AOC, Cows, and the Green New Deal

As I was getting my semi-monthly haircut this morning, I was asked whether I’d heard of a Representative named Cortez who wanted to get rid of farting cows. I incredulously said: “What?”

I started laughing hysterically as I thought it was one of the more ridiculous things (Donald Trump’s verbal flatulence excluded, of course), I had heard. And, so my barber and I spent the remainder of the five, or so, minutes it takes to shear my bald pate chuckling about it. The “it” in this case being flatulent cows rather than my bald head. Nevertheless, as soon as we finished, I googled the question and lo and behold something popped up.

She did, indeed, reference farting cows in the context of the Green New Deal.

A Fact Sheet distributed from her office to various news outlets, including NPR, on February 7th, included: “We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero, emissions, in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast…” In a blog post titled the Green New Deal FAQ, her office released the following: “The Green New Deal sets a goal to get to net-zero rather than zero emissions, at the end of this 10-year plan because we aren’t sure that we will be able to fully get rid of, for example, emissions from cows or air travel before then.”

Regardless of the revision, the damage was done via the glib comment in the original Fact Sheet. Subsequent media appearances gave the right wing spinners ample opportunity to make hay and trump-et the gaffe. Trump took the liberty of tweeting on February 9th “I think it is very important for the Democrats to press forward with their Green New Deal. It would be great for the so-called “Carbon Footprint” to permanently eliminate all Planes, Cars, Cows, Oil, Gas & the Military…..”

Jonah Goldberg wrote an absolutely brilliant satirical article in the National Review called Udder Madness. If you enjoy great writing, which I do, regardless of whether or not you agree with it, and have any remaining interest in this subject whatsoever, then I highly recommend the article.

Going back to the Fact Sheet, I believe that there may have been a bit of a technical misunderstanding amongst the young New York writers unschooled in the biological fundamentals of bovine methane emissions. Most of the methane released from a cow is burped from its mouth rather than farted from its posterior. The process is called enteric fermentation. Now, please don’t misunderstand. A small percentage of methane is still released via its posterior end. The New Yorkers would have been better served to have checked with their rural colleagues to learn which end of the cow creates the bulk of the methane problem. Or, maybe they did and were directed to receive their answer at the bovine posterior rather than anterior by a rascally, rural Republican with a greater sense of symbolism than accuracy. Just, conspiratorially hypothesizing. Can’t you picture a SNL skit in a pasture with several Congressional aides measuring methane levels at each end of a cow?

I’d like to conclude this sorry piece by suggesting that while the concept of a Green New Deal elicited a great deal of comedy/drama initially, its ideas have taken hold and become a fundamental part of the Democratic platform and lays out the framework for a comprehensive pathway to solve the climate crisis. Great work on the part of its creators. If successful, it (or a version of it) may very well alter the future of our planet, despite the mocking of those who took advantage of the initial youthful gaffe. All that’s necessary is a Democratic Congress and White House. Vote!

Way to go AOC.

2 thoughts on “AOC, Cows, and the Green New Deal

  1. [This post also appears on my blog ( with active links.]

    Farting in the wind

    People tend not to believe scientists as readily as they believe novelists. Scientists thrill to facts. People thrill to stories. That’s just the way we are. But that doesn’t mean people can’t be reached by facts. Of course, novelists have been writing on the subject of climate catastrophe since before it became fashionable as a topic of conversation, sermons, and political platforms. You’ve mentioned a few in this space. I recently finished “New York 2140” by Kim Stanley Robinson, and I heartily recommend it, not only for its riveting writing but for how it makes climate issues real.

    Today I came on a piece by the novelist Jonathan Franzen, but it isn’t a novel. It’s an article in the New Yorker, that expresses the opinion that I, a novelist, have quietly held for a long time:

    What If We Stopped Pretending?
    The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it.

    Though Franzen lauds efforts to fight climate change, he does so for reasons other than their effectiveness.
    If you’re younger than sixty, you have a good chance of witnessing the radical destabilization of life on earth—massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under thirty, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it.

    For those of us in neither category—face it, we’re invisible—it’s sad and scary. Sad for what our kids and grandkids will have to go through. And scary because we’re so old we’ll only foresee it and not have to live through it. Or much of anything.

    So yay for AOC and the GND and all the greening going on. But the salvation train left the station a long, long time ago. There’s something to be said for the preppers who at least recognize the futility of stopping the ignition of our earth-size furnace, though I wonder to what extent even they can survive it.

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