The issue of Global warming has been contemplated by scientists, utilized by politicians and pushed for by many advocates. In its simplest terms we think of global warming as the gradual change in the Earths temperature that is believed to be perm
anent and is killing the polar bears. We have all seen the commercials about doing our part to save the polar bears, but by doing our part we think of less gas consumption, not our personal gas emissions.
I came across an article about how kangaroo farts caused global warming. Obviously this article spiked my interest due to how random it is! As I began reading I discovered that animal farts and burps contain methane and carbon dioxide. Both are greenhouse gases that are known to contribute to global warming. Kangaroos in specific are known to have a low rate of methane omissions, but it has been discovered that it’s higher than was previously thought. Adam Munn, a wildlife biologist in Australia led a study on kangaroo methane emissions and discovered that they can produce nearly 1,000 liters of methane per year. To conduct this study Munn and his team studies the western gray kangaroo, and the red kangaroo. They fed them all the same diets of alfalfa hay for 12 days and then restricted their diet. This study showcased that on a restricted diet kangaroos methane omissions increased from when they ate normally. The proposed mechanism for this change is the mix of microbe species in the digestive tract move the food along faster when there is more of it.
From this study, which mentioned cow emissions, I went and found more information on cow emissions. It is estimated that cows release between 250 and 500 liters of methane per day. But much of these omissions are not from farts, but rather from burps. Due to the complexity of breaking down grass, cows have a complex four-chamber stomach. Due to this they digest through two stomachs, regurgitate and do it again before fully digesting the grass. This regurgitation leads to the large emission of methane gas.
The question now stands at whether or not human farts and burps are large contributions to global warming. According to a study investigating the normal flatus production in healthy volunteers, the chemical composition of their farts on a high fiber diet is larger than that of individuals on a low fiber diet. This study only examined 10 individuals, so it is a stretch to transfer these results onto the population as a whole, but if one were to do so it would be estimated that collectively the world population as a whole releases about 73 metric tons of methane and 1000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by farting daily. This is equivalent to roughly 1000 people flying from New York to Los Angeles, daily.
Obviously this is only one study, and it is not like we can change how our body reacts to what we eat, but we can alter what we eat and what we feed livestock. Due to the minimal evidence, it is apparent that more research needs to be done in order to determine whether or not we are actually hurting the environment just by our biological existence. That being said, there is information leaning towards this hypothesis. If one is an environmental advocate then the risk in indulging in a lower fiber diet is low and it could potentially help the environment. Otherwise there is no need to change ones ways until more comprehensive research has been done.