Going Green

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Carbon Taxing Food

New EPA rules could conceivably be interpreted to mean that livestock producers will be required to pay a carbon tax based on the number of animals on their premises. This is absolutely crazy. It will drive enough producers out of business that the cost of food in the form of animal proteins will go sky high. The last time that I looked, food was somewhat important to life on this planet. Below is just one of numerous related articles.

Livestock industry raises stink over EPA report on air pollution

If you think about it, livestock are converting unusable carbon into edible carbon. A cow converts grass into beef. Would you rather be eating grass or beef?

Most of the beef in our grocery stores comes from corn-fed cattle. That corn is raised by farmers who use diesel to fuel their tractors. That diesel will also be taxed. So, that means livestock producers in this instance will be subject to double taxation if a "cow" tax is implemented. Our country -- the world -- has lost its ever-loving mind over "climate change" when in fact, 2008 will be the coolest year of the decade. What is the world coming to????!

13 comments:

Bea Elliott said...

There's an excellent way to obtain 6 times more protein on the same amount of vegetation through a plant based diet. Shifting toward this healthier and more sustainable food would reduce negative environmental impacts as a result of "livestock".

Jacob Phillips said...

No matter if you believe in evolution or creation, it sees obvious to me that we are designed to eat meat in some quantities. Maybe this will be the next wave of the government trying to make us "healthier". Part of me thinks, "there is no way this would ever happen", but the other part of me will not be too surprised if it does.

Andy said...

So now along with the money livestock producers are having fork out to implement nutrient and waste management systems, they will have to pay a penalty because the animals "emit gas"? So in turn the price to produce goods (not just meat) increases then gets replaced by imported foodstuffs produced cheaper by countries with more lax rules and no concern about what goes into the final product? Then we wonder why unemployment is up and the economy is in the toilet.

Bea Elliott said...

OR... we could stop subsidizing the meat industries and instead give more support to clean food producers. It would be better for our air quality and better for health. Meat industries have been subsidized for a century - time to move on to the next and be Vegan.

Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

Bea,
You seem to be confused, livestock producers don't get subsidies, farmers do -- you know, the one's planting vegan-tables.

Bea Elliott said...

Livestock producers get "subsidies" in round-about ways... Like the money that is "granted" for animal agriculture "studies". Like the land grants for grazing... like the EPA's non-enforcement of pollution standards... Like advertisements by the Dairy Council in school cafetarias.

And let's not forget that the US government is the biggest consumer of *meat* products through it's purchases for military, schools and other federal institutions...

There is more tax dollars gone to keep animal industries afloat than what could be imagined -

Andy said...

Bea,

I am mad. My parents must have been hiding all this money they got from the government the whole time I was growing up. They must of just worked sun up to sun down and sometimes throughout the night just for the sheer enjoyment. Thanks for your shining endosement for veganism, but I think I'll stick to eating vegans, mainly cows. Have you ever thought about how much fuel and chemicals are used to mass-procuce your vegetables?

Bea Elliott said...

And what are we feeding animals? Corn, soy and grain... Animal agriculture is just an inefficient middle-man. Cut this one step out - feed 6 times as many people with a third the pesticides and fuel. Oh... and you'd also cut out the consumption of all the pharmacuticals that go into animal "food" as well.

Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

Bea,
You bring up a valid point -- we feed corn, soybean and other grain products to animals. The issue is highly complex and simplistic solutions don't work well.

Some of the issues: 1) consumer preference for animal proteins 2) utilization of marginal land for livestock 3) profitability (i.e. survivability) of farming (vegetable or any other kind) 4) ethanol production - livestock can utilize the bi-products of ethanol production whereas humans don't do so well with it (it has to do with the ruminant stomach vs. how our stomach works) 5) storage -- livestock are actually a form of protein storage until needed 6) utilization of non-grain forages (grasses) by livestock 7) transportation of vegetable products to where needed (e.g. Africa -- then you have corrupt governments to deal with) 8) because of recent price spikes due to diversion to bio-fuels, subsidies for grain farmers have been reduced to primarily conservation-type programs -- i.e. paying them not to plant those grain crops 9) much of the farm land in the world is arid to semi-arid and unsuitable for raising veggies without irrigation -- grains (except maize [which we call corn]) are less water intensive plants than veggies and can be raised on much of that land (e.g. from the Dakotas to Texas)

Bea,
If you have a preference for vegetables and fruits that is wonderful. Don't try force your prejudices on the rest of us under the guise of meat is bad for the environment. What do you think roamed the Plains before cattle? Buffalo -- meat. Elk -- meat. Pronghorn -- meat. Deer -- meat. Yes, people do eat Bambi. My preference is for BEEF. But, Bea, I won't insist that you eat it. I have no problem with you being Vegan. I know several others who have the same preference as you. They do just fine until they smell a nice thick juicy Ribeye steak simmering on the grill and then they have been known to "fall off the wagon." I think it must be something in the way the human animal is wired -- the salivating response to the sizzle and smell of roasting meat. I think it's somewhat primal. It's in our genes.

Bea Elliott said...

Consumer preference is either directed (or mis-directed) according to marketing and economics. Indeed the very word "cattle" means cash - animals are "commodities" and are advertised as such removing all the negative implications from their use.

Environmentally speaking - the U.N.'s report "Livestock's Long Shadow" will bear these findings out concerning water use:Livestock production
Quantity of water used in the production of the average cow: sufficient to float a destroyer
Water needed to produce 1 pound of wheat: 25 gallons
Water needed to produce 1 pound of meat: 2,500 gallons

Mark Bittman in the New York Times: Rethinking the Meat Guzzler will attest to the waste of fuel: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html

And the discussin here concerning the EPA's proposed "fart" tax on livestock addresses the concerns of their own scientists and other experts concerning global warming due to methane gasses as a result of animal agriculture.

