Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Cow Gas

The Los Angeles Times carried an article today about air pollution in the San Joaquin Valley. The gist of the piece was that cows, dairy cows, are causing pollution on par with cars.

san joaquin valley

Dairy has grown in the valley. According to the article there are 2.5 million cows there and the numbers are increasing. All these cows are creating organic gasses that mix with the atmosphere into a polluted cocktail.

Okay. The local air quality district is attributed with saying, "...dairy farms are the biggest single source of smog-forming gases." There is citizen outrage and the dairy business community is predictably reactive. Of note is reference to "fart science."

I think a second of humor is warranted.

It's always too bad when one thing gets singled out as the sole cause of the problem in the San Joaquin Valley. You bet there are a lot of dairy cows there and I have to believe those cows do produce some gasses. But the San Joaquin has a rapidly expanding human population that also altered the environment by building houses, businesses, malls, roads and yes, driving more cars, eating more food and well, having gas too.

If everybody could take some personal responsibility for their activities, it'd be more defensible to talk about solving the greater problem when addressing specific spots. That's pretty idealistic. I guess it's easier to get mad and start ripping the other guy.

And there's a practical side to things as well. How do you get a cow to stop or reduce its gas emissions? Is there a converter available? An accusation of this sort causes dairy producers to conclude someone is out to get them and the weapon is the environment.

Then you get an equally predictable reaction that dairy producers are a bunch of greedy eco-wreckers because they take exception to the charges.

What we need are some bridge builders willing to start working on both ends of the situation. I do hope, in this case and thousands of others, bridge builders will step forward and start doing some of the hard work and making some of the sacrifices it'll take to clean up the environment and keep food moving into our cities and towns.

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