Veterinary Research and Global Warming

Veterinary Record

Veterinary Record (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Guest post by Michael Oxenham

Best use of taxpayers’ money?

I have been an admirer and daily reader of WUWT for over 5 years, which, together with many other sites, links and papers have given me, I feel, a good insight into the climate debate. Veterinary research projects related to global warming/climate change have not featured on your site very often, so you may be interested in this short post from a concerned taxpayer and retired veterinarian. – Michael Oxenham

VETERINARY RESEARCH AND GLOBAL WARMING
On 25th February ’12 the Veterinary Record, the weekly journal of the BVA, published a news report of a research project, which had coined the title, ‘Ruminomics’. This was essentially to investigate the possibility of reducing the methane and nitrogen emissions from dairy cattle by varying their genome and their ruminal microbiome. This was all clearly predicated on the conjecture that these emissions cause or drive global warming/climate change. The project was described as a 4-year study in partnership with 11 European organisations, coordinated by Prof. John Wallace of Aberdeen University. It was funded by a grant of €7.7m from the EU Commission. Regrettably this seems to be a classic case of a ‘follow the money’ project.

On 24th March ’12 the VR published my letter of comment under the title ‘Best use of taxpayers’ money?’  In it I expressed my incredulity at the size of the grant and that I knew of no published empirical data or falsifiable experiments that demonstrate a link between these emissions (and CO2 for that matter) and GW/CC.  The Editor strangely censored one sentence from this letter, which was – ‘I am bound to ask if due diligence was followed in the award of these funds’ – my point being that if the grant application had not been accompanied by references to published empirical data or falsifiable experiments of a link between methane and GW, then due diligence had not been followed.

Interestingly a previous letter of mine was published in the VR on 18th Dec. ’10.  In it I commented, inter alia, that I hoped the keepers of the public purse would, in future, closely scrutinise fund applications which had GW/CC  tagged on to the project title.  I mention this because previously several of my letters to the VR on Veterinary GW/CC topics have been totally or partly censored. I get the impression therefore that there is a Guardian-type ideology in the Editor’s office. For example a BVA committee produced a very dodgy ‘Brief’ on how members could help in tackling GW/CC. My letter challenging various statements in the ‘Brief’ was totally censored.

It was strange but significant, that no one from the ‘Ruminomics’ team challenged my comments of 24th March. If ‘results’ of the project are submitted for publication, I hope reviewers will look at them with due diligence.

A side issue of this matter was that the GWPF wished to reproduce my 24th March letter in full. However the publishers of the VR, the BMJ Group, demanded a copyright fee of $895. The Foundation considered this to be an outrageous sum for a letter of comment of about 118 words. So for copyright reasons I have only been able to cite parts of that letter.

The facts of this story remind me of the late Prof Hal Lewis’s observations in his resignation letter from the APS in 2010.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/16/hal-lewis-my-resignation-from-the-american-physical-society/

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44 thoughts on “Veterinary Research and Global Warming

  1. One can only hope that some useful genetic science emerges from this shambles, improved techniques for genetic manipulation, or genome analysis, or something.

  2. I am a veterinarian and am ashamed that these journals are falling for this BS. WE are now on guard. Will be advising due diligence on this matter

  3. As an aside comment it seems Australia is literally freezing for months now look at the COLA MAPS

  4. I suggest using innocent and transparent code. Abbreviate due diligence as d-d, then D.D., then d.d., etc., and include references in every second sentence. Make the censors work for their pelf!

  5. wait, if it’s your letter, you own the original copywrite and the GWPF can publish with your permission alone. Dare the journal to go after you for the copywrite infringement. Make it a HUGE court case, then you’ll get attention to this. Seriously. Defend yourself. This is nonsense.

  6. This display of rent seeking wouldn’t be complete without a few million devoted to analyzing as to how cow tipping may vary the results.

  7. Eh? What? WHAT????

    Whether or not you attached the copyright mark the copyright in your letter is yours unless you specifically assigned it elsewhere.

    Merely publishing what you wrote, whether edited or otherwise, gives the journal no rights or powers over your copyright. You may publish as you please.

    I do not not know what agreements you may have signed with the publisher, and if you did more fool you, but the mere writing and sending of a letter does not and cannot impose any legal obligation on you as to the copyright: whether it was published or not. Whatever the recipient and publisher might urge to the contrary.

    Without a formal written contract any attempt to hijack your copyright in such a way is simply intellectual property piracy: unless of course the reproduction is itself a copy of that laid out as read in the Journal: as opposed to the mere text of the letter.

