The Fart Side of Global Warming

Don’t have a cowSomeone 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?

Sources:

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/opinion/columnists/guests/s_485809.html
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1590/is_8_58/ai_82554146
http://www.heptune.com/farts.html

5 thoughts on “The Fart Side of Global Warming”

  1. Eating less meat and animal products makes a huge difference! One study compared a family that drove a hybrid fuel vehicle and had a typical diet (including meat) with a family of vegans who drove a standard car over a period of one year. Findings revealed the family of vegans released less greenhouse gas emissions over a year than the family who drove the hybrid.

    It’s nice to know scientists are researching how we can decrease methane emissions but I don’t think we can wait around, keep eating beef everyday and hope they’ll come up with a solution. Climate change is so urgent, we all need to do our bit and if that means cutting back on meat consumption, then so be it.

  2. The Problems with the Man-Made Global Warming Argument

    In order to scientifically or mathematically prove that man is causing global warming and that we need to listen to this latest of causes, it is not the amount of data or the so-called “consensus” that has any logical impact. Only logic can have logical impact. That is what is sorely missing from the global man-made global warming argument, which has become mostly political in recent years.
    Any person with logical reasoning capability must analyze cause-effect, logical linkages and other factors to come to their own decision. Having analyzed these factors I cannot in good conscience give credence to the man-made global warming argument, and in fact believe it to be a purely political tool these days.
    First there must be proof that the climate on the planet Earth has warmed significantly in a short period of time. The warmth and coolness of the earth is measured using temperature. In this case, a “Global Temperature” average must be used. Since the “Global Temperature” as reported in the U.N. Climate Change panels is based on only 20 years of temperature measurements which do not take into account various altitudes and climates, and the rest is extrapolated to obtain hundreds of years of “make-believe” temperatures, no such proof of warming exists. Add to that the fact that their estimate is only half a degree increase in 100 years, using this skewed and unreliable data, and you find that there is not a single basis in fact that the Earth has indeed warmed, or that the warmth has been significant. Even if the measurements were scientifically and dutifully taken over the past 100 years, taken at different altitudes and climates, as well as in different settings (urban, suburban, rural, wild and over water), which they were not, the change is not significant. A significant change would be several degrees.
    Second the change would have to be linked to carbon emissions by mankind. Being that there has been no significant change proven, and that it has been measured that volcanic eruptions, cattle, animals and other factors release more carbon into the atmosphere than mankind, such a link has not been made. Also no proof that carbon increase affects global temperature has been offered, only rampant speculation. The time period used for the measurements, including the extrapolations beyond the last 20 years of “reliable” data, is the only time period in which western society has known the world was not flat, and known of the western hemisphere, so we have no reliable reference to determine what temperatures were like before the west was settled. Add to that the U.N. chart of extrapolated global temperature showing that the period of the 1600s was exceptionally cold, a “little ice age” as some called it, and we may be on a normal warming curve, if indeed there is warming.
    Third all factors must be taken into account. If indeed the Earth is warming, of which there still is not enough proof, then we must look at all causes, not using a bias of just one. Volcanic activity, the “wobble” of the Earth’s rotation, solar activity, the rise of large cities made of glass, concrete, glass, metals, asphalt, deforestation and other factors have not been included in the calculations made by the U.N. commission and other man-made global warming theorists, but have instead been dismissed out of hand.
    Fourth there must be proof that catastrophe and not a boon will result from climate change. Wild theories by some that the Oceans will raise eighteen to twenty-four feet within fifty years are not scientific or accurate. In fact, there has been no natural calamity or increase in ocean levels as a result of temperature increases claimed, yet not proven. Hurricanes have not increased in frequency or violence. Water shortages have falsely been linked to global warming rather than calmly looking at increasing population and water usage in affected areas, so claims of droughts and such need to be retracted until proven to be caused by this so-called global warming. Fires seem to occur in the same areas as they have in the past, though people live in those places now so they are more widely reported. Claims of polar bear population decreases have been found to be wrong. In essence, there has not been a single negative factor reported which has been successfully linked to global warming.
    And finally, the motives of those who are espousing this theory must be examined. This is the sole tactic repeatedly used to attack those who have more reasonable and less dogmatic views on global warming. But those who make claims that Global Warming is false and a political tool often have nothing to gain. In the case of Climatologists, notoriety, grants and other financial boons, fame and the like are great motivators…so much so that they have sponsored “the sky is falling” theories of global warming, cooling, warming, cooling, etc… for over 100 years. Politicians have obvious reason to endorse such theories, whether to get elected, tax to provide programs they espouse, to avoid being attacked by fanatics or to make $100,000 per speech as they ride private jets around the world or make outlandish “documentaries”.
    All of these factors must be examined before giving credence to man-made global warming theory. None have been, and instead political entities like the U.N. have used bandwagon propaganda techniques like this so-called “consensus” as their latest tactic. They refuse to listen to counter arguments and label those opposed as fanatics, when they are very fanatical in their theories, even proposing taxation of every man woman and child in industrialized nations (excluding China of course!). There has been no logical and well thought out link made between man and global warming. There have been outrageous predictions of impending catastrophe used for political and monetary gains. And there has been a lot of political talk and money changing hands. This is not science. This is not logic. This “Man-Made Global Warming” theory shows all signs of political propaganda, without facts to back it up.

  3. All I have to say is, wow. Do you not have anything better to do with your lives? Cows, sheep, goats, and every other animal on the face of this earth have been farting since the beginning of time. This is so far out there that i can’t help but laugh. And if methane release from these animals really is bring about a global crisis, then the best answer would be to eat more of them, so as to prevent the future release of these gases. Your solutions are down right ludacris.

  4. @Daniel Blake Westhoff: You fail to take into account that due to our bloated population (no natural predators and hyperactive sex drives), we have spiked the bovine population unnaturally as well to feed our carnivorous masses. So they may have been farting since time immemorial, but there are more of them now.

    Eating more meat just supports the meat industry, pushing them to farm more bovines. So my solution (although told in jest) may not be as ludicrous as you think.

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