Cow Farts

- Bovine Gases contribute to Global Warming

When cows burp and fart they emit the greenhouse gas, methane, which, along with CO2 are the 2 major man-made accelerants of Global Warming. An average cow produces an unbelievable 600 liters of methane a day. With 1.3 billion domesticated cattle on Earth (100 million in the US alone) it is no surprise that constant burping and farting by livestock is the chief global source of methane released into the atmosphere, according to the EPA. The atmospheric concentration of methane has more than doubled in the last 200 years due to industrialization and modern agriculture, thus magnifying the Greenhouse effect. What’s worse is that methane is capable of trapping 25 times more heat than CO2, and will account for 17 percent of Global Warming over the next 50 years. While CO2 emissions can persist for over a century, methane only lasts a decade. Thus, reducing methane emissions will have a more immediate impact on Global Warming.

-Global warming is real

Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated that Global Warming is linked to human causes. “Global Warming has increased markedly since 1750 as a result of human causes, and its impact on shrinking snowpacks, declining sea ice, rising oceans and water, and hotter weather will persist into the future even if the cause stops.”

-Methane may lead to Global Extinction

There are enormous amounts of naturally occurring greenhouse gases trapped in ice-like structures in the cold northern muds (tundra) and at the bottom of the seas. These ices, called clathrates, contain 3,000 times as much methane than the atmosphere. A temperature increase of nearly 2 degrees would cause the methane trapped in the tundra to burst into the atmosphere, which would raise global temperatures even more, thus releasing more methane, heating the earth even more and so on. The Arctic Council predicts that our current warming will be sufficient to melt the clathrates and release the greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. If this cycle is triggered, all life on Earth could be destroyed. This phenomenon occurred multiple times in our planet’s history. The most recent occurrence was 55 million years ago, when methane “burps” created rapid warming and mass extinction. 250 million years ago methane burps came close to wiping out all life on Earth.

-Possible Solutions

Our best way to slow down Global warming in the near future is targeting the gas that could make the biggest differences, in the fastest times. That gas is methane because it breaks down the quickest of all the greenhouse gases and is responsible for a large portion of the Global Warming process. Some possible means of reducing methane emissions currently being explored are developing genetically engineered “low gas” cattle; specialized feeds such as garlic which reduce methane pollution that come from cows; and food additives (pills) which reduce burps and farts in cows.

Submitted By: Matt Levinson
Uploaded 05/13/2007
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