Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Plastic Backpack Bags Cow's Farts"


by Jaymi Heimbuch

Now here is something you’d think you’d only see on The Simpsons. And yet, here it is – scientists are testing out plastic backpacks the capture a cow’s gassy expulsions, to see if this can combat global warming. By capturing the methane expelled by cows, Argentine scientists hope that they’ll be better able to understand the impact the gas has on global warming. Considering that cow flatulence makes up over 30% of Argentina’s greenhouse emissions, and that methane is >23 times more heat-trapping than CO2, I can see why the scientists interested in pursing this. They’re also changing up cows’ diets to see if that helps them produce less gas, giving them clover and alfalfa rather than grain to help them produce as much as 25% less gas – kind of a major DUH thing to do considering cows are evolved to eat clover and alfalfa and not grain anyway, so a diet of grain is bound to give them a bit of indigestion.

Anyway, the backpacks don’t seem to bother the cows much, and we’ll have to wait and see the results of these odd tests – and wait to see if someone figures out how to run cars on the methane collected from feedlots…and, um, other sources. Personally, I say we all just eat less red meat and skip manufacturing yet more plastic or wasting time on selective breeding.However, I love the fact that cattle emissions is getting the attention it needs, and I won’t bash on this backpack much – and I won’t even get started on the long list of issues to using this on a large scale – because it’s likely not going to be a realistic solution to global warming anyway.