Eating a Burger or Driving a Car

Worrall, Simon. "Eating a Burger or Driving a Car: Which Harms Planet More?" National Geographic. National Geographic Society, n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2015.

Summary: This was an interview piece. In this article in National Geographic, Simon Worrall examines the use and conditions of cows in the United States. He quite poignantly notes that cows in the UK can be seen grazing around the fields, whereas the cows in the US mechanically stand around small and unsanitary living spaces. Worrall interviews Denis Hayes and Gail Boyer Hayes, who researched and coauthored the book Cowed: The Hidden Impact of 93 Millions Cows on America’s Health, Economy, Politics, Culture, and Environment. The two discuss the roots of cows, famous bovine legends, and the climate impact of eating beef. In fact, they both concluded that eating a pound of beef impacts the climate more than burning a gallon of gasoline. This is because of the costs of nitrogen fertilizer on cornfields, gasoline for the tractors, getting in a car to buy the beef, refrigerating it, and then actually cooking it.

Ethical Issue: The ethical issue is whether or not people have the right to kill cows on a mass-scale for consumption, when it adversely affects the future generation of cows and our climate. Cows in the United States are already treated with, as this article says, concentration-camp-like conditions, and are bred only for the point of consumption at maximum value. Cows are repeatedly impregnated to keep producing milk and are not even allowed to keep their calves near them. Does this issue make a more convincing argument on the need to scale back beef production?

Position: In my opinion, meat production should also be under the inspection of the US Department of Energy's Office of Climate Change. We should have government agencies in charge of reducing pollution oversee production of things that create climate problems.

Question: Is there anything this information can do to change the scale or way we either a) eat beef/other meat or b) produce it?

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