Clearing the Air

Burger King has made a bit of a stir recently with a video on methane gas from cows.  No doubt they are happy with the publicity and attention. After all, that’s what advertising is all about and this video certainly seems more about advertising than education.

Greenhouse gases and climate change are serious topics however this video is far from serious and in some ways is far from factual.  Sincere attempts to deal with the issue are to be commended however this feels more like a marketing ploy.  Whether intentional or not the video leaves the impression that cows (and their owners) are a bigger contributor to the climate change issue than they really are.  There is no mention of fossil fuels being a much bigger contributor to greenhouse gases and their claim of feeding cows lemongrass as a solution seems to lack significant scientific backing. The video also seems to be addressing the issue from the wrong end focusing on “farts” rather than “burps”.

Unfortunately, some watching this video will be misled and that won’t help resolve the issue.  To get a better understanding of the issue of greenhouse gases and the role cattle play in their creation and can play in their reduction, I suggest you watch a video from UC Davis with Frank Mitloehner.  You won’t get singing kids and stereotypes but rather a scientific view of methane and carbon dioxide that shows how methane from cattle is part of the biogenic carbon cycle that has been around since the beginning of time.

At the conclusion of the Burger King video, there is a graphic claiming they are part of the problem.  I agree. To me, this video is definitely part of the problem.  It’s a self-serving attempt to increase business disguised as a public service announcement.  Perhaps I’m being overly cynical but it also comes off as an indirect promotion of their plant-based meat products.  It’s not a surprise that something seems to stink when talking about a “cow fart” commercial however what stinks about this video isn’t coming from a cow.