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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Blame It on Bessie

The Associated Press is reporting that a Swedish university is being given a grant for the equivalent of $590,000 to study (wait for it) "greenhouse gases released when cows belch." Apparently, similar research is already being done in Canada.

If I sound a touch cross, it's only because I've earnt diddly off of this blog* whilst bovine eructation researchers are raking in the notes. I suppose I should just be thankful my job doesn't involve measuring cow gas.

Anyway, regardless of your views on the subject of global warming or research grants, I think the ones who come off the worst in this situation are the cows. They've clearly been made the scapegoats here (if a goat/cow metaphor can truly be said to function in this context). Their lot in life is fairly dim to begin with:

1. Born in a field or barn
2. Subsist on hay and grass and, if they're lucky, the odd handful of sweet feed
3. Live in the outdoors
4. Slaughtered and dismembered for food

Admittedly, aside from number four, it's every vegan's dream. However, number four is a cracker of a condition, and the occasional appearance in a Chick-Fil-A advert here in the States hardly compensates. Yes, in India they're revered and walk the streets freely and all that, but no one ever feeds them curry. It's a brutal case of "so close and yet so far."

Now, along come this lot of Swedish and Canadian researchers who seem determined to demonstrate that cows are leading us on a fiery path of globally intemperate destruction because they can't be bothered to quaff a bit of Beano between grazes. It is "anti-cow" I tell you.

After all, no one has bother to examine the amount of greenhouse gases people put off. What with fizzy drinks, Tex-Mex chili, Sauerkraut, and 15-bean soups one would expect that even a relatively tiny person could produce enough warming whiffy vapours to make Al Gore's eyebrows raise all the way to the back of his neck.

In all fairness, the article does suggest that researchers will be examining the way in which different diets affect the cows' belch-producing output. So, perhaps the goal is simply the modest attempt to moderate cows' affect on the environment. All of this would make sense if not for the fact that cows can produce gas from any and all foodstuffs with the cold-blooded efficiency of a Nazi sausage factory.

Plus, just exactly how does one vary a cow's diet? It's not as if they were all ordering from the menu at the Savoy Grill. Grass, hay, a view varieties of feed...they'll be done in a week. I would expect the conversations to go along the lines of this:

"Ingmar, can we add a bit more Kentucky Bluegrass to Bessie's intake?"
"Jan, OK. I just want to give the rye grass a few more days. She's really unleashed some corkers lately on that stuff."

So, it's all about blaming the cows. Soon, they'll be telling us we need less cows and more chickens, who burp relatively infrequently... and keep an eye out on your 15-bean soup, too.

* I'm not including the Google AdSense revenue because: A) We haven't seen a penny yet, and B) After splitting it with Stew, Nuffy, and Jorge it works out to about 4 pesos Mexican.

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