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Cows That Burp Less Methane to Be Bred 366

Posted by samzenpus
from the belching-bovines dept.
Canadian scientists are breeding a type of cow that burps less, in an attempt to reduce greenhouse gases. Cows are responsible for almost 75% of total methane emissions, mostly coming from burps. Stephen Moore, professor of agricultural, food and nutritional science at the University of Alberta, hopes the refined bovines will produce 25 per cent less methane. Nancy Hirshberg, spokesman for Stonyfield Farm says, "If every US dairy farmer reduced emissions by 12 per cent it would be equal to about half a million cars being taken off the road."

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Cows That Burp Less Methane to Be Bred

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  • by davidwr (791652) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:25PM (#28455043) Homepage Journal

    More cowbell [wikipedia.org], less cow-burp.

  • Easy alternative (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:25PM (#28455045) Homepage
    Or we could raise and eat fewer cows.
    • by davidwr (791652) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:28PM (#28455111) Homepage Journal

      Or perhaps we should pig out on pork, the other white meat.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Attention grammar nazis: In case you're not from the U.S., or don't have one located near you, "Eat Mor Chikin" is an advertising slogan [chick-fil-a.com] used by Chick-Fil-A, a chain of quick-service restaurants that specialize in chicken sandwiches, in their advertising and commercials, which feature cows, who, of course, can't spell.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K (682162)

      I'm not to worried about the cows anyway.

      There have been animals around on earth a long time, and the cows are likely to be pushing away some other species, but overall the methane release into the atmosphere wouldn't be that different throughout history.

      An attack on animals farting seems to be plain stupid related to so many other factors involved.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        You do realize that the world's cow population has increased substantially over time, don't you? Also of note, ruminants produce substantially more methane than most other flavors of animal, because of their particular digestive setup.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Yeah, but the giant herds of buffalo and other large mammals has decreased by the billions over the last few thousand years. So it equals out in the end.

          We need less people, not less cows.

          • We need less people, not less cows.

            That's the spirit! We've been attacking this problem from the wrong angle. Since it is obvious that Man is responsible for climate change, we can just eliminate the species from the Earth and solve all our climate change problems.

            Now, who to inherit the Earth once Homo sapien has been removed?

          • by Rei (128717)

            Yeah, but the giant herds of buffalo and other large mammals has decreased by the billions over the last few thousand years. So it equals out in the end.

            The historic buffalo population is estimated at 60 million [americanwest.com]. So your estimate for the current bison population is several billion negative buffalo?

      • Re:Easy alternative (Score:5, Informative)

        by Cedric Tsui (890887) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:42PM (#28455369)
        But there are many more cows per square kilometer in farm land than there are other animals.

        Furthermore. Most animals don't have the 4 stomach system using anaerobic bacterial digestion. That's what makes the methane.
      • by Celeste R (1002377) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:46PM (#28455465)

        Regardless of how we want to spin it, our world is changing. Managing those changes before they overwhelm us is important too.

        • by Chabo (880571)

          How do you know that this will produce an overall benefit? What if, by making cows produce less methane, we upset the balance of our atmosphere such that we induce global warming, or a new ice age?

          • by ByOhTek (1181381)

            That's a very tough stretch, are you suggesting the cows would produce something else instead, or that methane reduces global warming.

            and a side note, related to your sig, FLACs aren't portable?

            • It's a stretch of sorts. On the other hand there's a possibility that methane would stop other polluting effects.

              FLAC doesn't have a marketing campaign, so most mobile media players don't play them. The other motivation to "squish" FLACs is size; a set of earbuds isn't capable of reproducing the complete quality of a lossless file, at the same time smaller files allow for more of your collection to be portable.

            • by Chabo (880571)

              What I'm saying is that doing any specific action "to stop global warming" could have unforeseen consequences. Nature has a way of balancing things, and a sudden drop in methane production could have an effect on our climate besides "stopping global warming".

              As for FLACs, they're portable in the sense of different platforms, but I meant in the sense that they take up huge amounts of space. I have a 2GB Sansa running Rockbox, and the FLAC folder on my computer is over 30GB. I can only fit about 4 albums' wor

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Thing is that cows are carbon neutral. And carbon methane only has a half-life in the atmosphere of about 7 years, so the whole "carbon methane is more damaging than CO2" stuff is just complete nonsense.

