Cow Farts Do Not Cause Climate Change

Consumption is not the door to liberation

Andrew R. French

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Cow farts are not the leading cause of climate change, regardless of certain studies. Total greenhouse gases from the agricultural sector in 2021 amounted to 10% of the USA’s total, whereas transportation and electrical power generation contribute 18% and 25% respectively (1). Heating our houses and industrial activity contribute 13% and 23% of the total of greenhouse gases in our environment. We need to shelve the idea that cow farts are responsible for global climate change, because it is ridiculous. It is true that agricultural operations on the planet are a very significant producer of methane, which is 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere (2), but it is relatively short lived at 12 years in the atmosphere vs decades (3). Confined Animal Feeding Operations and Industrial Agriculture are the primary producers of methane and contributors toward ethical and environmental catastrophe, sure, but they are not the driver of global climate change, which can be traced to the mass consumption of fossil fuels, the majority of which are use in the production of electricity, heating and cooling, and transportation. All of this is driven by our endless desire to consume.

There is no possible way that we can solve the problem of climate change without a change in the climate of our selves. We can point at several instances in modern history, such as the industrial revolution, and say this is where it all started. Some aspects of the current crisis of global warming stem from that era, but it is a contributory cause. To find the primary cause we need to go inward and find out why we all need to consume so much, whether it be hamburgers and video games, or McMansions and sports cars. What hole are we trying to fill that is killing the Earth?

After much study of global climate change over the course of my life, I’ve finally realized that there is simply no way that we can create a solution to this problem which involves consumption. The overabundance of constant consumption by human beings is the main problem itself, as well as our population growth. While we are driven to find technological solutions to the problem of climate change so that we can continue to consume, no consumption based model of sustainability…

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Andrew R. French

Writer at the Intersection of Earth Science and Culture