Environmental story you won't see on the news

"Farm animals bigger threat to environment than autos, says UN"

The chances are pretty good you haven't heard about this one.

Cattle are a greater threat to the environment than automobiles, because they produce a greater quantity of greenhouse gases, a UN report claimed yesterday.

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said growth in the livestock sector would contribute far more greenhouse gases than transportation accelerating the calamitous process of global warming.

According to its estimate, intestinal gases from farm animals, gases from manure, deforestation to create pastures and the energy consumed by livestock businesses, together account for 18 percent of greenhouse gases currently.

All those cattle produce extra methane and nitrous oxide, both greenhouse gases much more potent than carbon dioxide. Cattle produced ammonia may be mostly responsible for acid rain.

There are a several reasons why you won't hear about this. First and foremost is that it's an agricultural situation that can't be blamed mostly on the United States and the West. In order to "solve the problem," farmers in developing countries would have to be targeted much more than in the West because that is where most of the growth is expected.

Assuming FOR THE MOMENT that the global warming theory is valid, there is no money or control if the West can't be targeted.

But the second reason is buried a little later in the article.

The annual growth in meat and dairy product consumption was because of “increase prosperity”.

Yep, I emphasized it deliberately. It is almost a throwaway line in the story, but it cuts to the heart of the global warming debate and to freedom itself.

Richer people choose to buy more meat and dairy products.

If a farmer wants to get richer, he chooses to raise cattle and other farm animals.

Wealth is increased because people are free to choose.

There is no way to sell the "solution" without abolishing the free markets and destroying the mechanisms for creating wealth.

And sure enough, the article calls for expanded government controls.

Now, most people have a misconception when talking about government and wealth. Government tends to prevent wealth, protect existing wealth, or confiscate wealth. When I talk about mechanisms for creating wealth, I do not mean government mechanisms.

I mean the tools that enable someone to change their economic position. While changing these tools will have minimal effect at economic extremes, those same tools have huge impact on marginal behaviors. Someone with several million dollars may not care if they can borrow against their house to start a business, but the ability to borrow allows someone with much less income to concentrate capital enough to get started.

Government controls are seldom aimed at the rich, but they are ALWAYS aimed at those trying to become richer by their own efforts.

I don't believe that it's accidental that most of the global warming "solutions" involve drastic controls on wealth and industry.

— NeoWayland

Posted: Fri - December 8, 2006 at 11:02 PM  Tag

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