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Cows may not be contributing to global warming

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
For a good long while people have been sort of down on cows. Many environmental experts and a few studies have noted that meat-free is greener since cows produce methane which can contribute to global warming. A new study though suggests that grass-fed cattle may actually be beneficial to the environment.
cows and global warming.jpg

Of course there's more to meat than methane issues. The study didn’t factor in carbon dioxide as soil erodes and it's still thought that red meat consumption should be reduced to help the planet but this new study may take some of the pressure off all those tree hugging cows ;)

Read the whole scoop.
 
post #2 of 2
The media has done a very poor job of covering this study.  The study specifically focuses on nitrous oxide emissions from grasslands that cattle graze on.  The previous theory was that grazing cattle increase nitrous oxide emissions from grasslands, but this study concluded they actually decrease these emissions.

Problem is, nitrous oxide from grasslands are about the least of livestock's contributions to global warming.  The biggest factor is through land use change, as our meat consumption is so high that we currently have about 1.3 billion cattle on the planet, which requires a lot of grassland.  So often land use is changed, for example forests cut down to make more pasture land.  This is especially a problem in Brazil with the Amazon rainforest.  You may recall there was a major bruhaha several years back when it was discovered that a lot of McDonald's beef came from cattle raised on former rainforest land.  McDonald's may have changed their practices, but it's still a major problem in Brazil and other South American countries.

Then of course there are the methane emissions through cow burps and dung.  This story actually mentions the methane emissions, but I'm not sure why.

Quote:
Previously, many environmental experts have exhorted people to cease eating red meat, arguing that the methane cows produce through their gas emissions contributes to global warming. This study, though, suggests that grass-fed cattle may actually be beneficial to the environment so long as the animals are free-range.

No, no, no.  The nitrous oxide and methane emissions are two completely separate issues.  Cattle may be beneficial in terms of nitrous oxide (except in some cases the land shouldn't have been grassland to begin with), but they're still a major source of methane.

Another example of the media screwing the pooch on a climate science story.
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