In the scientific community, conventional wisdom says that the waste output of a single cow is equivalent to the waste output of 14 humans. Okay, we’ll resist the temptation to descend into bovine male jokes here. But in New Zealand which is roughly the size of Colorado, there are 4 million humans and 6.2 million cows, which means that in terms waste, New Zealand has the equivalent of 90 million humans. All of which could cause a stink (okay, we couldn’t resist) because New Zealand, being is heavily dependent on tourism, sells itself as a haven for very pure air. As is generally the case, purity must be in the nose of the beholder here.
But all that is somewhat beside the point here. Word from SAP, a business software provider, says that the thriving cow economy in New Zealand is a bigger issue about how marketplace pressures can change the entire environment of a country. The old fashioned image of New Zealand is of a place where sheep roam freely on the pristine landscape. But that all changed when China rose as an economic giant, with a big appetite for beef. All of a sudden 39 million sheep faded away as cows dominated the landscape and the economy.
Exchanging sheep for cows wouldn’t be such a major issue if it weren’t for the accompanying environmental issues. New Zealand has seen elevated levels of nitrate in its ground water and phosphorus in both land and water. But even as New Zealand works to rectify the issues of cow manure alongside its pureness logo, a SAP writer wants us to consider that this is a much larger issue affecting several economies, including Bahrain and Zambia among others that depend on only a few commodities. When the sheep is gone all we’re left with is the bull?