Are cows really the culprit in global warming?

I wish to congratulate you on the Feb. 20 article, "Humans' beef with livestock: a warmer planet." Many of us who do not eat anything with a face have argued for some time that meat eating is catastrophic for the environment, due to massive greenhouse-gas emissions and the consumption of cereals and resources to feed livestock that could be used instead to feed people directly.

Apart from the obvious cruelty involved in meat production – especially "factory farm" meat production – the emissions of methane involved, as well as methane released through melting permafrost, could tip our planet over the edge.
Robert Bullock
Hanc, France

In response to the Feb. 20 article linking bovine gas and global warming: I can understand an argument concerning the greenhouse gases released by industrial support of the livestock industry, but not the claim that there is a direct link between livestock flatulence and "global warming." Once in awhile environmental activist-vegetarians will throw this argument at me, and they are completely speechless when I ask them, "What about the buffalo?" Less than 200 years ago, there were millions of bison that roamed North America. There were even greater numbers of similar species roaming Africa and Asia. Did people back then worry about buffalo flatulence and the rise in global temperatures?
Bryan Wyckoff
Cherokee, Kan.

Regarding the article on the environmental impact of livestock: While cattle may produce some gases, so do deer and elk and sheep, and so on. But what really is the big problem is humans and their actions! Humans grow up and consume more and more foods and pollute the environment. They want homes built of wood, which requires cutting down trees, each one of which absorbs carbon dioxide from the air. People need plastic for everything, and plastic is made from oil. People drive cars, heat their homes, and on and on. If we are serious about reducing carbon emissions, we need to reduce the global population. Cattle aren't the problem – people are.
Bob Cherry
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Notice 2008 'firsts' for the last time

In response to the Feb. 16 article, "In 2008 race, many 'firsts' are possible": What roles will gender, age, and the religion of candidates play? The best we can hope for in the coming presidential elections is that none of these labels will play a role in our decisionmaking.

The process of putting people into neat little compartments on the basis of any label such as race, religion, or gender is, as self-help speaker and author Wayne Dyer writes, "as nonspiritual and dehumanizing an experience as I can imagine. Yet it is done all the time."

We respond to marketing surveys that categorize us according to buying patterns. And when we fill out government census reports, Mr. Dyer points out, funding is allotted on the basis of these distinctions. No wonder fear and prejudices continue: As Dyer writes, "[W]e tend to identify one another on the basis of what we can see with our eyes, rather than feel with our hearts."

Mahatma Gandhi reportedly believed that our greatest strength lies not in how much we differ from one another but in how much we are the same. Perhaps we need a newspaper article that focuses on the similarities between candidates, not their differences.
Marion Owen
Kodiak, Alaska

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