          The real question we need to ask ourselves is this:

          Why is that we seem to have such a hard time divorcing the science from the politics and pseudoscience? I'm not one of those "global warming is BS" freaks, but as someone concerened about pollution and the effects of human activities on the ecosphere, I wi

          • Re:Easy alternative (Score:5, Informative)

            by R.Mo_Robert (737913) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @02:29PM (#28457111)

            Thing is that cows are carbon neutral.

            Not when they're fed corn that was shipped, using fossil fuels, halfway across the country to get there. (Let's not even go into the fact that this corn was produced using artificial fertilizer, derived from petroleum, and sprayed with pesticide--you guessed it, more petroleum. And the fact that the cow itself, after being processed, will be shipped halfway across the country again to reach your dinner plate--fossil fuels.) Also, cows are ruminants: they're supposed to eat grass. Grass is free, and its energy comes from the sun--not long-dead dinosaurs.

            If all farmers farmed more locally and closer to organic practices, cows would be a lot closer to being carbon-neutral.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by crmarvin42 (652893)
              Ok, most of your post is actually not far off of the mark. Cow are not carbon neutral, and the current distribution system is at least partially to blame. However I need to take a moment to beat you over the head for that last nonsensical sentence that nearly removes any value from your post.

              Modern agriculture (ie Fertilisers, pesticides, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, antibiotics, posilac, et al.) is far "greener" than organic farming will ever be. I know this because I work in Agricultural
      • Re:Easy alternative (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rei (128717) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:48PM (#28455493) Homepage

        There have been animals around on earth a long time

        Not all animals are ruminants. Ruminants release methane due to enteric fermentation. Ruminants are a relatively development on the evolutionary tree. Furthermore, our large population of them in modern times is sustained only through high density industrial agriculture. For example, probably the greatest natural landscape for large grazing herd animals today are the Serengeti and Masai Mara plains. Combined, they only support 1.5 million wildebeest. Even the massive bison herds that once spread across the entire great plains numbered at only 60 million. We raise, what, 1.3 billion cattle?

        History has never seen anywhere close to as many ruminants on the surface of the earth as we have today. Thank modern industrial agriculture for that.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ChefInnocent (667809)
          And I do thank the modern industrial agriculture for it. Now, please cut me off another rib eye, and cook it in bacon fat. While you are at it, would you mind passing the Russet Burbank potato along with the butter and sour cream? I quaff down another "Bud" while I wait.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by rbrander (73222)

          You got the sixty million right, but are an order of magnitude out on the current population of cows. Here's my comment to Salon magazine 2 years ago on this subject:
          Here are my calculations, with references, courtesy of google and an hour of my time. Thanks also to the USDA and PBS.
          Size of national herd, all cows and calves: 106 million.
          http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/usda/current/Catt/Catt-07-20-2007.txt [cornell.edu]
          Number on feed (multiplying their GHG impact): 11 million.
          (in short, they are only on feed near The En

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jonathan (5011)

        1) As people have already said, there weren't *nearly* as many cows around before we started making them a major part of our diet
        2) The cows that *were* around ate grass. Feeding cows corn, as farmers tend to do, fattens them up but gives them much more gas.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I heard about this a "few" years ago... Actually, the reduced methane production is sought after because it's energy wasted, instead of being converted into meat. My uncle has developed a small herd over the last 50 years that puts on 6lbs a day until they reach maturity (the average weight in his herd is over 1200 lbs). A friend of mine said they looked like giant sausages with legs. Selective breeding gave them rapid growth, strength, and a strong immune system (less expensive medications/vaccines). Less

    • Re:Easy alternative (Score:5, Informative)

      by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:38PM (#28455301) Homepage Journal

      Or put them back on their natural grazing diet. They only output so much gas because they're not eating what they naturally would.

      That would, in turn, force us to raise and eat fewer cows.

      • There is nothing natural about cows. They have been bred to be unsuitable for any niche with predators in it; no gene-line descending from the current livestock breeds would have much of a chance of finding a natural niche.

        However, it is true that grass-fed, open-range cattle are not only healthier, but more environmentally sustainable. In fact, it may be the least destructive form of food-production there is: it's less destructive than crop-planting.

        • Only in the developed world. In areas like South America, you're constantly needing more foraging ground, which includes slashing forests for pasturage.

