Every year it becomes more and more apparent how much influence humanity has on the climate. While there are a few holdouts, most people are in agreement that we are the direct cause of the increase in global temperature. Everyone knows the cause, right? It’s all the CO2 we are putting into the air, from the cars on the road to the factories spewing out greenhouse gases.
However, there is another contributor to global warming that people rarely talk about, and it actually comes from livestock. You see, when livestock pass gas, they release methane into the air, which is also a large contributor to global warming.
Every year humanity is raising more and more livestock to meet our protein consumption needs, and if you’ve seen the documentary Cowspiracy, you know how devastating that can be to the environment. Not only does raising livestock play a role in damaging the world’s forests or oceans, the methane it produces is responsible for forty-four percent of all human-caused methane. This is a huge problem because methane is extremely good at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
In fact, methane is up to thirty-six times more efficient at trapping radiation than CO2. While methane doesn’t last in the atmosphere nearly as long as CO2, it is much more dangerous. There is two hundred percent more CO2 in our atmosphere than methane, yet methane contributes twenty-eight percent of the warming that CO2 contributes. All-in-all, twenty-five percent of the manmade global warming we are experiencing is caused by methane emissions.
Luckily, researchers in Australia may have found a possible solution to the amount of methane released by livestock. When a type of seaweed named Asparagopsis Taxiformis is added to livestock feed, it can reduce the amount of methane produced by up to seventy percent. In fact, only two percent of livestock feed needs to be made up of the seaweed in order to see a reduction in methane emissions.
By simply using this seaweed in livestock feed, we could cut up to seventy percent of the 3.1 gigatonnes of methane released into the atmosphere every year, which is roughly the same amount of emissions released by India, the fourth largest emissions emitter in the world, every year.
While this sounds like a simple fix, the reality is slightly more complicated. To produce enough of the seaweed to feed all of the livestock in the world it would take an area roughly 6,000 hectares in size. For comparison, a hectare is slightly larger than an international rugby field. It would take a huge amount of land to produce the required amount of seaweed, but the benefits would be immense and invaluable to the future of the earth.
While the best solution to our methane problem would be for mankind to stop eating meat and go vegan, let’s face it, that’s simply never going to happen. We love meat and we are going to keep eating it as a species. Asparagopsis Taxiformis could be a real solution to this problem that could make a huge difference in the fight against global warming.