Study: Cattle Methane is a moooot point in global climate

Via No Tricks Zone: Agrobiologist and scientific researcher Dr. Albrecht Glatzle, author of over 100 scientific papers and two textbooks, has published research that shows:

“…there is no scientific evidence, whatsoever, that domestic livestock could represent a risk for the Earth’s climate” and the “warming potential of anthropogenic GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions has been exaggerated.”

Image Source: Glatzle 2018

Glatzle, 2018

Domestic Livestock and Its Alleged Role in Climate Change

Abstract:

Our key conclusion is there is no need for anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and even less so for livestock-born emissions, to explain climate change. Climate has always been changing, and even the present warming is most likely driven by natural factors.

The warming potential of anthropogenic GHG emissions has been exaggerated, and the beneficial impacts of manmade CO2 emissions for nature, agriculture, and global food security have been systematically suppressed, ignored, or at least downplayed by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and other UN (United Nations) agencies.

Furthermore, we expose important methodological deficiencies in IPCC and FAO (Food Agriculture Organization) instructions and applications for the quantification of the manmade part of non-CO2-GHG emissions from agro-ecosystems.

However, so far, these fatal errors inexorably propagated through the scientific literature.

Finally, we could not find a clear domestic livestock fingerprint, neither in the geographical methane distribution nor in the historical evolution of mean atmospheric methane concentration.”

cows livestock beef meat

Key Points:

1. “In order to get the effective manmade part of the emissions from managed ecosystems, one has to subtract the baseline emissions of the respective native ecosystems or of the pre-climate-change-managed ecosystems from those of today’s agro-ecosystems (Figure 4). Omitting this correction leads to a systematic overestimation of farm-born non-CO2 GHG emissions. Scientific publications generally do not take this consideration into account, as farm-born CH4 and N2O emissions are consistently interpreted at a 100% level as an additional anthropogenic GHG source, just like fossil fuel-born CO2. As the mentioned IPCC guidelines [2007] are taken for the ultimate reference, this severe methodological deficiency propagated through the scientific literature.”

2. “Dung patches concentrate the nitrogen ingested from places scattered across the pasture.  Nichols et al. [2016] found no significant differences between emission factors from the patches and the rest of the pasture, which means the same amount of nitrous oxide is emitted whether or not the herbage passes livestock’s intestines. However, the IPCC and FAO do consider mistakenly all nitrous oxide leaking from manure as livestock-born and therefore manmade.”

3. “Between 1990 and 2005, the world cattle population rose by more than 100 million head(according to FAO statistics). During this time, atmospheric methane concentration stabilized completely. These empirical observations show that livestock is not a significant player in the global methane budget [Glatzle, 2014]. This appreciation has been corroborated by Schwietzke et al. [2016] who suggested that methane emissions from fossil fuel industry and natural geological seepage have been 60–110% greater than previously thought.”

4. “When looking to the global distribution of average methane concentrations as measured by ENVISAT (Environmental Satellite) [Schneising et al., 2009] and the geographical distribution of domestic animal density, respectively [Steinfeld et al., 2006], no discernible relationship between both criteria was found [Glatzle, 2014].”

5. “Although the most recent estimates of yearly livestock-born global methane emissions came out 11% higher than earlier estimates [Wolf et al., 2017], we still cannot see any discernible livestock fingerprint in the global methane distribution(Figure 6).”

6. “The idea of a considerable livestock contribution to the global methane budget relies on theoretical bottom-up calculations. Even in recent studies, e.g., [Mapfumo et al., 2018], just the emissions per animal are measured and multiplied by the number of animals. Ecosystemic interactions and baselines over time and space are generally ignored [Glatzle, 2014]. Although quite a number of publications, such as the excellent most recent FCRN report (Food Climate Research Network) [2017], do discuss extensively ecosystemic sequestration potentials and natural sources of GHGs, they do not account for baseline emissions from the respective native ecosystems when assessing manmade emissions of non-CO2 GHGs from managed ecosystemsThis implies a systematic overestimation of the warming potential, particularly when assuming considerable climate sensitivity to GHG emissions.”

