Friday, December 15, 2006

Bovine Inconvenience

Here I am not referring to the portly Algore, although that would be fitting. No, I need to tell you about the new British report that confirms our fears about an inconvenient truth. Cows are the problem! The Livestock, Environment and Development Initiative supported by the World Bank, the EU and the UN recently released an incredible study entitled “Livestock's long shadow.” Cutting to the chase we find that “the livestock sector is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2 equivalent. This is a higher share than transportation.” Whoa Bossy!!

From a Real Clear Politics post by Ross Kaminsky (12/13/06) comes this summary: “What this says is that between deforestation to create pastures, the emissions of greenhouse gasses in the process of making cow feed, and mostly from good old fashioned cow farts, cows are responsible for more of the pollution that people fear is causing global warming than cars, airplanes, trains, ships, snowmobiles, and motorized rickshaws combined.”

“I'll never look at a cow the same way again.”

Kaminsky is validated by my buddy Mahndisa who writes, “In Modesto, our air quality is usually bad and I saw reports attributing this poor air quality to two things: 1. Bay Area smog and 2. COWS. The cows emit so much damned methane and other gases and sometimes the smell is so bad that you have to roll up the windows when driving into town. I certainly don't doubt that cows are a major contributor to our environmental degradation.”

Meanwhile, and on the flip side, an upcoming report from the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) will reduce its estimate of the human (anthropogenic) effect on climate change by a quarter and cut in half its estimate of the maximum rise in sea levels which climate change could cause.

Still the IPCC report warns that carbon dioxide emissions have risen during the past five years by three percent, and predicts that the climate will warm by 0.2 C a decade for the next two decades if emissions continue at current levels. The bottom line: the global temperature is almost certain to warm by at least 1.5 C during the next 100 years, after rising 0.8 C the last century. But it could be worse were it not for the oceans absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide. Hmmmm.

On the other hand, the IPCC has been forced to cut in half its predictions for sea-level rise from a previously reported upper estimate of 34 inches to 17 inches by 2100. So do you think that an increase in sea level of less than 2 inches per decade could be accommodated by, perhaps, MOVING uphill just a bit?

A reasonable person might conclude that this global warming thing is not so bad after all, until he reads a newspapers. Here are snippets from the UK Telegraph article about the IPCC report:

“People are very worried...”
“...paints a bleak picture...”
“...expect more storms of similar ferocity...”
“...we are storing up problems for ourselves in the future.”

“It will be a tipping point and that is why it is now critical to act…”

However, Julian Morris, executive director of the International Policy Network, urged governments to be cautious. “There needs to be better data before billions of pounds are spent on policy measures that may have little impact,” he said.
Finally a bit of common sense -- but don't tell Algore.

The Kyoto Protocols aim to possibly alter climate change by a fraction of a degree over decades at the cost of billions of dollars of economic output. And, if economic output sounds a bit theoretical to you, think of it as the likelihood that your children will be able to find a job.

Fortunately we have one politician with the sense and courage to stand up against the hype. Senator James Inhofe's
reaction to the story is summarized nicely by this quote: “We are all skeptics now. It appears that the UN is now acknowledging what an increasing number of scientists who study the climate have come to realize: Predictions of manmade catastrophic global warming are simply unsustainable.”

After we get past the scare mongering, it is appropriate to think about an energy future based on hydrogen fuel cells (Mahndisa is right) and nuclear generated electricity. It will take about 50 years, if we have the will.

One final note: If we do all that and completely eliminate the need to burn fossil fuels for transportation, we still have all those COWS. Pass me a porterhouse, please.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a good one, bill lama. Well done. I didn't realize when I read the recent article about cows that the cow "output" was greater than the total of all transportation sources. I may want my money back for the tickets to An Inconvenient Truth.

A potential answer to any significant global-warming effect from greenhouse gases: infuse the atmosphere with small reflecting particles to add more dimming effect--and thereafter do a balancing act between more gases and more particles.
warming....cooling ...warming .....

Or run the cow population up and down.


5:38 PM  
Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

12 16 06

Yummy! I love porterhouse Bill! And I DO think that fuel cells make more sense than trying to use any type of fuel per se. Ultimately, it would be nice if we could all use fission and solar energy. Dysonsphere anyone? heheheh

11:23 PM  
Blogger Bill Lama said...


I like that idea: running the cow population up and down. Up = more bulls, Down = more steaks.

Somehow I just knew you were a steak gal. Next time you get down to the LA area we will have a barbeque at my place.

But no to Dysonsphere... It can't compete with Palos Verdes.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

12 19 06
;) hehehehe

Hey Bill fair enough about the steak:) Say, here in the Valley we have a lot of agriculture and feedlots. I believe Gallo was using cow matter for power generation but they have been rather silent about that lately.

Imagine if there was a way to capture the cow gas. That is something that will always be around as long as cows are around. Methane is the by product. I know that the process with separating the liquid from solid cow matter also can produce methane because you can boil the liquid and collect it.

I am wondering what the most efficacious way to collect these gross objects would be AND at a small enough AFFORDABLE scale. Ha!

9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dairy Air: Scientists Measure Cow Gas

Glaciers Before and After

There is good money in being a science hack.

Global Warming Critic for Hire
WASHINGTON (AP)—Coal-burning utilities are passing the hat for one of the few remaining scientists skeptical of the global warming harm caused by industries that burn fossil fuels.

Pat Michaels—Virginia's state climatologist, a University of Virginia professor and senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute—told Western business leaders last year that he was running out of money for his analyses of other scientists' global warming research.

WASHINGTON (AP)—The Bush administration, under legal pressure from three environmental groups, will propose listing polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, The Washington Post reported.

For fun Weirdest science 2006

7:06 AM  

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