    Kindest Regards.

  8. a jones says:
    July 23, 2012 at 7:22

    If the if the publication stipulates that any letters submitted and published become the property of the publication, then I think by simply submitting a letter you have relinquished your copyright, and no further contract is necessary.

    Of course, if this policy is not clearly spelled out in the publication itself, then you would have a case that you granted only non-exclusive rights, and retained all others for yourself. Worth checking the journal's written policies to be sure.

    /Mr Lynn

  9. Thanks Jones, for backing me up — when you write a letter, IT’S YOUR LETTER. You own the copywrite. You can send a million copies to a million other publishers. they can choose to publish or not, but it’s YOUR LETTER. Please, post the full letter and their replies.

  10. Has beer consumption increased with global Warming?? The EU should sponsor my research which entails researching the various pubs in england and 5 star restaurants on the continent in search of tell tale signs that Global Warming is anything but complete B/S. Couple of mill should do it. Pounds course.

  11. And since they never published your letter in full… then it would be pretty obvious that they were doing so from a different source than the scam artists charging $895.

  12. You are free to say now whatever you may have said then, word for word, and feel free to quote youself. None of us may know what you said but all of us will fight for your right to say it… again.

  13. “…This was essentially to investigate the possibility of reducing the methane and nitrogen emissions from dairy cattle by varying their genome and their ruminal microbiome. This was all clearly predicated on the conjecture that these emissions cause or drive global warming/climate change. …”
    And all the millions of bison that inhabited the North American continent for centuries had no effect?

  14. Most publications state that if you send them a letter to the editor it becomes their copywrite, and I believe that has been tested in court.

    On the other hand…. what are they going to sue you or GWPF for? Since they have by their own hand fixed the value of their copywrite at $895, they would be hard pressed to sue for damages in excess of that.

    At today’s legal rates, that ought to fund an intial consultation and 2 1/2 sentences of a nasty notice letter.

  15. Mr Lynn says:
    July 23, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    a jones says:
    July 23, 2012 at 7:22

    If the if the publication stipulates that any letters submitted and published become the property of the publication, then I think by simply submitting a letter you have relinquished your copyright, and no further contract is necessary.

    Of course, if this policy is not clearly spelled out in the publication itself, then you would have a case that you granted only non-exclusive rights, and retained all others for yourself. Worth checking the journal’s written policies to be sure.

    /Mr Lynn

    ——————————————————————————————————————–

    NOT SO SIR.

    It is a commonplace misconception that this is the law when it is not and is much played upon by scoundrels in an attempt to extort money from innocent souls.

    No reputable Journal tries to impose any such stipulation, not only because it has no force in law, but also because they do not wish to damage their credibility by doing so.

    Thus, for example, some great newspaper might ask, not unreasonably, the letter writer to confirm that his letter is exclusive to them and has not been sent to any other publication before they publish it: and indeed can expound this as their policy even though it has no force in law.

    They thus depend upon the goodwill of the letter writer. They do not claim any rights in the said letter other than to publish it as fair comment.

    The originator of new material, words, tunes etc. owns the copyright absolutely even if they do not protect it by making it public with with a copyright C and date. The author cannot assign the copyright unless it is done by a contract evidenced in writing with consideration. And even then the contract must specify in full what exact rights have been purchased.

    If it does not do so it is null and void. As is the stipulation your refer to.

    It is no contract at all. Mere bluff and bluster.

    This is the law of England and indeed of the UK and many other jurisdictions such as the USA, the EU and so on.

    Kindest Regards.

  16. I am also a vet and grazier, and this is at first view a foolish use of taxpayers’ money……but I can understand why Aberdeen University applied for the funding.

    While the link between ruminant methane emissions and climate change is unproven and probably insignificant, it is well accepted that methane production by ruminants is a source of production inefficiency and economic loss to livestock producers.

    In short, this is because instead of organic compounds in the rumen (one of the stomachs) being processed into volatile fatty acids that the animal can absorb and turn into milk or meat, they are lost to the air as an energy-rich gas. For this reason, ionophores such as monensin have been used in the rations of intensively fed ruminants for decades to change rumen biology and reduce the amount of methane produced. My own experience in intensively fed beef cattle is that it improves feed conversion efficiency by 10% or more.