8. “[E]ven LA Chefs Column [Zwick, 2018], in spite of assuming a major global warming impact of methane, came to the conclusion: ‘When methane is put into a broader rather than a reductive context, we all have to stop blaming cattle (‘cows’) for climate change.’”

7. “[W]e could not find a domestic livestock fingerprint, neither in the geographical methane distribution nor in the historical evolution of the atmospheric methane concentration. Consequently, in science, politics, and the media, the climate impact of anthropogenic GHG emissions has been systematically overstated. Livestock-born GHG emissions have mostly been interpreted isolated from their ecosystemic context, ignoring their negligible significance within the global balanceThere is no scientific evidence, whatsoever, that domestic livestock could represent a risk for the Earth’s climate.”

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87 thoughts on “Study: Cattle Methane is a moooot point in global climate

  1. Doesn’t matter – greenies hate meat. They can’t stand knowing things they hate exist in the world and so they will try and take it away from everybody. So they can feel better.

    After that, it will be something else. Gotta keep stoking that warm fuzzy.

    • Greens hate everything including greens (the edible kind) or else they wouldn’t be complaining about CO2

    • They never are.
      A result of sitting around in old cars all night and day while staking out sheep farm operations, and breathing in each others’ vegan farts.

      • . . . vegan farts

        Grazing animals’ digestive systems are optimized for that diet, but it’s the fiber digested that results in large amounts of methane. Wouldn’t that be true of (human) vegans as well? Wouldn’t they ’emit’ far more that normal people; making veganism a threat to our climate?

        • The climate can handle anything puny humans can blow at it.
          Vegans are more of a threat to our olfactory organs, I would think.
          Which presents far more discomfort for us than 2C warmer times ever will.

          • Easy on the vegan insults, they are made of meat, cattle are vegan, they just don’t feel obliged to talk about it. Better personal hygiene too.

        • That’s been my (off-color, non-PC) argument. I tell people the methane from eating a plant-based diet is going to be released by whatever animal eats it. Thus, it can be from the cows, or me, if I eat the plants. If I eat the meat, essentially all the methane has already been released. So do they want me to release it, or an animal likely in another state? But, regardless, the methane will be released.

  2. Seems Intuitively obvious to me. Cattle and livestock, including Beef cattle primarily eat Grains – hay, silage and grass. The majority of their foodstock is grazing on their pastures in the suitable weather and on silage in the colder months when there is no grasses to forage. To this is added some Grains – corn, milo, barley and oats. And then an even smaller amount of Oilseeds – such as soybeans and canola.
    The CO2 that cattle emmett is a product of digesting these products. So to determine the total impact of their eating these things you need to subtract the CO2 that would be produced by the natural rotting if not eaten by cattle and the digestion by bacteria and other lifeforms naturally feeding on these products when left in the field.

      • Methane oxidizes into carbon dioxide and water vapor on contact with oxygen. You can check with your local natural gas company for the accurate time/ temperature equation they use for when it’s safe to go back in the house after a gas leak. This is why after 3 billion years of life dying and rotting there isn’t more than 1.8 ppm methane in our atmosphere. (Think of parts per million as $1 million dollars; 100 stacks of $100 bills 100 bills high! Carbon dioxide would be the equivalent of four $100 bills, methane would be $1.80 cents)
        The truth is, no animal/plant/fish can produce methane… They lack the biology for it. Only “aerobic bacteria” that causes rot can make methane. If you don’t want a cow to make methane in its digestive system, give the cow a antibiotic.
        The food will still rot on the ground after passes through the cow. We farmers call it fertilizer. (By the way, most cow farts are actually air from the cow chewing it’s cud making and swallowing foam)
        Cows are carbon neutral if they did not eat natures hay and grass, it would all rot on the ground come winter, just like the leaves from the trees, and turn into methane anyway.
        Cows eat what humans cannot, they do not compete with humans for nutritional resources but provide a great amount of food for very little effort. They are the most beneficial animal by far to improve the human condition. The symbiotic relationship cannot be ignored.

