What's that smell? Bovine Fish Oil Methane Cure

Sometimes, you really don’t need to make up an April Fools joke. Truth can indeed be stranger than fiction, except for the part about “four gallons” which is part of the original Telegraph article 😉 – Anthony

From the Telegraph UK, by Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent

Fish oils reduce greenhouse emissions from ‘flatulent cows’

Cows which are fed omega 3 fatty acids belch out less greenhouse gases that cause climate change, according to scientists.

Cattle produce large amounts of methane as they digest their food and then belch out most of it through their mouths.

A herd of 200 cows can produce annual emissions of methane roughly equivalent in energy terms to driving a family car more than 100,000 miles (180,000km) on more than four gallons (21,400 litres) of petrol.

The omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oils can also help the heart and circulatory system and improve meat quality.

Speaking at the Society for General Microbiology meeting in Harrogate, Dr Lorraine Lillis, one of the researchers, said the study could help the agriculture industry cut emissions.

She said: “The fish oil affects the methane-producing bacteria in the rumen part of the cow’s gut, leading to reduced emissions.

“Understanding which microbial species are particularly influenced by changes in diet and relating them to methane production could bring about a more targeted approach to reducing methane emissions in animals.”

The UK is committed to cutting greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050.

More than a third of all methane emissions in the UK is produced by farm animals. By volume, methane is 20 times more powerful at trapping solar energy than carbon dioxide making it a potent greenhouse gas.

Jonathan Scurlock, an adviser at the National Farmers Union, said farmers were willing to modify feed in order to reduce emissions but at the moment there are few affordable options on the market and he encouraged more research into the area.

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116 thoughts on “What's that smell? Bovine Fish Oil Methane Cure

  1. “A herd of 200 cows can produce annual emissions of methane roughly equivalent in energy terms to driving a family car more than 100,000 miles (180,000km) on more than four gallons (21,400 litres) of petrol.”
    Talk about cow power economy. But at 25,000 miles per gallon !!!… I want one of those cars.

  2. It’s a set-up.
    Now we’re saved from global warming, we’re all going to die from new, new variant Creutzveldt Jakob disease from fish !!

  3. Hell, if methane gives you that kind of fuel economy, lets stuff hoses up their butts and collect the stuff!!!

  4. There are almost 4 liters per gallon, so that’s probably where the “four gallons” comes from (mistakenly). It works out to around 5500 gallons for 21,400 litres (Brit spell).
    But, since that works out to only about 18 mpg (Brits have much smaller cars than we do – 1/2 the size of my Camry which gets 30), it still doesn’t make sense.
    April Fools?

  5. Typical of the Telegraph, when it comes to maths they are absolutely useless. Conversion from centigrade to Fahrenheit makes something freezing cold into something scolding hot. Now 4 gallons is equivalent to 21,400 liters. These people are supposed to educate us. No wonder I have this feeling of loosing the will to live.

  6. Ok so we are talking about adding two per cent of fish oil to the animal’s feed.
    2 per cent of 700 million metric tons totat global feed = 14 million metric tons of fish oil?
    http://english.chinafeed.org.cn/main_itemdetail_en.php?column_id=152&item_id=5349
    (yes i know that number is for total feed… not just for cows but everything farts)
    The global production of fish oil is estimate is about 570 000 tonnes
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_oil
    Sounds to me like sombody is in the fish oil buisness…. mandating fish oil use would drive up cost quite a bit.

  7. Watch for the commercial (subsidized) fishing industry to step up to the plate on this one. Subsidies or transfer payments drive most government action. Transfer payments and rent seekers (see Gordon Tullock’s work) are part of a self organizing system. Feeding fish meal to cows would involve 3 sets of rent seekers- the subsidized dairy industry, the subsidized commercial fishing industry and the increasingly subsidized green power.
    This research makes “perfect sense” once one understands the incentives- global warming initiatives are driving new sources of transfer payments- every other subsidized interest that understands how this system works will organize to benefit from this new flow of money by adapting to the “sensitive conditions” of the global warming crisis. A GW Univ. prof (forgot his name) summarized it simply “If you are not at the table you are on the menu”
    Economics has failed to incorporate many of the advances in science (especially psychology) but it is also true that science fails to appreciate the advances in economic understanding. Science as a result often fails to understand its own workings.

  8. Fish oil it is already contained in cattles´feed (in fishmeal used in it). These kind of research, papers or whatever are frankly preposterous. Let me tell you, for a foreigner like me, this seems like worries the king of France´s cortesans had.
    Come on! These things seem plainly nightmarish!. Wake up to reality and send all those mads to the asylum.

  9. A herd of 200 cows can produce annual emissions of methane roughly equivalent in energy terms to driving a family car more than 100,000 miles (180,000km) on more than four gallons (21,400 litres) of petrol
    What exactly does that mean? What is the energy equivalent of 25,000 mpg? The units don’t make any sense for one and secondly what does an energy equivalent have to do with methane production? At best, mpg is an efficiency measure.
    Maybe the whole article is a tongue-in-cheek APR 01 Joke?

  10. More than a third of all methane emissions in the UK is produced by farm animals. By volume, methane is 20 times more powerful at trapping solar energy than carbon dioxide making it a potent greenhouse gas.
    Must have been why there was a MWP. It was caused by the methane produced by the agri-economy of the middle ages.

  11. It would be interesting to see the ratio of carbon stored vs carbon emissions from cows.
    But also, the source of the carbon (from methane burps) is organic. It has an almost zero addition since it was first stored in the cow food in the first place, from plants that grew by capturing and storing CO2 from the atmosphere. So what is all the big fuss about? It’s not like we are fueling our cows with petrolium or coal! Is Hansen behind this?

