Monday, December 11, 2006

My Brother the Inventor

My brother Fred has come up with a great idea: Install afterburners on cows. Afterburners are: "An auxiliary device, as on internal-combustion engines and incinerators, for burning undesirable exhaust gases produced during the original combustion."

cow
[Thanks to treehugger.com for the image.]

According to this article at The Independent citing a UN Food and Agricultural Organization report entitled Livestock's Long Shadow, cows are now the latest danger to the planet, because they "are responsible for 18 percent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together."

"Burning fuel to produce fertiliser to grow feed, to produce meat and to transport it - and clearing vegetation for grazing - produces 9 per cent of all emissions of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas. And their wind and manure emit more than one third of emissions of another, methane, which warms the world 20 times faster than carbon dioxide."

Livestock produce 100 other gases, plus ammonia. They cause deforestation. They absorb too much water ("it takes a staggering 990 litres of water to produce one litre of milk.") Weeds fed from livestock waste choke all other life. Pesticides, antibiotics and hormones enter water and kill coral reefs.

I guess the end of the world is nigh.

Good grief. I'll have to ask my brother which is worse: the cow flatulence's methane itself or the afterburner's combined production of heat and CO2.

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