I heard the “cow fart” fallacy again last night when I was watching a YouTube video about someone’s theories regarding asteroids destroying the earth within the next 10,000 years. The author started that the possibility of earth’s destruction by asteroid strikes was so much more serious and plausible than any “political movements or silly nonsense about cow farts and climate change” and that all such notions should be dropped immediately in favor of “reaching for the stars.” Humanity should only be interested in developing technology to divert asteroids and finding other planets to live on. Really?
This guy actually argued that humanity has a better chance – and a greater need! – of developing technology for diverting asteroids than they do of effectively addressing injustice and climate change. (Which, of course, even if that is remotely the case, it would be no reason to give up on addressing political and environmental ills). That would be like seeing a fire in your kitchen and realizing that the fire department may be too far away to help. So rather than addressing the fire with the little kitchen extinguisher, or garden hose or whatever you have, you step outside and “reach for the stars” instead.
So let’s take a moment to address the “cow fart” idiocy that is circulating right now. This piece of garbled and deliberately misreported “fact” is currently being used to deny climate change and the huge part the animal consumption industry (Big Agriculture) is playing in the production of unprecedented levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
First of all, ‘cow flatulence’ appears to have been mentioned as a ‘family values’ kind of euphemism in some studies and news reports that were actually discussing cow (and pig and chicken) feces and after-kill detritus (multi-tons of inedible carcass parts of slaughtered animals). This sewage waste of cow/pig/chicken production has reached epic proportions worldwide and dump grounds and storage spaces for it are running out – just like ever expanding grazing lands for cattle (hence the necessity for mowing down the Amazon forests to accommodate them).
But here’s the thing: all organic waste creates methane and other greenhouse gasses as it decomposes. The simple fact is that billions of tons of agricultural animal feces and detritus are creating greenhouse gas levels that our world has never seen before. And at the same time their need for grazing land is cutting down the forests and trees that would help clear the atmosphere of that overabundance of greenhouse gasses.
And there it is. Now if only some normally intelligent adults would stop carrying on about how “silly it is to worry about cow farts hurting the environment,” we might be able to get somewhere. That is, if they also stopped passing on and believing a host of other climate change denials, misrepresentations, and outright lies. “We got no time for that” as a friend of mine would say. And we really don’t.
Climate change and climate disaster is upon us and we are simply out of time for denial and childish misinterpretations. Big Agriculture is clearly a huge part of the environmental destruction facing us now and if you want to divert it then “reach for the stars” if you must, but definitely stop reaching for any kind of meat products. That would be a real step in the right direction.