  12. I’d have to wonder about the economics of this. 2% of a cow’s daily ration is still an awful lot of fish oil, which is not that cheap. It would probably cost more than the other 98% of the food. Also, to do it across the entire agricultural industry would mean vastly increasing fish oil supplies, which given the perilous state of most fish populations would probably raise many reasonable objections. All in all, i’d say, another case of AGW grant money down the rat hole.

  13. How funny. A couple of years ago our previous Government here in NZ attempted to introduce an animal fart tax. How it was going to be implemented and how the tax collectors were going to ensure compliance was never clearly identified.
    The farmers naturally revolted and gradually the odorous idea dispersed and disappeared.

  14. Per Dave Wendt (14:34:32) :
    Gordon Tullock’s Rent Seeking model describes quite well how these “rat holes” are formed

  15. We’ll never know what that cow tastes like ’cause it’s too fast to catch.
    Someone must have stolen my idea for a cow-alytic converter to convert the methane CH4 to less troublesome CO2 and H20. My first designs were quite simple and involved a small flame source and……

  16. 100,000 miles = 160,950 km
    4 UK Gallons = 18.18 l
    4 US Gallons = 15.14 l
    Why not put the cow on your pick up trucks bed and run a hose directly to the carburettor.

  17. And here I thought, from all the stories, that it was Americans who were significantly ‘math challenged.’
    The whole AGW delusional fantasy is an overwrought April Fools joke that has long outworn its welcome.

  18. There are several deficiencies in this story, as pointed out already, but the most serious is the absence of comment on the effects on the bovine digestive system.
    How, exactly, does the fish oil “affect” the methane-producing bacteria in the rumen, “leading to reduced emissions,” and, especially, what other effects does it have?
    Does it reduce the nutrition to the cattle beast and if so by how much? It may be that, to produce the accustomed quantities of milk or meat, more feed must be supplied, leading to emissions being restored to the same level as before, or higher. Does it lead to some deficiency?
    The reason the bacteria are even present in the rumen is to complete the digestive process — hardly a minor matter. There will be consequences of interference.

  19. How many more years will it be when you say ‘where’s the beef?’ and people ask ‘what’s beef’?
    Seriously, the zealots want to take away our red meat. They don’t want us to have the freedom to decide for ourselves what is good for us. They are coming up with every excuse under the sun in order to ban meat.
    Do you know people who eat a moderate meat diet get less colon cancer than vegetarian? Meat is part of a balance diet. Why do we have incisors and canines (teeth) if not to eat meat? If man were made to live on vegetables alone, he’d have teeth like a cow.
    Do you know what really produces a lot of methane? Wetlands. We’ve been working to restore wetlands in this country for decades. Maybe we should be draining them instead? Save the planet, drain the wetlands.

  20. I think it should have been 4000 gallons instead of 4. And Imperial gallons at that.
    European dairy farming uses a lot of extra grain in the cows diet.
    “Grass only” feeding is known to produce less methane (CH4) so feeding fish oil to pasture fed animals may not have the same result in reducing methane production.
    Also you should note the caculations take no account of the fact that the carbon in the methane originally came from the CO2 in the atmosphere. For every molecule of CH4 produced, a molecole of CO2 needs to have been removed from the atmosphere.
    Given that in any given time period (if livestock numbers remain constant) the amount of CH4 entering the atmosphere from livestock must necessarily equal the amount that breaks down to CO2. Livestock therefore have no net effect on either CH4 or CO2 in the atmosphere.

  21. Philincalifornia: Kreutzveldt Jakob disease in England and Europe was originated due to the wrong practice of recycling dried and milled bones, internal organs and other not sold parts of cattle. If you recycle genetic diseases reinforce by accumulation, and, generalizing this principle:Every material keeps “information”in it, in other words, memory is a property of matter.
    What happened is that this recycling caused an increase in certain proteins which can self replicate, called “prions”, which in turn, produce degeneration of the brain and nerves´tissues. When it happened the case of the “mad cows” fishmeal was blamed at the beginning, but afterwards this recycling was found to be the cause.
    This is a very interesting phenomenon whensoever or wherever you candidly or naively think recycling. One inorganic example: When solution in a zinc refinery is recycled, trace elements, sometimes not analyzed, increase its concentration and provoking, among other problems, redisolution of zinc cathodes.
    Every system tends to reach a state of dynamic equilibrium or, in other words, to optimize the economics of energy interchange, to “survive” as an independent “entity”, that is why positive and negative feedbacks are all about, to reach a “buffered” state. To summarize it: An example of one dimensional optimization: A möbius strip (or tape)…not forgetting the close feedback system of big egos: Like the one you know..They seem a “Klein bottle” about to blow out 🙂

  22. Maybe someone can help this old farmer here. Ruminants have been around forever eating grass and such. These articles say that cattle produce methane which I have no argument with. But they never state cattle are increasing the level of methane in the atmosphere. I suggest cattle and other ruminants are just recycling organic matter in it’s many forms and not contributing to and increase in methane.
    BTW if you want to collect methane form a cow you have to put the hose in her mouth. Can we have an image of a fire breathing cow please.

  23. I used to say that cattle are contributing Zero to the Zero increase in Methane since the Methane numbers looked like they had stabilized up to 2006.
    The cow flatulence argument was just put forward by over-zealous pro-AGW researchers and animal rights activists.
    But there has been a slight uptick in Methane concentrations over the past two years. Not substantial; from about 1790 ppb in 2006 to about 1807 ppb in March, 2009 at Mauna Loa – there is different rates of change at different observation sites.
    These changes are very small and the levels are still well below the IPCC A1B scenario so Methane is contributing a very minimal amount to greenhouse warming right now.
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/webdata/ccgg/iadv/graph/mlo/mlo_ch4_ts_obs_03397.png

  24. The photo gives new meaning to “a glass of warm milk.”
    Meanwhile, I’m going out and buying some fish oil capsules.

