Methane is bad for the planet; cows and sheep produce huge amounts of it — so do those on plant-based diets. More pheasants, fewer vegans!
There is a great deal of heated discussion going on about hot air. Or rather, greenhouse gas emissions. Of these, methane is by far the most potent. In its latest report, the Government’s advisory committee on climate change (CCC) has said the number of sheep and cattle in the UK should be reduced by between a fifth and half.
The reduction is needed to head off the severity of climate change, according to the CCC. Cattle and sheep produce much more methane than pigs, let alone poultry. We need to reduce the national beef and sheep herds, says the report.
Well, perhaps. But I’ll tell you who do produce an awful lot of gas; vegans. Habitual lentil-munchers are always breaking wind. It’s a verifiable fact. And in that very specific sense, this additional methane cannot be good for the planet. If legions of farting cows are such a problem, what about their human equivalents? I think there is the stench of hypocrisy about the way some vegans demonise cows.
And what about the way certain activists go on about pheasants? The number of pheasants released annually is thought to be in the order of 35million. Yet, as the CCC says, poultry are relatively benign in terms of producing greenhouse gases. But there are up to 66million people in the UK. And humans produce two litres of gas a day, of which about seven per cent is methane. Vegetarians and vegans produce the most, of course. Perhaps we should have more pheasants and fewer vegans?
Let’s take the heat off concerns about the biomass of released game birds and start worrying instead about the exponential growth in the national herd of flatulent vegans. The Government should impose a methane tax on certain items, such as baked beans — or the Guardian.
There are other interesting considerations. Take bison. Estimates vary, but there may have been as many as 30million to 60million bison trundling over the prairies of North America before the US was founded. Numbers dropped to 1,000 by 1900, but have since recovered to a few hundred thousand today. Bison are bovines — essentially giant wild cows. Like their domestic cousins, they produce colossal amounts of methane. So how much methane, in total, were all those zillions of bison producing back in the day? Was it really so much less than that coming from domestic cattle?
Another part of the CCC report recommends planting more trees. It proposes that farm payments should be redirected in order to raise the proportion of UK land under forestry from 13 per cent to 19 per cent.
The report says this increased tree cover will help with carbon capture.
This could be good news for the shooting community. Who is going to do the deer control that will be needed to protect all this new planting? It could be a huge opportunity for the expansion of stalking. That in turn could fuel new markets for venison, a healthy form of red meat, high in iron and with less fat than factory-farmed chicken. Perhaps the environmental lobby will issue bumper stickers saying “eat a deer, save a tree — and the planet”.
It gets better. All those new woodlands will be perfect for pheasants. I think I’m getting the hang of this green group-think.
“The Government should impose a methane tax on baked beans — or the