RFK Jr. at it again on hog farms

by Walter Olson on February 5, 2009

Six years ago America’s Most Irresponsible Public Figure®, celebrity environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. made himself a laughingstock by announcing that large hog farms were more of a danger to America than Osama bin Laden. Asked about it yesterday while testifying to a House Judiciary subcommittee, Kennedy responded as follows, according to Ralph Hallow in the Washington Times:

“I don’t know if that [quotation] is accurate, but I believe it and I support it,” said Mr. Kennedy, who has been involved in a vigorous legal effort against the meat industry for some years, arguing that manure and other products associated with large livestock producers emit toxic wastes that threaten the environment.

Mr. Kennedy also has said that a single hog consignment can put out more pollution than a city of a million people.

He has also said that every public official in North Carolina has been corrupted by the pork industry. He cited as evidence an editorial in a Raleigh newspaper, although he also said there may be some exceptions. …

Mr. Kennedy has said that he plans to go after all large farms in the country, not just pork producers. He has also said that the “right” lawsuit against livestock producers could bring damage awards of up to $13 billion.

Kennedy is deeply involved with contingency-fee private lawyers running the lawsuits against agricultural producers, a fact that only infrequently surfaces in news accounts about the hothead scion, who’s been the subject of regular coverage at this site since its beginning nearly ten years ago. More: Gateway Pundit.

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1 Anonymous Attorney 02.05.09 at 11:23 am

Are there any Kennedys who’ve ever actually had to work for a living?

2 kimsch 02.05.09 at 2:02 pm

Actually Bobby’s youngest brother, Douglas, works at Fox News on air.

3 Ron Miller 02.05.09 at 2:07 pm

I assume this statement about the hogs is wrong. But I think we should provide some support that contains facts as opposed to just saying “Gee, this has to be silly because it sounds silly.” What are the toxins that come out of these places? Let’s say the threat is not as serious as terrorims. But how serious it it? Forget who is giving the message: how much truth is there to the message? I like to hear some facts on this before I assume it is silly because it sounds silly.

4 Benji 02.05.09 at 2:35 pm

Don’t have any hard numbers, but – livestock produce surprisingly large amounts of methane (a greenhouse gas.) New Zealand supposedly has more greenhouse gas coming from its sheep flocks than it does from vehicles.
This may be a misleading statistic, though, depending on how you define ‘more polluting’. Methane as a greenhouse gas is 20 times worse as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide is, so NZ (or a single pork consignment) might produce a smallish amount of methane and still have it technically be a much greater threat than other pollution sources.
And speaking of misleading statistics, a lot of his comparison might hinge on how you define ‘a single consignment of pork’ versus ‘a city of a million people.’ Some people pollute more than others if they have longer commutes. And it’d probably be easy to point at the commuting exhaust and solid waste produced by a million people but gloss over some of the other sources of pollution associated with a city – from the electric utilities that give them power, from the factories that produce consumer goods, etc. A narrowly definition of a million people’s pollution, if they were clean people, could easily be less than the pollution from a sufficiently large hog consignment.

5 Bill Alexander 02.05.09 at 3:37 pm

I agree with the radical vegans who complain about the 75 to 100 million cattle in the US producing methane gas. It just proves how wise the early European settlers in America to slaughter the buffalo, since 75 million of them really were a gas.

6 Shtetl G 02.05.09 at 5:29 pm

Forget who is giving the message: how much truth is there to the message? I like to hear some facts on this before I assume it is silly because it sounds silly.

I’ll help break it down for you. Pigs and Pig farmers did not kill 3000 people on 9/11. Not that hard really.

7 MF 02.05.09 at 5:35 pm

livestock produce surprisingly large amounts of methane (a greenhouse gas.)

That presupposes the reality of global warming, which isn’t real. It’s been debunked so many times, by so many experts, yet most people still sing its tune. Repeat a lie enough times and people begin to believe it.

I’m all for trying to cut down on pollution through reasonable means. Farm “emissions” are NOT pollution, other than maybe not being as pleasant an odor (to most) as a field of flowers.

