Cowspiracy: Methane-Hoofprint and Personal Choice
by RM Allen, author of NH Goddess Chronicles series
I watched Cowspiracy the other day and was disturbed on many levels. But not in the way you may think. Cowspiracy is a documentary about how the current methods of producing meat and dairy for the world are unsustainable, not to mention the very poor treatment of the animals. These things I knew. What I did not know was the extent to which it is an unfair use of resources, especially regarding water and land, and the tremendous impact of methane. The film gives many excellent statistics and easy to understand graphics.
Too many! They came at me like hard spray from a garden hose, I could not keep up. I had to watch the movie again another day, and still came away with the same overwhelmed-by-stats feeling. This was disturbing to me, as a woman who likes to think she is fairly knowledgeable about global warming. (The stats are on their website www.cowspiracy.com/facts Whew! Glad for that!)
What was most disturbing to me was the conspiracy part of the movie. As Kip, the co-producer/star (environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio is executive producer), tries to do good for the earth by informing the public about the many adverse impacts of the meat industry (too many to list here) he keeps drilling away on Green Peace, Sierra Club, 350.org and the like for ignoring this subject. As a supporter of these hard-working non-profits I take exception to that. I find that almost as divisive and offensive as the incendiary Trump presidential campaign. The drama is not needed, we are intelligent people capable of collaboration. It may be, though, that those environmental groups are reluctant to tackle the methane issue for fear of being accused of dictating our personal food choices.
Overall it is a great film and very informative, please watch it on Netflix at your next chance. Kip really put the Methane-Hoofprint on my radar. I was astonished that I did not understand how powerful a greenhouse gas methane is. Unlike the film, I do not blame anyone for my lack of knowledge on this matter. I thank Kip for having the courage to buck the cattle lobby and spread the word about a topic that is still taboo, but rapidly losing that status. Surely methane needs to be addressed as a major contributor to reducing global warming. I am all for that.
The second time I watched the film I had my chemist husband watch with me to explain. In a nutshell: methane is significantly more powerful in trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Wow! The good news is that while carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for generations, methane dissipates comparatively quickly and flies off into outer space. So, actions to reduce atmospheric methane will have a relatively rapid impact on global warming. However we need to be aware that any attempt to diminish the meat industry must take into account the inter-relationship of population, water supplies, energy needs and emerging economies. Not to mention that family size and food choices are extremely personal decisions.
All that being said, Kip has convinced me that the Methane-Hoofprint is just as important as the Carbon-Footprint when it comes to environments and eco-systems. Will I become a vegetarian? No. Will I reduce my already low-ish meat consumption by 50% or more? You bet. Thomas Jefferson used meat as a condiment, and that sounds about right to me. In addition to being kinder to Mother Earth, I can save money at the market… and fit back in to my high school jeans.