News & Politics

Hot Air and Ignorance About Methane From Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY., arrives for orientation for new members of Congress, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Conservative pundit and former Reagan administration cabinet member Bill Bennet was right when he warned Republicans in his February 11th Fox News piece, “we can’t afford to discount the far left’s ideas – No matter how wrong they are.” It is good advice, but Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) puts us to the test with her Green New Deal (GND). The plan is so ill-informed, based on so many misunderstandings, myths, and inaccuracies that it is a waste of time to list all the mistakes, let alone explain what is wrong with them.

The GND is driven by the emotional ideology that is the religion of environmentalism for too many millennials. For this reason, it is critical to take just one aspect related to the deal and show how it contradicts and even threatens most of what Ocasio-Cortez, also known by her initials (AOC), holds sacrosanct.

In its GND “Frequently Asked Questions” document, AOC’s office asserted, “we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows.” She retracted this document. Yet clearly, that is what they would like to do to reduce their production of methane (CH4), one of three greenhouse gases.

The percentage of each is CH4 (0.36 percent), carbon dioxide (CO2) (4 percent), and water vapor (H2O) (95 percent). The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), charged with considering only human causes of warming, say that humans add H2O, but the amount is so small relative to the atmospheric total that they don’t consider it significant. The problem is that a 2 percent variation in H2O equals any climate change effect of human-produced CO2, or indeed all CH4, whether from natural or human sources.

Our inability to solve all problems requires that policymakers create a priorities list. AOC made the list for the GND. Although it appears reasonable at first glance, it reveals her biases: lack of scientific knowledge; extreme environmental ideology; and politics. And, even after deciding on the priorities, there are many solutions that should be considered, from no action whatsoever to intensive interference. Deciding upon the best approach requires adequate data and informed decision-makers. AOC falls flat on her face in this regard as well.

The number of North American cattle has increased in the last 200 years and is currently 94 million. Before one can rationally blame methane from our cattle for global warming, one must consider the other human and natural sources. For example, in the same 200-year period, the number of bison declined dramatically by estimates ranging from 30 to 65 million. Regrettable, yes, but their demise, and the consequent reduction in methane emissions, obviously needs to be part of the equation. We must talk about science and facts or lose all reason.

If methane from cows is a problem, why doesn’t AOC recommend elimination of the 200 million cows in India, virtually none of which contribute either milk or beef to help feed people? Could it be that the ideology only applies to western capitalist societies?

Maybe we should reduce rice production. A large source of methane from human activities is methane from rice paddies. Production increased significantly because of population increase and application of the Green Revolution with better seeds, fertilizers, and mechanization. While a vegetable, rice is involved in methane production.

We recently discovered that the rainforest is also a major source of methane. Why not clear the forest for agricultural land to reduce methane production? Other benefits include that the vegetable crops will absorb CO2 and satisfy the increased demand by the new meatless vegan societies engendered by the GND.

The switch from meat to a vegan society means an increase in pulse crops, such as peas, beans, and lentils. But these crops are known for increasing production of methane, so perhaps AOC should also call for an end to veganism.

There are 94.2 million cats and 89.7 million dogs in North America. It is unlikely that even AOC would incur the wrath of pet owners by calling for the elimination of their pets. However, if it is a matter of methane and priorities, this idea underscores the emotionalism associated with the GND.

Bennet was correct to warn, not just Republicans, but a majority of reasonable people, of the dangers in ignoring far Left ideas. You begin by recognizing that you cannot rationalize or convert an ideologue. However, you can convince a majority of sensible people, so that sanity can prevail, by showing them how the policies of extremists contradict their own ideological beliefs. Remember, it is not in green we trust.

Dr. Tim Ball is an environmental consultant and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba. Tom Harris is executive director of the Ottawa, Canada-based International Climate Science Coalition.