    REPLY:
    Try Beano. – Anthony

  25. John Galt (15:34:40) : Seriously, the zealots want to take away our red meat. […] Do you know people who eat a moderate meat diet get less colon cancer than vegetarian? Meat is part of a balance diet.
    I have a wonderful book: “Transition to Vegetarinanism” written by an M.D. that details what foods you must add to the diet at each step of removing various animal products.
    http://www.amazon.com/Transition-Vegetarianism-Evolutionary-Rudolph-Ballentine/dp/0893891754
    In some small way it convinced me not to become a vegetarian (that, and fried chicken… I can’t resist fried chicken…). At each step, the coping behaviours become more extreme and the consequences of getting it wrong become more intense. At the end of it all, it was pretty clear the we are omnivores, not vegetarians, and that it’s very tricky to have zero animal stuff and stay healthy.
    If you know anyone who is a vegetarian, or anyone who is a vegetarian ‘wannabe’ they ought to have this book. It will help them stay healthy and focus them on issues like where to get enough iron and omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, etc.
    Why do we have incisors and canines (teeth) if not to eat meat? If man were made to live on vegetables alone, he’d have teeth like a cow.
    Well… In fact mammals have ‘eye teeth’ because our very primitive pig like ancestor (before dinosaurs ruled the earth and before any recognizable mammal) had tusks… for digging roots out of the very dry climate in which they lived! “Canine” teeth evolved from a vegetarian solution. Our molars are clearly more like a vegetarian than those of a carnivore (see a dogs molars, much more like sharp cutting tools, ours are more flat grinders with mild peaks). A detailed study of human teeth leads to the conclusion that we are omnivores with a high plant intake historically but able to eat moderate meat levels.
    The difficulty living on just plants (the variety needed would not be ‘natural’) pretty much says our primate line has been omnivorous for quite a while (though a long chunk may have been early insectivore primate behaviour 😉
    The bottom line is that we are so successful in part because we can eat just about anything but wood… and do…

  26. The omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oils can also help the heart and circulatory system and improve meat quality.

    Feeding valuable fish oil to cattle will directly reduce the availability of fish oil for human consumption and benefit, and worsen human health, especially among the poor.
    Harming people to try to control the wind for highly uncertain benefits is the height of foolishness and perversity.

  27. can’t smell the tupis either
    “I’ve never, never seen it this late,” Dobbe (pronounced “Doe-bah”) says. “Not even close.”
    Blame a string of uninterrupted cold days, particularly in March. Ice and snow in December didn’t help, Dobbe and others say, but cold weather in the month preceding showtime is key.
    “It’s been so cool,” said Wooden Shoe co-owner Barb Iverson, who has been growing bulbs since 1974 and running the festival since 1985. “We haven’t had warm nights; you get a lot of growth at night,” she said.
    http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2009/04/its_showtime_but_where_are_the.html
    Cold weather, late-blooming flowers stymie Washington, Oregon tulip festivals

  28. I seriously doubt the robustness of this study. Anecdotally I take fish oil every day and I am still blowing up the bathroom.

  29. Want to tell you something: As Peru is the biggest producer of fishmeal, in Lima city and other cities sometimes we smell fish oil in the air, actually in some places near factories there is a mist of oil in the air which oils automobile´s windshields. Quite healthy!

  30. I suspect the miles per cow-year silliness is due to the European propensity to use a comma instead of “our” decimal point. That… plus some sloppy journalism.
    Substitute “.” for “,” and the paragraph makes more sense (and 25mpg):
    “A herd of 200 cows can produce annual emissions of methane roughly equivalent in energy terms to driving a family car more than 100.000 miles (180.000km) on more than four gallons (21.400 litres) of petrol.”
    Also: converting an amount CO2 to CH4 (which has 20 times the GW potential) sounds like a lose-lose to me…

  31. Re: John Silver (15:09:01) :
    “Why not put the cow on your pick up trucks bed and run a hose directly to the carburettor.”
    Surely it would be more efficient to strap on some wheels and a saddle to the cow?
    Seat belt? Check
    Pre-ignition diagnostics? Check
    Grass? Check
    Fish Oil? Check
    We are go for launch
    Ignition
    Release stabilizers
    Moooooooooo
    Brings a new perspective to the term “meals on wheels”.

  32. Adolfo Giurfa (15:55:58) :
    Philincalifornia: Kreutzveldt Jakob disease in England and Europe was originated due to the wrong practice of recycling dried and milled bones, internal organs and other not sold parts of cattle.
    ——————-
    Thanks Adolfo. As I’m sure you ascertained, I was actually joking, although the thought of cows coming down with mad fish disease does approximate my thoughts on AGW science.
    I was at UCSF when Stan Prusiner did the work that led to his Nobel Prize for the discovery of prions. I got to collaborate with him on a project later.
    Did you know that yeast cells have prions too? They’re not infectious, of course (otherwise pubs would not exist). So, without searching PubMed, I’m guessing that fish might have them too, although given the way that fish recycle each other, there has probably been some serious selection against lethal propagation.

  33. Great Art Anthony. I was going to use something like that for my Plume De Hansen award but I found something better.
    Anyway, you and your crowd are fairly astute. I have a nice April Fools for you. I’m assuming you could have figured it out without the extra clues I was forced to include. Enjoy.

  34. This is going to be so embarrassing in 20 years. The grandkids will be asking, “So, Pop, did you really pay people to go around counting cow farts?”
    “Err, yeah junior, but weren’t we talking about that ridiculous hair cut of yours?”

  35. Well at least the cows won’t die from heart disease before the slaughter. Who knows maybe the red meat and milk will be healthier as well. Does giving them fish oil make “organic” cows “un-organic”? When was the last time you saw a cow fishing?
    Just some thoughts.

