Cow hysteria diverts attention from real climate issues | Canberra time

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The Global Methane Pledge, supported by the United States and the EU, will be officially launched at the major climate change summit COP26. The commitment aims to reduce global methane caused by human activity by 45% during this decade. Methane from human activity is responsible for 25% of global warming. Ruminants, including cows, are a known source of methane. Hysterical claims by some that a pledge to cut methane would force farmers to cull their herds are not supported by Meat and Livestock Australia, which aims to be carbon neutral by 2030. Demand for meat is not driven by climate policies. Health experts advise us to eat less meat. Many choose a vegetarian or vegan diet, a choice driven by multiple factors such as health concerns, perceptions of animal welfare, fads and, increasingly, the looming specter of climate change. However, Australia’s population is expected to reach 36 million by 2050. The cattle industry is not about to go bankrupt. Many farmers have a strong connection to the land. They are diversifying, restoring vegetation, adapting to climate change, improving their land and in some cases reducing their herd sizes to improve soils. They will benefit from a low-carbon economy. Farmers know that continued global warming will make them more vulnerable. If warming continues unabated, many farms will become unsustainable. The problem with “cow hysteria” is that it distracts us from the other methane problem of so-called “gas scavenging”. Estimates of escaped, or “fugitive” methane from gas extraction, transport and use have been consistently underestimated. The gas industry is developing pell-mell in Australia in search of export profits. The gas industry has donated $700,000 to major parties in 2020. For this, the industry has been richly rewarded with millions of dollars donated to gas developments. The controversial Beetaloo Basin gas development alone has been promised $50 million. A Global Methane Pledge to reduce methane emissions by 45% this decade would prevent 0.3 degrees of warming by the 2040s. It would also prevent an additional 255,000 deaths, 755,000 asthma admissions, 73 billion lost working hours and 26 million tonnes of crop losses worldwide.

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OPINION

Teresa H. Sadler