LOCAL NEWS

Stop blaming cows for climate change

Jul 31, 2020, 6:05 AM
cows, hay...
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Burger King stepped in a big controversy this month with its new ad campaign claiming that cow farts are to blame for climate change. The company had to pull the ad because it just isn’t true.

Pasado’s Pen Pals brings animals, children together during COVID crisis

Burger King used 13-year-old Mason Ramsey to push the cow fart myth in the ad. Unfortunately for Burger King, most of what Ramsey sang about is wrong.

First things first: The methane produced by cows comes from the front, not the back.

“It is really the burps of these animals, the belching, that causes the methane,” said Frank Mitloeher, an air quality specialist in the animal science department at UC Davis. “That is the number one contribution of ruminant livestock.”

Mitleoher was called-in by Burger King to help the company better understand how animal methane and industrial methane are quite different.

While the methane created by cow burps is the same chemically as the methane created by extracting oil, coal, and gas, there is a huge difference in what happens with that methane when it’s released.

“The carbon in this biogenic carbon cycle of a cow is just that — a cycle,” Mitloeher said. “It is a recycled carbon. It’s not new, additional carbon.”

The methane created by cow burps disappears in 10 years and becomes carbon dioxide, which feeds the plants that the cows eat, and the cycle continues. The CO-2 created by burning fossil fuels is a new emission, not a recycled one.

That is what most people, Mitloehner told the Ag Information Network, don’t understand.

“People don’t understand the nuances, and even many scientists don’t understand the nuances,” he said.

Mitloeher said the major formulas calculating the impact of cow methane don’t tell us anything about the warming impact of this, and that needs to change.

“Methane from livestock is not just produced, it’s also destroyed at almost the same rate,” he said. “This is something that is not currently being appreciated in public policy or in the public discussion on livestock’s impact on the environment.”

Plain and simple. In the United States, the methane produced by cows is not the problem, nor are the emissions created by raising them.

“The beef sector emits 3% of all greenhouse gases,” he said. “The dairy sector emits 2% of all greenhouse gases. Then there are three sectors — transportation, energy production, and cement industry — these three combined emit 80% of all greenhouse gases.”

Myth one: cow farts. Busted. It’s burps.

Myth two: Cows are largely responsible for climate change. Busted.

Myth three: You will need more cows and cattle to satisfy the food needs of our planet. Mitloehner busts that one too. The industry just needs to be more efficient, and developing countries need to do what California and other states have done.

“We had 25 million dairy cows in the United States in 1950,” he said. “Today, we have 9 million, but with the 9 million today, we produce 60% more milk. That means the carbon footprint of a glass of milk between 1950 and today has decreased by two-thirds.”

Now, don’t get Mitloener wrong. He believes reducing methane and carbon emissions is necessary. He just wants the focus to be on the right industries.

“Instead of dealing with these mega-polluters, we are dealing with cow burps, and that’s just laughable,” he said.

So if you’ve given up meat to reduce your carbon footprint, go ahead pick up a t-bone, and maybe a gallon of milk too.

Local News

Washington vaccine mask mandates, wa verify...
Stephanie Klein

Vaccine verification to expand to small restaurants, bars in King County

Proof of vaccination will be required at small restaurants and bars in King County on Monday.
1 day ago
snow...
MyNorthwest Staff

Lowland snow possible as new system moves in over Puget Sound

Forecasters say another system rolling in Sunday night will bring temperatures that are on the borderline for snowy conditions.
2 days ago
Omicron...
Stephanie Klein

3 cases of Omicron found in Washington state

The Department of Health has confirmed there are three cases of Omicron in Washington state. 
2 days ago
Marysville...
Stephanie Klein

I-5 in Marysville reopens after police activity

Traffic was backed up for miles on northbound I-5 through Marysville for police activity Saturday morning.
2 days ago
Kshama Sawant recall, threatening emails...
Hanna Scott

Elections office fielding complaints from both sides over Sawant recall ballot

Voters in District 3 decide one of the biggest political decisions Seattle has faced in recent history when they choose whether to recall City Councilmember Kshama Sawant on Tuesday.
2 days ago
redistricting maps...
Nick Bowman

‘Chaotic, disorganized’ redistricting process faces criticism in wake of state court ruling

The state Supreme Court opted to allow late-arriving redistricting maps to move forward on Friday, concluding a process still mired in controversy.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Stop blaming cows for climate change