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.