Feeding Cows Seaweed Could Help Save The World
When you hear the term "global warming," you probably picture a freeway packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic, the commuters collectively belching a cloud of deadly gas directly up Mother Nature's nostrils. The fact of the matter, however, is that transportation emissions account for just 14 percent of human-made greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of which are totally worth it though.
As a point of comparison, agriculture is responsible for much more -- nearly a quarter of said emissions, all told. In fact, livestock alone is responsible for at least 14.5 percent of the planet-baking gases being released worldwide, and you know what they say: You can lead a man to a Prius, but asking him to give up prime rib is a good way to get a motherfucker shanked.
See, modern livestock are fed a grain-based diet that, while efficient, results in greatly increasing the animals' gas production. The animals simply didn't evolve to efficiently digest such a rich diet, and this results in the continuous release of methane, which has as much as 36 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, demand for meat, while stable in the developed world, is steadily increasing in developing countries -- there are now 1.5 billion cows on earth.
And much like your trucker-hat-loving uncle whom you only see at Thanksgiving dinner, the burps and farts of our livestock are spoiling the environment for everyone.
The solution isn't metric shit-tons of Beano, but it's close. Australian researchers discovered a species of seaweed (Asparagopsis taxiformis, which sounds like a spell Harry Potter would cast to make Voldemort's pee smell bad) that, when fed to livestock in amounts as little as two percent of their diet, almost magically slashes the animals' methane production by 50 to 70 percent.
If any nation was going to figure out how to harness farts for the common good it was going to be Australia.