    Under extensive conditions and in poorer developing countries, feeding ionophores is not practical or unaffordable. Genetic manipulation of gut flora may yield fruit in the future, for very little cost for individual herdsmen. Obtaining funding for something as arcane and unglamourous as gut flora in cattle must be very tough, particularly when it could take a decade or more to commercialise. So, to achieve an outcome that may benefit hundreds of millions of poor farmers worldwide, the researchers may have decided to play the game and cook up a Global Warming story to make it attractive to funding agencies. One can argue over whether the end justifies the means….Ideally one should be completely honest about the justifications of one’s research programmes.

  17. Just send it to me. I will publish it here in Australia and invite them to send out a lawyer to meet with my lawyers to sort it out. Of course that won’t cost me a cent as both my son and his wife are both lawyers but I imagine their fees may be quite high. Too high for them to persue it actually.

  18. If ‘Simon of the Caucasus’ comments are correct, then this study obviously has value, unlike the tens of billions of dollars completely wasted elsewhere on so called climate change research projects.

    Grant addiction is one of the many unpleasant side effects of the ‘research’ undertaken by ‘climate scientists’. Climate change grant addiction, just like its sister drug addiction, has proven to be a huge cost burden for our societies. Both types of addiction are economic burdens, without any benefits whatsoever, to us all – the sole exceptions being for a small group of greedy individuals who peddle their products to the public. One group peddles scare stories generated from manipulated and/or fraudulently interpreted data, the other peddles drugs.

    The morals of the leaders of the CAGW cult, such as the Team, Hansen, Gore etc are little different from those of the Colombian drug lords.

  19. I agree with what Simon of The Caucasus says. The aims of this research seems laudable. And the case for GHG warming by methane is somewhat stronger than it is for CO2. Irrespective of whether you think the amount of warming is a problem or not.

    Although, there is the risk that significantly reducing ruminant CH4 emissions may cause climate cooling. As Simon says, there is a significant economic incentive to implement any succesful discovery.

  20. Hmmmp! …. and where is 581 King St. Aberdeen, Now ? … no longer the School of Agriculture – so what’s it all about – no longer fit for purpose Uni ! strong words – but the way Politics has taken over. I am a former Agri Graduate and went on to study Engineering…….. and likewise we have Engineers following the money in AGW projects ….. but in my conversations with Jo Public, no one wants to know……… I’m becoming random again ( I’m informed ) must be as a result of the education ( Grass root stuff ) no pun intended either. Life can be enjoyed but is not a game for messing others around as the Politician types have it……… here we go again……..
    Tea break’s over!

  21. Peter;
    It is notable that drug lords are scrupulous about not sampling and getting hooked on their own wares. I wonder if the same is true of Hansen, the Hokey Team, etc? I suspect some of them have been carelessly hooked, others are more cynically rational.

  22. There is a piece of research on ruminant CH4 production that I am sure will never be done under present guidelines.That is to compare the production of methane from semi arid areas of Australia by the biggest producer, the white ant, and the production of methane from the same land after it is improved and cattle are grazed.
    The null hypothesis would be that there was no difference in methane production between the two pasture uses.
    Since cattle compete directly with white ants for the dry matter available, and white ants are an efficient producer of methane, I would predict that cattle would reduce the total amount of methane produced from the land, since a lot of the carbon would turn into protein and be shipped out as steaks.
    If this were established it could be argued that cattle were ‘good for the planet’
    And yes Rogelio Diaz, its freezing in Sydney.

  23. It is my understanding that methane is produced by breakdown of organic material by bacteria. This can occurr in consumers that feed on plant material from termites to elephants. Termites have bacteria in their bodies that help them digest wood fibre. The production of methane also occurs in swamps and in leaf litter in forests. A high fibre diet also produces increased flatulence in humans. Methane is also produced during organic decomposition in septic systems.

    Does anyone know what is the methane produced by decompostion/consumption of organic matter by the various animals and natural decompostion? It would be interesting to see a chart of how much methane is produced per ton of organic material for the following: Various ruminants, termites, humans, aerobic decompostioh, anerobic decompostion & septic systems. This would also have to be further broken down by diet and type of fibre to be technically meaningful.

  24. I was involved at QDP, AustraliaI with quite a few researchers involved with Monensin supplementation in cattle. I don’t recall it was SOLELY to reduce methane production in rumen. Methane production is an essentail part of bacterial rumen biology? In any case at least there was a reason for the research. the AGW was added to give it more appeal to government funding bodies probably what a disgrace. I as a Vet Researcher nwould not want to be associated with this junk science in any way.

