry.
Just as we are going to have to make changes to our lifestyle as a whole, every industry has to make individual sacrifices and changes to reduce their environmental impact by either reducing their waste or improve efficiency. Farmers who produce cattle will have to switch their emphasis from cattle farming to other forms of farming such as crop production or resort to some other. We as consumers will have to change our behaviour to influence climate change and this will mean eating less meat and probably drinking less milk. Farming and farmers will have to adapt to all such changes
EU and agriculture
The EU spends huge amount of money on the CAP, designed to support its farmers and agricultural sector, because agriculture is a major employer and also helps the EU to be more self sufficient in terms of food. If however cattle are subject to these restrictions it will hurt agriculture in the EU as cattle farmers will have to decrease productivity. This is a contradictory stance for the EU to hold, and a betrayal of what it once considered a vital industry.
Although it is true it will hurt dairy farmers it is not true that it will damage the livelihoods of all farmers, for example arable or poultry. This may be damaging to a specific branch of agriculture but that does not necessarily mean that it is a negatiove step for all farmers, just that some must adapt to the pressing need to halt climate change, by shifting thier focus towards a more environmentally friendly product.
Global Warming is a political tool to raise taxes
This argument is building upon the false premise that CO2 causes global warming and the ‘debate is over’ politics, the driving force that allows this type of political nonsense to be perpetuated.
The science is far from conclusive despite the politically closing of the debate, yet the EU moves steadily onward to introducing legislation and taxation that build upon this fabrication.
The Vostok and Taylor Dome ice cores both show that CO2 lags behind temperature rise. In other words it is the temperature increase that causes CO2 to increase and not the other way around and that CO2 continues to rise after temperature drops for around 800 years. This is reasonably supported since we also know that the oceans, by far the largest contributor to CO2 in the atmosphere, releases more CO2 when warmed and absorbs CO2 when it cools.
This does not reflect the catastrophic IPCC predictions of CO2 increases causing uncontrollable global warming. Predictions made by inaccurate computer models incidentally.
Therefore anthropogenic CO2 induced global warming (AGW) has become a political tool to raise taxes and once this is realised the reasoning behind the global warming effects of cattle becomes as meaningless as those supporting AGW.
This should have been countered long ago as it does not really show anything. We know that there is more CO2 in the atmosphere now than a few decades ago and know that temperature is rising - there is therefore not obviously a 1000 year gap this time as there was previously which may mean this research has little relevance. The research also does not show that there is no link between temperature rises and CO2 emissions rather it showed that the CO2 emissions amplified the temperate rises[[http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-lags-temperature-intermediate.htm]] - which if anything should be more scary in the current situation!
What do you think?