Will Vegetarian Humans One Day 'Emit' More Carbon Dioxide & Methane Than Cows?
Subtle Butt(TM) "disposable gas neutralizers." Image credit:SubtleButt.com, via Garment Guard
Presumably, many will have resolved to eat less meat during the coming year in the interest of protecting the climate from cattle farts. If this climate-friendly resolution became a growing trend, year by year, increasing proportions of the human population would meet dietary requirements by upping their bean, rice, and squash intakes, for example. Could vegetarianism heroics - billions more going mostly meatless - really scale up to save the climate? Take your minds forward with me into a gas cloud where no man has gone before, propelled by indigestible carbohydrates, as we explore the feasibility of answering that question.
Imagine a half century has passed. It is the year 2060 and world beef consumption has fallen dramatically: a good outcome for climate-sake, according to some. However, life cycle fart assessments have led some to question the wisdom of the transition, as dairy production was shown to have increased greatly to meet growing vegetarian dietary needs, indirectly raising human methane and carbon dioxide contributions. More cow farts from Farmer Brown's dairy.
More important, the relative significance of direct human flatulence to the total carbon dioxide and methane loads was shown to have increased dramatically by a massive human shift to a highly legume- and cabbage-dependent diet. More vegetarian farts, in other words.
Back to the fair and smelly present.
Although there is probably gigabytes worth of anecdotal information characterizing the human side of the vegetable-driven butt-gas equation - anyone can access it by Google searching 'stinky vegan farts' - and, also, plenty of peer reviewed science quantifying the present-day bovine methane emissions potential, a scientifically-sound comparison of the respective human and cow climate forcing potentials of the future will not be made in our lifetime. To begin with, subject is clouded in X-rated message board postings with links to you-tube sound-effects.
There is the dense fog of urban legend to contend with: does it really help, for example, to rinse one's dried legumes in a baking soda solution or to mash the cooked beans before consumption? I doubt it, having yet again reviewed my personal archival hard copy of ANNALS OF THE NEW YORK ACADEMY OF SCIENCES, Volume 150, Art., Pages 1-190: GASTROINTESTINAL GAS, Published February 26, 1968. Partial page excerpt from this publication below ( proving I actually have said publication).
Laboratory investigators have made no significant progress on creating the mobile internet-connected colonic-inserted, gas evolution measurement apparatus.
Add to the above described obstacles, the battle of the sexes creating investigator bias and Americans' obsession with ridiculous techno-solutions like the 'Subtle Butt" underwear inserts pictured above, and we will have entered a realm where internet email hacking will be the rule of the day. Fox News and Glenn Beck will have hours of new subject matter.
It is a question that can not be answered by asking in a 'hoof hearted' manner. I give up.