This is where I’d go for my expertise too

The naked truth is McDonald’s is in a business that is fundamentally at odds with the Earth’s integrity,” said Gidon Eshel, an environmental and urban studies research professor at Bard College. “No fig leaf, however persuasive or covering it is, can change that fact.”

Bard, eh?

Bard College offers the best of both worlds: a traditional liberal arts college with exceptional programs in the fine and performing arts.

Just where we’d expect to find the right sort of scientific expertise to be able to rule on such a point.

21 thoughts on “This is where I’d go for my expertise too”

  1. I have stopped using McDs ( admittedly I only ever went two or three times a year) precisely because they did away with plastic straws.

  2. “Beef is particularly problematic because cows release high levels of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, in their burps and manure”

    Can someone explain this to me, an idiot?

    I get the whole thing of burning oil, all the CO2 from fossilized carbon being released being A BAD THING, but cows eating grass is new grass. So wouldn’t the next grass be based on photosynthesis? What happens if the cows don’t eat it? Does the grass release methane? Why isn’t the atmosphere loaded with methane from all the cows that have existed for millions of years? Or does it disappear?

  3. Simple answer to that one, BoM4, is cows don’t eat grass. The bacteria in cows’ stomachs eat the grass. Similar bacteria to that in the digestive system of anything eats grass. They’re the one’s emit methane. So it doesn’t matter a damn whether the grass is eaten by cows or not. We need to ban grass. Didn’t someone write a novel based on that once?

  4. What BiS says.. Plus the other Fun Fact…

    This type of loon is generally fan of the Insect Alternative. Now guess, no seriously, just guess how insects manage to process cellulose….

    The utter cluelessness of these people is….

  5. I would submit that Gidon Eshel and Bard College are fundamentally at odds with the Earth’s integrity. Producing large amounts of carbon dioxide and methane to no useful purpose.

  6. We found a cache of plastic straws left over from the era of young offspring. No you can’t share them. We’re keeping them for when the Queen visits us.

  7. When I were a lad, straws (such as the ones we used to drink our school milk, before the ‘snatcher’ came for it 🙂 ) were paper, but we had the technology to wax coat them, so they didn’t ‘melt’ after the first suck.

  8. @BoM4
    +1 There’s this thing called the carbon cycle, which we were taught in O-level geography, back in the day. I assume Greta the Doomgoblin was on ‘strike’ when it was covered.

  9. BiS: don’t remember that one, but I do remember reading a Sci-fi novel, may have been one of Fred Hoyle’s, where an alien says to a human that the success of Earth was down to having grass. I can’t remember the reasoning though. It’s certainly a useful family of plants! And long live the herbivores that graze it for our culinary pleasure.

  10. Is there more grass because we cultivate it for cows to eat? Do cows eating the grass speed up the cycle of grass being broken down by the bacteria? Of course if we don’t eat cows how does that co2 output saved compare to what ever we replace eating cows with?

  11. Further to Grikath at December 11, 2021 at 3:12 pm…

    ISTR seeing somewhere that it had been suggested/calculated that the world’s termites produce more methane than the world’s domesticated ruminants.

  12. @threefold sneezer:

    Is there more grass because we cultivate it for cows to eat?

    Yes. Most, if not all meadows would turn to woods of varying description if left alone for a decade or two. Grass as cultivated for cattle is a farm crop. And farmers ( and quite often foresters..) treat it as such.

    Do cows eating the grass speed up the cycle of grass being broken down by the bacteria?

    Yes and no. In the short term decomposition is sped up massively. The cow’s stomach is, after all, a pretty efficient bioreactor.
    However most of the decomposition products will be locked in the cow for its lifetime initially, and then passed on through different decomposition/integration cycles, including us, before the last remnants are released “in the wild” again.
    In the long run it’s about even, with some redistribution, geological jokers, and Quantum thrown in at both local and global levels.

    Of course if we don’t eat cows how does that co2 output saved compare to what ever we replace eating cows with?

    Badly.. Because even at subsistence level there isn’t anything more efficient at converting raw plant matter into stuff we can efficiently metabolise than ruminants. Not even insects, and those also miss all the other useful bits we use from ruminants we can’t metabolise directly.
    Leather/pelts, wool, glue, basic tools/weapons, stuff..

  13. @Baron Jackfield
    It’s certainly more concentrated.. Termite mounds aren’t mobile, after all..
    The biggest problem there is that it’s relatively easy to calculate the average methane output per kilogram of cow, since we can catch and count the buggers relatively easily. Whereas it’s extremely easy to catch a bunch of termites and measure their output, but there’s no way in hell to exactly determine how many of the buggers there are in a termite mound.

    But it’s a good bet that termites alone put out at least as much methane as all the world’s domesticated ruminants together. Or ruminants, period. Domesticated or not.
    There’s a fair amount of insect species that process cellulose directly, if only in part of their lifecycle, and their combined biomass far outstrips the total biomass of all mammals.
    And their methane production pales compared to the sludge at the seabottom…

    But yeah.. It’s the humans raising cows on their meadows what did it… /sarc.

  14. “There’s this thing called the carbon cycle, which we were taught in O-level geography, back in the day.”

    Yes and it is really quite significant when it comes to CO2 in the atmosphere. Huge amounts of CO2 are being added to and subtracted from the atmosphere naturally. Human industrial activity adds between three and four percent to the plus side of this process. So, all things being equal, you would expect the amount of CO2 to rise and that is what is happening. However, there is no way of knowing whether this would be happening anyway as the processes involved are not sufficiently Well understood.

  15. ” Human industrial activity adds between three and four percent to the plus side of this process.”
    But the balance sheet’s very complicated. A tractor ploughing a field is permanently sequestrating far more carbon by accelerating the process of soil formation than the diesel carbon emissions of its engine. But only the tractor’s emissions are being shown on environmentalists’ balance sheets.

  16. It’s surprising how rarely soil’s mentioned, considering it’s a major way that carbon is removed from the carbon cycle. It’s the process that eventually results in coal & oil. It’s been going on ever since plants colonised the land. Coal & oil are just high carbon concentrations worth exploiting. Naturally soil forms at a few millimetres a century. Agriculture forms it at a far faster rate. Can be measured in metres, because a lot of soil gets washed off by rainfall & ends up somewhere else. Carried away by rivers & finds itself as silt on sea beds. Still with all that carbon. Given enough time that’ll be a potential oilfield.

  17. “It’s surprising how rarely soil’s mentioned, considering it’s a major way that carbon is removed from the carbon cycle. ”

    No it isn’t…
    Soil is the substrate where organic matter gets slowly decomposed by various means, meanwhile releasing the minerals that plants need to grow.
    It’s a biome in and of itself which can be and is replaced by Science in the lab and in large commercial greenhouses. It does release a fair amount of CO2, methane, and a variety of well.. not-nice volatile compounds if in bulk. With the CO2 not standing a chance to travel more than a couple of yards, of course. The rest.. wellll….

    And soil can build up way faster than a couple mm a century, especially at high water tables. Only then we call it “peat”.

    And oilfields? Nope. Gas, yes. Oil, no. Oil’s from the bits of sea floor that hasn’t seen a river outlet in its life.

  18. I need to have discovered this discussion sooner. In case anyone is still listening:

    I am reading that aerobic composting does not produce methane, but anaerobic composting does. So are cows producing more methane vs. other forms of decomposition producing more CO2? Relevant since we are also told that methane is a more potent greenhouse gas.

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