      • by canajin56 (660655)
        They are proposing multiple solutions that can work together. Solution one, the one that makes for a good headline, is to use selective breeding to select against the genes that cause an overproduction of methane in the cow's gut, though they're also looking at genes that make the cow more efficient about converting food to muscle, so the food will ferment less in their stomachs. Solution two is to get them on a high energy diet. They make methane because the food they eat ferments in their stomach. Cor
    • Right, why not attack the heart of the problem.

      Breed (or Engineer) humans that are predisposed towards the herbivore end of the omnivore scale. Such an attribute would also be better suited to space travel/living.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dzfoo (772245)

        Most humans are already predisposed towards the herbivore end, that's why we breed so many cows, rather than, say, bobcats.

                -dZ.

        • Ha ha good reply. I suppose we don't raise other mammal carnivores for food... as perhaps a professional courtesy.
          • by dzfoo (772245)

            Exactly. We don't want to compete with our fellow meativores, that's just rude.

            As for veggiebores, pfffft! Eating grass is just asking for trouble.

                    -dZ.

        • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @03:03PM (#28457651) Homepage

          Most humans are already predisposed towards the herbivore end, that's why we breed so many cows, rather than, say, bobcats.

          Well, as spokesperson for the National Bobcat Meat Council, all I can say is that you're missing out!

          For the consumer, bobcat is a wonderful choice. Bobcat is delicious, naturally lean, high in vitamins and minerals, and, let's face it, a completely awesome thing to say you are eating. Imagine you're in your backyard at your grill, talking to your competitive neighbor Bill over the fence. "Hey Bill, how's it going?" you say. "Oh not bad, just grilling up some pork sausage on my new 80,000 btu propane grill. How bout you?" Bill says. "Oh, not bad, slumming it with my measly 20,000 btu grill... making bobcat burgers!" Bill is stunned. "Oh wow! You are my king! I worship you!" he says in one of those awkward vaguely homo-erotic moments that seem to happen around Bill a little too often. But he is right -- bobcat is the burger of kings.

          And for the rancher, bobcat presents many exciting opportunities as well. For one, wolves and other predators will not fuck with your livestock. You can even put your pig or goat pens -- needed to feed the bobcats -- in the middle of the bobcat pens and provide the ultimate in protection for your herbivore stock as well! Also, if you're tired of complacent cows and the tedious and unexciting process of herding them for slaughter, well, you're in for a thrill! Any wannabe cowboy brand a cow, but come at a bobcat with a glowing red brand and get ready to prove your mandhood! Compare scars with other bobcatboys and see who really has what it takes! I had one rancher tell me that they were thinking of getting out of the business due to the lack of physical danger, until I took him on a tour of a bobcat ranch and one of the feisty rascals hiding in a dark corner nearly took his face off. Well I had him signed up that very day to start his own bobcat ranch!

          Okay... I'm not going to lie. Bobcat ranching is hell. They're mean, ornery, antisocial, dangerous, and have no compunction about going for the junk. The only thing that rancher signed was the out-of-court settlement with the National Bobcat Meat Council for his injuries. But seriously, I need to push these bobcat ranches or I'm going to lose my job. We'll even start you out with a bunch of free livestock! We're up to our fucking necks in bobcats, come on take some off our hands. They aren't even that tasty but god damn cut me some slack I'm trying to move product here. Eat some fucking bobcat already!

          - Chris Burke, spokesperson, National Bobcat Meat Council. NBMC says: "Eat some fucking bobcat already!"(tm)

    • by Narpak (961733)

      Or we could raise and eat fewer cows.

      I agree. Of course I like various forms of meat and steak; but I try to balance my diet with other substances; like vegetables, fruit, salads and other relatively health articles. While I do not feel comfortable telling people what they should or shouldn't eat; the amount of meat being consumed; or even more importantly the amount of meat (and other food articles) that are simply wasted by the system; is staggering.

      While I can not see a simple solution to improving the way we produce and consume food; I

    • by Brigadier (12956)

      I always laugh when people suggest the 'obvious' solution.... it either equates to, over fishing, destroying rain forest, inhumane treatment of farm animals, or well too much gas. Fact is the real problem is there are too many human beings... not only that these human beings eat a lot and we mess a lot.

      Bottom line is the earth simply cannot handle it. In 1950 the world population wa below 3 Billion, in less than a generation we have doubled that. projections show that we will hit 1o billion by 2010.

      http://w [treehugger.com]

      • You misread your graph there, buddy, They say 10 billion by 2050, not 2010. And that doesn't take in to account the trend of developed countries to have lower birth rates, so if some countries start to develop, their birth rates will fall, as well.

