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Time for a One-Eighty on Cows and Climate – Part 4

Monday, March 18, 2024 11:37 AM

Time for a One-Eighty on Cows and Climate – Part 4
APRIL 29, 2014

The Methane Myth

And then there’s methane, a more potent global warming gas than CO2. Methane is a carbon compound produced during anaerobic fermentation, a process which occurs only in the absence of oxygen. The cow’s rumen is a fermentation vat in which bacteria break down cellulose from plants and use the liberated carbohydrates as an energy source to build complete protein. Any energy left over will be liberated as methane. Periodically the cow belches and releases the gas. Fermentation is the process by which grass is converted into the world’s most perfect food, milk. Far from congratulating the cow on her magic, reporters presuming that the methane gas left through the cow’s rear exit, made this the subject of endless humor. Vegetarians and others immediately blamed cows for contributing to climate change with their methane emissions. Cows and all living things that subsist solely on plants produce methane. This is the way nature has always worked. This cycle has never unbalanced the atmosphere. 

Manure in the open air is not a source of methane. Again, methane is only produced in the absence of oxygen. When dropped on the pasture manure is the natural source of fertility for the land. Many authors have assumed that methane is also produced on pasture or when manure is composted, but such is not the case; both occur in the presence of oxygen and are not sources of methane.

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