Cows are terribly destructive creatures, especially in arid climates. Livestock are considered by a quorum of scientists as the No. 1 cause of species extinction, topsoil loss, deforestation and desertification in the American West. They muck or stomp or gorge out of existence streams, whole watersheds, rare grasses and shrubs, entire ecosystems in micro. Their big heavy hooves trample the soil, eroding it often beyond repair.Anyone who has ever visited a farm or hiked on public lands out west knows the fun experience of dodging or stepping in the proverbial cow pie. If the dung is dry, it is not too much of an issue, but, if it's still wet, well...yuk!
Just as the cow is an invasive species, an exotic in the West — an import of Spanish missionaries in the 16th century — it brings invasive weeds that triumph in its midst: the water-greedy tamarisk, for example, along with the greedier Russian olive and the useless Russian thistle, better known as tumbleweed. A 1998 study from the Journal of Arid Environments found that a hundred years of livestock grazing on public lands near the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico was more damaging in terms of long-term development and recovery of flora than multiple nuclear bomb blasts.
More than 300 million acres of public lands in 11 Western states — lands owned by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and, collectively, by all Americans — are given over to the resource destruction of the cattle industry. That’s 40 percent of the landmass of the West, 12 percent of the landmass of the lower 48 states.
The ranching industry controls this domain with massive subsidies from state and federal government. Even private insurance lenders such as Metropolitan Life, Mutual Life and Prudential, which in recent years have issued more than $1 billion in questionable loans to ranchers who used federally issued grazing permits as collateral, are now silent players in the subsidized ruination of Western public lands.
~ from Why You Should Eat Yak Instead of Beef by Christopher Ketcham ~
I give kudos to Ketcham for offering the best suggestion to end this environmental and health calamity.
In an ideal world, we’d recognize that the bovine-flesh habit is a god-awful disaster and, being reasonable, we’d quit it. In an ideal world, cattle ranching on public lands in the American West would be regarded as an epochal mistake and come to its ignominious end. In return, the West, free of the cattle curse, might possibly experience one of the greatest environmental recoveries in history.But Ketcham knows that Americans, in particular, are meat junkies. So, he suggests what he feels is the next best thing -- eat a yak!
Personally, I don't like the second suggestion. As Ketcham aptly points out, if America would give up her meat addiction, the health of our citizens as well as the environment would improve immensely.
Besides, while cow dung is a messy, messy problem, ever heard of carrot crap?