Someone commented about livestock flatulence here and I was surprised to see that some people are actually aware just how destructive farts and belches can be. LOL, not yours dear readers – I meant more of the bovine variant.
Yes – you read right – cow, goat, and sheep flatulence (cud-chewers mostly, as porcine flatulence is nigh negligible) is a major contributor to global warming. Here are three simple reasons how …
Nature of their flatulence (apologies to those taking their meals now)
By their nature, cud-chewers digest their food with the help of micro-organisms via a process called enteric fermentation. This is where the organisms in the animal break down the cellulose in the plants they eat, releasing methane as a by-product. Thus the livestock flatulence (farts and belches) and poop are very high in methane. When the animal regurgitates (brings food in cud form back from stomach to mouth) and chews the cud – the methane is released from the mouth. The rest find their way out the other end – coming out as farts and fecal matter (both rich in methane gas).
Methane is a greenhouse gas that is almost 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat from the sun. So your average cow is producing gases 20 times more destructive than your car!
Sheer amount of flatulence
There are about 1.3 billion cows worldwide (and that’s just cows). Imagine just how much methane is being produced each time all those cows eat, defecate, fart and belch. It is little surprise that livestock are the main source of methane gas worldwide.
Ranching opportunity costs
The amount of fertilizers used to farm animal feed is another cause of concern as you need a great amount of fertilizers to maintain the humongous amount of greens needed to support the very large ruminant (cud-chewing) population bred for food. Most of these fertilizers are urea or ammonia-based. Ammonia is the leading cause of acid rain worldwide.
Even worse, vast tracts of land that have been cleared to make way for grazing land and ranches contribute to the deforestation.
The Final Solution
Before you go freaking out and go vegan out of guilt there are a number of solutions being worked out by the world’s governments:
- Japan has long researched and adopted a recycling solution wherein a farm or ranch mines the methane gas from animal flatulence, fecal matter and organic garbage produced by the farm and uses it to power the farm itself.
- US scientists have found out that adjusting the cow’s diets can curb methane production by as much as 75%.
- Australian scientists have developed vaccines that kill out some of the ruminant micro-organisms which still allow the cud-chewers to digest their meals while lowering methane production by 20%.
So sit back and enjoy your beef, veal and chevon. However, eating less of it will not only help the environment but also yourself. Can you just imagine the amount of calories and fat you would save yourself from if you eat more veggies and grains than animal protein?