          • Please ignore my “lack of coffee induced” arithmetic, I added an extra 100 to the mix and didn’t realize it until I went back and re-read it. My apologies.

            Read twice, post once. Duh

    • You notice these people never mention the natural population of Bison that once populated the Great Plains by the millions, or the historic mega-fauna that once roamed Europe. Obviously, large ruminants are part and parcel of The Planet’s evolution.

  3. All animals are carbon neutral. It was always an obviously ridiculous lie that they are not.

      • Boy are you right. Let’s hear it for the beans, pull my finger!

        (Please, I cannot take the pressure.)

        • It’s hard to read this article and the comments without remembering a poem I heard and repeated to my dear mother while I was in first or second grade, about 70 years ago:

          Beans, beans, the musical fruit!
          The more you eat, the more you toot!
          The more you toot, the better you feel,
          So let’s have beans for every meal!

          (I didn’t see this in any of the above posting, so I felt free to post it. Cute, funny, and it scans.

      • Beans, yes. But nothing compared to sunchokes. A big helping of those and you’ll be up all night. But they are good tasting.

    • I think you’ll find that that there are plans for humans as well …
      “The Earth has cancer and the cancer is Man.” Club of Rome, Mankind at the Turning Point, 1974
      “… the resultant ideal sustainable population is hence more than 500 million but less than one billion.” Club of Rome, Goals for Mankind, 1976.
      ‘World population needs to be decreased by 50%’ Henry Kissinger, member of CoR.
      “the ecological crisis, in short, is the population crisis. Cut the population by 90% and there aren’t enough people left to do a great deal of ecological damage.” Mikhail Gorbachev, Former President of the Soviet Union, member of CoR.
      ‘A total population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.” Ted Turner, founder of CNN, major UN donor, member of CoR.
      In order to stabilize world population, we must eliminate 350,000 people per day. It is a horrible thing to say, but it is just as bad not to say it. Jacques Cousteau, French naval officer and explorer, member of the CoR.
      “If I were reincarnated I would wish to be returned to earth as a killer virus to lower human population levels.’ Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, according to Green Agenda a member of CoR, father of four. (The Green Agenda)

      • And this is what pisses me off about The Optimum Trust aka Population Matters and one of their patrons and ex-hero of mine, David Attenborough.

        Population Matters want exactly the same thing. Years ago, The Population Trust accidentally published a spreadsheet with where the population had to be culled. Naturally, it was all those little brown and yellow people, not the upstanding white people.

        Racism disguised as caring for the environment endorsed by the greens.

      • arbara McKenzie
        June 12, 2019 at 3:28 pm

        Barbara, many thanks for reminding us of all this nonsense. I especially like Prince Philip…Father of Four!

      • Carbon dioxide is plant food, not pollution. This planet cannot survive without it. It makes absolutely no sense to run a worldwide campaign against a naturally occurring essential element of our atmosphere without an alternative motive. Logic indicates that there ultimate goal is not to ban nature/carbon dioxide/hydrocarbons, but stopping the evil “consumer”. Eliminate the demand, and the supply dries up. Problem solved.
        There are too few of them to make this happen, so their goal is the educate the populations to commit suicide, or at the least, condone the actions taken. ” it’s OK”, it will “save the planet”
        Bill Gates has been actively working for this cause and brags about it in TEDTalks. His father worked for Planned Parenthood and he is using his billions to continue his fathers work. Listen to what he says, it’s scary.

        • Carbon dioxide is not plant food. “Food” provides the consuming organism with energy. CO2 does not provide energy to a plant, therefore it is not “food.”

          • Plants don’t eat, or absorb any fuel, but make their own fuel of sugars using (drumroll) photosynthesis, water, and carbon dioxide.

