Voice: Environmental extremism vs. stewardship of resources

May 31, 2002

Recent letters to this paper have argued positions comparing environmental extremism to being environmentally aware. Anyone using a little common sense can easily separate fact from fiction regarding environmentalist claims.

A May 19 letter by Octavio Velarde is a perfect example. He states, "Meat demands 70 percent of our water" and "for every pound of beef you eat, you swallow 7,000 pounds of water."

Since an average animal produces about 500 pounds of beef that means an animal would be equivalent to 3.5 million pounds (466,000 gallons) of water! Does any half-intelligent person believe this is remotely possible? An average animal would need to consume an average of 639 gallons per day for its two years of life. Average water consumption is actually about 10 to 15 gallons per day.

How do extremists like Octavio get their figures? Granted, it takes some water to process the animals, but most of the water is attributed to feed these cattle eat. Since beef cows spend their entire life grazing grass, the rainfall on these lands is counted in their usage. It does not matter that without the cattle consuming this grass it would go to waste and in fact represent a fire hazard. Again they count the water used to grow the crops fed in feedlots and dairies. If livestock did not consume these crops where would they go?


Congress just recently passed a new farm bill with new subsidies for Midwest grain growers because prices are below production costs. Remove animal production from the picture and the farm economy would collapse. We simply produce way too much food and fiber in the U.S.!

The fact is that cattle process useless roughages, byproducts and our surplus grain crops into a nutrient-dense, great-tasting protein source while maintaining our nation's grasslands and co-existing with wildlife. Cattlemen are in fact stewards of the land and environmentally aware.

Most responsible environmentalists agree we need to conserve our nation's resources, recycle, develop feasible energy sources and reduce pollutants. We will not accomplish these goals by grossly misleading people, using hidden agendas (in this case vegetarianism) or ignoring all reasonable compromises.

The next time you hear an "environmentalist" make a wild accusation like Mr. Velarde's use a little common sense and you'll easily label them as an extremist. These extremists lie to try to convince you their view is correct rather than providing facts that would lead you to agree with their thinking.

The next time you hear a wild claim investigate it, dismiss the claim if untrue and the organization the writer represents. Common sense can often differentiate truth from fiction when it comes to environmentalism.



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