Greetings everyone and happy Green Tip Tuesday! It’s startin’ to really feel like spring out here, so break out your sunblock and your fastest looking glasses and get ready for some warm temps, soft snow, and good times all around. We’re going to go ahead and jump right into our Green Tip this week since it’s one I’m particularly excited about. Shout out to Big E for sending this idea our way!
Lately, it feels like I have been talking about cows a lot, so I am going to keep that trend going. As you all (should) know, from a previous Green Tip, cows, and all ruminants produce a lot of methane… like a lot. **Ruminants are animals (mammals) that have a complex and multi chambered stomach, which allows them to live on diets like grass and what not. The downfall of this digestive system is that it causes a lot of burping and farting (sorry mom) which is where the intensive methane release stems from.
Global ruminant livestock, like cows, sheep, oxen (and more) produce about 7 gigatonnes of methane, annually…. SEVEN GIGATONNES. Can we just talk about that for a second? Seven gigatonnes is 7 billion metric tons. I’ve never heard anything described in gigatonnes before, so that’s intense... This methane release makes up just under 15% of human induced greenhouse gas emissions.
With that all out on the plate, let’s talk about what’s being done to help mitigate this problem. As some suggest, we could simply stop eating beef and other ruminants, but that would literally be impossible at the rate we shove burgers down our faces these days. Thanks to science (science!) we have now found out that a simple solution to this extreme methane release could be as adding a dash of seaweed to livestock feed. “What? Seaweed? What do you mean? I don’t get this concept.” Again, thanks to science (science!) very, very smart people have discovered that certain types of seaweed contain enzymes, that when digested, essentially devour most of the methane that would be produced.
I know, I know. This sounds all too good to be true, but it is true, so get over it. One specific type of seaweed, Asparagopsis taxiformis, is a particular stand out. When added to sheep feed, only composing about 2% of the total feed, can reduce the methane production up to 70%. That’s crazy talk. Such a little amount of this seaweed can have such a huge impact, and as scientist De Nys says, comparatively, it’s like putting “a smattering of herbs to roasted chicken.” While this isn’t going to be the quick fix that we need to our massive methane problem, it is a small step we can take to become more sustainable.
Thank you so much for reading into this week’s Green Tip! If you’ve learned anything this week, it’s that you should always keep a little seaweed on you. That way if you see any cows you can sprinkle it on the area they are eating on and do your part. Think of it like carrying around dog treats for random dogs you pass by throughout your day…. Goodbye!