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Kangaroo farts could ease global warming

Most of the proposed strategies for reducing "greenhouse gases" focus on human consumption of fossil fuels which emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a byproduct. However, methane is the "greenhouse gas" which does the most damage - equivalent to roughly twenty times an equal volume of CO2. The principal source of methane emissions is flatulence from cattle and sheep.

Australian scientists have always been on the cutting edge of livestock fart studies, and now they've discovered something that could revolutionize agriculture, reports the Herald Sun:


Thanks to special bacteria in their stomachs, kangaroo flatulence contains no methane and scientists want to transfer that bacteria to cattle and sheep who emit large quantities of the harmful gas.

While the usual image of greenhouse gas pollution is a billowing smokestack pushing out carbon dioxide, livestock passing wind contribute a surprisingly high percentage of total emissions in some countries.

"Fourteen per cent of emissions from all sources in Australia is from enteric methane from cattle and sheep,'' said Athol Klieve, a senior research scientist with the Queensland Government.

"And if you look at another country such as New Zealand, which has got a much higher agricultural base, they're actually up around 50 per cent,'' he said.

Researchers say the bacteria also makes the digestive process much more efficient and could potentially save millions of dollars in feed costs for farmers.


Read the entire article at the above link. Improving feed efficiency by 10-15% would by itself be a revolutionary breakthrough, lowering food costs and helping the economy as well as the environment, even without the benefits of reduced methane.

Thanks to Ace, who always has a nose for such stories.


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Comments (11)

However, methane is the ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

However, methane is the "greenhouse gas" which does the most damage - equivalent to roughly twenty times an equal volume of CO2.

Nice try, methane is more potent but it doesn't "do the most damage" in terms of radiative forcing (RF) because there is so much less of it.

CO2 levels are about 380 ppm and methane levels are 1.75 ppm. Even with it's much higher potency it only contributes about 28% the RF of CO2.

Furthermore CO2 has much higher atmospheric lifetime than methane. Methane's AL is about 9-15 years, while CO2's AL is thousands, if not tens of thousands, of years.

This is not to say that methane emissions should be ignored, especially regarding their contribution to positive feedback loops. However methane emissions have been decreasing since the early nineties and have even leveled off since 2000, while CO2 emissions keep increasing. Such studies as the one linked above could lead to very useful reductions in methane emissions, but they aren't going to be anywhere near enough to offset that of CO2.

Kangaroo Farts...I... (Below threshold)
Liberal Nitemare:

Kangaroo Farts...

Is there anything they can't do?

It must have been subconsci... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

It must have been subconscious, using the words "cutting" and "fart" in the same sentence. But anyway, I feel like a major weight has been lifted from my shoulders over an issue I never cared about.

Mantis, can't you just for ... (Below threshold)
Darby:

Mantis, can't you just for once, accept some good news? I mean seriously. Aren't you liberals always saying "We have to start now?"

Isn't this a start in the right direction? I mean if we cut the release of methane into the air, that will help, right?

There is no, solid, reason why you can't just accept this as good news.

According to National Geographic, 49-50 million years ago(The Eocene Era) CO2 was around 1,125 ppm. We're as, you so astutely pointed out, only at around 338 ppm.

According to Harvard, during that same period methane was at an insane level of 500 ppm...

Also according to them both we could see CO2 levels reach Eocene levels by 2100, but that doesn't take into account for the methane levels, which is by far the driving factor in the "greenhouse effect".

You should be happy that they've found a way to lower methane content due to animal waste, it's non-invasive(No harmed animals), it's clean, doesn't require further waste to implement(meaning no more CO2 or Methane!)

It's a good first step. For that you should he pleased...

Anyways. I think this is good news. I hope a major volcano doesn't erupt anytime soon though. To think that a single volcano can raise the levels of CO2 way past what man could ever do in 10,000 years.... I mean if it's a big enough eruption it could even kill all life on earth! Oh my.

Kangaroo farts.... invented... (Below threshold)

Kangaroo farts.... invented by Al Gore.

Darby you forget the whole ... (Below threshold)

Darby you forget the whole point of a crisis from the liberal perspective. In this political climate the only justifiable reason for raising taxes is a crisis. Lib's don't need a crisis to provide a solution too, they need a crisis to justify raising taxes so they can attach earmarks, and pork to the bill.

My question is, should this... (Below threshold)
Oaf:

My question is, should this bacteria be transfered, will the Europeans accept it, or will they consider it more "Frankenfood". It will be interesting to see whether global warming trumps genetic engineering on the continent.

Kangaroo, cattle and sheep ... (Below threshold)
posterior_sling:

Kangaroo, cattle and sheep . . . . Hadn't someone head to the forests, jungles and deserts to check the farts of the lions and tigers and bears? I'll bet they find the snake farts the most offensive.

Mantis, can't you just f... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Mantis, can't you just for once, accept some good news? I mean seriously. Aren't you liberals always saying "We have to start now?"

It's a cute story and an interesting idea, but that's all it is. Good news would be actual progress, and CO2 is a much, much bigger problem than methane.

Isn't this a start in the right direction? I mean if we cut the release of methane into the air, that will help, right?

Reducing agricultural methane emissions is a good thing, yes, but there only so much methane going into the atmosphere in the first place, so the effects of such efforts will not come close to what is needed regarding greenhouse gas levels.

According to National Geographic, 49-50 million years ago(The Eocene Era) CO2 was around 1,125 ppm. We're as, you so astutely pointed out, only at around 338 ppm.

380 ppm, but whatever. And the number for the Eocene is under dispute, as I'll note:

According to Harvard, during that same period methane was at an insane level of 500 ppm...

Read that again. The 500 ppm number was for CO2, not methane. The role of methane in bringing about the Eocene is hypothesized to be a large release from the oceans which spurred increased CO2 (though the level it got to is a matter of discussion - hence the conflicting 500 vs. 1125 numbers. In any case it was high). Methane is of concern to us now not so much because of livestock flatulence, but because a great deal of methane (and CO2) is locked in the permafrost, and as that melts it will be released into the atmosphere, contributing to a feedback loop that will create more warming, and thus more melting of permafrost.

Also according to them both we could see CO2 levels reach Eocene levels by 2100, but that doesn't take into account for the methane levels, which is by far the driving factor in the "greenhouse effect".

Methane is a factor, not the factor, and for current warming CO2 is the primary driver of radiative forcing.

You should be happy that they've found a way to lower methane content due to animal waste, it's non-invasive(No harmed animals), it's clean, doesn't require further waste to implement(meaning no more CO2 or Methane!)

They may have found a way. Did you miss this part of the story?

But it will take researchers at least three years to isolate the bacteria, before they can even start to develop a way of transferring it to cattle and sheep.

It's an idea, and a good one, but it is far from implementation, and as I have said before would not have a large impact.

It's a good first step. For that you should he pleased...

I'm pleased that people are thinking about new ways to solve a very complex issue, yes.

Anyways. I think this is good news. I hope a major volcano doesn't erupt anytime soon though. To think that a single volcano can raise the levels of CO2 way past what man could ever do in 10,000 years.... I mean if it's a big enough eruption it could even kill all life on earth! Oh my.

Could happen (well, not all life on Earth, but a big enough volcano could certainly cause mass extinctions), but very unlikely at this point in time. We have more pressing concerns, and they involve things we can actually control.

Read Erl Happ's comment #47... (Below threshold)
kim's sock puppet:

Read Erl Happ's comment #470 on the 'Svalgaard Solar Theory' at climateaudit.org
--------------------------

<a href="http://science-sep... (Below threshold)
kim's sock puppet:



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