Bhhhrrrzzzt! The Sound Heard Round the World

The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 9 No. 4 • December 2006


Bhhhrrrzzzt!
The Sound Heard Round the World

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has released a report (“Livestock’s Long Shadow”) claiming that farm animals emit (bhhhrrrzzzt) nearly 20% of all greenhouse gases. They warn that by 2050 meat production will double, with a similar increase in dairy production, leading to increased flatulence accompanied by flatulence-induced global warming. Their figures show livestock responsible for 9% of carbon dioxide production, 40% of methane production, and 65% (gasp) of nitrous oxide emissions.

These figures are unreliable at best, attempts to incite fear and hasty international global controls (with the UN at the helm, of course) at worst. As sources of greenhouse gases and other factors affecting climate keep on being discovered,1–3 even if these were actually snapshot figures from some time ago (we have not seen their references and cannot comment), they are not snapshots of the current picture, which keeps changing dramatically.

Of course, ignoring inconvenient facts about published data on purported global warming is a cottage industry (a government-subsidized political agenda masquerading as science), dispensing to favored scientists billions of dollars a year in taxpayers’ money. Although a recent paper4 reported that there was a substantial cooling in the tropical Andes that coincided with glacial advances in Europe during the Little Ice Age (1250 to 1810), we keep reading news reports on climate research in Science and Nature that continue to refer to the Little Ice Age as a European (therefore, not global) phenomenon.

A final note on the supposed danger of livestock farts: When the American plains were covered by tens of millions of buffalo, there would have been the same gaseous emissions. Do you suppose those environmentalists now in an uproar at the UN about livestock would be as livid about wild animal parks or rewilded American plains filled with gas-emitting herbivores?

References

  1. Meskhidze and Nenes. Phytoplankton and cloudiness in the southern ocean. Science 314:1419-23 (2006). Phytoplankton blooms release large quantities of isoprene, which changes cloud condensation nucleation and acts as an organic aerosol, producing cooling.
  2. Methane quashes green credentials of hydropower. Nature 30 Nov 2006. Tropical hydroelectric dams shown to release large quantities of methane, some scientists argue greenhouse gas impact worse than that of a fossil-fuel power plant. (“The problem lies with the organic matter in the reservoir. Large amounts are trapped when land is flooded to create the dam . . . this matter decays to form methane and carbon dioxide.”) The article cites an energy policy expert (Danny Cullenward at Stanford University) suggesting that, if these estimates are correct, annual global methane emissions (which don’t include dams) need to be increased by one-fifth.
  3. The methane mystery. Nature 17 Aug 2006. Work by Frank Keppler, a geochemist at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany, and his colleagues, suggests that plants could account for up to 40% of total global methane emissions. Keppler promises further surprises, according to the article. Unpublished data from experiments carried out last year in Brazil revealed that some plant species release 4000 times more methane than others. Ed Dlugokencky, an atmospheric chemist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colorado, who oversees the methane part of a global air-sampling network, calls for more measurements and says, “You need to understand the entire greenhouse budget before you can start thinking about mitigating climate change.”
  4. Polissar et al. Solar modulation of Little Ice Age climate in the tropical Andes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103(24):8937-42 (2006).

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