  36. Because there isn’t enough fish oil for this use, to save the planet they’ll have to make corn produce fish oil. Cows eating corn, which is a form of grass. A natural solution. Good.

  37. Thank God. I will sleep better tonight.
    Hey diddle diddle,
    The cat and the fiddle,
    The cow jumped over the moon.
    The little dog laughed to see such a sight,
    As fish oil de-farted its rumen.
    ZZZZZZZZZZ.

  38. Our host’s guest post is the topic of the latest RC thread.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/04/advocacy-vs-science/
    Apparently the science blog of the year represents advocates rather than reasonable thinkers. Of course that implies that we the visitors and commentators are the same.
    Of course I had to reply.
    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/04/02/ten-replies-to-gavin-advocacy-vs-science/
    My thinking is that Gavin could use 50K visitors or so leaving comments to point out the weakness of his latest argument.

  39. OT: just had a magnificent view of the space station going overhead here in the SF Bay area. It is REALLY bright now!

  40. Sixty Million Buffalo
    Per an interview with, “Donald Fixico, Thomas Bowlus Distinguished Professor of American Indian History and Director of the Center for Indigenous Nations Studies at the University of Kansas”:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/tcrr/sfeature/sf_interview.html#j
    “It has been estimated that the West held as many as fifteen million to sixty million buffalo at the arrival of the white man. Even with the lowest estimate, the number was severely depleted as a result of the introduction of the transcontinental railroad to the Western homeland of the Plains Indian tribes. By the end of the 1870s, the buffalo was on its way to extinction with an alarmingly low number of less than 1,000 in the West by the end of the nineteenth century.”
    Why didn’t the North American Buffalo’s methane cause the world to burst into a burning ball of fire? Did one of Al Gore’s ancestors kill all of those buffalos to save the world from Buffalo Global Warming (BGW)?
    Buffalo chips, cow chips, AGW; there is a pattern here.

  41. This may be hard to believe, but the previous Labour Party-lead government in New Zealand actually passed legislation late last year that would have taxed, with no upper price limit, the methane and CO2 emissions of all cows and sheep. If this scheme proceeds as it stands, New Zealand’s farmers will be put at a major competitive disadvantage. The legislation is presently being reviewed by a parliamentary select committee, formed by the new centre-right government, and it seems unlikely to survive in its present form. The AGW madness knows no bounds.

  42. Crosspatch… tried to view it numerous times here in Texas… always too cloudy it seems… won’t give up though… might be a few opportunities this week…
    Mike
    Must be moving across the sky rather quickly…

  43. Mmmmmmm fish-flavored milk… I bet that will go good with the cheerios and coffee…
    Mike

  44. Jeff Id (18:45:41) :
    Our host’s guest post is the topic of the latest RC thread.
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/04/advocacy-vs-science/
    Apparently the science blog of the year represents advocates rather than reasonable thinkers. Of course that implies that we the visitors and commentators are the same.
    Of course I had to reply.
    http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2009/04/02/ten-replies-to-gavin-advocacy-vs-science/
    My thinking is that Gavin could use 50K visitors or so leaving comments to point out the weakness of his latest argument.

    Jeff,
    There is a rather beautiful reply in that post. I’m not sure any futher comments are needed.
    Put me in the advocate category. As a well educated adult (MS Mech Engineering, MBA Columbia) I had no idea – until I saw An Inconvenient Truth – that human beings had reconfigured the earth’s atmosphere in such a dramatic way over such a short period of human history. When I also learned that this reconfiguration could have had serious implications for the stability of the earth’s climate system, I became an advocate. Now I am learning from climate scientists like Mark Chandler, Linda Sohl and Christy Vedeer at GISS, I am working with Tom Lovejoy of the Heinz Center to understand how biosystems are being affected by climate change, and I have formed a business consortium called InTERRAction to encourage business enterprises to see themselves as systems, and as subsystems of a global economic system that eventually must be aligned with the earth’s ecosystem.
    I can speak pretty coherently to lay people about the basics of climate change, but the work that Dr. Lindzen puts out makes me look sort of out of place – as in who would listen to me about the dangers of AGW when someone with the credentials of a Richard Lindzen thinks the opposite.
    Is it sufficent (or indeed proper) to say that Lindzen is just an indignant scientist whose ideas have been rejected by his peers, and leave it at that?
    Comment by Andrew — 1 April 2009 @ 7:41 PM

  45. Bill Illis (16:00:36) :
    “But there has been a slight uptick in Methane concentrations over the past two years. Not substantial; from about 1790 ppb in 2006 to about 1807 ppb in March, 2009 at Mauna Loa – there is different rates of change at different observation sites.”
    Let’s not forget that there was also a maximum in the flora for the past decade, which corresponds to the hotter climate we had… more flora, more decomposition = more methane.

  46. Jeff Id wrote:
    My thinking is that Gavin could use 50K visitors or so leaving comments to point out the weakness of his latest argument.
    He’s trolling for clicks. Why encourage him when such comments won’t get published?

  47. John Galt (15:34:40) :
    How many more years will it be when you say ‘where’s the beef?’ and people ask ‘what’s beef’?
    Seriously, the zealots want to take away our red meat. They don’t want us to have the freedom to decide for ourselves what is good for us. They are coming up with every excuse under the sun in order to ban meat.
    Do you know people who eat a moderate meat diet get less colon cancer than vegetarian? Meat is part of a balance diet. Why do we have incisors and canines (teeth) if not to eat meat? If man were made to live on vegetables alone, he’d have teeth like a cow.
    Do you know what really produces a lot of methane? Wetlands. We’ve been working to restore wetlands in this country for decades. Maybe we should be draining them instead? Save the planet, drain the wetlands.