        As for your "only solution," I find that world wars tend to have a real good impact as a means of population control.

    • Re:Easy alternative (Score:5, Interesting)

      by panthroman (1415081) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @01:00PM (#28455755) Homepage

      Seriously. Obviously 12% fewer cattle is the methane equivalent of "half a million cars off the road," according to their PR lady. So if everyone ate 12% less beef/dairy...

      If you eat beef twice a week, then a 12% reduction is skipping one beef meal a month. One of the biggest 'vegetarian movement' mistakes was to paint vegetarianism as a black & white issue. If one meal a month can make this kind of environmental difference, vegetarians might do more for their cause if they applauded and promoted meat in moderation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by randomaxe (673239)
      So, you're suggesting that we supplement with more bacon?
    • by dAzED1 (33635)

      or do both. I decided to not buy another car (blacktop footprint, gas, etc) and will only do 2-wheeled things now (bicycles, motorcycles, etc). And, I went vegan. It may sound drastic, but in actual implementation...well, I never have to wait in traffic (legal to split lanes in California), I never ever have to worry about parking, and it's not nearly as hard to find something to eat as people would think. So long as I don't keep in mind my Bs and omegas, I've got no problem keeping up with everything e

  • Will burp-free cows be as tasty? Produce as much milk?

    And then the question has to be asked, why not just breed them to only make big burps, fit their stomach with a methane extraction tube, and collect it for later use?
    • Will burp-free cows be as tasty? Produce as much milk?

      Yeah, I was thinking about this... If they select only the burp-less cows to be bred, what if that means they select the ones that also produce less meat or milk? Then they'd have to raise more cows to meet the demands and the advantage of having cows that burp less is lost.

  • by nadamsieee (708934) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:30PM (#28455157)
    An unexplained rash of spontaneous cow explosions has resulted in a glut in the Canadian beef market...
  • Grass (Score:5, Informative)

    by Prien715 (251944) <agnosticpope@gmai l . com> on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:31PM (#28455165) Journal

    Or you could have cows eat grass [google.com] which does the same thing, and has nutritional benefits for the consumer. I know, it's radical.

    • by Duradin (1261418)

      But how does King Corn make money from cattle eating grass?

      Or did Monsanto patent grass?

      • by bzzfzz (1542813)

        A more relevant questions is: How does the dairy farmer make money using a lower quality, higher cost feed? Profit margins are thin in that business, and a 10% change in feed costs is enough to bankrupt an operation. Unless you are selling your milk to a customer that will pay extra for environmentally correct practices (as in TFA), it doesn't work.

        • A more relevant questions is: How does the dairy farmer make money using a lower quality, higher cost feed? Profit margins are thin in that business, and a 10% change in feed costs is enough to bankrupt an operation. Unless you are selling your milk to a customer that will pay extra for environmentally correct practices (as in TFA), it doesn't work.

          The grass is free, actually. The problem isn't that pastured cows cost more to feed - quite the opposite is true. The problem is that they each need an acre, so production for the same piece of land falls dramatically.

    • The science behind such a change is unconvincing as far as greenhouse gasses are concerned. Dairy cattle on a grass diet produce less milk over their lifetime; I know, I had a neighbor who ran a grazing herd for a while, so that has to be considered. And the indirect measures for methane emissions they use are weakly correlated. Measuring the actual methane output from a cow in a typical farm setting is not technologically feasible.

      To be sure, there are other environmental benefits, chiefly involving soil

    • by canajin56 (660655)
      RTFA, that's exactly what they're suggesting, in addition to breeding out the genes that make them overproduce methane. In fact, read your own link, too, because it suggests creating new bacteria that don't make as much methane, which is a bit more radical than simple selective breeding...
  • Ridiculous (Score:5, Funny)

    by Clandestine_Blaze (1019274) * on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:31PM (#28455171) Journal

    Just udderly ridiculous!

  • Less but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JimboFBX (1097277)
    Just because they burp less doesn't necessarily mean they produce less methane... "We made a cow that burps less. However, it farts more."
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Zakabog (603757)

      Just because they burp less doesn't necessarily mean they produce less methane... "We made a cow that burps less. However, it farts more."

