At the Climate Crisis Action Day, Vegans were out in force trying to influence the crowd (even providing free vegetable sandwiches). If you weren’t aware, PETA is glad to let you know that there is research asserting that animals raised for food cause more GHG emissions than all trucks and cars combined. Animal gas is, basically, methane and 23 times the Global Warming implications per molecule than CO2. Well, it looks like science has come to the rescue so the GHG implications from barbecuing come from the briquets and not the t-bone steaks.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) report, Livestock’s Long Shadow –Environmental Issues and Options,
- livestock sector accounts for 9 percent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases
- 65 percent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure.
- 64 percent of ammonia, which contributes significantly to acid rain
- 37 percent of all human-induced methane (23 times as warming as CO2), which is largely produced by the digestive system of ruminants,
Let’s skip past the CO2, which is a complicated mix. Well, when it comes to the manure, ever more of this is finding its way into fuels. It is not inconceivable that, in the not distant future, animal waste will go from being that — waste — to being a valuable resource for producing fuels. For example, think pig manure oil.
Ammonia … ah … ammonia … that lovely stuff … which is a valued raw material for fertilizer. A little bit hard to collect from grazing animals but, like manure, more straightforward in industrialized facilities.
Methane … those infamous cow farts … After all, that is might have caused previous global warming crises.
“We don’t know what those other cycles were caused by in the past,” Representative Rohrabacher speculated, “it could be dinosaur flatulence.”
In all serious, as part of a comprehensive effort to deal with Green House Gas (GHG) issues, things like ruminant flatulence and burping matter. As the Guardian opened its reporting on a potential scientific breakthrough:
Cut down on flying, sell the car and recycle your bottles. But if you really want to tackle global warming, you should stop your cow from burping.
According to scientific estimates, the methane gas produced by cows is responsible for 4% of greenhouse gas emissions.
But, scientists might have found a path for cutting into that methane production and turn it into more milk.
“Our aim is to increase the wellbeing of the cow, to reduce the greenhouse gases produced and to increase agricultural production all at once. It is an effective way of fighting global warming.”
So, this is one of those magic pills? (Along with Valium???) What a win-win-win: Happy Cows mean Productive Milk Cows mean Reduced Methane Emissions mean very wealthy German scientists.