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Thanksgiving's Future: Kangaroo Instead of Turkey?

dennisavery.jpgNovember 26, 2008
by Dennis Avery
Incoming President Obama will undoubtedly call for a renewed crusade against greenhouse gas emissions. Will Thanksgiving dinners in the future feature kangaroo instead of turkey?  Don't get me wrong. Turkeys emit lots less greenhouse gas than beef cattle. Cattle today are fed lots of grain, and growing it requires nitrogen fertilizer (made with natural gas), and much diesel fuel for the tractors and combines. In addition, cows naturally emit vast amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times as dangerous to the environment as CO2.

Turkeys (and also chickens) make twice as much meat per pound of grain as cattle, and their stomachs don't create methane. That means far less than half as much greenhouse gas emitted per pound of turkey as from beef production. But Britain just passed a law to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by the year 2050. If the U.S. is to match that sort of emission cuts, even turkey won't be "green" enough.

Kangaroos emit hardly any greenhouse gas. The Australian Wildlife Services tell us the kangaroo's unique digestive microbes emit just seven pounds of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas per year, compared with more than 4,000 pounds per year of CO2 equivalents from each cow! 

Equally important, kangaroos eat grass. Millions more kangaroos could substitute for today's millions of cattle on the world's natural grasslands. If that grass isn't grazed, lightning strikes would set off the sort of massive prairie fires that used to strike terror in the hearts of the early Great Plains settlers. The gas emitted from a prairie fire-need I remind you-is CO2.

The northern parts of the United States may be too cold for happy kangaroos. But the southern rangelands should be able to feed millions of them. Fences will obviously be a problem, however, since they can jump up to ten feet off the ground.

What's it like eating kangaroo? We're told it's a gamy, low-fat meat similar to elk or venison. Due to the ultra-low fat content, it needs to be cooked rare or it turns leathery. Experts suggest steaks be cooked just 2-3 minutes on a side. Australia already sells kangaroo meat in some supermarkets and exports it to game-lovers in Germany and France.

But hold on! 

  • Since 1998, CO2 in the atmosphere has risen another 5 percent-but the earth's temperatures have dropped half a degree C, defying the Greenhouse Theory.

  • Durban, South Africa, recently had the coldest September night in its history.

  • Switzerland has had "the most snow for any October since records began."

  • On October 29, 115 American weather stations broke or tied their all-time lows for the date.

  • Alaska was very warm in 2007, but this October brought a low of minus 25 degrees F., breaking the previous low for Oct. 29 by 4 degrees F. The Arctic sea ice now covers 2 million square kilometers more than it did last year.

  • NASA announced April 21 that its Jason satellite had confirmed the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is entering a cool phase likely to last 25-30 years. Pacific Rim tree rings indicate the earth's temperatures have mirrored the shifts in Pacific temperatures for the past 400 years. It's our biggest ocean, after all. Thus our current cooling is likely to look like our last cooling between 1940 and 1975. That temperature decline also occurred during a Pacific cooling, even though human greenhouse emissions were surging then also.

The Obama team would still like you to try the kangaroo fillet with caramelized pear and red current sauce, or perhaps the grilled loin of ‘roo' with fig and onion.

DENNIS T. AVERY is an environmental economist and a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years. Readers can email him at:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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