    John – It must be said.
    If GOD had intended us NOT to eat animals – then he would NOT have made them from rare, juicy, delicious, tender MEAT.
    G

  48. Katherine,
    If you’re worried your comments don’t get published. Put them in two places.
    Highlight CTRL-C copy
    HIghlight CTRL-V paste
    Every comment is individually read and moderated into …. Sounds like a big job.

  49. Mike Bryant (19:38:10) :
    Mmmmmmm fish-flavored milk… I bet that will go good with the cheerios and coffee…
    Mike

    I just tested that by crushing a canned sardine into a nice steaming mug of Milky Cappuchino Coffee.
    The result – Delicious!!!

  50. Science vs Advocacy?
    If you view the practice of science as essentially a political act, then all practicing scientists are advocates.
    The above assumption is false, and so is the conclusion.
    Science can be practiced without advocacy, ref any non-politicised branch of science. Pure math for example. Politicians can’t use it, don’t care about it, hence not politicised, hence we don’t hear from Pure Math Political Advocates.
    However, the presence of Advocacy guarantees that the practioner is practicing political actions. REF RealClimate

  51. The value of omega3 in animal diets was first studied in farms in Greece where it was found that hens feeding naturally on Portulaca_oleracea produced eggs high in omega3.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portulaca_oleracea
    “Purslane contains more Omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid in particular[4]) than any other leafy vegetable plant. Simopoulos states that Purslane has .01 mg/g of EPA. This is an extraordinary amount of EPA for land based vegetable sources. EPA is an Omega-3 fatty acid normally found mostly in fish, some algae and flax seeds. ”
    I would hate my milk smelling fishy, so I do not see why they did not feed these animals on purslane. It is an easily grown weed.

  52. The science is settled. It’s official!
    Global warming is caused by yak farts. It’s the methane.
    Now comes the tough part – feeding wild salmon oil to wild yaks.
    Safety First! Wild yaks are known to be hostile and dangerous.
    Approach cautiously from the rear, and kindly Refrain from Smoking.

  53. Allan M R MacRae (21:38:43) :
    The science is settled. It’s official!
    Global warming is caused by yak farts. It’s the methane.
    Now comes the tough part – feeding wild salmon oil to wild yaks.
    Safety First! Wild yaks are known to be hostile and dangerous.
    Approach cautiously from the rear, and kindly Refrain from Smoking.

    If approaching the Wild Yak from the rear is the safest option – why not then insert an “Omega 3” Enema in the form of a greasy finger shaped pill.
    It’s great work, out in the open air, plenty of physical exercise (hiking and running) and you can get the satisfaction of knowing that you are saving the planet from global warming.

  54. Jeff Id, indeed. And looking closer at the other blog linked from the RealClimate post, what is up with with this blogger (Chris Colose, I assume) using language such as follows?
    “so if you’re just learning from deviant views without understanding what the literature says, you’re probably going to be misled.”
    “You must be aware his views are very deviant from the mainstream”
    ” You’re spending way too much time listening to deviant views on the subject. ”

    The last time I came into contact with frequent use of the word “deviant” as a pejorative was in a class on 1930s Soviet Union and Germany.
    In fact, an online dictionary includes this usage example:
    “Preposition: of
    kind: Deviants of all kinds swiftly became solely responsible for any actions which conflicted with the values of the Stalinist regime.
    Am I missing something here, or is this word slipping back into mainstream usage as a pejorative?

  55. Unintended consequences.
    Years ago Kansas City decided to raise money by taxing the windows in buildings. Great idea. Building owners promptly bricked in the window openings and workers were no longer treated to natural light. The window tax also has a history in the UK. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Window_tax
    The recently enforced “no lead” in children’s toys law was not properly thought through. Now libraries are closing off children’s sections because they cannot prove the books have no lead. Also, small artisans and sellers of children’s things have lost money and/or closed the business because of this law.
    Never underestimate the stupidly of legislators.

  56. In regards to the continually resurfacing “fish-oil” theme here….please take a few minutes to read my posts at:
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/27/ocean-iron-fertilization-experiment-a-blooming-failure/#comments
    Beginning at savethesharks (11:58:33).
    Yeah I know….my screen name gives away my concern. But the problem of overfishing is a fixable one (unlike the myth of AGW).
    Please take the time to read and digest the links.
    Ocean marine life is in trouble….and it is pretty much OUR fault. Case closed.
    We caused it. We should fix it (natural ebbs and flows of the natural oscillations withstanding).
    Easy read…
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA

  57. Another study from a few years ago.
    “Using aromatic extracts of herbs such as thyme, mint and others could reduce the level of fermentation in the rumen – causing less flatulence and a more bearable smell. ”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/uk_news/scotland/1791955.stm
    Well might be a better idea than fish oil, apart from the problems already stated here is another one quote from wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_oil
    “Such fatty predatory fish like mackerel, lake trout, flounder, albacore tuna and salmon may be high in omega-3 fatty acids, but due to their position at the top of the food chain, these species can accumulate toxic substances (See biomagnification). For this reason, the FDA recommends limiting consumption of certain (predatory) fish species (e.g. albacore tuna, shark, and swordfish) due to high levels of toxic contaminants such as mercury, dioxin, PCBs and chlordane.”
    But there is always the feelgood organic version.
    “There are vegetarian, DHA Omega-3 products made from algae available if toxic contaminants are of concern.”
    OT but interesting new theory on forests and weather:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227024.400-rainforests-may-pump-winds-worldwide.html?page=2

  58. What ever did the earth do to survive runaway global warming from dinosaur farts, breath…whatever, without we humans around?
    This is simply MORE old-fashioned snake oil!

