Cows, cow farts, fertilizer and climate change / global warming

Photo courtesy of rmrayner at Flickr.com.

When governments talk about fighting global warming, they put a lot of emphasis on reducing industrial emissions. But, agriculture is responsible for a surprisingly large share of the gases that cause climate change. By some estimates, emissions from fertilizer, animals, and farm equipment account for about 20% of all global warming gases.

Overuse of synthetic fertilizers is a major problem because some of the chemicals in these fertilizers trap heat better than Carbon Dioxide. For instance, Nitrous Oxide can retain 300 times as much heat as CO2. There are many superior organic alternatives, but these account for only a fraction of the fertilizers used today.



Farm animals are another major source of global warming gases. As cows, goats, and sheep digest food, they release a high volume of methane. Cows are responsible for about 75% of all methane made by farm animals. That’s another potent gas behind global warming – Methane is about 25 times better at trapping heat than CO2.

It may be possible to reduce these emissions with big, sweeping government policy. But, if you want to make a difference, change starts in the grocery aisle. The next time you go to the grocery store, consider produce that’s raised with organic fertilizer and leave those slabs of prime rib in the grocer’s freezer. Your body will thank you, and you can breathe easier too!



Photo courtesy of OutdoorAlex at Flickr.com.



Steve Watkins February 5, 2008 at 4:25 am

cattle raised in the US are fed anti-biotics that reduce their enviromental impact…one area where going organic is actually more harmfull overall. It’s actually the burps, not the farts releasing the methane BTW.

A good article on the issue is HERE:
http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a4_176.html

robbit February 11, 2008 at 7:27 am

Another approach would be to use farm waste to generate electricity, heat and fertilizer.

Farm waste like straw bales can be used as sustainable biomass, and other wastes like manure can be broken down to produce biogas and fertilizer through anaerobic digestion. Both biogas and biomass can be burned in combined heat and power plants to generate both electricity and heat.

There’s plenty of info on biogas, biomass, anaerobic digestion and combined heat and power in this new virtual eco town:

http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/efficiencity

paul July 17, 2012 at 10:49 am

How do make people conscientious about the luxury of buying cheap food from supermarkets at the expense of the enviroment? How do you make big organisations (with only big money in mind) conscientious about the damaged they indirectly create? many questions to be answered but if something does’nt change soon us humans will have a hell of a shock.

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