Earth is a dynamic place and sometimes, it’s a lot like Camelot…

sillyplace(Can you see where this is going?)

The most significant of terrestrial modulations is a term known as climate change. It’s been going on longer than humans have been around but as of late, it has become a rather contentious issue. Anyone who tries to bring up the subject is almost guaranteed to face a rather unwelcome response..

burn_themTroll them! (hey, it’s 2016)

The reason for the anger stems from an offshoot of the discussion…who’s the blame? Sadly, many environmentalists and other scientists claim the answer isn’t…

duck(or a Drake for that matter)

Instead, they point the finger at humans. They even have a rather interesting name for the impact of we have on the planet. It’s called the anthropogenic effect. Although this is all-encompassing, it’s usually used to describe how our activities are leaving Earth…

blackknightArmless (and legless too).

If you head into the trusted Google Scholar, you’ll find hundreds of papers describing how humans are doing bad things to the planet. It seems almost everything we do is leading to some kind of environmental trouble, including climate change.

Humans are not the only cause of climate change it seems. Another culprit has been identified as being a major contributor to our world’s atmospheric alterations. You might think this may be related to cosmic rays or some other heavenly body…

montypythongodblame    (Don’t worry, it’s not Him)

The perpetrator is an Earthly being known to be a part of our agricultural existence for thousands of years. It’s large, docile, and can produce numerous foods for our consumption. Not to mention, it also makes for a great way to…

PreflightProtect the Castle!

Yes, it is the lowly and lowing cow, or, if you happen to be a French Kuh-nih-gut, a vache. These large creatures have been firmly placed in the column of climate change causers. As for exactly how these gentle and usually harmless mammals accomplish this ominous task…

hornsThis may give you a hint.

Cows are known to suffer from belching and flatulence. These emissions primarily are comprised of air but many of these bovine bursts also have a large amount of methane gas. This is important because this molecule is far worse than carbon dioxide at holding in heat. It’s a major greenhouse gas.

For the record, gas isn’t the only output during these moments of enteric egest. Which is why when a cow raises its tail, the only option is to…

run-away(I am talking from experience here)

Over the course of a year, a single cow can produce the same amount of methane as a car driving some 12,000 km (that’s about 7,000 miles). Considering there are over a billion cows on the planet at any given time, this can add up to almost 25% of all the methane production on the planet.

laughingTalk about an Inconvenient Truth!

With the potential to make such a large difference in climate, some environmentally-conscious people may think methane reduction in cows is akin to a New Holy Grail. The concept of removing so much greenhouse gas through natural implementations may be just too good to ignore.

Last month, the California government all but proved this theory by bringing in a new climate change initiative. The governor signed into law a bill, known as: SB-1383: Short-lived climate pollutants: methane emissions: dairy and livestock: organic waste: landfills.
You can read the whole text here:
https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB1383

Within this rather long piece of legislation is a paragraph that states the government will…

“Conduct or consider livestock and dairy operation research on dairy methane emissions reduction projects, including, but not limited to, scrape manure management systems, solids separation systems, and enteric fermentation.” 

Those last two words…enteric fermentation…are the key to controlling methane from those outwardly emissions. After all, methane is formed during digestion by the microbes in the gastrointestinal tract. They are the real villains of climate change and need to be the target for any resolution.

Of course, the minute you start talking about microbes, of which trillions exist in each and every cow, the picture suddenly becomes a little more troublesome…

hand-grenade(and there’s no holy hand grenade to help…)

Achieving this goal is going to be rather difficult. No matter how brave the scientific knights may be, they are sure to find themselves dealing with problems that to most may seem as easy as handling a bunny but for them wind up being akin to…

rabbitThe Killer Rabbit!

Even if solutions are found, the ideas and interventions will have to go into the academic, policy, and public realms where they will be challenged in a variety of ways. Sadly, the questions won’t be as easy as…

giphy-facebook_s(FYI: 24 miles per hour for a European swallow)

But even if these thresholds are met, there is yet another hurdle to face. Farmers are not happy with the entire concept. The bill is only a month old and the cries of denouncement are getting louder. Productivity may be hurt. Farms may lose profits. The entire agricultural industry may be at risk. Most importantly, why is the government trying to control our cows? These have all been spoken and it seems more griping is to come.

It’s obvious the answer to bovine methane production needs to be inexpensive, easy to implement, and most importantly, adoptable for the long term. If not, the result may bring them to the brink of…

slopEnding The Quest

Thankfully, there are options to achieve these goals. Evidence already suggests the use of probiotics and prebiotics – which are easy to implement and do not harm productivity – may provide an answer. However, the testing needs to be done to be sure. Other options may also reveal promise and should be investigated and scrutinized at all levels. In this way, research can work in harmony with government and business to ensure environmental sustainability and agriculture autonomy are maintained.

 

 

 

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