      If you read the article it states that it's not that they just "burp less" it's that they actually produce less methane.

  • by DudeTheMath (522264) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:33PM (#28455197) Homepage

    Did anyone else read that as taking "half a million cows ... off the road"? No? Just me, then.

  • by NekSnappa (803141) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:34PM (#28455221)

    I swear this is this most asinine thing around in the man made climate change circles. And yet it comes up again and again!

    There are environmental issues with industrial livestock production. I just don't think this has a big enough impact on the environment to warrant the effort put into it.

    As some one who lives in So. Maryland and enjoys kayaking in the Chesapeake Bay watershed I'm much more concerned with the nitrogen run-off from all of the poultry farms on the eastern shore. But Tyson, Purdue, etc. have such a large lobby (money wise at least) There won't be too much done about it.

    Not to say that the Bay hasn't gotten healthier in the 25 years I've been living here. But between agricultural run-off and turning wetlands into housing developments it's not as good as it could be.

    • Sure, polluted run-off and the diminishing of wetlands are important matters. Eventually, people will be more mindful of those effects. Perhaps keeping the "remember the environment" ball rolling may eventually address those matters closer to your mind.

      Every little bit matters, right?

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      You know solving nitrogen run-off and cow methane production are not mutually exclusive, right? There's absolutely nothing preventing them from being done in parallel.

  • Without methane, who will run Bartertown?
  • Use it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by edivad (1186799)
    Just use the darn methane do power your farm. Problem solved!
  • It would seem that we've already greatly reduced the amount of cattle in the United States. From one estimate, there could have been upwards of 200million bison/buffalo: http://www.emporia.edu/cgps/tales/BISON.htm [emporia.edu]

    Compare this with the 2002 Census of Cattle and Calves in 2002: http://www.nass.usda.gov/research/atlas02/Livestock/Cattle/Cattle%20and%20Calves/Cattle%20and%20Calves%20-%20Inventory.gif [usda.gov]

    I actually love seeing quotes like, "If every US dairy farmer reduced emissions by 12 per cent it would be equa

  • Meat Vats (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sponge Bath (413667) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:45PM (#28455419)

    Get rid of most of the cow/pig/chicken altogether. Use special meat vats that grow cloned tissue in a special nutrient. No more digestion means no more burps and farts. Place the meat factories in all cities to save on transport. In the long term you could even add infrastructure to pipe liquified meat product directly to restaurants and homes where it could be formed and flavored.

    Welcome to the world of the future!

    • It's... its'... peeeeople!

            -dZ.

    • by russotto (537200)

      Use special meat vats that grow cloned tissue in a special nutrient.

      OK, figure out how to do this with less energy input and at comparable cost to growing the meat on the cow. Oh, and figure out how to make the meat taste right while you're at it. And do the same for the milk.

      A cow is a very complex machine which turns vegetable matter into meat. Doing the same thing artificially (even using actual bovine cells) is not likely to be easy, and doing it as efficiently as the cow does is going to be even ha

  • by futuresheep (531366) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:52PM (#28455579) Journal
    Corn is not a natural food source for cows. It causes all sorts of issues by changing the ph balance of the cows stomachs, burping included. Feed them grass, alfalfa, and flax like one farmer did. There's no reason to genetically engineer them in this way. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,525590,00.html [foxnews.com] Not only did the burps get cut back, but the cows are healthier cutting vet costs down, and the milk and beef is more nutritious. Milk and beef will cost a bit more, but considering the environmental and nutritional benefits of raising our cattle this way I think it's a fair trade off.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by canajin56 (660655)
      First, while nature didn't intend cows to eat corn, I doubt it intended them to eat high concentrations of flaxseeds either. (And I don't really think nature intends anything, not being a person). Second, if you would RTFA, you would see that your suggestion, which is a good idea by the way, is also one that TFA suggests! Third, who said genetically engineered? The article didn't, the summary didn't, and not even the headline did, which is well above par for Slashdot fearmongering! They're talking ab
  • What really bugs me is the politicians. They produce far more methane than cows.

  • by mzs (595629) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:55PM (#28455623)

    The amount of carbon produced by the cow in its lifetime plus decomposition after death is essentially the same as if the cow had never lived and all the corn and soy it would have eaten simply decomposed. The problem is that a cow produces not just carbon in one form, it tends to produce methane (the burps referred to) and methane has a much larger impact in global warming than CO2. The reason that the cows produce large amounts of methane is because the bacteria in their rumen (first stomach) is not right for the diets of mostly corn and soy that they are typically fed and this produces the methane burps. (Incidentally that is why there is relatively little methane in cow farts, almost all of the methane is produced in the rumen.)

