This Week’s Column: Where’s the Beef on Climate Change?

Editor’s Note – I’m thrilled to welcome my hometown newspaper, the Hillsboro Times-Gazette, to the family of papers across the midwest carrying my weekly column.



An interesting confluence of stories struck me this week on the issue of “global warming,” or what is now more politically known as “climate change.” Global warming, it seems, has fallen out of vogue as many areas of the country experienced the coolest summer seen in decades if not on record this year. Nonetheless, the drumbeat for climate change legislation and regulation continues in Washington and in halls of power around the world. The two different story arcs that crossed my mind on this issue came from a book I started this week called “SuperFreakonomics,” the follow-up to the blockbuster “Freakonomics” out some four years ago, and the appearance of one of the authors on “Good Morning America” alongside anti-agriculture author Michael Pollan. The discussion of global warming alarmism and the push for reduced meat consumption is one of the most dangerous discussions in society today.



Let’s start with the basic premise – human activity over the last century generated increasing levels of carbon dioxide, creating a “greenhouse effect” that raised average temperatures 1.3 degrees in 100 years. Not denying that statistic, authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner instead question why such a minute uptick in temperature is worthy of all the hubbub and social control proposed by lawmakers and regulators. Levitt, a University of Chicago economist, points out that economists, like all of us, respond to incentives in a way that shapes not only our actions, but our very thoughts and perceptions. To quote the book, “the economic reality of research funding, rather than a disinterested and uncoordinated scientific consensus, leads the (climate) models to approximately match one another,” pointing out that the “scientific” conclusions about global warming too closely mirror one another to be accurate.



Think of it another way: if you’re a climatologist at a prestigious university or think-tank, you likely work under a mandate to “publish or perish,” and your work is graded at least to some extent by the amount of grant money and research dollars you can attract for your employer. The simple reality of market economics is that when social control-minded lawmakers and bureaucrats appropriate billions of dollars in funding to “solve” the global warming “crisis,” are you willing to be the first guy to stand up at a climate change summit and say, “Hey guys, this global warming thing really isn’t a big deal?”



The inclusion of meat in the discussion comes as author Dubner appeared on GMA along with Pollan.



Dubner, in debunking global warming and the view that SUVs are killing us all, pointed out that methane produced by ruminating cattle globally accounts for more “greenhouse gas” emissions than SUVs in this country. Not content to leave it at that, GMA interviewed Pollan, who claims that when you eat a hamburger, “you’re eating oil” because raising livestock and processing meat is energy intensive. Reminding viewers that eating meat is bad for their health, a claim debunked by studies too numerous to list, Pollan continued his alarmism by suggesting that not only is meat bad for your health, but that the production of meat is the single largest contributor to global warming. This train of thinking led the Baltimore City Schools to adopt “Meatless Mondays” this school year, depriving students of necessary protein, vitamins, and minerals in the name of “saving the planet.”



The moral of the story is this: as pointed out in “SuperFreakonomics,” 100 years ago the horse was on the verge of destroying society as it carried or pulled citizens around urban centers; accidents involving pedestrians were numerous, and the millions of pounds of manure generated daily in cities like New York and Chicago threatened the very health of the inhabitants. And yet, while unable to craft a feasible solution to the “horse crisis” in and of itself, a few short years later Henry Ford’s invention solved the problem altogether with a simple fix in technology. Likewise, the authors suggest that far from needing Big Brother to mandate changes in every facet of our lives from transportation to our daily bread, we need to be patient enough to wait for the simple revolution technology is likely to bring.



I’ll take it a step further – when did we as a society decide that people no longer mattered in the equation? In the push for “sustainability,” we’ve been convinced that far from being the solution, humans are the very roots of the problem, be it concerns over the environment or animal welfare. This is clearly true in what I’m calling “The War on Carbon,” and “The War on Meat.” I have read today no less than 10 stories in major publications linking the consumption of meat to global warming, suggesting to readers that if they only limited their consumption of meat-based proteins, they could save the planet. Likewise, the Al Gore alarmists continue crying wolf over the imminent end of the planet because we drive pickup trucks and watch flat-panel televisions. Their solutions are almost always centered on controlling your behavior, and limiting your rights and civil liberties.



In the same vain, animal rights activists are working to subjugate humans to the animal kingdom. It is my firm belief that the creator gave us animals to be a resource for us, be it as food, as companions or as tools for labor. Much like the environment He gave us, we must be stewards of these resources, but we must not lose site of the fact that people come first. The needs of human beings far outweigh the costs associated with “cap and trade” legislation, or “meatless Monday” campaigns.



When we as Americans stand up to the bullies of global warming alarmism and radical animal rights veganism, the pushback is swift and virulent. Considered environmental heretics or animal abusers, it is up to each of us to stand firm.



If you give a bully your milk money today, you can bet he’ll be back for more tomorrow.