            Plants take carbon dioxide into their stomata (from Greek στόμα, “mouth”) and the carbon is combined with water to make sugars. Plants don’t breathe, so the term respiration is incorrect. The carbon dioxide is taken in, part of it is kept in a metabolic process and the oxygen is expelled. Similar to animal eating where part of the food is retained and part is expelled.

            IMO carbon dioxide is a fuel for plants, but to say it is not food is nitpicking. It may be technically correct, but so would be “plants take in no food at all”.

          • Photons are “plant food.” Plants get a lot of photons from sunshine. CO2 is not plant food.

    • Yea, Nicholas, “where the buffalo roam and the skies are not cloudy all day”. Looks like buffalo farts produced positive climate results but domestic livestock not so much. Dinosaurs? Don’t walk behind them.

    • I agree. All humans have done in the past 10,000 years have replaced one type of herbivore for others, mainly cattle and sheep. How much methane does an elephant or whale produce? Maybe we should eliminate those species? Obvious sarcasm.

  4. If, as is said, that methane has a residence time in the atmosphere of 5 years, then as long as cattle numbers stay the same methane will have reached a steady state with the methane produced by cattle equaling the breakdown
    Some research done in Australia by Professor Mark Adams at Sydney University apparently shows that soil bacteria can absorb methane faster than cattle emit it.
    http://www.abc.net.au/site-archive/rural/nt/content/200908/s2649444.htm

  5. Lieber Herr Glatzle, danke, bestens geschriebener Artikel!
    Trotz allem, bauen Sie Moringa an, wächst pro Jahr 4 Meter!
    Gruss nach Paraguay von Mexico! JS.

  6. As already stated, animals are as carbon neutral as trees. Why they latch onto trees but hate animals is just weird.

    Also (and this is the point of my post), if you take away all the humans from earth and the impact of humans, what do you get? A world “full” of animals. Net zero difference surely.

  7. Oh no–now news of this science too is unsettling. It just gets worse and worse–to quote Homer Simpson.

  8. it looks like there will be an opening for a new Agrobiologist soon. Someone who knows when to keep his mouth shut..

  9. This finding for methane is the same as Harde 2017 showed for anthropogenic CO2. There is simply no evidence that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are driving the atmospheric content of CO2. So, just like this paper states reducing methane emissions will not change background concentrations, reducing CO2 emissions will not change background concentrations. So why do labor to reduce these emissions? Why hasn’t the media and the scientific societies proclaimed this good news and found something more important to work on? I have to conclude that they don’t want to hear this and are willing to ignore out of some indifference to the value of truth.

    • CO2 rise is only about 1/2 of human emissions annually. It’s not a stretch to presume that the increase is due to human emissions on average.

    • I’ve always objected to this key part of the non-existent “foundation” of the house-of-cards “climate science” AGW dogma – they DON’T MEASURE the “carbon sources and sinks,” it’s all “estimates” and “assumptions.” In fact, even the supposed human fossil fuel “figures” are not from “measurements,” but rather they are “calculated” based on “sales” of fossil fuels (thereby ignoring any that are “stockpiled”). This also ignores any “errors” (or “omissions”) in “reporting.”

      Combine this with the massive assumption that everything was “in balance” before (utter nonsense, and mostly based on proxies that understate true variability and have other issues), which flies in the face of the paleoclimate record (once again).

      In other words, more “fudge factor math” that is unsupported when you look at the real world.

  10. They’re trying to destroy the ag industry just like they’re trying to destroy the energy industry. That’s all it’s about. Nothing to worry about.

  11. Am I interpreting this paper correctly to say there’s no significant CH4 from BS?

    If true, this is a great relief, considering the vast quantity of BS emitted by the climate science field… otherwise, climate science would a major contributor to global warming (that is, independent of direct data fiddling).

  12. “Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam and and the deer and the antelope play………..”

    Kansas.

    Top source for CH4…….. rice paddies, undrained wetlands,
    kansas is fighting a boom in Cedar trees which grow and spread on CRP idle land. They burn pasture in The Flint Hills which kills seedlings and weeds. Improves grazing. Killing the cedar trees which take a lot of water improves grass growth.

