Killer Cows — No, Really

Must link to the latest in the Los Angeles Times excellent editorial series on global warming, which does what editorials are supposed to do but often don’t: Clarify, propose, and convince.

The editorial this week was about cow emissions. Hilarious? No. Sensible? Yes.

All told, livestock are responsible for 18% of greenhouse-gas emissions
worldwide, according to the U.N. — more than all the planes, trains
and automobiles on the planet. And it’s going to get a lot worse. As
living standards rise in the developing world, so does its fondness for
meat and dairy. Annual per-capita meat consumption in developing
countries doubled from 31 pounds in 1980 to 62 pounds in 2002,
according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, which expects
global meat production to more than double by 2050. That means the
environmental damage of ranching would have to be cut in half just to
keep emissions at their current, dangerous level.

Worse, the government for years has been advertising to further the destruction, when for the sake of the planet (and our bodies) it should be helping us cut back. A few more facts would help, but still:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture assesses ranchers, dairymen and
producers of other commodities to pay for marketing campaigns to
promote their products, raising millions of dollars a year and turning
such slogans as "Got Milk?" and "Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner" into
national catchphrases. This isn’t quite tantamount to a
government-mandated campaign to promote cigarette smoking, but it’s
close. The government should not only get out of the business of
promoting unhealthful and environmentally destructive foods, it should
be actively discouraging them.

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