Countering Carbon Claims in Cattle Country

While most Americans celebrated Independence Day by tossing hamburgers on the grill, cheese on the fixings table and leather baseballs to each other, animal rights and radical environmental activists celebrated by demanding all three pastimes be banned for the planet (or the children). Of course, they really mean “for the cows,” but that might only motivate Ingrid Newkirk and her legion of lettuce ladies.

To counter these dubious claims, we went into the heart of cattle country, writing in the Fargo Forum. Why North Dakota? Not long ago, the Forum offered a platform to animal-rights nutrition gadfly Neal Barnard—you might remember him as the former PETA science advisor who called cheese “dairy crack.”

Our executive director called out the animal-rights crowd for latching on to a flawed study:

A 2006 U.N. study cited by Singer – an oft-cited gospel of the environmental movement – claimed to calculate that animal agriculture worldwide is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. More than even transportation.

The only problem? One of the report’s authors has since walked it back, acknowledging methodological flaws. “We factored in everything for meat emissions, and we didn’t do the same thing with transport,” he said. In other words, it is an apples-and-oranges comparison.

But those aren’t the only convenient omissions of the animal rights crowd. When you can find a shill for a semi-vegan diet rulebook (who has a fondness for a two-egg breakfast, no less) writing in the New York Times that modern production methods for meat and dairy are evil, it’s important to learn the real effects of modern agricultural practices:

Washington State University professor Dr. Jude Capper, who studies agriculture and environmental issues, quantifies just how much agriculture today has improved on farming from just a few decades ago. Capper finds that the dairy industry was able to reduce its carbon footprint by 44 percent from 1944 to 2007 despite now producing more milk. How? Advances in management, animal nutrition and genetics.

That should be news to activists who say we need to go “organic” to avoid “the absolute destruction of everything.” Of course, those activists also say that they “go on feelings,” which illustrates that their claims have minimal scientific support. Perhaps that’s the real “inconvenient truth” of this particular debate.

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