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Eugene Weekly : Natural Resistance : 11.5.09




Global Warming

Head in the manure

by Mary O’Brien

Toward the end of October, a poll by the Pew Research Center  for the People & the Press was released with the news that fewer Americans (57 percent) in late 2009 believe there is solid evidence that global temperatures are rising than believed so in 2008 (71 percent). Of those who do believe the earth is getting warmer, fewer in 2009 (36 percent) think this is mostly because of human activities than thought so in 2008 (47 percent). This is not good news for Earth or our future relatives.

Among these dismal numbers, who leads the pack in understanding that the earth is getting warmer and that this is due mostly to human activity? By sex and marital status: unmarried women. By age: 18-29 years old. By employment: the unemployed. By party and ideology: liberal Democrats. By church attendance: those who seldom or never attend church. By region: South Atlantic. By race: non-white. By income: those earning less than $30,000 a year.

By these demographics, don’t look toward most captains of industry, senators or representatives to be leaders in understanding global warming or our role in causing it.

Thus it’s not surprising that the House of Representatives recently voted to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from measuring greenhouse gas emissions from a major greenhouse gas emitter: the livestock industry. It’s a truly enlightened move: If you don’t believe that human activity is driving global warming and you maybe don’t even believe the globe is warming, prohibit the nation’s environmental agency from measuring the environment because the information might prove you’re wrong. If you don’t want to hear what scientists are telling the world, ban science.

Recently, the EPA had announced that the 90 largest livestock manure management systems, those who annually emit as much in greenhouse gases as 58,000 barrels of oil, would be required to report their emissions. But on October 27, by a 247-167 vote, the House of Representatives voted to instruct the conference committee on the Interior Appropriations bill to retain an amendment by Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) that prohibits the EPA from gathering any data on the contribution that animal agriculture makes to climate change. Two of our five Oregon Representatives, Greg Walden (R)  and Kurt Schrader (D), joined all voting House Republicans in blocking EPA from measuring livestock industry greenhouse gases. The Senate had rejected such an amendment proposed by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), and so the conference committee would have been resolving this difference between the House and Senate Interior Appropriations bills.

This is classic stick-your-head-in-the-sand. Particularly since it’s looking more and more as if the global livestock industry is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters of all.

Worldwatch Institute is a 35-year old independent research organization headquartered in Washington DC. It issues reports analyzing global environmental data and solutions to global environmental challenges. A recent report is Livestock and Climate Change, in which the Worldwatch researchers estimate that up to 51 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions (in carbon dioxide equivalents) are attributable to livestock via such activities as clearing forests to create more pastures, tens of billions of livestock exhaling CO2 and emitting methane, and dumping liquid livestock wastes.

 “Ignorance is Toxic” was the campaign slogan for the 1996 initiative passed by Eugene voters, requiring large Eugene manufacturers to report their hazardous chemical inputs and outputs.

Yes. Ignorance is Deadly.

A link to Livestock and Climate Change calculations, conclusions, and recommendations can be found at http://www.worldwatch.org/node/6294