Nothing Burger: A Stinky Article from CNN about Cow Farts

At the top of the Twit feed on July 14, 2020 was a story by the hard-hitting news team of CNN titled: “Burger King’s latest sustainability effort: reduce cow farts.”

With a hearty pat on the back to the permanently-smiling king-mascot in the crown, CNN reports that Burger King reports that their gift to the planet is to think about farts from cows.  Burger King, according to the article, claims that this effort “will curtail methane emissions from cows by 33% per day [and] those emissions are one of the key contributors to climate change because the gas traps the sun’s heat and warms it.”  This is misleading and carefully crafted, with a gentle but smelly nuance, to lead the average gullible lemming to think that we are on the road to saving the planet, (assuming that climate change is man-made, or in this case, cow-made).  Read the article a little more carefully, add a few thoughts, mix thoroughly, and it looks more like this:

Let’s operate on the assumption that man-made climate change is scientific fact.  That’s completely different discussion and a convenient untruth in the world, from which we are temporarily distracted by things like growing violence, social unrest, pandemic fears, and economic meltdown. 

Burger Kings around the globe serve approximately 6.5-million burgers daily.  Approximately 2% of the 12,000 Burger King locations are in the 5 cities mentioned in the article (LA, Miami, Portland, New York, and Austin).  So, that’s a maximum 130,000 burgers per day, which equates to about 29 cows a day or 10,585 cows per year.  That is 1.3% of the 800,000 cows slaughtered annually.

33% reduction therefore translates to .429% (less than ½ a percent) impact total.

Total greenhouse gas emissions from cows is not entirely known but happily estimated by those chicken-littles who would like to see the world end in 12 years (or is it only 8 now?) to be approximately 2% of the total greenhouse emissions each year. 

So, Burger King’s cows for their huge sacrifice and huge promise to save the world, translates to approximately .00858% (less than 1/100 of 1 percent of the greenhouse gases for the year.  That is assuming Burger King replaces ALL of the burgers in ALL of the restaurants in the five cities mentioned (even though the article says “the [lemongrass-fed] beef will be used in some of the locations” in those five cities.  Best-case scenario, that’s like slaughtering 69 fewer cows each year OR slaughtering 799,931 cows instead of 800,000 each year. Big win, big win!  (One good viral vegetarian recipe posted on allrecipes.com could accomplish the same goal.)

Although the emissions produced by cars behave differently in the atmosphere than the emissions from flatulent, belching Bessie, according to a Danish study reported on by Time Magazine back in 2011, the methane gas damage to the atmosphere from one cow is approximately equivalent to the CO2 from 1 1/2 cars.  Going on the assumption that each vehicle drives approximately 11,000 miles per year and there are 275,000,000 registered vehicles that would mean that each of us would need to drive approximately 1.13 fewer miles per YEAR. If you commute to work and have a 15 mile drive, one day of carpooling will cover you for at least a dozen years. Or with the recent lockdowns, I’m sure we’ve exceeded the goal already.

Most definitely a Nothing-Burger-with-an-agenda ‘news’ story.

(photo by Stephen Wheeler, Unsplash.com)

3 thoughts on “Nothing Burger: A Stinky Article from CNN about Cow Farts

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