Missing the point (OR Is all carbon created equal?)

May 22, 2008

C. points me (via a NY Times blog) to an article with some unusual ideas about combating global warming. Certainly, it’s good to think outside the box, and consider perspectives on climate change that are outside the mainstream. But you still need to understand the basic premise.

Climate change is a man-made phenomenon because we’re taking carbon out from underground, burning it, and releasing the resulting CO2 into the atmosphere. A small sliver of the elevated emissions may be a result of increase in CO2 emitting animals and a decrease in CO2 absorbing plants, but it pales in comparison to burning once-buried carbon.

That little piece of information more or less invalidates this claim:

Dairy cows raised on organic feed aren’t pumped full of hormones. That means they produce less milk per Holstein — about 8 percent less than conventionally raised cattle. So it takes 25 organic cows to make as much milk as 23 industrial ones. More cows, more cow emissions. But that’s just the beginning. A single organically raised cow puts out 16 percent more greenhouse gases than its counterpart. That double whammy — more cows and more emissions per cow — makes organic dairies a cog in the global warming machine.

Sure, there are increased carbon emissions to support the cows but that’s because we burn carbon for energy. There were cows before there was global warming and they managed to go about their business in an entirely organic manner without impacting the climate. Even with more cows, the increased emissions almost certainly pail in comparison to those resulting from carbon-based energy addiction.