Friday, March 13, 2009

Global Warming and Hazardous Pig Farming

Cows are greater emitters of greenhouse gas and a greater threat to humanity than our cars.

HT to Greg Mankiw for something that that, to me, illustrates the ridiculousness of trying to reduce greenhouse gases. The best way to reduce something is to tax it at the margin, which is all Mankiw says about greenhouse gases. But he links to this article:

Proposals to tax the flatulence of cows and other livestock have been denounced by farming groups in the Irish Republic and Denmark.

A cow tax of €13 per animal has been mooted in Ireland, while Denmark is discussing a levy as high as €80 per cow to offset the potential penalties each country faces from European Union legislation aimed at combating global warming.

The proposed levies are opposed vigorously by farming groups. The Irish Farmers' Association said that the cattle industry would move to South America to avoid EU taxes.

Livestock contribute 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases believed to cause global warming, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. The Danish Tax Commission estimates that a cow will emit four tonnes of methane a year in burps and flatulence, compared with 2.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide for an average car.

On an unrelated and very scary note, Nick Kristof is writing about pig farming in Indiana. They're seeing an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant staph infections that are possibly linked to the massive amounts of antibiotics pumped into pigs on local farms. Why this falls to Kristof to investigate is anyone's guess, but it's a pretty scary read.

I’ll still offer my kids B.L.T.’s — but I’ll scrub my hands carefully after handling raw pork.

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