  59. Regarding fish oil….please see below. This is a funny topic about cow farts….but also a serious related question to species depletion.
    The problems vexxing the oceans are as complex as the food-web that laces them.
    Here’s a good read: The Most Important Fish in the Sea. The Rutgers prof and avid fisherman who is its author, chronicles in detail the lowly menhaden, the east coast staple fish that many other fish depend on.
    We use ‘em (this author included) for bait…and they stink to high heaven. They are oily and bony, so not good eatin’…but other fish love em. One author describes the menhaden as “born to be eaten.”
    Well the menhaden, once overfished before to the point of near extinction, until states began outlawing their catch, are in decline again.
    Now, my lovely home state of Virginia, the last state to not make menhaden fishing illegal in its waters, hosts the second highest-grossing fishing port in the nation, the tiny Chesapeake Bay town of Reedville (population 2000). That town is made possible by a Texas-based company named Omega Protein (started as the Zapata Corporation years ago by the bush family).
    Omega Protein has a monopoly on the national menhaden catch, and through their vast reduction fishing fleet and plants at Reedville, annually grinds up 250 million pounds of menhaden to become your catfood, fish-oil, omega 3 vitamins, fertilizer, and so on.
    http://www.bayjournal.com/article.cfm?article=1901

  60. Ironically…the fertilizer produced from the ground-up menhaden, finds its way back into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed through fertilized lawns, golf courses, and corn farms.
    Such helps produce the hypoxic and anoxic dead zones that now reside in the Chesapeake Bay water column.
    Last summer brown and red tides were common, and I remember watching on the news camera shots of the normally benthic Blue Crabs becoming semi-pelagic, as they were swimming to the surface trying to get oxygen (but the water had become anoxic) so they died.
    Last year, shortly thereafter, the Chesapeake Bay Blue Crab industry (after lasting for hundreds of years) was declared a disaster.
    Keep in mind that, the Chesapeake, as one of the largest estuaries in the world, used to yield the highest per capita volume of fish in the world. Not anymore.
    In the days of Capt. John Smith, one could see to the bottom, and there were oyster shoals that were so big, they formed little islands.
    Menhaden fish and oysters have one peculiar thing in common: they are both filter feeders. They filter out impurities from the water column that no other fish want to eat.

  61. Ahh…the oysters. Used to be the Lynnhaven Oysters were as big as a plate and considered the best in the world.
    Not anymore. Every time a new crop is set out, they are gobbled up by swarms of voracious cownose rays.
    The reasons the cownose rays are proliferating out of control?
    There are no sharks to eat them.
    Similarly, the 100+ year bay scallops fishery in North Carolina which at one time was very productive….was finally wiped out by those little devils (the cownose rays), who now that there are no sharks, are reproducing out of control.
    http://www.unc.edu/news/archives/mar07/petersonshark032807.html

  62. This is not OT here as the whole idea of fish-oil production (in the fishing reduction industry) is IN AND OF ITSLEF an environmental problem.
    Please read on….

  63. The recent Chinese catapulting of one billion people into the middle class….has given rise to the increased demand for the useless concoction of shark-fin soup which is helping deplete the world’s shark populations…
    (Remember…sharks, having evolved over 450 million years in the oceans, with no natural predators up until homo sapiens, reproduce very slowly).
    http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=2616156&page=1

  64. Now the 97% decrease in tiger and scalloped hammerhead sharks in the northwest Atlantic
    99% decrease of the smooth hammerhead, bull, and duskys in the same…those percentages are quite alarming.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/29/AR2007032901963.html
    But its not just happening in my corner of the ocean:
    Sharks pronounced “functionally extinct” in the Mediterranean.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/3344301/Sharks-functionally-extinct-in-Mediterranean.html

  65. Points to ponder:
    1) In the event the availability of valuable marine life cycles with the natural oscillations of the oceans, as ocean flora and fauna has evolved over hundreds of millions of years, the introduction of anthropogenic forcing over the last few hundred, hardly qualifies homo sapiens as being part of that natural oscillation.
    Here is a good presentation that looks into the ebb and flow of bluefin tuna, including the natural oscillations, such as the Atlantic Multidecadal, and finds that the real problem is just plain overfishing.
    http://www.iccat.int/Documents/Meetings/Docs/BFT_SYMP/pdf/BFT_SYMP_0

  66. 2) And so some American corporations [with the support of lobbyists to downplay and suppress the truth] are strip mining the local waters of the staple foods that other fish depend on, and ironically, turning them into fertilizer where they back up in our waters to create dead zones.
    3) Some Chinese and Taiwanese corporations [with the support of lobbyists to downplay and a huge multi-national black market] are emptying the world’s oceans of sharks and large predatory sharks [the biggest fins get the most money!].

  67. 4) Both world powers allow these corporations to treat the oceans as a sort of free and endless supply of goods on which to make a profit and without oversight because most of what happens in the water, we never see.
    NOTE: If someone went through a forest with a giant net and captured every living thing….bears, birds, all the wildlife…there would be a great outrage. But this occurs daily out in the oceans and not much attention is given because we are not there to see it.
    NOTE II: Omega Protein can just as well manufacture those omega-3 vitamins from soybeans. But they don’t want to do that, because doing so would mean that they would have to spend more money. They would rather rely on their cheap, “free lunch” caught with giant purse-seine nets at sea.

  68. Isn’t it the case that it isn’t grass-fed cows that are the problem, but cows that are fed on processed meal that’s so popular in high-density beef production? Sure I read that somewhere but I forget where.

