How cows are so important to climate change

Cows on average release about 70 to 120kg of methane a year, which like carbon dioxide is considered a greenhouse gas. I know many of you are thinking that cow farts cannot be the pressing issue that climate policy makers and scientists have to deal with surely there are more pressing topics like renewable energy and energy efficiency in general. However, there are many inconvenient facts about cow farts that make it a much higher priority than one may want to concede.

For example, methane has 23 times more negative effects than carbon dioxide and cows alone account for 2.8 metric tons of methane a year. Unfortunately because cow farts are such a non-serious topic there is very little serious attention and solutions offered to solve the problem. In fact in Japan there was a study done to see how much a kg of different meats contributed to kg of carbon dioxide produced to make it. I will leave the link here,, but I think it is interesting that a kg beef produces over 34.6 kg of carbon dioxide. Considering all the tailgates just here at Penn State those are some dangerous numbers.

However, my main concern is that apathy will take hold and no solutions will be offered to the very complex problem of feeding the entire world and at the same time curbing carbon emissions by improving the environmental quality of our agricultural processes. However, there lots of push back against the latter of these two issues because many people have argued, and justifiably so, that feeding the hungriest people in the world is much more important than tackling the climate changing effects of our current agricultural practices. This is hard to counter when part of your argument is centered around the fact that too many cows are farting too much. This is also hard to counter considering the terrible and just flat out awful lives people who do not have access to clean and sanitary food have.

However, I simply do not believe that this is an either or scenario rather I think that this could be a win-win scenario, if policies are enacted correctly. The problem that many farmers are facing is that green technology for farming does not have enough research into it and therefore farmers who engage in the practice of green farming will see a reduction in their profits and not an increase. This is a problem for two reasons one is that if the private sector does not get behind a green farming movement then there will never be a change in how agricultural practices are carried out. The next reason is that green technology can be the next great technological revolution that saves hundreds of millions of people by making food cheaper and more accessible.

However, this will only work if certain policies are taken to incentivize green growth in the agricultural field by making going green not just popular but also profitable. The first of these policies would be to incentivize green farmers with tax credits in order to get the agricultural wizards on board with the green movement. The next step would be to incentivize green energy companies by to invest research and development into the agricultural field.

This is being done to a certain degree by the Obama administration who has invested into different green energy projects throughout his administration by using his all of the above energy policy that has produced quality energy jobs. The combination of these policies would help to partner both the farmer and the private sector as partners in a green farming movement. This partnership will not only promote solid job growth but it would also finally help incentivize private industry to get behind quality climate change policies.

However, this is not enough we are going to need increased research into the green agricultural field. This would be perfect for our own country because we have the best university system in the world and some of the brightest minds in the world researching there. Although there is always research going on at our colleges there can always be an increase and there are few issues that are more important to invest research dollars in than the effects of cow farts on the climate

Here is an article on climate changing cow farts,, check it out.

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