Reindeer Blues?

Is Santa contributing to global warming?

gmu151222_1Global Warming Culprit? Source: Morguefile

A team of researchers at Oregon State University has noted that with all the concern about the effect of carbon emissions on the global climate, a major greenhouse gas is being overlooked: methane. Methane is over 20-times more powerful than carbon dioxide in trapping heat.

Cows, sheep, goats, and other ruminants produce tons of methane in their digestive tracts. Over the past 50 years the population of these animals has risen by 1.5 billion. Reducing demand for ruminant products could help achieve substantial greenhouse gas reductions.

An important—though unusual–use for ruminants in today’s economy is transportation. One northern-latitude animal crucial to global commerce at this time of year is the reindeer. They provide critical transportation for specialized vehicles in high latitudes in late December—sometimes making all-night deliveries. Their methane emissions occur in the stratosphere, so their activity is especially harmful. They should have received special attention during the Paris climate conference, but the Swedes and Norwegians resisted. In the end, they only got a passing reference.

For now, the reindeer herds need a special exemption for their December deliveries if Christmas gifts are to arrive on time. Pigs and poultry may be able to produce meat, but they can’t replace Rudolf when it comes to lighting the way for Santa’s sleigh.

Merry Christmas, everyone!!

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

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