An Ill Wind

I'd rather have a meatier, hotter and smellier world then give up beefy pleasures in order to reduce cow flatulence

I do not love animals but some people do. Some love them so much that there are even charities devoted to animal welfare. My favourite is the Donkey Sanctuary in Devon. Old donkeys deserve the best that money can buy.

However deserving, donkeys fart. Not just donkeys, but cats, dogs, pigs and especially cows. And this heats up the air because animal wind contains methane, which is a “greenhouse gas”. The more flatulence that goes on, the hotter the air becomes.

I do not love the environment but some people do. They tend to think that the air should not get any hotter. It is quite hot enough already. Those who love the environment therefore hate farting. And, since animals fart so much, they hate animals. 

That may be a little strong. Some moralists say that it is not the sinner they hate but the sin. Perhaps it is not the farter that environmentalists hate but the fart. Nevertheless, with anti-flatulence technology in its currently adumbral state, any serious reduction of bovine methane emissions will require a reduction in the bovine population. (And cats, dogs and pigs should probably beware too.)

Not everyone loves people but I do. I am a people person. So I regret the environmentalists’ hostility to animals. Cows do not give off only methane. They also give off milk and beef and leather, which people enjoy consuming. 

Lord Stern, author of the 2006 Stern Report on the cost of climate change, recently encouraged us to give up such pleasures so that we can have fewer cows, less methane and cooler air. This strikes me as a bad trade-off. I prefer a world that is meatier and hotter-and smellier, if need be. (Although, that said, have you ever shared a house with a vegetarian?) 

Glaciers, vegetables and air molecules get nothing from their existence, whatever the temperature. But most of us animals, even those who get eaten, prefer to live, even in nasty environments. The more of us the better.

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