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The debate over whether the Keystone XL Pipeline should be built has spanned months and months, polarizing politicians and scientists and pulling together advocates across the board. But as President Obama is taking his sweet time deciding if the pipeline should be built, a shocking statistic about greenhouse gas emissions has come to light shining a surprisingly positive image on the pipeline.

After pouring over numbers in an attempt to strip the politics from the pipeline debate, and just provide facts, the State Department concluded that the Keystone Pipeline would emit 18.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. That is a lot of carbon. However, when compared to the grand scheme of carbon dioxide emissions, 18.7 million is a mere fraction of the 6.5 billion tons emitted by the U.S. every year. One energy analyst went as far as to call the pipeline’ contribution a “rounding error.”

While I do not believe that justifying adding millions of tons of carbon dioxide to the equation because it “doesn’t seem like a lot” compared to the outrageous amount we currently output is a sound, or at all sane judgement, it does beg the question: where are all these other emissions coming from?

Well, according to this article in the Washington Post, a large part comes from cows. In fact, cow production emits 10 times more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere a year than the 1,179 mile long Keystone Pipeline. While putting up the fact that cow production is more environmentally destructive than the pipeline is a bit of a strawman defense, it does draw attention to the blaring hole in our country’s perception of what causes environmental destruction. The pipeline, by nature of its association with burning crude oil is immediately seen as environmental culprit, while cow production is rarely (if ever!) picked out of an environmental crime line-up.

So here we are stuck looking down the barrel of one gun that may or may not go off within the next few months (pending Obama’s verdict) while holding another one smoking in our hands. While looking to stop the potential damage that the Keystone XL could cause is important, if we, as a nation, are going to seriously begin addressing climate change, it is imperative that we ALSO look at the existing causes – especially one that each individual has the power to help end. If you knew that your diet was contributing 10 times the amount of greenhouses gases than a trans-continental crude oil pipeline, wouldn’t you feel compelled to change?

Maybe it’s time the State Department launched a full investigation into the environmental impact of cow production…just a thought.

Image Source: Sacratomato_hr/Wikipedia Commons

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15 comments on “Say What!? Cows Responsible for More Carbon Emissions Than Keystone Pipeline?”

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Carrie Thomas
3 Years Ago


Nice content.

Here is a health care search engine... http://www.24remedy.com , if you want you can submit your content to include in the search engine.


Cat Grace-Crisologo
3 Years Ago

So let's stop breeding cows for slaughter AND let's stop the pipeline...

Forst William Brian
3 Years Ago


Daryln Swaim
3 Years Ago

become vegan!

Sabrina Desjardins
3 Years Ago


Ramona Mangham
3 Years Ago

Human caused as usual

Megan Davis
3 Years Ago

I would like to share some very important information that is NOT addressed even once in this article... It is not the COW that is causing these carbon emissions .... It's man. It is the industrialized manner in which the majority of beef in our country is raised. Land is tilled and raped of nutrients (petroleum), constantly ruining the structure of the soil to grow enough grain to feed feed-lot cows that are packed closely together with zero access to grass. To make up for this land abuse farmers must apply synthetic fertilizers (petroleum) to continue growing. The grain is then shipped long distances (petroleum) to the cows, the cows get sick so pharmaceutical companies must manufacture and ship (more petroleum) antibiotics to the feed lots. Manure is collected in toxic amounts with no carbon matter to absorb it, causing huge amounts of gas into the atmosphere, animals are shipped to processing, the meat shipped to grocery stores, the driven to homes... This disgusting use of resources is what causes the high level of carbon emissions... Not the cow. On the contrary- herbivores (cows) in their natural setting mow and stimulate grass growth (sequestering more carbon than even trees)... Grasslands would not exist without grazers. So cows raised the right way- mow the grass, fertilize the grass, and build soil health.... All sequestering carbon. These cows are then taken to processing in much lower numbers and then hopefully sold locally .... All reducing carbon emissions. I respect ones choice to not eat meat - and one's choice to only eat sustainably raised, naturally grown meat.... But let's put all of the facts out there .... It's not the cow!

Daryln Swaim
27 May 2014

very well said.. thanks for posting!

Hilmar Cann
3 Years Ago

we the humans beings are the problems because the power is im your hands to chenge the world to live better, , Stop eating animals. . Go Vegan.

Jim Kuches
3 Years Ago

I stopped eating animals almost 3 years ago, but we need to stop using carbon based fuels as well!

Elaine Bruce-Haynes
3 Years Ago

Exactly Rose so stop eating them.


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