    But you can’t take gubment $$$ for CRP if you graze cattle or harvest hay.

    The farther the intellectuals are from the farms, forests and ranches, the crazier the science notions.

    (we need manure for organic farms.)

    The eastern red cedar is spreading. It is also proven that conifers are CH4 absorbent. Nature is self balancing.

    • “Oh give me a home,
      Where the buffalo roam
      Where the deer and the antelope play………..”

      “Where seldom is heard
      A discouraging word
      But, what can an antelope say?”

  13. The authors have missed the point that these rampant cattle-farts are a symbol for wider gender oppression and white male privilege, which is ultimately what causes the climate-change which we can all see on our weather radars.

    (this was a pre coffee comment, possibly even sleep-typing)

  14. “… the “warming potential of anthropogenic GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions has been exaggerated.”

    No kidding, “they” never say how much methane will warm the planet. They don’t because the effect is so small, it is in fact nothing at all.

    • Just like the supposed “effect” of CO2!

      “Nothing at all” defines quite well the “climate driving power” of a gas that, at TEN TIMES the current concentration, not only didn’t induce any “runaway warming,” but couldn’t prevent the Earth from plummeting into a full blown ice age.

  15. Re. DM , 12 the June. The Media does not really like Good News. True
    we do see the odd “”Good News” story, but from their point of view Bad
    News sells more papers, or the TV equivalent.

    Its the same as the colourful covers on books of fiction. Its saying,
    “”Pick me up and read me””.

    That is why the man made Global warming come CC gets so much
    coverage. Now if only the sceptics had a Media outlet, yes we do have
    WUWT, but something big with blazing headlines such as , ” Soon Egypt’s
    pyramids will be surrounded with fields of Green. ” If only.

    Seriously as I keep saying, sadly we will have to wit til the light start to go
    out, then and only then will the people start to protest to the politicians.

    MJE VK5ELL

  16. The most important, and flagrant, error is the way agricultural enteric emissions of methane from livestock, (by far the largest component of agricultural emissions), are calculated under the rules dictated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

    Emissions from livestock are calculated (not measured obviously) with a complex standard formula.

    There is however no offset allowed in this formula for the carbon dioxide, sequestered from the atmosphere by the plants, through their leaf stomata, that the livestock ate. No one disputes that this is what happens, it is a normal part of the well accepted carbon cycle.

    This accounting deficiency fact was verified by Dr David Ugarde from the then Australian Greenhouse Office (now the Department of Environment).

    Yet in the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory Reports, these are incorrectly claimed to be net emissions.

    They obviously and unequivocally are not. And they (the UNFCCC) claim to be a scientifically based organisation, yet would appear not to be aware of this very basic scientific misrepresentation or alternatively, must be actively conniving to deceive.

    They in fact are aware of these facts, as The Australian Howard Government of the day, together with the New Zealand Government went to the UNFCCC pointing out this calculation deficiency. Their request to remedy this error was refused.

    This patently embarrassing perversion of basic science, is nothing less than grossly reprehensible and calls into question the whole basis of their operation.

    These are some of the facts.

    Every tonne of fossil methane released into the atmosphere (over an ~ 8.4 – 8.9 year period) turns into 2.75 tonnes of CO2 by tropospheric oxidation by OH radicals (McConnell et al 1971).

    In contrast, livestock methane involves the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere by plants and the subsequent slow return of some of it, back to the atmosphere.

    Each tonne of methane emitted represents the previous removal of 2.75 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. (Faichney GJ. Former Chief Research Scientist, Division of Animal Production, CSIRO. Member of the Livestock Working Group that compiled the livestock component of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1988 – 1999)

    It should be obvious that you cannot equate livestock methane with fossil methane as now occurs.

    If they had performed their calculations correctly and shown them as net emissions, livestock would be found to be at least carbon neutral or almost certainly, carbon positive. (As shown in subsequent CSIRO trial work).