    • Rogelio, you are quite right that ionophore use is not solely directed at reducing methane production. One aim is to shift the bacterial population in the rumen from those that tend to produce acetic and butryic acids to those that tend to produce propionic acid. This results in better energy efficiency. It also acts as an anti-protozoal agent, and therefore kills off many of the protozoa that tend to produce methane in the rumen. Co-incidentally, it also reduces production loss and deaths from bloat and the protozoal disease coccidiosis, both of which are big headaches in dairy herds.

      http://jas.fass.org/content/43/3/657 gives a good description of rumen biochemistry.

  25. and then theres the also climate based idiotic West Aus mob who are trying to get kangaroo gut flora into cattle for the same reasons.
    hell if they wanna lower emissions Ban CAFO grain fed and let the poor cows graze decent feed. it stops bushfires risk as a bonus..all that nasty black sooty carbon etc etc.

  26. “Veterinary research projects related to global warming/climate change have not featured on your site very often”
    I hope this isn’t too far off topic, but last night the BBC showed a 1 hour documentary about the world wide decline in bee populations. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00jzjys
    It was quite informative, and covered many aspects thought to be responsible. However near the end “Climate Change” was blamed as one possible cause – this should have not been a surprise coming from the Beeb.

    More relevant, I thought, was the discovery in one dead bee of no less than 23 different pesticides, followed by a bee keeper in central London who reports his hives are doing very well. Presumably climate change doesn’t affect large cities?

  27. rian H says:
    July 24, 2012 at 3:10 am

    Peter;
    It is notable that drug lords are scrupulous about not sampling and getting hooked on their own wares. I wonder if the same is true of Hansen, the Hokey Team, etc? I suspect some of them have been carelessly hooked, others are more cynically rational.
    _________________________________
    I think it is “The Cause” they are actually hooked on and not CAGW.

    From the Climategate 2.0 collection, Michael Mann confesses ….

    I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she think’s she’s doing, but its not helping the cause.

    http://junkscience.com/2011/11/22/climategate-2-0-mann-says-curry-not-helping-the-cause/

    You can then combine that with the climategate e-mail naming Ged Davis and an attachment authored by him. Davis was a Shell Oil VP who wrote “Sustainability Scenario” one of which was attached to the e-mail (my link to the actual e-mail is now dead)

    Since good Ole’ _Jim repeatedly calls me a ‘corn’ spir acy nut case I will let Ross McKitrick, Ph.D, Professor of Environmental Economics at the University of Guelph, Canada, speak on what Ged Davis et al are interested in. Please remember that sustainability is Politically Correct speak for the UN’s Agenda 21. The Rio Convention, also known as the “Earth Summit” produced the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21 (a plan of action for the UN organizations, Governments, and Major Groups in areas where human activities have a negative impact on the environment)

    The Inter-Academy Council (IAC) was created by the Inter-Academy Panel on International Issues (IAP), an organization formed in 1993 to act as a liaison for national scientific academies and societies around the world. It is important to distinguish between the administrative hierarchy that presumes to speak on behalf of thousands of experts, and the experts themselves, most of whom have likely never heard of the IAC or the IAP and who have little or no input into its statements. The IAP was created as an advocacy mechanism directed at the public and governments, on behalf of the societies (who, themselves, often engage in advocacy as well). The IAP describes its mission as follows:

    IAP is a global network of the world’s science academies, launched in 1993. Its primary goal is to help member academies work together to advise citizens and public officials on the scientific aspects of critical global issues. (http://www.interacademies.net/CMS/About.aspx)

    In 2000, the IAP created the IAC as a “client-driven” sub-agency with the task of producing advisory reports for hire, on “critical issues” like sustainability and climate change. Its purpose is stated as follows:

    In May 2000 all of the world’s science academies created the IAC to mobilize the best scientists and engineers worldwide to provide high quality advice to international bodies – such as the United Nations and the World Bank – as well as to other institutions. In a world where science and technology are fundamental to many critical issues – ranging from climate change and genetically modified organisms to the crucial challenge of achieving sustainability – making wise policy decisions has become increasingly dependent on good scientific advice. (http://interacademycouncil.net/CMS/3239.aspx)

    The IAC has only produced a few reports. Prior to the IPCC Review its most recent was in 2007, called “Lighting the Way: Toward a Sustainable Energy Future.” It was coauthored by a 15-member committee13 that included IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri, and IPCC Lead Authors Nebosja Nakicenovic and Ged Davis…

    http://www.rossmckitrick.com/uploads/4/8/0/8/4808045/rmck_climategate.pdf

  28. Up to 12% of ruminant’s energy taken in goes to produce methane. Hops, with varietal effectiveness ( 800 µg mL−1 innoculant of “Millenial” Humulus lupulus looks good due to it’s levels of alpha & beta acids), is showing promise to reduce methane & boost propionate short chain fatty acid.

