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An Ill Wind
December 2009

I say, Ermintrude, did you hear that we're to blame for climate change? 

I do not love animals but some people do. Some love them so much that there are even charities devoted to animal welfare. My favourite is the Donkey Sanctuary in Devon. Old donkeys deserve the best that money can buy.

However deserving, donkeys fart. Not just donkeys, but cats, dogs, pigs and especially cows. And this heats up the air because animal wind contains methane, which is a "greenhouse gas". The more flatulence that goes on, the hotter the air becomes.

I do not love the environment but some people do. They tend to think that the air should not get any hotter. It is quite hot enough already. Those who love the environment therefore hate farting. And, since animals fart so much, they hate animals. 

That may be a little strong. Some moralists say that it is not the sinner they hate but the sin. Perhaps it is not the farter that environmentalists hate but the fart. Nevertheless, with anti-flatulence technology in its currently adumbral state, any serious reduction of bovine methane emissions will require a reduction in the bovine population. (And cats, dogs and pigs should probably beware too.)

Not everyone loves people but I do. I am a people person. So I regret the environmentalists' hostility to animals. Cows do not give off only methane. They also give off milk and beef and leather, which people enjoy consuming. 

Lord Stern, author of the 2006 Stern Report on the cost of climate change, recently encouraged us to give up such pleasures so that we can have fewer cows, less methane and cooler air. This strikes me as a bad trade-off. I prefer a world that is meatier and hotter-and smellier, if need be. (Although, that said, have you ever shared a house with a vegetarian?) 

Glaciers, vegetables and air molecules get nothing from their existence, whatever the temperature. But most of us animals, even those who get eaten, prefer to live, even in nasty environments. The more of us the better.

fisherman bob
November 1st, 2011
3:11 AM
Apparently the mating burning desire of cattle, buffalo, horses, ad especially the jackass produces not only excess methane, but HOT methane as well. We MUST reduce the sexual urges of bovine creatures, perhaps with the introduction of a salt peter-like substance into their feed, otherwise we will most likely burn up....

Joel Upchurch
December 5th, 2009
9:12 PM
Mr Whyte fails to make a distinction about the Greenhouse Gas Footprint of various kinds of meat. The primary issue is ruminants like Cattle and Sheep who produce large amounts of Methane in their digestive cycle. Methane is a GHG over 20 times as strong as Carbon Dioxide. Per kilo of meat, Pork only produces 1/4th the GHG emissions and Chicken 1/13th that of Beef. As I get older, I find I prefer Chicken to Beef, so I find reserving Beef for special occasions no hardship.

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