Global Warming, Western Ranching, and the Bovine Curtain

Global Warming, Western Ranching, and the Bovine Curtain. This is from the WWP blog linking to an opinion by George Wuerthner as to how cattle contribute mightily to global climate change.

Just like the old Iron Curtain that squelched any critical discussion of Communism’s failures, we in the West live behind a “Bovine Curtain.” The Bovine Curtain is—like the Iron Curtain—operated by the state, using taxpayer dollars to continuously broadcast propaganda about the virtues of ranching in the West and suppressing any negative or critical information. . . . Wuerthner.



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  1. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    As always, an concise and hard-hitting opinion piece. Thank you, Mr. Wuerthner.

    George Wuerthner, along with Ralph Maughan and Jon Marvel, are among the few that are willing, on behalf of AMERICA’S public lands, to stand up to private citizens, private corporations, public corporations and politicians at all levels that are so self-serving they are unable to read the writing on the wall, which reads “It is time to end the grazing of private livestock on AMERICA’S public lands in the arid west.”

  2. krissnp Avatar

    You mean the emission of methane by livestocks is not very important from Global warming point of view?

  3. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Has anyone ever studied and estimated the fossil fuel usage and resulting pollution associated with producing livestock?

    This would include fuel consumed by farms raising grains/soybeans for livestock consumption, the machinery used to grow and harvest those grains/soybeans, the energy used to research, create, process, deliver and dispense fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, steroids and antibiotics, the vehicles used to transport grains/soybeans to be processed into livestock feed, the energy used to process grains/soybeans into feed, the vehicles used to deliver the feed, the livestock operation vehicles used to check on stock, machinery used to grow hay and haul hay, fuel used to haul horses to the trail head to check on livestock on grazing allotments on AMERICA’S public lands, fuel used to haul livestock to feedlots and haul livestock to slaughter, fuel used to refrigerate the goods, truck the goods to distributors, truck the goods to retailers, fuel used for more refrigeration until the American consumer selects and buys a nice cut of beef, subsidized by the feds…

    Let’s not forget the fuel consumed by all the federal and state agencies to conduct their livestock support efforts, including the usual land vehicles to get to the office and the field and the monitoring and killing of predators and the associated airplane and helicopter usage.

    And fuel consumed to support industry associations and their offices and associated travel and the fuel consumed by their lobbyists in Washington…

    I should stop.

    All hail the Golden Calf.

    Or not.

  4. be Avatar

    don’t stop ~ don’t ever stop…

    Livestock’s Long Shadow is referenced in the Wuerthner piece. It is a study conducted by the UN – Food and Agriculture Organization.

    the study evaluates the methane – which is a very large contributor – as well as carbon and other greenhouse gases that are poured into the atmosphere via livestock production. the study evaluates the entire commodity chain, though i am unsure whether it considers externality contributors such as agency support as you mention mack.

    it concludes that livestock production contributes more to global warming emissions than human use of transportation.

  5. Mike Wolf Avatar
    Mike Wolf

    Global Warming, the human-caused kind we are worried about, is almost entirely caused by the release of previously sequestered carbon (along with nitrogen) from underground stores; also known as fossil fuels.

    We cannot offset that increase in carbon; whereas carbon dioxide produced by livestock production is quite easily offset by trees, grasses, crops, etc.

    If you remove livestock, you do not remove those carbon emissions, you simply replace them with human emissions, or other emissions caused by the utilization of the carbon in range plants and hay feeds utilized by livestock.

    Worse, if livestock is no longer consumed, the carbon taken in by them will be more than made up for by the carbon emitted in exhaust transporting the vegetables that would be eaten instead. Sorry, being a vegetarian doesn’t solve global warming, it really makes it worse.

    If you want to solve global warming, sell all of your vehicles, put solar energy on your house, build a greenhouse and raise chickens, and grow all of your own food.

  6. Dante Avatar

    Did you all read about the 11 lies by a judge in Al Gore’s movie on global warming. Makes you wonder who to believe.

    See this link.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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