Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Global Warming Raises Finger At The Cattle

The poor cow - now is at the receiving end. For ages, man has enjoyed pouring scorn on donkey so much so that the English language makes liberal use of such expressions like 'He is an absolute donkey' or 'The bridge won't be ready for donkey's years.But I was startled to read about a UN report saying the dumb cattle is responsible for global warming. I always thought that among animals, cow serves the man best. Its milk is nutritious for the child and the old alike. Its meat is relished by those who include such animal protein in their food. Its hide is an excellent raw material for leather shoes, bags and belts. Even its excrement has lot of uses - as a manure and fuel of the poor. The blow given by a report of otherwise independent and non-partisan United Nations is too devastating.
The Times of India reported "The increasing world population,a new UN report warns, would lead to further increase in the number of livestock as demand for meat and milk increases and that would mean emission of more greenhouse gases. Not only that. Cattle are also a major contributor to land degradation and pollution of water, the report says. The livestock business, the report says, is among the most damaging sectors to the earth's increasingly scarce water resources, contributing among other things to water pollution from animal waste s, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilisers, and the pesticides used to spray feed crops.
Global warming is a stark reality which is threatening to cause unimaginable damage and loss to the entire population if drastic measures are not taken. That is why nations are jointly trying to fight the menace by Kyoto protocol and carbon emission reduction mechanisms. If cattle indeed are the culprit, we cannot think of a similar carbon trading to reduce their contribution to global warming.
One of the possible ways to reduce their greenhouse emission is to go for their zero-growth population. The good news is that non-vegetarians are gradually turning vegetarians all over the world. Then the meat demand may not rise proportionately with the increase of human population. Substitutes for dung used as manure and fuels may be eventually found. But I cannot think of a world where milk would become a rare commodity. Even as the we are reminded of the apocalyptic end caused by global warming, the very thought of living in a world of perpetual milk famine is equally distressful for me.

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