Commentary: Should you really care about carbon footprints?

 Resize text         Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

Last May, a reader chided me after I ran an article on milk’s carbon footprint and how it has gone down over the past 67 years.

“…do you really think anyone with a brain cares about the ‘carbon footprint’ of milk? Give me a break. Dairy farms are vanishing, the industry is being destroyed by USDA regulations and someone is actually concerned about phantom science. Please concentrate on improved profitability issues and preserving remaining dairies,” he wrote.

That comment, posted in the reader-comment section of our daily electronic newsletter, made me think: Does anyone really care about carbon footprints? Should they care?

This week, I was reminded once again that they should.

The dairy industry is engaged in a public-relations battle on many fronts. One of those fronts, of course, is the natural environment and how dairy is impacting it.

Several people forwarded me a blog that was run on the TIME magazine web site entitled, “How meat and dairy are hiking your carbon footprint.” It was the usual anti-meat, anti-dairy diatribe, and I won’t go into specifics. A few years ago, when we looked into a TIME magazine article entitled "The Real Cost of Cheap Food," we realized it was slanted toward a particular point of view. Read more.

But some people believe this stuff and think it is objective journalism.

That is why the dairy industry must take the carbon footprint debate seriously and have a good argument in place for the critics.

I do not profess to be an expert on the subject. But I have heard dairy scientist Jude Capper, of Washington State University, speak on the issue numerous times. What she says makes perfect sense: We have reduced our carbon footprint by a significant amount over the past 60 to 70 years because there are fewer cows and the production systems have become more efficient. In 1944, there were 25.6 million dairy cows — nearly 17 million more than currently is the case. Seventeen million fewer cows means there is less methane produced!

Of course, it is more complicated than total number of cows. There are a number of factors, including crop production and the inputs needed to produce milk. This story details what scientists have found. They have determined that a typical dairy farm produces 1.35 pounds of carbon equivalent for every pound of milk produced. It’s become a science and you need to stay on top of it!

The animal-rights activists and liberal media are doing everything they can to bring down modern agriculture. It is your duty to be aware of this and fight back.

Yes, you should care about carbon footprints.



Comments (4) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

Barbara Corson    
Duaphin Pa  |  July, 29, 2011 at 11:00 AM

I believe there is a connection between the subject of this article (carbon footprint) and the subject of another article in the same issue (Drought monitor- record heat ).... People may not want to hear it, but our modern way of life, (and that includes modern agriculture) is at least part of the cause of a global change in climate. Seems to me that if we keep going like we are, the animal rights activists and liberal media won't have to take down modern agriculture-- because it will self-destruct, in part by altering the climate, and in part by alienating anyone who isn't a "modern farmer".

NY  |  July, 29, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Barbara, you are right on. The conservative media, shills for big money, keep telling people that global warming is a liberal plot and to ignore real science. They say the rest of the industrialized world is nutty and that they are right. It's convenient to believe and sells well. Ignorance is bliss. But their children and grandchildren will not thank them for their greed.

WI  |  July, 29, 2011 at 01:00 PM

How can we go from a global ice age which was predicted int 1970's to global warming/ climate change now? The climate has been changing for millions of years. I for one am glad it warmed some or we in the upper midwest would be under one of many glaciers yet. Thi global warming bull is just one moe example of junk science today and one more thorn in modern farmings side. Maybe consumers need to have some empty grocery store shelves and then we will see who is worried about global warming.

Dan Gingue    
VT  |  July, 29, 2011 at 03:37 PM

Believe in Global Warming or not, the reality is people decide to spend or not to spend money based on their belief in climate change and the health of the environment. We must realize that people want to think they are causing less polution than they did yesterday. If a consumer is convinced (whether right or wrong) that modern agriculture is destroying the earth we will lose that consumer for life. Oh, and dont forget. Now that person's spouse, children and easily influenced friends now believe modern ag is the enemy. Dairy's carbon footprint may not need lots of attention, but it certainly needs some.

Grand L60 Series

Kubota’s Grand L60 Series combines a higher level of luxury with outstanding productivity never before seen in this class of ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Leads to Insight