    Ian McClintock
    Past Chairman, NSW Farmers Association, Conservation and Resource Management Committee.

  17. Methane is not generated by cows farting, but by burping. And I believe termites produce the same amount of methane, if not more. So why don’t we ban termites as well?

  18. This is great news for Australia with some 72 million sheep, 26.2 million cattle and 6 million pigs!
    And let’s not forget our Australian Feral Camels ( estimated between 300,000 and 1 million at various dates).
    The feral camels were imported in the 19th Century from British India and Afghanistan for carriage and work duties in the vast desert areas of central Australia.
    Like other imports ( rabbits and cane toads), there were unintended consequences when they went feral.

  19. Well, that’s a poorly worded opening sentence if ever I seed one ™.

    “Our key conclusion is there is no need for anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and even less so for livestock-born emissions, to explain climate change.”

    It “should” read…

    “Our key conclusion is there is no need *to use* anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and even less so for livestock-born emissions, *as an explanation for* climate change.”

    And perhaps it would read better if…

    “Our key conclusion is there is no need *to use* anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) *as an explanation for* climate change and even less *need to use* livestock-born emissions.”

    I’m still not completely sold on it but I’ll stop now.
    There are to many other grammars on the internets which that I needs to fixate today!

    Your Welcome! ™

  20. Corrections? Who needs corrections?
    The original proposal for an Emissions Trading Scheme in Australia studiously refused to allow credits for the sequestration side of agriculture’s carbon cycle. They intended to tax recycled carbon on the same basis as fossil carbon. Protest saw the proposal shunt agriculture into the too hard basket, but the inequity of their proposal was never acknowledged.
    Fortunately we were saved by a small number of wise men, including Barnaby Joyce and Tony Abbott, and an eventual change of government before they got around to resurrecting their ETS.
    The notion that there are natural GHGs of long standing has never been admitted.

    • Our stupid government in New Zealand where the tail (the greens ) wag the dog .
      The government has announced that livestock methane emissions have to be reduced by 24 % to 47 % by 2050 .
      This is being pushed by the green party who have not got a clue about anything resembling economics and they would destroy New Zealand’s economy without blinking an eye .
      New Zealand has a population of 4.8 million and we export high quality dairy products, beef lamb and venison to feed 45 million people around the world .
      The only way that methane from livestock can be reduced is to run less livestock .
      The microbes in the animals rumen the first stomach digest cellulose and as they rapidly reproduce and generate millions more methodes which then move through the animals other stomachs and are digested as the animals nutrient with proteins and carbohydrates.
      If attempts are made to restrict the microbes in the digestive system the animals will have trouble digesting roughage which is mainly cellulose and will be a lot less productive .
      Methane from farmed livestock can never be a problem as the animals eat pasture and other forages that has absorbed CO2 and the methane that is burped has a half life of about 8.4 years and is broken down into CO2 and H2O which is what is needed to grow all vegetation .
      It is a cycle and no more CO2 or methane is added to the atmosphere over any time span.
      Methane is measured in parts per billion and in parts per million the present amount in the atmosphere is 1.9 parts parts per million .
      Methane is slowly rising but coal mining and gas extraction release a much larger volume of new methane and all combustion of fossil fuels release methane that has been locked in the ground for million of years.
      Enteric methane is not a problem has never been a problem and will never cause any harm.
      Farmed livestock methane emissions are cyclic and can not add any GHG s to the atmosphere .
      If all farmed livestock were killed off in the whole world methane levels would not change ,but billions would go hungry .

      • They won’t say it, but that’s the true agenda – they WANT billions to go hungry. Just not themselves, of course.

  21. It is my understanding, from comments on here and elsewhere, that the absorption spectrum of methane overlaps largely with that of water vapour which is present in vastly greater concentrations. If that is correct then any theoretical GHG effect of methane will be effectively swamped by that of water vapour.
    So arguments about methane are redundant.
    Can someone confirm?

