August 17, 2021

Agricultural Air Pollution: A Brief Reprise

Posted on August 17, 2021 by Don Stever

I previously wrote an ACOEL blog post that pointed out the relationship between meat agriculture and global warming. I will start with the personal fact that my wife, the poet Margo Taft Stever, and I became vegetarians many years ago partly for good health, and partly so as not to contribute to the slaughter of animals and the terrible conditions within which meat animals are kept in “factory farms.” As I noted in my 2020 blog post, my father was a veterinarian, and as a kid I had the “opportunity” to visit large dairy and beef cattle farms and pig farms, as well as slaughterhouses, and thus I got to know the commercial agriculture industry pretty well. Back then, of course, nobody gave a thought to the impact ruminant emissions were having on the climate.

I now revisit the topic in light of the data in the recently released report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that explains the profound significance of agricultural methane emissions (primarily ruminant gaseous emissions a/k/a cow farts) on global warming. Carbon dioxide emissions are bad enough, but methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, and although billions of dollars have been spent trying to reduce the CO2 emissions from the various sources thereof, not much has yet been spent on forcing the global meat industry to develop food sources for cattle that will reduce bovine methane emissions or, alternatively, wean our society away from our meat culture. So, Margo and I just continue to exercise our personal, and globally meaningless, method of emission control by eating Beyond Burgers© that are made from peas.