  29. I appreciate your witty and informative comments made in the best traditions of WUWT. Unusually it was a troll-free zone.
    The methane discussion was particularly good I thought. The link sent by ‘gringoj’ to the paper by Paul Crutzen et al, published in 1986, is an excellent example of how research should be done and which is totally uncorrupted by the GW/CC meme. Those were the days, of course, before the EUSSR and Al Gore.
    The copyright angle exercised quite a few well-informed readers. At the time of writing to the GWPF, the VR carried a copyright warning notice in every issue. So it was the GWPF’s decision not to reproduce it in full and advise me to make a post where it would be subject to comment.
    I am grateful to m’learned friend ‘a jones’ for explaining the UK law. I am sorry to disappoint readers, but I have no intention of running a test case on the matter.

  30. Tweaking the genome of bacteria. Isn’t that what they do to make biological weapons?

    This gentleman could write a similar letter to Homeland Security pointing out that the proposed activity could very well be misused. Then HS will insist on a level 5 lab, and close scrutiny by its own people. And that will be the end of it.

  31. So let’s see, they stole your intellectual property (letter) then demand $900 for royalties? Add ‘em to Madame Defarge’s list.

    The large quantities indicate to me a bulk discount is sought plus less paperwork overheads for the next few years instead of buying annually.

  32. I’m doing my part: I don’t eat the cows, or any other animal, so I don’t send a signal through the market to ‘Produce more cows (or other hapless victims)!’ One of the (perhaps) very few things on which I agree with Mr Pachauri. Seriously, land use is important for climate and for many other issues which are far more significant than climate. http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/363/1491/447.full.pdf+html?sid=0a95dff6-b7ba-461e-be5b-91a63a8e5e2b , for example. What’s clear (but unwelcome for many) is that any problem caused by agriculture (pollution, land use, water use, energy use, etc.) is magnified about tenfold by meat animal production and use, plus the ‘bonus’ of pollution by excrement runoff and greater opportunities for various diseases to spread to humans.

    • That environmental damage is “magnified tenfold by meat production and use” is not clearly understood, indeed in many cases the land is better off under livestock than other land uses. Having worked in semi-arid grazing rangelands for some decades, under prudent management, I can attest the environment is better preserved than when cultivated and converted to grain production, as is common in fragile steppe environments in China. Likewise periodic grazing by cattle in the Australian Alps reduces buildup of dead undergrowth and minor bushfires cause rapid regeneration and germination of tree seed. Locking the Alps up in National Parks and excluding grazing has caused significant environmental damage as well as loss of human life when wildfires sparked in dense undergrowth kill all trees and tree seeds, and spread beyond the Parks to burn neighbouring towns.

      If people choose to abstain from meat for health or moral reasons, so be it. Senior Nazis certainly did. But the environmental objections to livestock production require much deeper thought and in many cases the problems are not as large as imagined. In some cases the solution is worse than the problem.

  33. This is a win-win for the Greens. If the research is successful, they’ll be pleased with the reduction in greenhouse gases. If it doesn’t, they won’t have to explain to their followers why it’s OK to trash GM crops and force cloned animals off the market, whilst allowing these Frankenstein creatures to exist.

  34. Peter Hannan says:
    July 26, 2012 at 12:59 am

    I’m doing my part: I don’t eat the cows, or any other animal…. any problem caused by agriculture (pollution, land use, water use, energy use, etc.) is magnified about tenfold by meat animal production and use, plus the ‘bonus’ of pollution by excrement runoff and greater opportunities for various diseases to spread to humans.
    _______________________________
    What a load of bovine excrement. Let me explain the actual case.