  22. “the global methane budget relies on theoretical bottom-up calculations”

    Don’t tell me that wasn’t deliberate! Fnaar fnaaaar

  23. Whatever cattle contribute to methane production, it needs to be understood that cattle are merely today’s domesticated producers of beef products (meat, hides, dairy, etc.) that have mostly replaced prior native herds of wild creatures, including the bison, deer, elk etc. that formerly occupied the same lands now domesticated.

    Today’s US beef cattle herd is about 89 million head (total inventory). Estimates of bison population alone pre-Colombian range from about 60 million to 75 million. Bison are much larger creatures than domesticated cattle, with bulls up 2,000 pounds, cows at 1,000 pounds, or an average of 1,500 pounds. Beef cattle, even those artificially fattened up on grains, average about 1,300 pounds. Then thrown in other large mammals that roamed the grasslands including deer, elk, etc. and it seems that today’s North American lands are not necessarily producing any more animals than formerly lived here.

    But we are feedling one helluva lot more people with today’s beef herds than were fed by the formerly wild herds in North America.

    North American Indian populations in the great plains where the buffalo formerly roamed never amounted to more than a couple hundred thousand inhabitants, even before the Colombian exchange. The relatively few that lived in the Great Plains were actually hugely wasteful of the resource too, contrary to popular misconception. Before the Indians obtained the horse and could freely roam the prairie grasslands to keep up with the buffalo herds, they would resort to identifying cliff areas and attempt to drive entire herds over the cliffs where the poor beasts tumbled over the edge and died hundreds at a time, so the tribes would feast for awhile with an excess of buffalo meat, then starve at other times. Not very efficient or conservative of the resource.

  24. One of the powerful memories of my youth was the dioramas at the Simthsonian Natural History museum showing herds of various ancient mammals roaming the dry and cold plains during the pleistocene. Somehow, the methane produced by these herbivores was insufficient to warm the Earth over tens of thousands of years. Likewise, the millions of bicen roaming North America were insufficient to prevent to Little Ice Age.

  25. As is often the case, I find the comments as interesting as the original article.

    In this case, I learned that methane emissions from cows would have occurred regardless whether the grain/hay/grass passed through the cow or not.

    Did anyone in the California legislature or regulatory regime learn this before setting out to hamstring their state dairy industry with methane collection boondoggles for dairy cows?

    • Not if the rich, politically connected scumbags lobbying for their methane collection boondoggles have anything to say about it…

  26. This particular topic, which has been around for some time, provided one of my initial entries into the global warming debate. Drover’s Journal, whose ostensible aim is to aid the beef production industry, in maybe 1989 published an article about how much cattle production was contributing to global warming–it was some ludicrous value like 0.004C. I wrote the journal and pointed out this was a completely theoretical calculation which could never be substantiated by actual measurements because, first and foremost it was too tiny to measure.

    This was also one of my first lessons that writing letters to the editor is an utterly ineffective means of combating superstition.

  27. Direct and indirect land use change as a result of ranching, forest loss. Climate change.
    Animal feed such as soya and maize has meant clearing of millions of kilometers of forest. Mato Grasso is an example. When the vegetation is stripped and drained the soil peat carbon is oxidized, and leaches out.
    There is the lifecycle emissions of the farm to plate for growing and distribution of animal feeds, btw a very poor ratio of energy gain considering calories from protein feed when converted to meat.
    The water footprint is astronomical, the nitrates that leach into the rivers and cause dead zones are also reducing oxygen levels and releasing Nitrous Oxide.
    So your argument has merit, but it is only a very small part of the cumulative emissions from the beef industry.

