It is heartbreaking to learn that ranchers are sending their cattle to market owing to the loss of grass in this drought. What I feel most is the fact these creatures, who normally are given just two years of life, now will not get even that.

I am not a city boy. My grandfather, Enos Mills, homesteaded the Colorado Tahosa Valley in the 19th century and I lived for years with two known local mountain lions, one having killed one of my dogs and bit the head of the surviving dog, Max.

Cattle are the source of a fifth of greenhouse gas (methane from regurgitation) pollution and that share of global warming. Our drought is one of hundreds of global warming disruptions.

That is our doing, not the cattle’s. I have never admired the practices of cattle “ranchers” who basically turn them loose, often on public land they pay a paltry return to the public for using, and then mostly ignore them, and when a blizzard or drought comes, tough luck.

“It’s your misfortune and none of my own,” sings the cowpoke in the old ballad. Then, before being slaughtered, cattle are treated to dessert, standing in their own filth while they are “fattened” in feedlots. And it hardly bears stating, this is the desert.

Let me answer the thought you may have of hypocrisy. I do not eat meat or kill animals, wild or tame. Meat is unhealthy.

But I actually have a suggestion: Weekly I drive through White Sands on business. Can we not find unused grazing land on federal lands?

But I also say to cattlemen, start taking full responsibility for the creatures you use for profit. And see to their welfare under all conditions, whether it cuts into your bottom line. Don’t like drought? One, this is desert, and two, you are a major cause of global climate change.

To my meat-eating friends, go to Burger King and get an “Impossible Burger.” Meat-centered diets are in for a big change.

Michael M. Kiley, Ph.D., MPH, is president (inactive) of Colorado Alpine Advanced Trauma Care Project Inc. He lives in Albuquerque but is a fifth-generation Coloradan.

(1) comment

Khal Spencer

Whether one year or two, not much of a life.

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