The Spectator

Sacred cows

The cow has had it too easy for too long.

The cow has had it too easy for too long. For years we humans have been jetting across the world, guiltily clutching complimentary snacks, shamed by the feeling that every minute of our flight was damaging our planet’s fragile climate. Our bovine friends, meanwhile, have been openly flatulent, emitting devastating global warming gases without fear of reprisal.

Thank goodness then for Lord Stern of Brentford, the New Labour climate change guru who this week has finally focused the nation’s opprobrium where it is deserved. Of course it’s not quite true that every time a cow farts, a baby polar bear falls through the ice, but Lord Stern does have science on his side.

Evidence, obtained by fitting plastic bags to the rear end of cows, reveals that they produce between 8,000 and 10,000 litres of emissions every day. The gas is mostly methane, which is 23 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Worse, Lord Stern does not think that the cows can be restrained, so he believes that we must forfeit eating meat instead. After this argument made front-page news, he described it as ‘unfortunate’. But Stern should be more confident: his logic may be unpalatable but it is also correct. For those who stay grounded to be green, and who drive a Toyota Prius, there is an obvious implication — avoid meat or embrace hypocrisy.

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