Sure... animals have always existed (even before non-humans) however - we have made such vast sums of money through breeding/using/killing them that they out number us 4 to 1 now. Cows and pigs generate 10 times more excrement than humans... that's a lot of manure lagoons and a lot of poop filtering into our ground water... Yes, there are "digesters" that recover some value from waste but it's not an efficient exchange at all.

I guess I'm a modern gal in this respect - rather than live with what "always" has been, on a technological level I'd prefer seeing vertical hydroponic gardens in urban areas which could sustain whole communities. Barges could float at sea growing fields of corn, grain and other plant based foods. It is the future - animal agriculture will eventually go the way of the Dodo. But as long as (easy) money is to be made from the slaughter of billions of innocent beings - culture thus far is okay with the scenario...

Which brings me to the final prong of my argument the ethics of *meat*. True, most people don't question "who" is on their plate - just like for centuries they didn't question that child labor, sexism or slavery was wrong. The more civilized we become - leads more people to the conclusion that needless suffering to animals simply for "taste or convince" is incongruant with their values of compassion and justice.

Of course decisions like what type of ipod to buy, what color car to drive, what music to purchase, etc. are all "choice" with no moral implications. However, the idea that killing/consuming animals has no ethical significance is just wrong. It is at the crux of the whole issue - cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, rabbits, ewes, deer, dogs, cats, mice, etc. all feel pain. They all have an interest in their lives. There is no disagreement that they can (do) suffer. The critical challenge is to become enlightened enough as a culture to care enough. And the single thing any one person can do to alleviate unnecessary animal suffering is to be vegan. I'm delighted to see that those adopting such a lifestyle has doubled in the past 8 years, no doubt due to exposure on the internet. Tipping point - considering environmental damage, human health risks and Animal Rights should be due about the end of this century... We will then look back at these gluttonous times, intoxicated with greed and unthinkable brutalities to sentient beings like we look back today on primitive cave dwellers. Shame on us for taking so long.

Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

Bea,
I'm impressed at how thoroughly indoctrinated you seem to be! What might the human population of this "ideal" world that you envision be?

I like the idea of vertical hydroponic farms. There are links to various articles about them within this blog. (sorry, I don't have time to hunt them all up right now)

As to the barges -- pretty far-fetched although I have seen references in science fiction.

Where do you draw the line on those "innocent" beings? It could be argued that any living biological entity is such an innocent being. You plant killer you!!!

As to your enlightened culture -- perhaps if you spent as much energy fighting those who kill innocent humans (i.e. abortion) as you do those killing animals for food, I would be more interested in your "enlightened" argument.

By-the-way: Global Warming is passe. It is now Climate Change. If you're going to buy into the baloney, get it right.

As to groundwater contamination by agriculture -- mostly from field runoff (pesticides, fertilizers) not manure. EPA and various state agencies are pretty narrow minded about such things. Most manure today is put back on farm ground where it supplements the fertilizer and builds the soil. Oh, no! Those veggies you love have likely been fertilized with cow manure.

"...animals have always existed (even before non-humans)" -- what is a non-human if not an animal? I'm a little confused on your point here.

I'm curious -- what percent of the food you consume is grown by you?

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Bea Elliott said...

I draw "the line" on sentience. That the being knows and cares it's alive - Through your own sarcastic "plant killer" remark I'm sure you acknowledge the lack of sentience in a carrot. And there's no conclusive evidence yet that insects fit within the scope of self interest - but while the verdict is out - I'll err to the side of compassion and avoid harming them when I can...

And if you like the idea of barges - just think...they could also supply energy through capturing solar and wind energy too. A "by-product" of plant agriculture that would virtually make sustainable food "free".

Many use "climate change" and "global warming" interchangeably - the former being a result of the latter. And it's a phrase generated by the current administration officials meant to discredit environmental scientists... melting ice caps is definately a global warming issue.

"...animals have always existed (even before non-humans)"
Yes, sorry - I meant to say animals have existed before human "animals". Of course, we are all one - not rock, or tree or seed... but "animals".

Animal waste has been associated with water- and food-borne disease outbreaks, increased prevalence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and pharmaceutical compounds in drinking water supplies. I know there are standards of poop "discharge" to avoid run-off during applications. Yet, when the EPA has done tests in communities close to animal agriculture, water usually always tests unacceptably high for undesirable (dangerous) pathogens.

And yes, the manure fertilizers have certainly found their way into peppers, spinach, cantelop and tomatoes haven't they? Also animal based fertilizers present problems related to mad-cow and other prions that could contaminate food plants.

There are alternatives - organic farmers compost and on an industrial scale large agra-businesses contract with food processors converting plant-food waste into fertilizers. And of course... there's the under-valued common earth worm...

I live in Florida so I'm blessed with the potential of year round fresh vegetables and fruits. I'd say I get 40% of my other needs from other growers and conventional stores.

And as far as killing "innocent humans" through abortion - you cannot kill something - an "organism" - an "embryo" which is not alive. In order to be alive - one must be born. While I'm not in favor of late-term "fetus" abortions (unless the mother is at risk) - Fetuses are not capable of feeling pain at the beginning of the fetal stage, and will not be able to feel pain until the third trimester.

Now if you can answer a question for me - why is it that when addressing issues concerning killing sentient living beings the issue of abortion always comes up? And if all vegans vowed to never have/support "abortion" - would you stop killing animals then? Doubtful - so what's the point?