8 Todd Rogers 02.05.09 at 10:31 pm

I simply love bacon. Lots of it.

9 Jim Collins 02.06.09 at 11:17 am

I’ll do my part……………………by eating the animals that cause this godawful pollution.

10 Farmmomof2 02.06.09 at 5:48 pm

Here are the facts you are requesting about is there any truth to hogs polluting more than a city of a million people…the answer is NO, Kennedy lied again.

A study done by the University of Missouri found that daily wastewater production for 1,000 lbs of humans (assumng 150 lb per person average weight and 175 gallons per person per day) is 1,170 gallons/day compared with 9.3 gallons/day for 1,000 lbs of grow-finish pigs (average weight 150 lb per pig), a ration of 125:1.

To put the differences in volume in perspective, all the grow-finish pigs in the state of Missouri generate less manure volume than the city of Columbia (population 92,000). It would take 5.3 million to 11.4 million grow-finish pigs to produce the same volume of manure and wastewater as the volume of wastewater the city of Columbia treats in a day. Pig inventory in Missouri has hovered near 3 million head in the years 2000 to 2003. The metropolitan area of St. Louis (population 1,400,000) handles 360 million gallons of wastewater each day, or about 255 gallons per person per day.

11 Giovanni da Procida 02.06.09 at 7:21 pm

Hi MF,

Which experts, specifically, have debunked anthropogenic global warming? What were their qualifications? What peer-reviewed research have they published that debunks global warming?

If you disagree with the idea that human actions are warming the globe, make that argument. But saying that global warming ” isn’t real” and that “It’s been debunked so many times, by so many experts” is simply the application of the Big Lie technique that you accuse the other side of making.

12 Doug 02.06.09 at 9:18 pm

“Methane as a greenhouse gas is 20 times worse as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide is.” As measured by …. what?

I don’t have any hard numbers either, but YOU, Benji, exhale surprisingly large amounts of water (THE major greenhouse gas) when you breathe.

What shall we do with you?

13 Dirk D 02.07.09 at 9:49 am

“Methane as a greenhouse gas is 20 times worse as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide is.” As measured by …. what?

By Global warming potential as calculated by the IPCC. This is not particularly controversial. Methane is typically burned (ie converted to CO2) rather than released into the atmosphere, for this and other reasons. Methane is an excellent and efficient fuel source, when possible it should be utilized for fuel rather than pumped into the atmosphere.

http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Print_Ch02.pdf

14 TC 02.08.09 at 4:38 pm

Here Giovanni, start here.

http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/2007/07/table-of-conten.html

Posted only to shake your faith, which it won’t because like god you either believe or you don’t!

15 giovanni da procida 02.08.09 at 6:46 pm

Hi TC,

I didn’t think god’s belief had anything to do with anything.

I did ask for expertise, as opposed to a layman’s view, right? Aside from that, the author says that he (like Lindzen) thinks that anthropogenic carbon dioxide contributes some small about of warming. He just doesn’t think it’s very much:

“That is why the premise for my paper is as follows:

There is no doubt that CO2 is a
greenhouse gas, and it is pretty clear that CO2 produced by man has an
incremental impact on warming the Earth’s surface. ”

To me this doesn’t look like a debunking. Its a “the effects of AGW are small and therefore not worth the costs associated with actions suggested.” Which is totally different than MF’s claim above:

That presupposes the reality of global warming, which isn’t real. It’s been debunked so many times, by so many experts, yet most people still sing its tune. Repeat a lie enough times and people begin to believe it.

Find a new catechism TC. Or better yet, read some of the scientific literature:

Orr et al. 2005 (in nature), for example on the effects of ocean acidification (acidification of seawater is easily testable. I’ve done so, and you probably could in your own kitchen). Calcifying organisms play an important role in the biological pump (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biological_pump)

Further outside my expertise is the review by Foukal et al. 2006 (nature) on the econnection between the sun and earth’s climate.

But you won’t read these, because as you say yourself:
because like as with belief in God you either believe or you don’t!

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