Sunday, April 7, 2013


By Julie Rahm
       Last week I wrote about cattle. As you recall, when using your mind, it is important to keep misinterpretations and misperceptions safely fenced. Like cattle, misunderstandings can stampede out of the corral and cause unintended challenges to your well-deserved happiness. I’ve had many conversations about keeping thoughts fenced. Inevitably, my conversations about the thoughts/cattle metaphor digressed to include cow flatulence! So in order to give the Pamlico News readers what they want I expose myself as a cow flatulence expert.
      Did you know agriculture is responsible for an estimated 14-percent of the world's greenhouse gases? Significant portions of those emissions come from methane. The contribution of methane to global warming is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. The world's 1.5 billion cows and billions of other grazing animals emit dozens of polluting gases, including lots of methane. According to the U.S. Food and Agriculture Organization, agricultural methane output could increase 60-percent by the year 2030.
      Cows emit a massive amount of methane through belching and flatulence. Statistics vary regarding how much methane the average dairy cow expels. Some experts say about 26 gallons to 53 gallons-per-day. While others say it is about 132 gallons-per-day. In any case, that's a lot of methane and an amount comparable to the pollution produced by a car in one day.
      Cows, goats, sheep and several other animals belong to a class of animals called ruminants. Ruminants digest their food in their stomachs instead of in their intestines, as humans do. Ruminants eat food, regurgitate it as cud and eat it again. Their stomachs are filled with bacteria that aid in digestion, but also produce methane.
      In New Zealand, where cattle and sheep farming are major industries, 34-percent of greenhouse gases come from livestock. A three-year study, begun in April 2007 by Welsh scientists, is examining if adding garlic to cow feed can reduce their methane production. The study is ongoing, but early results indicate that garlic cuts cow flatulence in half by attacking methane-producing microbes living in cows' stomachs. The researchers are also looking to see if the addition of garlic affects the quality of the meat or milk produced.
      Here in the United States, the University of New Hampshire has been awarded a $700,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to create a computer model that measures the amount of greenhouse gases an organic dairy farm produces and thus provide ways to cut those emissions. The study will focus on the waste streams at farms. Using the University’s own organic dairy farm as a testing ground, researchers will measure things like how spreading manure on pastures will affect the amount of greenhouse gases produced.
      Ultimately, I contend that politicians and “experts” produce a lot of verbal flatulence, or misinformation. Methane may be 23 times worse for greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide. However, verbal flatulence pollutes our minds and produces misperceptions that create much of the dysfunction evident in the world today! Avoid verbal flatulence by visiting me on Facebook at

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