  69. 5) So in light of all this, in terms of pollution, nutrient runoff, and overfishing, it can not be said that we as a species are not having a material adverse effect on the oceans.
    And, unlike the myth of AGW and the broken Mann hockey stick, the buffonery of Al Gore and James Hansen ad nauseum…THIS is a problem that we can and should do something about.
    I am not saying that sharkfishing should be banned. it just needs to be regulated.
    Natural ebbs and flows of fish populations are to be expected. But we have exacerbated the situation to an almost irreversible degree.
    Watch the award-winning movie Sharkwater.
    http://www.sharkwater.com
    You will be glad you did….
    And perhaps the part of the equation here of FISH-OIL PRODUCTION needs to be examined for its own negative net effect on the ocean before it can be really applied to cow-fart mitigation (LOL).
    Don’t try to solve another problem with a problem!
    Anybody want to develop an indoor facility for cows that controls the methane? Or is it any worry anyway??
    Wetlands give off more methane than you would ever believe. Perhaps we are barking up the wrong….um….cow posterior?
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  70. 25,000 miles on one gallon of fuel equivalent – yeah right. One circuit of the equatorial globe on that amount of fuel should have the oil companies terrified, they won’t be able to sell the stuff fast enough. Somewhere I think practical losses have been ignored, as they frequently are in these sorts of tales. If true we’d have done it long ago.
    OT – Nice to see peace-loving ecowarriors in London doing the sights in an effort to boost tourism in the downturn! A bit of polite kicking here, a little playful punching there, & of course let’s not forget that mandatory bottle throwing is always good for a laugh! The Drs & nurses think it an absolute hoot stitching somebodies face back together for fun. Of course they seem to forget (or not) that a perfectly peaceful demonstration carries more weight then any other form. BUT of course we all know that these demonstrations have little or nothing to do with AGW/CC, but rather re-alignment of the left’s power base! IMHO I hasten to add.

  71. Didn ‘t i read that feeding omega oils to our kids makes them smarter, perish the thought we migtht get a race of intelligent cows.

  72. The law of unitended consequences always seems to go unoticed when whacky ideas such as these are put forward, consider the strain on fisheries already under stress with overfishing, a prime example is the overfishing of sand eels used for such things as animal feed and even power plant fuel, the consequence for the sea bird population off Scotland was devastating especially for the puffin.
    Silly ideas go hand in hand with silly theories, mirrors in space etc, the very last thing we need right now is a biofuels type gold rush that will almost certainly happen if oils are used by law, I am coming to the conclusion that the AGW believers inhabit a place not unlike cloud coockoo land/fantasy island!

  73. “Lindsay H (00:33:28) :
    Didn ‘t i read that feeding omega oils to our kids makes them smarter, perish the thought we migtht get a race of intelligent cows.”
    Indeed

  74. Re: Alan the Brit (00:04:34) :
    “OT – Nice to see peace-loving ecowarriors in London doing the sights in an effort to boost tourism in the downturn! A bit of polite kicking here, a little playful punching there, & of course let’s not forget that mandatory bottle throwing is always good for a laugh! The Drs & nurses think it an absolute hoot stitching somebodies face back together for fun. Of course they seem to forget (or not) that a perfectly peaceful demonstration carries more weight then any other form. BUT of course we all know that these demonstrations have little or nothing to do with AGW/CC, but rather re-alignment of the left’s power base! ”
    Yes! Ask anyone of this numbwits and I guarantee you wont get an intelligent response as to what they are actually demonstrating about. Baa, baa, “Environmental Anti-Capitalism”, baa, baa. Pathetic – thugs are thugs are thugs, period.

  75. This bit seems to have been overlooked:
    “Cattle produce large amounts of methane as they digest their food and then belch out most of it through their mouths”
    Pity, because farting IS funnier.. 🙂

  76. Speaking as a farmer who knows about these things, a cow’s, ahem, back passage is several inches higher than that depicted in the photo above. That poor cow in the photo seems to have a severe problem with her reproductive parts.

  77. hereticfringe (13:19:34) :
    “Hell, if methane gives you that kind of fuel economy, lets stuff hoses up their butts and collect the stuff!!!”
    herericfringe,
    It has already been done with amazing results.
    You can run a gasoline care in methane quite easily and with an amazing performance.
    http://www.green-trust.org/2000/biofuel/batesmethane.htm
    http://www.truehealth.org/methane.html
    http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/methane-car-47011506
    http://forums.scifi.com/index.php?showtopic=2297017
    http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Methane_20Fuel_20Cell

  78. This april story just changed the omega 3 from linseed to fish from the study below :
    Martin C. et al : Journal of Animal Science. 2008 ; “Methane output and diet digestibility in response to feeding dairy cows crude linseed, extruded linseed,or linseed oil”.

  79. “The last time I came into contact with frequent use of the word “deviant” as a pejorative was in a class on 1930s Soviet Union and Germany.”
    The preferred Soviet term was “deviationist,” implying willful perversity and factionalism for its own sake.

  80. James, you beat me to it. I thought the flame was coming from the wrong end. Maybe the picture should have been earth-destroying cow-dragons, like “Reign of Fire”, or something.

  81. Richard Treadgold (15:29:05) :
    “How, exactly, does the fish oil “affect” the methane-producing bacteria in the rumen, “leading to reduced emissions,” and, especially, what other effects does it have?”
    Components of the degradation of fish oils (the long chain fatty acids in the ‘oil chain’) are inhibitory specifically to methane producing bacteria. They hydrophobic molecules are thought to bind to or punch holes in the cell walls of the bacteria and prevents their normal energy generation. This is a well known problem in the waste treatment industry where fish wastes and other materials containing oils can be treated by anaerobic digestion to produce methane.
    Gas will still be produced (belched by the cows) but will be higher in CO2 and lower in methane.
    Fresh fish oils can be ‘deflavoured’ for addition to all sorts of food products:
    http://www.ocean-nutrition.com/
    This is available in a local premium milk brand. By the time I drink the milk the oils added to it have been halfway round the world from where the fish were caught, to where the oil was processed and deflavoured to where it is added to local milk. My point is that this particular oil does not have a small carbon footprint.

  82. The Christian Science Monitor has a sense of humor, see
    http://features.csmonitor.com/environment/2009/04/01/scientists-worldwide-admit-global-warming-is-a-hoax/
    n an unprecedented move Wednesday, the Norwegian Nobel Committee rescinded the Peace Prize it awarded in 2007 to former US vice president Al Gore and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, amid overwhelming evidence that global warming is an elaborate hoax cooked up by Mr. Gore.

