Farty, belching cows around the world are tooting out so much methane, their output is more than India’s CO2 emissions for one year. This is sending global warming figures roaring upwards. But there is a solution on the horizon.
Farting and burping cows are a huge problem for our overpopulated earth. But there is now a way to mostly shut down their methane production. If farmers add seaweed to animal feed, the methane in their gaseous emissions are reduced by a whopping 70%. And it wouldn’t even have to be huge amounts of seaweed. If just 2 per cent of animal feed is seaweed, the farty and belchy gases become a problem of the past.
Methane is a huge issue. It has 36 times the global warming potential of CO2. Most people think animal farts are worse than animal burps. But 90% of animal methane emissions are from the top end of the animal.
Never fear, seaweed is here to save us from all of the animal gas expulsion. In 2015, researchers in Australia discovered that a type of seaweed called asparagopsis taxiformis reduces methane production by more than 99 percent in the lab. Because the lab isn’t real life, the next step was to test the seaweed on actual animals. James Cook University in Queensland were all over it.
Speaking to ABC News, one of the researchers, Rocky De Nys, said, “We have results already with sheep; we know that if asparagopsis is fed to sheep at 2 percent of their diet, they produce between 50 and 70 percent less methane over a 72-day period continuously, so there is already a well-established precedent.”
So why is this type of seaweed so anti-methane? After it has been eaten by the beast in question, the seaweed produces a compound called bromoform (CHBr3) which blocks methane production by reacting with vitamin B12. When you consider that there are an estimated 6.6 million cattle in Ireland and 4.7 million sheep, using seaweed feed starts to make a lot of sense.
We have the perfect country to tap this emerging market. We have been good at seaweed stuff for centuries. In fact there is already a company, called Ocean Feed that produces seaweed for livestock. The aim of the company is to keep animals healthy due to seaweed being a powerhouse of nutrition. But cutting greenhouse gasses? Now we have an international market going on. Let’s get on it!