Monday, October 19, 2015

How Is Your Carbon Footprint?

It's your nasty ole carbon footprint that causes Climate Change by creating what they call Greenhouse Gases. You're killing polar bears. Cute. Cuddly. Polar bears.

You may not know it but a lot of folks spend real emotional energy fretting about their carbon footprint. It should be noted that most do not self-identify as Republicans. To be fair the issue has been amped up by those that have made a business of it (if one considers NGOs and other not-for-profits as the businesses they really are). So we have the LEED bingo system complete with heavy metal certifications. We have Birkenstock babes pedaling around town and when they have to drive they're puttin' the pedal to the metal in a Leaf or the now-not-so-trendy Prius. They drift off to sleep with visions of solar panels and windmills dancing in their heads.

Lots of room there. Not a whole lot of intellect has been wasted on this Climate Change, formerly known as the Global Warming thingy. The problem with the carbon footprint approach is that it focuses on the wrong cause, notably carbon dioxide and the processes that produce it. Like filthy coal-fired power plants, cars and trucks just belchin' tons of the stuff and even Big-Ole-Jet-Airliners. We're practically drowning in See-Oh-Two.

Turns out there is more than one greenhouse gas and carbon dioxide is far from the worst offender. That title goes to methane. That's the stuff that DeKalb County is capturing from landfills and using to power vehicles. And methane does more damage to our climate than greenhouse gases from all forms of transportation combined.

The aforementioned NGO/NonProfits all profit from growth by which they mean revenue growth--donations. Now what if organizations representing the industry emitting enormous amounts of methane donated money to Green Peace, the Sierra Club and other loud mouth organizations pretending to act in the public's interest? What would you think? Well, given we don't hear a peep out of these groups regarding this imminent danger most folks would call it hush money.

Who is this powerful, shadowing group? Is it the Koch brothers? Surely the NRA has something to do with it. Sadly, no, as these groups are much easier to deal with. The real culprit is Big Farmer. You know, those mythical, hardworking underpaid folks that feed the planet, all the while conjuring images of American Gothic.  And they are powerful enough to own Washington, own the media and own these NonProfits. Their larcenous farm subsidies serve as enduring tribute to that power. And after the Patriot Act were Oprah to say what she said on her show she would probably face criminal charges. They are that powerful.  And oh, soooo patriotic.

Methane, and a lot of it that is released into our environment, is what comes out of the front end of ruminants, particularly cattle. It's What's For Dinner is not only a major cause of Climate Change, it is growing. It is also incredibly inefficient at converting vegetable nutrients to Large Dead Quadruped, it consumes enormous amounts of water and leaves a very healthy share of polluted water and land. Industrial "farming" of animal protein is a very wasteful business unless you're just counting your government subsidized profits.

But we just cannot get enough. Federal land is not only grazed at 18th century prices, the BLM is sending out choppers with snipers to take out indigenous predators. You really are killing cute native wolves. While timber is taken during deforestation in Brazil, trees (which we in daVille know are renewable resources) are not replanted, instead the land is turned over to cattle operations for grazing. Some might disagree over which is product and which is byproduct but at least one NonProfit representative had the courage to acknowledge that animal agriculture was the primary driver of deforestation but also noted that many remain silent because no one wants to be the next Dorothy Stang who is widely believed to have been assassinated because of her fight against deforestation and its causes.

There are some things that can be done though probably not by our current crop of bought and paid for politicians. We could force the animal agriculture industry to internalize all costs--the public needs to know what they're really paying. No more free or near free grazing. No subsidized grain making its way into feedstock. Use the water, return the water. As clean water. And when lagoons of animal waste are created it must be treated.

Pay the price, charge the price.

Then the slogan will be: Beef! It's a sometimes food! and we will have made a larger impact on Climate Change than any carbon tax ever will.