Monday, July 25, 2011

REVISITING "LET THEM EAT GRASS!" - (Cattle and the Greenhouse Gas Myth)

  1. **Warning! This is a  continuation of a "SMOKEY" Rant and an exercise in Self Indulgent Pontification**

    As I have stated, my interests and passion lie in protecting and promoting the “small producers” in agriculture…if you browse my writings, you see that I have tried to communicate the major disadvantages “we little guys/gals” face in the current food production model(s). I advocate, vociferously for the family farm/ranch, eat local/buy local, farmers markets, etc, etc.

    I have been engaged in healthy debate, in the comment sections, on a couple of websites, regarding my harsh remarks about the new book by Environmental Working Group (EWG) Meat Eaters Guide to Climate + Health
    In the interest of “full disclosure”, I have not read the book.
    What I have read is an article, about the message in the book, on “Civil Eats” , that slants the material to give the reader the impression that beef production is not only bad for the environment, but a bad food choice as well…read the article again, carefully because there is a “negative tone” towards beef (the word is beef, not grain fed or grass fed) in the opening paragraph:
    “Yes, I buy meat. I’d rather not”
    Now, as any trained journalist knows, the writer must “set the message and tone” in the first paragraph because a high percentage of readers “skim” the first few sentences of an article…so, this authors message, in the opening, is negative toward BEEF in general. 
     Later in the article, the author, does attempt to differentiate between production styles with a tepid endorsement of grass fed beef…I say tepid because they then close the article with: “Start today by taking EWG’s pledge to eat less meat. (and hey, it’s Monday, why not make today your first Meatless Monday?).” It doesn’t say less grain fed or CAFO beef…just beef.
    NOW THEN…how many people read Civil Eats daily? How many readers could be influenced by this article?…My response was harsh and inflammatory because I was (am) trying to get people to at least look at both sides of the issue…not make a snap judgement.
    I’m sure the EWG authors are very nice people. BUT, they are trying to sell a book and bashing the meat industry is fashionable, right now…regardless of who gets caught in the web of negativity.
    Let’s look at “Peer Review”
    The book is putting forth a “Theory” that the authors have surmised based on their interpretation of the data gathered.
    VERY SIMPLY PUT: Peer review is the presenting of a study’s data (facts) with detailed information on methodology and interpretation, then published in an accepted journal for other scientists to review..."review" means that other scientists can see if proper/accepted scientific methodology and protocol were followed in order to reach the stated conclusion(s)...not, necessarily to say the conclusion is "right or wrong".
    Facts may be interpreted in different ways by different individuals.
    Which is why I stated in my comment on Civil Eats, WE *MEAT* AGAIN, and the first part of this article on my blog, that I could interpret the authors data to fit my theory…of just the opposite.
    PARA-PHRASED from “Cattle Today”
    (article is based on the above referenced study)
     …Until recently, some claimed the level of atmospheric methane was related to the number of ruminants in the world (mostly cows, sheep and goats). It seemed as though for each additional billion large ruminants (where 8 sheep = 1 large ruminant), atmospheric methane increased by 1 ppb (parts per billion). Between 1979 and 1999, methane concentrations increased by 10.8 ppb per year, and large ruminant numbers increased by about 8.7 billion per year….
    …the increase in methane in the atmosphere has slowed. On November 17, 2003, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the concentration of methane in the atmosphere was leveling off and it appears to have remained at about the same level as in 1999 (there has been a nonsignificant increase of 0.3 ppb/year). Now it seems the strong relationship between number of cows and methane that once existed has vanished. Since 1999, it seems as though for each additional billion ruminants, methane now increases by only 0.005 ppb….

    …a recent report, by an organization that won the 2007 Nobel Peace prize, said “If methane emissions grow in direct proportion to increases in livestock numbers, then global livestock-related methane production is expected to increase by 60 percent up to 2030 (FAO 2003),” The slow increase in methane now raises questions about the accuracy of this prediction by Nobel laureates….

     The Defense Rests, Your Honor. 

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