Pressing questions from the House of Lords: Does baked-beans consumption go into our climate change calculations?

posted at 4:01 pm on April 12, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

Eco-extremists can often be heard expressing their frustration that more people don’t take their climate change alarm-mongering more seriously. I realize this is just one guy, but… that’s partially because of moments like this. So brilliant.

Labour peer Viscount Simon, 73, raised concerns about the “smelly emissions” resulting from the UK’s unusually high consumption of baked beans.

He put energy and climate change minister Baroness Verma on the spot during the government’s daily question session in the upper chamber. …

Lord Simon said: “In a programme some months ago on the BBC it was stated that this country has the largest production of baked beans and the largest consumption of baked beans in the world.”

To laughter from peers, he added: “Could the noble baroness say whether this affects the calculation of global warming by the government as a result of the smelly emission resulting there from?”

Like, from baked beans, specifically? Because I’m pretty sure that the entire range of food fit for human consumption can cause — er — “smelly emissions” from any number of individual digestive tracts, and that baked beans are a relatively infinitesimal part of that total. Environmentalists have lately been emphasizing the particular heat-trapping potency of methane over carbon in their climate-change campaigns, and I suppose that if you want to argue that overall human flatulence in general could be a factor in our net methane emissions, that’s one thing — but not even our own Environmental Protection Agency has taken it quite that far yet. The federal government has enteric fermentation from livestock (i.e., cow toots) pegged as the number one cause of methane emissions in the United States right now, followed by the oil and natural gas industry and then things like landfills, manure management, and coal mining. I don’t think human flatulence quite made the cut on this list of things we should be all that worried about.


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