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Crosstalk: Beef about UN proposal to tax meat

by Mark Gibson

The idea that livestock production contributes to global warming on a level even greater than transportation was first presented by a United Nations study in 2006 entitled “Livestock's Long Shadow,” which claimed 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions were the result of meat production.

That report was immediately challenged by Dr. Frank Mitloehner, from the University of California at Davis, who pointed out that the emissions figures for meat production and transportation were calculated differently.

All greenhouse-gas emissions associated with meat production, including fertilizer production, land clearance, methane emissions and vehicle use were calculated, whereas the transportation figure only included the burning of fossil fuels.

The report authors agreed the comparison was flawed.

A more accurate comparison would require transportation emissions to include vehicle and tire manufacture, road construction and maintenance, roadway congestion and a host of additional factors.

Although the livestock production emission figures have since been adjusted, they are now calculated at 14.5 percent of global emissions. In my view that figure fails to take into account a range of important positive factors regarding livestock production.

Here in Wasco County, land is not being cleared for grazing.

In fact, cattle are used in some areas to combat invasive species and increase natural grasses with careful, timely grazing.

In addition, cattle are extensively grazed in the stubble of harvested wheat fields, thus making use of grain and straw that would otherwise be wasted in terms of human consumption.

Even those farmers with irrigated hay fields and cattle make use of the natural byproduct of beef production — manure — to enrich their fields and reduce the amount of chemical fertilizer needed to maintain forage production.

On the Oregon coast, in Tillamook, the dairy industry has long been working to capture methane produced during milk production and use it in the production of electrical power.

The solution to farm pollution isn't stopping consumption, but finding ways to mitigate emissions and be efficient in our farming practices.

Not eating meat may sound like a simple sacrifice when it comes to combating climate change, and given the severity of the crisis it is an easy “feel good” solution. But there are better ways to contribute to the solution, even as an individual.

Public transportation in Wasco County is not robust, but residents can take a bus when traveling to Portland, thereby reducing emissions associated with private vehicles.

Yes, it takes more time, but many will find it a new experience worth exploring: And contribute to a meaningful change.

Another way to fight climate change, as an individual: The United States wastes an estimated $2 billion annually in electricity with lights that contribute to yet another environmental problem, light pollution.

These are outside lights that direct their light not at the ground but into the sky, where they illuminate nothing but the atmosphere.

Our urban areas glow with this wasted light, and many Americans have no idea what a dark sky, with the Big Dipper and Milky Way visible, looks like.

The idea of turning off the lights — especially outdoor security lights —is simple. Proper lighting fixtures that use motion detection can have an impact not just on the visibility of the night sky, but can reduce emissions as well.

For more information, read the Friends of the Goldendale Observatory publication “Good Neighbor Guide Lighting Principles,” available online at

Such steps may be small, but they can be meaningful.

by RaeLynn Ricarte

Let me get this straight: While the global population is growing and millions are starving, the United Nations has restarted a push to get such an enormous tax on meat that people won’t be able to afford it.

Why take away a major protein food source, you ask? Because animals fart and burp.

The UN proposal is based on “research” showing that cows and other livestock release methane gas that acts as a “terrible poison” by contributing to global warming.

The UN’s International Resource Panel, comprised of 34 scientists and 30 governments, contends that livestock production to feed 7 billion people is responsible for 24 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and 60 percent of the loss of species around the world.

These “experts” have concurred that the planet is in trouble if emerging economies, such as China, follow suit with America and Europe and increase their meat intake.

That would cause an expected 20 percent rise in chicken and dairy consumption and 14 percent increase in pig and beef over the next 10 years, according to a UN report.

To fight against the release of more methane from our food supply, the UN is calling on governments around the world to make prices for meat so high that people are forced to become vegetarians.

The global population is encouraged to rely on beans for their daily intake of protein.

Of course, one wonders how much the increased farting of humans will drive up global warming? Already the activities of mankind are blamed for more than 90 percent of greenhouse gases.

However, even vegetarianism isn’t safe from environmentalists. Soy production is blamed for destroying the rain forests of South America and contributing about 15 percent of gas emissions caused by people.

Many enviros refuse to acknowledge that livestock actually fertilize soil and, by grazing, create more plant diversity, a plus for the planet.

If you think this madness stops with cutting back on food choices, you would be wrong.

The European Union, in its zeal to combat global warming, wants the Brits, and other nations, to stop using electric tea kettles and toasters to pare back energy resource use.

If this anti-food agenda continues, we will all one day be hunkered around the dinner table in the dark (candles are out because they also pollute) spooning up rice — oh wait, ramped up rice production is believed to actually be accelerating global warming...

Apparently, we should all just hold hands and sing Kumbaya while we starve to death — for the sake of the planet.

I have a better suggestion. How about if we make an allowance for our foods to emit gases?

I doubt we can teach animals to hold their methane in — cows don’t look that bright to me — so we just need to let them graze in comfort.

What is notably missing from the UN panel’s consideration of a punitive tax on meat is the horrific impact to the economy from a decline in livestock production.

The cattle industry in Oregon is the top commodity, with a value of $922 million per year. About $11 million of that production comes from Wasco County.

Companies across the U.S. involved in the meat industry, along with their suppliers, distributors, retailers and associated businesses, employ 6.2 million people for about $200 billion in annual wages.

Through direct taxes paid, these businesses generate $81.2 billion in revenue for local, state and federal governments.

Sales of poultry, pork and beef in the U.S. total about $186 billion per year.

Remember when you were little and told to eat your dinner because some child in Africa was starving? That’s still true, and the UN’s suggestion of a ruthless tax to reduce the available food supply is unforgivable.


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