Jan 172007

Only one word is needed to describe the newest and greatest perpetrator of global warming: moo. And CSU is at the heart of this global destruction.

In December, the U.K. Independent published findings from a United Nations’ report entitled “Livestock’s Long Shadow” that targeted cows – not cars – as the major emitter of harmful greenhouse gases.

According to the report, cattle are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gases — which is more than all transportation sources, including cars and planes, combined.

Even more alarming, the report documents, is that cattle – via their flatulence and manure – produce a third of the world’s methane. Carbon dioxide is the most prevalent greenhouse gas, but according to the UN report, methane warms the earth’s atmosphere 20 times faster than CO2.

Amazingly enough, trees – green and wonderful though they may be – are also detrimental to the environment’s health. In a report published in the journal Nature in January 2006, Frank Keppler of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics discovered that trees emit a third of the methane found in earth’s atmosphere.

But back to the bovines. Aside from cattle’s methane-rich manure, cows are also responsible for two-thirds of the world’s ammonia emissions, which is the leading cause of acid rain. All told, the report found that cattle produce a total of 100 polluting gases.

In a separate UN report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reduced mankind’s global warming responsibility by 25 percent, thus furthering the reality that the millions of cattle worldwide are responsible for global warming.

So why is CSU to blame for global warming? Think about the giant “A” emblazoned on the hillside behind Hughes Stadium. That “A” stands for “Aggies,” CSU’s first mascot. CSU is one of the nation’s leading agriculture schools, and its College of Agricultural Sciences offers several majors directly responsible for the global warming crisis: agricultural business, animal science and farm and ranch management.

These majors in the Ag Sciences promote the growth, health and economy of the cattle industry, and in turn they are destroying our planet – one cow fart at a time.

What must be done about this cow conundrum? When we were in the Dark Ages of global warming and thought that humans and cars were the main causes of the environmental meltdown, everyone clamored for smaller cars, renewable energy and pretty much death to capitalism and Western affluence. But now we are in the Enlightenment and know that plants and animals are the most prevalent producers of greenhouse gases.

Killing all cattle everywhere would be the most direct course of action to end global warming, but this would deeply sadden the animal rights crowd and put thousands of ranchers, vets and producers out of business. And what about the methane-producing trees? Cutting down the trees would enrage conservationists and tree-huggers alike.

Perhaps a compromise could be reached. After all, the UN report on cattle flatulence also found that the cattle and ranch industry is the world’s leading cause of deforestation. More cattle equal fewer trees. But that leaves a booming cattle population defecating mass amounts of methane and ammonia into the air.

Maybe after the cattle raze most of the remaining forest land, Al Gore could instigate a massive and concentrated boycott of the cattle industry, which would feature his newest documentary, “An Inconvenient Stench: How Cow Pies Pollute the Skies.”

No matter what course of action is taken to rid the world of its biggest polluters – trees and cows – something must be done, and soon. But for the environment’s sake, don’t eat beef and don’t plant a tree. Science has spoken.

Trevor Sides is a senior speech communication major. His column appears every Thursday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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