    • Karel .
      People like you who quote rubbish studies that are formulated by activists make me sick.
      The growing population in the 60s and 70s lead to so many predictions by the experts that the worlds population would very soon outstrip the worlds food supply .
      These predictions have been proven to be trash as the worlds farmers have supplied increasing amounts of food to feed the world .
      We are very lucky that the worlds prosperity is driven by the capitalist system where individuals have property rights and are generally free to make decisions about the crops they grow and the animals they farm .
      Farmers around the world react to price signals and can soon find out that their country or the world market will not pay them enough to make a living .
      This is called supply and demand and has worked well for over 140 years .
      Most animal production in New Zealand is pasture based with only a small amount of supplements fed in the dairy industry .
      Out farmers here are up against nitrate discharges to water and irrigation of farm land in mainly in the South Island .
      The farmers in the South Island correctly state that if they do not store water that flows out to sea during the spring thaw that the water will only irrigate the ocean .
      There is only one feed lot in New Zealand fattening beef and over 99% of our beef are fed almost entirely on pasture
      To finish I will again state that methane from farmed livestock is a NON problem that has been dreamed up by activists to bluff the world.

    • Karel said;
      “nitrates that leach into the rivers and cause dead zones are also reducing oxygen levels and releasing Nitrous Oxide”

      A lightning bolt not only makes O-Zone, it makes nitrous oxide and nitrogen compounds like nitric acid. The amount created Per lightning strike depends, they estimate a 55 gallon drum with every lightning flash. A summer thunderstorm with thousands of flashes can produce enough nitrates the equivalent of an overturned tanker spilling all its contents into the rivers. This fertilizer does not create “Dead zones”, just the opposite, it creates live zones that is so abundant that it will choke the fish that feast on this life. These micro organisms drift with the current at the very basis of the food chain in which all the oceans need to thrive.

  28. Thanks for that information Ian. You have a fellow traveller:
    Frank M. Mitloehner is Professor of Animal Science and Air Quality Extension Specialist, University of California, Davis. He writes at the Conversation Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate.

    “A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.”
    Mitloehner’s article: https://theconversation.com/yes-eating-meat-affects-the-environment-but-cows-are-not-killing-the-climate-94968
    My synopsis: https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2019/01/21/climate-ideology-bad-nutritional-advice/

  29. I see 14 publications in the Web of Science for Dr. Albrecht Glatzle since 1986, out of which only 8 are journal articles. For most researchers, that kind of a record is not at all good unless of course one of those papers got him/her a Nobel prize. I would be very careful in taking his opinion as a researcher.

  30. As someone who milked the family cow every morning before school,
    I can testify that the vast majority of emissions from a cow are belches.

    I never thought to attempt to quantify the percentage.

    For the same reason quoted from above, CH4 listed as human emissions
    from rice paddies are simply a delay in the process of converting to
    CO2. I will explain below.

    ” Livestock-born GHG emissions have mostly been interpreted isolated from their ecosystemic context, ignoring their negligible significance within the global balance. There is no scientific evidence, whatsoever, that domestic livestock could represent a risk for the Earth’s climate.”

    Natural gas rises all around the world, but it is not evenly distributed. In areas with
    adequate moisture, it is oxidized by the near surface aerobic microbial culture and
    becomes topsoil.

    In areas where that land is dedicated to rice growing, when the paddies are dry,
    the up welling gas is oxidized, enriching the soil, and it rises into the atmosphere
    as CO2. This CO2 is not properly accounted for in any inventory that I have seen.

    When the paddies are flooded, the water forces the gases to rise
    faster than the resident culture can oxidize it. The score keepers falsely call the
    resulting gas in the atmosphere human emissions. Some researches, noting the
    gas, try to explain it as being emitted by the rice. Not in my botany book.

    What is being observed is simply natural gas which has been delayed in its
    oxidation, not created by humans.

  31. Re. Methane, well as with us human the burning of
    food in all animals stomachs produce gases.

    So what is the problem, the grasses grow and as a part of the
    process of photosynthesis they absorb CO2, and fortunately in
    the process oxygen is released.

    Then the grasses are consumed by all animals in one form or
    another, digestion works its magic and methane and CO2 are
    released.

    So other animals eat the grass eaters, i.e. meat, but that is just
    processed grass.

    It all goes around and around, and the World continues.

    MJE VK5ELL

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