    …Pollan asks a critically important question about why livestock were removed from pastures and stuffed into confined area feed lots: “Why did we ever turn away from this free lunch in favor of a biologically ruinous meal based on corn? Why in the world did Americans take ruminants off the grass? And how could it come to pass that a fast-food burger produced from corn and fossil fuel actually cost less than a burger produced from grass and sunlight?”
    History, HACCP and the Food Safety Con Job (READ THE LINK)

    The answer to Pollan’s question is simple.
    Taxpayer $$ or euros => grain subsidies and pass through the farmers due to monopoly/monpsony to the Ag Cartel (Monsanto, Andre, Cargill, JB Swift, Smithfield et al) See: Dept of Justice: MONOPSONY ISSUES IN AGRICULTURE

    By using taxpayer money to make grains artificially cheap (below production cost) CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operation) could compete successfully with grass fed operations and “win” by driving the traditional farmers completely out of business in the egg, chicken, dairy and pork industries. USDA/FDA regulations written by the Ag Cartel aka the IPC via the corporate government revolving door also played a significant part. Before a farmer can dig himself out of debt from paying for the first government mandated changes to his farm a second set of regulations is issued.

    By having a monopoly on the input (seeds, fertilizers…) and a monpsony on the output and control of the regulations, the Ag cartel could squeeze the farmer right out of business as was the intention. The integrated farm with crops and animals has been wiped in favor of monoculture farming.

    Feeding grain to cattle has got to be one of the dumbest ideas in the history of western civilization….

    Switching a cow from grass to grain is so disturbing to the animal’s digestive system that it can kill the animal if not done gradually and if the animal is not continually fed antibiotics. These animals are designed to forage, but we make them eat grain, primarily corn, in order to make them as fat as possible as fast as possible….

    All this is not only unnatural and dangerous for the cows. It also has profound consequences for us. Feedlot beef as we know it today would be impossible if it weren’t for the routine and continual feeding of antibiotics to these animals. This leads directly and inexorably to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria….

    [Which]…is responsible for the heightened prevalence of E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria. When cattle are grainfed, their intestinal tracts become far more acidic, which favors the growth of pathogenic E. coli bacteria, which in turn kills people who eat undercooked [feces contaminated] hamburger…

    http://www.johnrobbins.info/blog/grass-fed-beef/

    Monoculture farming whether crop or CAFO is hard on the land and in the long run just plain stupid. Ruminants and other animals utilize land unfit for crop growing because it is too hilly, too rocky or just plain worn out. Pasture grass is a much better filter strip that is a forest and pasturing animals is a very good way to build topsoil.

    Please do a bit of investigation before blaming the poor cow for the actions of the greedy Ag cartel.

  35. i find it very interesting how AGW is put in opposition to GMOs by some commentators. i.e. if you are “scientifically minded” and dont buy the GW load, you should support GMOs because that is what the greens oppose, and vice versa, if you are opposed to playing around with the genetic code of the planet, you should support the AGW load.. in the end it will be: GM will solve it, so everyone should support it..

  36. No need to be concerned about methane emissions by cattle:
    1) The global distribution of methane concentrations in the atmosphere as measured by ENVISAT (http://www.iup.uni-bremen.de/sciamachy/NIR_NADIR_WFM_DOAS/Buchwitz_ch4_global.jpg ) does not coincidence whatsoever with the global ruminant livestock distribution (FAO 2006: http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM Map 20).
    2) The rise of atmospheric methane concentration in the atmosphere reflects fairly well human natural gas consumption and the available technology to stop gas leakage – rather than livestock numbers or density (http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2011/04/methane and http://www.quadrant.org.au/blogs/doomed-planet/2011/08/csiro-s-methane-problem ).
    3) As Lewis P. Buckingham points out there are good reasons to assume that natural habitats, particularly in semi-arid regions emit as much methane as do managed grasslands under ruminant grazing.
    4) Certain agro-ecosystems used for grazing are in fact methane sinks and not methane sources (http://www.abc.net.au/rural/nsw/content/2009/08/s2649416.htm ).

    On the other hand I do not agree with Simon of the Caucasus who complains about digestible energy loss through methane emissions. Methane is a product of anaerobic fermentation of cellulose, the most abundant substance in the biosphere, by cellulolytic rumen bacteria. Please note: Vertebrates are unable to break down cellulose. May be the conversion of forage, rich in fiber, by ruminants into meat and milk, is the energetically most efficient way of making use of the rough herbage growing in abundance on up to half of the terrestrial surface, representing rangelands unsuitable for other forms of land use due to natural restrictions.

  37. There is an agricultural property on the extreme west of Tasmania, Australia called Woolnorth. The tourist guide would take you to the cliffs and proudly proclaim that if a penguin farted in Antarctica, we would be the first to smell it. There is nothing between there and Sth Africa and that is the route the clipper ships followed sailing “The Roaring Fourties” to The East Indies.

    I’m sure they had a weather station there and it would have been operating for over 100 years. THAT would be quality data.

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