The Issue Between Cows and Climate Change

Now, what do we do with cows?

One of the biggest issues of our time, climate change is a crisis that should be talked about even more. Result of mass and fast production, demand and neglect, climate change is a problem that requires extensive action and it needs it soon as as possible.

Along every contributor we are widely aware of, we can name an another contributor to the climate crisis which is a group that sounds weird at first. Cows... But how and why?

Cattle are the No. 1 agricultural source of greenhouse gases worldwide. Each year, a single cow will belch about 220 pounds of methane. Methane from cattle stays for a shorter time in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, but it is 28 times more effective in warming it.

When it comes to livestock and climate change, there are many other characteristics that set biogenic methane (methane from cattle) apart from CO2. Here are an important four:

  • It stays in our atmosphere for about 12 years 
  • It’s derived from atmospheric carbon, such as CO2
  • It’s part of the biogenic carbon cycle
  • It eventually returns to the atmosphere as CO2, making it recycled carbon

Methane from fossil fuels doesn’t have all the same characteristics as biogenic methane. Aside from its short life span, fossil methane shares more traits with CO2 from fossil fuels in how it warms our planet, since it’s not derived from atmospheric carbon (it’s pulled from the earth) and is new to the atmosphere. It’s worth noting that methane emissions from fossil fuel extraction have been severely underestimated. We should certainly strive to reduce methane from all sources.

With climate change getting more and more effective each passing day, these facts have advocates urging the public to eat less beef. They contend it’s an unsustainable diet in a world with a population expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050.

Besides emitting greenhouse gases, another common criticism of beef production is that cows take up way too much land when it comes to mass production. Overgrazing those lands can degrade soil health and biodiversity. Yet researchers argue that, managed correctly, cows help restore healthy soils, conserve sensitive species and enhance overall ecological function. Proper cattle grazing management can even help mitigate climate change.

When proper practices are applied, almost every area in industry comes with positive effects to nature thus, future. We only have one life and one world to live in and taking care of it is our most important job. While it is impossible for one person to change the world, widely accepted and practiced proper habits create demand for more ethical and proper practices to be applied by corporations, in conclusion lead the way to a greener and more habitable world.