To Fight Global Warming, Eat Less Corn and More Flaxseed…If You’re a Cow

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Cows could become a greater threat to global warming than cars or SUVs, scientists insist, which has prompted farmers in the U.S. and Europe to experiment with the diets of bovines. At issue is the tremendous amount of methane gas that cows expel as a result of digesting feed heavy on corn or soy, causing the average cow to produce “eruptions” (burps and flatulence) that total 200 to 400 pounds of methane each year. With the global production of dairy and beef expected to double in the next 30 years, adding millions more cattle, the expelling of methane by cows is now a serious concern, because methane has 20 times the heat-trapping ability of carbon dioxide.

 
Fortunately, there seems to be answer that’s not only good for the planet but cows as well. Farmers in Vermont and France have begun feeding their herds grain feed high in alfalfa and flaxseed, which don’t cause cows to be as gassy as corn or soy. One Vermont farmer, Guy Choiniere, has reported an 18% drop in his cows’ methane output, while enjoying the same level of milk production. In addition to noticing his cows’ breath is “sweeter,” Choiniere said they’re healthier and their coats shinier.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
 
Greening the Herds: A New Diet to Cap Gas (by Leslie Kaufman, New York Times)

Comments

The Environmental Maniac 7 years ago
There is renewed confusion about Methane. The idea of regulating belches and farts is back. That’s in spite of the fact that Methane has been diminishing for almost a decade (2007 U.N.IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Report 2, page 142). What is the reports explanation? “The reasons for the decrease in the atmospheric CH4 growth rate and the implications for future changes in its atmospheric burden are not understood (Prather et al., 2001) but are clearly related to changes in the imbalance between CH4 sources and sinks.” The problem is that the Global Warming Models have serious holes and the political non-science is taking over. (Report One: The Global Warming Models can’t model clouds – 95% of greenhouse gas is water vapor. They can’t get “consensus” without adjusting the inputs – the “Monte Carlo” method. Etc.) Let me simplify Global Warming. Every day there’s Global Warming. Every night there’s Global Cooling. Every summer there’s Global Warming. Every winter there’s Global Cooling. There are also Global Warming and Cooling cycles over 100’s of years. 1,000 years ago Greenland was green and there were vineyard in the north of London. It was know as the Medieval Warm Period. Before Al Gore, it was also called “Climate Optimum”, the optimum climate for man. 500 years ago was the “Little Ice Age”. The ‘Little Ice Ace’ was spawned by 5 major volcanoes in a 10 year period. Glaciers wiped out entire villages in Europe. England changed staples from wheat to potatoes. Life was hard. The problem with cycles of 100’s of years is that humans can not relate. So drop back to the yearly cycle and add a little talked about part of Greenhouse Gas. This is the critical insight overlooked by the U.N. IPCC Reports. Greenhouse Gas is not evenly distributed around our planet. All Greenhouse Gas is in the Troposphere. The Troposphere is 12 miles thick at the equator and zero to 4 miles thick at the poles. During the summer, the oceans warm, ‘exhale’ greenhouse gas, and there is 4 miles of Troposphere at the poles. During the winter, the oceans cool, ‘inhale’ greenhouse gas, and the Troposphere is indistinguishable at the poles. That is why there are Northern Lights on the North Pole every winter. But that’s another story.

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