Don’t let their gentle exteriors fool you. These are scary methane-producing and climate-changing machines.
Cows may appear innocent but they are not. Behind the gentle, insipid bovine exterior lurks a greenhouse gas pumping monster. That swishing tail is not really for dispersing flies, but for efficiently seeding the atmosphere with copious amounts of methane, a most damaging greenhouse gas. Oil and gas drilling and refining operations pale in comparison to this cow-tastrophe.
Research has found that cows lose 6% of their ingested energy to methane production. A single cow can produce between 250 and 500 liters, or between 66 and 132 gallons of methane a day. By contrast, a typical American car tank can hold only 16 gallons. And methane has 23 times the negative impact as carbon dioxide on climate change. If you are not scared of cows yet, then consider that there are 1.5 billion of them, each farting nonstop and contributing a total of 2.8 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year! Never mind programs for carbon sequestration; programs for cow sequestration are needed.
Some researchers suggest that an answer to our run-away cow climate greenhouse gas disaster rests with a change in diet. Instead of feeding cows corn and soy, a mix of alfalfa, linseed, and grass would change the level of fatty acids in cow’s feed and lead to methane reductions. This is all well and good, but if real reductions are needed, then we must look a bit deeper into cow culture, or lack thereof. What would a bit more music, say, Handel or Mozart, or even a trip to Starbucks for a café latte accomplish? Clearly, a holding it in mood must prevail while engaging in these activities. And if a bit of cow induced culture fails to do the trick, then let’s try scare tactics to startle the cows away from their daily lives of flatulence. Perhaps farmers equipped with megaphones could hide out in their fields and randomly shout “Boo” to distract cows from their Earth-destroying binge.
Until we stop blaming oil and gas companies for climate change and identify the real culprits—the ungulate enemy in our midst—then there is simply no hope to address climate change responsibly.