The Greenhouse Guru, Dr. Frank Mitloehner, Recognized with Borlaug Communications AwardWed, 23 Oct 2019 21:55:21 CDT
Dr. Frank Mitloehner of the University of California – Davis was recently honored with the Borlaug Communications Award during the World Food Prize celebration this last week in Des Moines, Iowa. While accepting his award, Mitloehner talked about his work debunking those who say cows matter more than transportation when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions.
“What does a plant need to grow? It needs sunlight. It needs water and it needs CO2. The carbon in this CO2 sooner or later becomes the carbon, namely the carbohydrates in the crops the animals eat – whether it’s grasses, corn or others,” he said. “That carbon from the atmosphere goes into the plants, becomes cellulose and is then ingested by a ruminant for example – which will then belch out some methane.”
That methane, he explains, then stays in the atmosphere for approximately an entire decade. However, it eventually is oxidized into CO2. In other words, he says, the carbon cycle is exactly that: cyclical. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the top greenhouse gas emitting sectors are those that burn fossil fuels, such as the transportation sector, the power production sector and what it labels “industry” (namely the cement industry). Combined, these three sectors account for 80 percent of total emissions in the US. In contrast, agriculture as a whole is attributed just 9 percent. At closer observation, animal agriculture by itself is only responsible for a mere 4 percent. To say that livestock or cows for that matter emit more greenhouse gases than the transportation sector is not only wrong, Mitloehner says, its completely indefensible.
“Never compare cows versus cars at the risk of being deceptive and incorrect,” he remarked. “The 800 lb. gorilla – and there’s no question about it in a country like ours – is the use of fossil fuels. That’s not to say agriculture does not matter. And this is the focus of my program at UC-Davis to reduce those parts of greenhouse gases that stem from animal agriculture.”
Listen to Dr. Mitloehner speak more about the livestock industry’s contributions to greenhouse gas emissions in the US, 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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