    The only major scientific body not to sign the statement was the Royal Society of Canada, whose country has been brought to a standstill by a massive infestation of polar bears.

  83. It looks as though it’s our turn in the UK to be reminded of the FACTS behind AGW. We are being treated to a prime time re run of Al Gores horror flick “An inconvenient truth” this weekend on CH4.

  84. The Christian Science Monitor has a sense of humor, see
    http://features.csmonitor.com/environment/2009/04/01/scientists-worldwide-admit-global-warming-is-a-hoax/
    n an unprecedented move Wednesday, the Norwegian Nobel Committee rescinded the Peace Prize it awarded in 2007 to former US vice president Al Gore and the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, amid overwhelming evidence that global warming is an elaborate hoax cooked up by Mr. Gore.

    The only major scientific body not to sign the statement was the Royal Society of Canada, whose country has been brought to a standstill by a massive infestation of polar bears.
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

  85. Coming soon to a grocery store in your area – a “cow tax”? Since C02 is now deemed a “pollutant” by the EPA, why wouldn’t methane also be considered one?
    “Johnny, drink your milk”. No, because cows are killing the Polar Bears, and making the earth catch on fire”. “Where did you get that?” At school – the teacher said so.
    Even though “flatulent cows” is in quotations in the Telegraph UK headline, and they do state in the article that the bulk of the methane released is belched out, I think they do science a misservice by continuing the myth that it is “cow flatulence” or “cow farts” that releases the majority of the methane. This ties in nicely with the further myth that methane has a bad smell to it, when in fact methane, like C02 is completely colorless and odorless.
    Methane of course, is getting the same bad and completely erroneous rap that C02 is getting from the CAGW rent-seeking fraudsters and fellow bandwagoners.
    When will the insanity stop?

  86. There are a lot of comments here already, so forgive me if it’s been mentioned already.
    The addition of fish oil in the diet may not be necessary to ease cow flatulence. It’s a proven fact that DHA (the essential nutrient in fish oil) can be provided to a bovine’s diet by simply feeding it…. grass. Yes, the foodstuff that cows are evolved to eat will provide the required amount of DHA.
    Grass-fed cows have been shown to produce milk with higher concentrations of DHA–I plan on feeding my kids grass-fed cow’s milk when they’re young, in case they’re not big fans of fish.

  87. I hope my wife doesn’t hear about this. She’ll be putting that stuff into everything I eat! And claiming it’s for the environment! Hoo-boy…..

  88. The best part is that cows (and chickens and goats, etc) used to naturally get Omega fatty 3s from eating dark leafy greens. Gotta have that grain fed, genetically modified, freaky franken-beef though I guess. Sure, give ’em fish oil, never mind the greens! And charge people extra for the eggs/meat with Omega 3s, since they don’t know we took it out in the first place!
    Trust them, they know stuff. 🙂

  89. @Sarah
    Keep in mind that grass-fed animal products are not the same as organic food products. Depending on what it is (milk or eggs), it can be cheaper or more expensive than the organic counterpart.
    Good luck in getting your hands on raw milk straight from a grass-fed cow though–the government has mostly banned it. For your own good, of course.
    You can also save money by buying regular (i.e. grain-fed) milk and eggs and just buying fish oil supplements.

  90. Louise Gray seems to have been granted carte blanche to write alarmist articles almost everyday recently. Makes a change to see an article, where she isn’t – well… perhaps there is an assumption.

  91. Researchers from University College Dublin found however, by adding two per cent of fish oil to the animal’s feed the amount of methane is reduced by around a fifth.
    ———————————————————–
    How much reduction in the amount of methane produced by the addition of two per cent of AlGore snake-oil to the animal’s feed?

  92. The UK is committed to cutting greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050.
    ——————————————-
    My immediate question is how many greenhouses are there in the UK?
    All of the greenhouse gases can be eliminated by eliminating all greenhouses. Problem solved.
    Is there a difference in the gases in a greenhouse and the gases in the atmosphere? No, with the exception of the slightly decreased carbon dioxide in the greenhouse due to the greedy appetites of green plants gorging themselves on all available carbon dioxide.
    A recent experiment on the propagation of plants in extra-terrestrial environments has shown that the plants in the small experimental container exhausted the available carbon dioxide in a few minutes. Space travelers would have to hyperventilate to keep the plants alive.
    I am aware that carbon dioxide and other trace atmospheric gases are supposed to be enclosing the Earth in a heat retaining blanket equivalent to a greenhouse enclosure, but this is an erroneous assumption. The missing elements are convection and the very low specific heat capacity of carbon dioxide.
    By allowing the Algores to divert the argument and determine the language is to capitulate in the argument.

  93. To all,
    I have often wondered just how much methane the American Bison herds placed into the atmosphere before they were all slaughtered in the late 19th century.
    Didn’t those millions of animals exist during the little Ice Age, around 1850? How could the world have grown colder, as the LIA shows, while all those bison were running around, doing what bison do and happily putting forth methane?

  94. Funnily enough, there actually was an April Fool’s Day hoax in the Telegraph, written by the very same Louise Gray. It was about generating power from – you guessed it – fish. It was printed on April 1st, and the Telegraph editorial referred to ‘fishy’ stories.
    One thing did strike me, though. Compared to the lunacy of wind power, this idea is eminently sane and practical.
    If only the whole AGW delusion were no more than a harmless April Fool’s joke….
    Chris

  95. “earth-destroying cow-dragons”
    LOL! I wondered about the buffalo, too…
    Earth’s atmosphere seems to be able to take a lot of punishment from the inhabitants, which is perhaps another Inconvenient Truth.

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