This Little-Known Fact Will Change the Way You Think About Greenhouse Gases, the Cattle IndustryThu, 24 Jan 2019 11:28:57 CST
Globally, the cattle industry is accused of playing a significant role in the overall contribution of greenhouse gas emissions and in the potential of climate change. But, Dr. Frank Mitloehner of the University of California Davis says that the greenhouse gases that are associated with bovine really offers both good and bad news. He claims that while the methane produced by livestock is the most potent of the gases in question, it simply does not stick around all that long of time compared to the other gases created by the use of fossil fuels. He explained this in a recent conversation with Iowa Farm Broadcast Ken Root.
“There’s CO2 and then there’s methane and then there’s nitrous oxide. The big one for agriculture is methane and methane is depicted as the really bad gas because it’s about 28 times more potent - meaning more heat-trapping than CO2,” Mitloehner said. “But, the three greenhouse gases are not created equal. CO2 and nitrous oxide, they have a lifetime of 1000 years. Once you put them into the air, they stay there forever pretty much. But methane is different.”
According to Mitloehner, the lifespan for methane is only 10 years - a micro-fraction in time compared to the other two gases. To put things into perspective, Mitloehner explains that if an operation has a certain amount of livestock and never increases that number over the generations as that operation is passed down, then the methane levels produced should never really increase but stay constant. Therefore, producers are not advancing global warming. In fact, Mitloehner says the US herd is actually scaled back more than it ever has been which means the industry’s methane production has indeed been reduced over time.
“So, even though it is true methane is potent and it is an important greenhouse gas - everything that is produced is destroyed. It’s a process called oxidation,” he said. “If this is something we can get broad agreement on, it would be a complete change in the way that we view the significance of methane.”
Listen to Mitloehner as he debunks the myth that the US ag industry has a greenhouse gas emission problem, with Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays, on today’s Beef Buzz.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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