Let’s Get Real

It makes good sense to me that bringing fossil fuel, that was sequestered below ground, to above ground might increasingly add to the Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.  However, the Earth itself has been known to periodically dump untold tons of previously sequestered carbon into the atmosphere via volcanic eruptions and natural methane gas leaks.  The theory that fossil fuel burning is detrimentally raising overall temperatures on the Earth’s surface is somewhat harder for me to get my head around because of the enormous numbers of factors involved in it and how adaptable Mother Earth has always proven to be.  Still, I believe the human population of the Earth should error on the side of caution by adopting practical carbon sequestration practices.  The solutions suggested in this post will undoubtedly “draw heat” from soft-science types that routinely begrudge mankind for imposing his will upon the environment.  Prior to the massive un-sequestration of fossil fuels, above ground carbon dioxide mostly cycled between the atmosphere, plants and animals.  PC, nature loving rhetoric may sound all holier than thou, but the human population is currently too big and we are to far into spaceship Earth to not attempt to prudently manage things.

Human agriculture has been managing sectors of nature for thousands of years. The domestication of and the productivity enhancing up-breeding of selected ruminant species did not just take place for no good reasons.  Cattle and sheep taste good and have the natural ability to turn complex carbohydrates (indigestible to humans) into high quality protein meat, milk products, leather and wool.  Still today, these two livestock species remain as our best chance at maintaining long-term sustainable animal agriculture because they are mainly sent out on their own to harvest marginal pasture/range lands.  Dairy cows and young market cattle are normally kept close and fed higher energy rations, but still eat a good bit of people harvested roughages.  Further, the lesser by-products of livestock slaughter have themselves become a multitude of important industrial & pharmaceutical starting raw materials.

Monogastric livestock (pork & poultry) compete directly with humans for the food stuffs that all three of these animal types can efficiently digest.  Not all that long ago, horses were a great help to humans for transportation and draft power.  Today, horse meat is not widely eaten, horses are not among the most productive protein producing livestock species and so are now merely “hay-burning” vestiges of our pre-mechanization days.  The horse’s digestive tract also contains a rumen-like fermentation compartment; so I suspect that these non-essential animals also substantially contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.  Cruelly keeping animals locked-down in zoos around the world is another thing of the past that would be ecologically wise to put an end to.  Internet and modern travel makes it much easier today for people to see what all exists on planet Earth.

As for taxing mainstream ruminant livestock production in North America, I have long felt that part of the world should be granted some greenhouse gas emission credits due to the past elimination of its very large indigenous bison herds.  India has the highest population of bovines (many are water buffalo) and some of them are nonproductive – sacred.  Recent actions in California to regulate methane generation at mega dairies is an ill-conceived notion that will force some dairy production into States to the nearby East; where the business is welcome.  Livestock food stuffs will then likely be hauled out of the fertile San Joaquin Valley; with milk and beef products being trucked back to large West Coast population centers.  The net effect will be the same amount of bovine greenhouse gas production plus increased fossil fuel usage.  I have seen incidences of fresh beef being hauled from California to Eastern Midwestern further processing plants, then many of the resulting precooked finished items being trucked back to California for human consumption.  Good logistics seems to be a best practice that should be more fully developed.

In all honesty, omnivorous humans are currently dependent on both food & fossil fuels; so we have no other real choice but to try and wisely manage the Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.  I concede that deer and other wild ruminants, that are indigenous to many parts of the world, were there first.  Unfortunately, populations of these large, wild, destructive, non-productive, greenhouse gas emitting, vehicle insurance premium raising, poor tasting animals have now exploded in many parts of the world.  The time is overdue to abandon romantic wild ruminant ideas and to vastly decrease their populations.  Since everyone on Earth shares the same atmosphere, a wild ruminant eradication UN resolution would seem to be called-for.  So-called Progressives and Globalist are strong central planning advocates; therefore a deer eradication program would be expected to garner wide support from them as being beneficial to both the environment and people (win-win).

Being wild animals, deer are free to easily reproduce in agricultural or residential “subsidized environments”; in which an artificial carrying capacity is created.  Small scavenger species often go unnoticed, but that’s never the case with deer and other large ruminants.   Reintroducing natural predators may help kill-off some Spring & Summer fawns, but the remainder of the year those predators have to eat pets, livestock or people.  And, whenever hard winters are poised to reduce urban or suburban deer concentrations, softhearted people feed them corn so they can drop viable twins or triplets come Spring.  In this real life modern scenario, sustainable ruminant agriculture suffers from both predation and from available food competition with wild ruminants.  The tremendous amount of deer damage to row-crops also hurts sustainability efforts for feeding plant products to humans and for feeding monogastric livestock.  Further, one never knows when a large wild ruminant is going to run into their vehicle or if on foot during rut you might get bucked-up.  In the overall scheme of things, residential landscape and garden plant damage caused by deer infestations is “small potatoes.”  Deer’s worst damage is brought about by the double whammy of unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and the devastation of carbon sequestering trees.  Construction lumber, cabinetry, finished woodwork and furniture standout as the most economically viable means of sequestering carbon for fairly long periods of time.  Deer everywhere, eating the tops out of tree seedlings amounts to a massive loss of carbon sequestering wood; that otherwise would one day be available for harvest/carbon sequestration.  In this way, pervasive deer have now become much more destructive than forest fires.

I acknowledge that there is a difference between carbon dioxide and methane gas.  Perhaps industrial scientists & engineers can develop some gleaning of methane while large volumes of air are compressed through jet plane engines, or merely ignite methane at that point.  Does lightening spark any burning of atmospheric methane?  If so, that action would generate carbon dioxide in need of wood sequestration; as does all fuel gas burning.

I wish that deer had better palatability characteristics (good flavor, tenderness and juiciness).  But then again, if deer production was economically viable the venison market surely would have been taxed by now.  To date, the best States can do is try and get gullible hunters to pay to kill predetermined quotas of wildlife.  Even then, suburban hunting is most often not possible due to houses being too close together and police calling neighbors.  States claim ownership of wildlife; yet refuse to financially compensate for the private property damage caused by them.  Governments  around the world need to standup and do what is right for the greater good.  Serious sustainable agriculture advocates should embrace Climate Change theory/religion in an effort to convince that growing segment of the worldwide population to shift their focus to more pragmatic animal targets.  D.E.E.R. Deceptively Endearing Ecologically (and Economically) Ruinous.

Written by George Wolfer

George Wolfer

Been associated with the meat industry pretty much since starting at a Vocational High school Meat Processing program in 1974. Like to learn and teach interesting and worthwhile livestock production, meat processing and marketing practices.

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