    So one option is to feed cows mostly grass, that is not sustainable in the large industrial scale used. Another option would be to genetically engineer bacteria that produces less methane and introduce it to the cow rumen. That actually makes more sense than engineering cows with a rumen more like a stomach. Another far fetched option would be to capture the methane, then sequester or burn it outright (the green house gases then are much less harmful).

    If you have ever been near an industrial cattle or dairy farm, the stench is unimaginable. In a large cattle farm you can see the methane pockets causing the horizon to wiggle.

  • by hargrand (1301911) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @12:57PM (#28455669)

    Why isn't this posted as "Idle"?

  • I fixed my lactose intolerance by introducing a micro-organism into my body (lactobacillus delbrueckii, to replace l. acidophilus, which had failed for some reason). Same can be done with cows, find something that breaks down methane.
  • We could hook the cows up up Matrix style, a tube in both ends, capture the methane and run our little contraptions. It's not like we're that far away anyways with Confined Feeding Operations. When they stop putting out, we flush them into the grinder for hamburger. SOLVED. Yes this is sarcastic.. Or is it..
  • Cow-goroos? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wowbagger (69688) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @01:19PM (#28456065) Homepage Journal

    Kangaroos have a different microbe in their gut that captures the methane and makes that energy available to the 'roo. There had been talk of trying to get this microbe into cattle, which would not only reduce the methane output from the cattle but would also make more food energy available to the cow. What ever happened to that?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Cows do not produce 75% of total methane emissions. It goes
    1. Wetlands
    2. Rice fields
    3. Ruminants

    You don't here a lot about altering or doing away with 1 or 2. The oceans are also major contributors. Lets keep those too.

    A major point that is never mentioned in these articles is that all of the methane generated by ruminants is from carbon that is already in the carbon cycle. The half a million cars that are "displaced" are generating their methane from carbon previously sequestered in fossil fuels. Addit

    • Yep, appeal to ridicule isn't a logical fallacy at all, so of course any subject that people joke about isn't worthy of exploration at all. This is a research project done by a relatively small team, and not taking any resources away from other endeavours. What is such a bad idea about making cows slightly more efficient? The only reason they even exist anymore is because they're used as a food source. They're walking meat refrigerators. Since they only exist because we keep them around, we might as well tw

  • Why not take half a million cars out of the road? In Brasilia (Brazil's capital, and not the largest city by a long shot), we have more than a million cars for a population of just over two million people. Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city and one of the largest in the world, had a fleet of more than 4 million automobiles in 2003; the whole country had 37 million automobiles in 2003. USA, being the strongest economy, must dwarf this number. Surely the world could live with half a million automobiles fewer in

  • Listen up numbskulls, cows belching/farting aren't a problem.

    Even if you buy the CO2 == Global Warming theory, and the debate on that that is far from decided, cows aren't a problem. The whole carbon theory rests on the release of long sequestered carbon in the form of fossil fuels increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere. And that much has both science and common sense to back it, extracting and burning billions of tons of hydrocarbons has increased the CO2 level in the atmosphere.

    Cows are eating plant (and

  • Cow Tech (Score:3, Funny)

    by uvajed_ekil (914487) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @01:43PM (#28456417)
    Oh, great. Next it will be OBD computers and catalytic converters, and soon cows will be too difficult for the average person to maintain.
  • by pkbarbiedoll (851110) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @02:29PM (#28457109)
    of global Co2 emissions. Not one word of the growing problem of Co2 belching factories in India, China and other parts of the third world. How many millions of cars would be "taken off the road" if just one of these colossal polluters were dismantled and moved to countries with strong environmental laws which require scrubbers among other things.
  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @03:02PM (#28457639)
    Feeding cattle different grass, ie something similar to what they evolved to eat, solves the methane problem.

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2009/06/08/omega-3s-in-a-cows-diet-provide-a-health-boost%E2%80%94to-the-atmosphere/ [discovermagazine.com]

    So other than making lots of money from selling a low-methane breed, I really don't see the point, we already have the solution to the methane problem, we were just feeding them wrong.

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