Just when you though the United States was finally going to get serious about protecting the planet from an atmospheric buildup of perfectly natural gases, it turns out we’re ignoring one of the biggest threats of all: gassy cows.
When a friend of mine sent me this article, I thought it must be a parody of real news from The Onion. But nope … according to the article by the Associated Press (which they apparently expect us to take seriously), cows produce more greenhouse gases than coal mines and landfills. Here are some quotes:
One contributor to global warming – bigger than coal mines, landfills and sewage treatment plants – is being left out of efforts by the Obama administration and House Democrats to limit greenhouse gas emissions: Cow burps.
Belching from the nation’s 170 million cattle, sheep and pigs produces about one-quarter of the methane released in the U.S. each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That makes the hoofed critters the largest source of the heat-trapping gas.
Heat-trapping gas, hmmm … Considering that animals who burp and fart have been around for millions of years, you’d think this information would prompt intelligent people to wonder if the whole global-warming theory is a lot of cowpie. But that’s not how our friends at the Associated Press reacted. The article is clearly lamenting the fact that Congress is too afraid of the farm lobby to include cow burps and farts in legislation “to limit greenhouse gas emissions.”
But of course, that legislation isn’t really about limiting greenhouse gases; it’s about collecting new taxes in the form of “air pollution” permits. If you have a functioning brain, you ought to be suspicious when natural gases such as methane and carbon dioxide are labeled as “pollutants” – especially when plants and animals have produced the vast majority of those gases since the dawn of time, at least among living creatures.
Normally, politicians can barely contain their excitement when they realize they’ve found something new to tax. If you’re a Monty Python fan, you may recall the sketch in which members of her majesty’s government were trying to figure out how to tax sex. So I believe the Associated Press when it says politicians are sidestepping the gassy-cow issue because they fear the farm lobby. But that misses the point. The intelligent reason not to tax this form of “pollution” is that it’s a deeply, totally, and unbelievably stupid idea.
In fact, the idea is so completely and utterly stupid, greenies and vegetarian activists couldn’t stop themselves from supporting it. The greenies love it because they tend to be scientific illiterates who believe natural gases are imperiling the planet, and the PETA crowd loves it because it punishes people who eat meat.
(If you want a good laugh, check out Penn & Teller’s Bull@#$% episode on environmentalism. They got hundreds of greenies – including supposed experts on the environment – to sign a petition to ban dihydrogen monoxide … otherwise known as H2O … otherwise known as water.)
Well, I have my own proposal to limit greenhouse gases. If we’re going to tax methane, then to be consistent and fair, we need to tax all sources of it – including humans. As anyone who has worked in an emergency room near a college fraternity during initiation week can tell you, humans produce a form of methane that’s not only a greenhouse gas, but highly combustible as well. One flick of a Bic and POOF.
However, some humans produce more cubic feet of methane than others, so the relevant question is: how do we measure the emissions? The cheap and easy way would be to employ some sort of listening device – but that would place a disproportionate share of the tax burden on men, who tend not to be very subtle about these things. My junior year in college, I shared an apartment with three other guys in a cheaply-constructed building. One Sunday, the morning after we’d hosted a kegger, the cranky girl next door accused of us illegally keeping ducks.
Women, on the other hand – and I’m not mentioning any names, because she proofs my blog posts – produce methane that rivals ninja assassins for its ability to sneak up and kill you without being seen or heard. Clearly, we need an equitable form of measurement.
So I’m proposing that some government contractor produce a Toot-O-Meter that would precisely measure human methane output. Then all we’d need is an army of methane officers to follow people around and take readings. We can even sell the idea as another example of “creating green jobs.”
I don’t actually believe governments can create jobs, as I explained here. And as anyone who reads this blog knows, I think high taxes are destructive and man-made global warming is an inconvenient myth, as I explained here. But in this case, I’m supporting the whole ball of wax … the new taxes, the increase in government employment, everything. Why? One word: revenge.
For years, vegetarian wackos such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest have been agitating to slap high taxes on the foods they don’t think we should eat: fatty foods, fast-foods, animal foods, big foods, and pretty much everything else most of us enjoy. They also propose one stupid, expensive regulation after another, without ever concerning themselves with the cost to consumers, who ultimately bear all costs imposed on businesses.
But with my plan, I believe much of the burden and the cost will, at long last, fall largely on the vegetarian activists themselves. To explain why, I must first recount my run-in with a can of vegetarian chili.
Some years ago, I flew from Chicago to Las Vegas for an acting job. It’s not a long flight – at least not under normal circumstances. But this flight seemed to take forever, thanks to the can of vegetarian chili I consumed just before catching a taxi to the airport.
The first belly-rumble began just before the drink cart came around. I asked a flight attendant if they kept any antacids on board. She said sorry, we have Bufferin for headaches, but that’s it.
The next rumble was louder and actually hurt.
By halfway through the flight, I was literally holding onto my aching, bloated guts. Yes, I should’ve visited the restroom, but I couldn’t predict what the result would be. And worse, there was a line. That meant someone would be 1) standing just outside the door, which wasn’t soundproof, and 2) entering the bathroom as I exited. Maybe it’s my Catholic upbringing, but I didn’t want people pointing at me and whispering.
So I clenched my aching guts for the rest of the flight … and while waiting for my bags … and while waiting for a taxi … and while waiting to check in at the hotel … and I was growing ever-more bloated and miserable the whole time. The desk clerk even asked if I was okay.
Finally, in the sanctity of my room, I un-clenched my guts, at which point I produced the longest continuous methane emission of my life. I had to re-hitch my belt twice before it was over. My nether regions grew numb from the prolonged vibration. The planet was unaffected, but the hotel room definitely underwent a climate change. And yes, the ice in the nearby ice bucket became thinner.
The culprit, of course, was the vegetarian chili. It was full of beans – one of the few sources of protein vegetarians can eat without facing a moral crisis.
Based on this experience and a few others from my vegetarian days, I’m pretty sure vegetarians emit more greenhouse gases than the rest of us, and they should bear the cost of all that extra pollution. Since we know they’ll never resort to eating meat instead of beans, we could even design a methane cap-and-trade system.
Revenue benefits aside, this would provide the rest of us with some serious entertainment value. Imagine how much fun it would be to see a bunch of self-righteous PETA wackos gather for a protest in front of a meat-packing plant, then scatter like rats when a Toot Detector van screeches onto the scene.
In fact, I’d volunteer to be a methane officer myself, as long as I was guaranteed to be personally armed with a Toot-O-Meter and assigned to monitor Michael Jacobson of CSPI. I’d love to see his face when his own dietary choices cost him some extra dough.
“How was your lunch, Mr. Jacobson? Yes, I hear the vegetarian burritos are quite good. Would mind stepping over to the curb for a moment, sir? No, no, please remain clothed. Other people are still eating.”
As an added benefit, Jacobson would have to control his excitement upon discovering that yet another food contains saturated fat. Otherwise, when media dutifully assembled to record his outraged comparisons to a stick of butter, the performance would be marred by the sound of my Toot-O-Meter ringing up fresh charges.
The only real problem I see with my proposal is that it would be expensive, burdensome, difficult to implement, inconsistently applied, prone to corruption, and ultimately useless.
Which means it would probably sail through Congress with overwhelming support.