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Can Feeding Seaweed To Cows Help Fight Climate Change? Feeding cattle a small amount of a seaweed species found in Australia has been shown to reduce their methane emissions by up to 86 per cent.
Does seaweed reduce methane in cows? New research from the University of California, Davis found injecting seaweed into beef cattle’s diets could reduce methane emissions by as much as 82%. The UC Davis research shows adding just a bit of seaweed in cattle feed could have a dramatic impact. The researchers conducted the study over a five-month period.
Can we grow enough seaweed to help cows fight climate change? But a new study by UC Davis shows adding just one-to-two ounces of seaweed to their feed over five months, can rein in a huge source of that planet-warming pollution. By 2030, nearly all the cattle in the U.S. will be able to eat this seaweed,” Salwen said.
How does feeding cattle seaweed reduce methane? Cows that were fed the seaweed released 82 percent less methane into the atmosphere. A type of seaweed called Asparagopsis taxiformis counteracts emissions from cows by inhibiting an enzyme in the animal’s digestive system that contributes to the production of methane.
Methane is the second most abundant anthropogenic GHG after carbon dioxide (CO2), accounting for about 20 percent of global emissions. Methane is more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.
Methane has more than 80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere. Even though CO2 has a longer-lasting effect, methane sets the pace for warming in the near term. At least 25% of today’s warming is driven by methane from human actions.
One of the possible ways to limit methane emissions from cows is by feeding them the seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis. This seaweed contains high concentrations of bromoform, a substance that counteracts the formation of methane in the cow’s rumen.
During 2019, about 60% (360 million tons) of methane released globally was from human activities, while natural sources contributed about 40% (230 million tons). Human consumer waste flows, especially those passing through landfills and wastewater treatment, have grown to become a third major category (18%).
“We now have sound evidence that seaweed in cattle diet is effective at reducing greenhouse gases and that the efficacy does not diminish over time,” said Ermias Kebreab, professor and Sesnon Endowed Chair of the Department of Animal Science and director of the World Food Center.
Many plant secondary compounds such as tannins, saponins or essential oils have been shown to directly reduce methanogens and hydrogen production in the rumen. Some oils such as linseed, coconut, garlic and cotton oil are considered to be amongst the most effective additives for methane mitigation.
Ruminants are the principal source of livestock methane emissions because they produce the most methane per unit of feed consumed.
Methane (US: , UK: ) is a chemical compound with the chemical formula CH4 (one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen). It is a group-14 hydride and the simplest alkane and is the main constituent of natural gas.
Cows may still belch, but farmers are producing more with fewer cows. Herds are down but we’re producing more dairy and beef than ever. That’s helping to drive down greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane.
The largest source of anthropogenic methane emissions is agriculture, responsible for around a quarter of the total, closely followed by the energy sector, which includes emissions from coal, oil, natural gas and biofuels.
Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions. The most effective way to reduce CO2 emissions is to reduce fossil fuel consumption. Many strategies for reducing CO2 emissions from energy are cross-cutting and apply to homes, businesses, industry, and transportation.
If it is not destroyed in the troposphere, methane will last approximately 120 years before it is eventually destroyed in Earth’s next atmospheric layer: the stratosphere. Destruction in the stratosphere occurs the same way that it does in the troposphere: methane is oxidized to produce carbon dioxide and water vapor.
Disadvantages: It is a main contributor to global warming. It is very dangerous to the human body, high enough concentrations in the air can result in suffocation of air breathing creatures.
China is the world’s largest contributing country to CO2 emissions—a trend that has steadily risen over the years—now producing 10.06 billion metric tons of CO2.
Electricity and Heat Production (25% of 2010 global greenhouse gas emissions): The burning of coal, natural gas, and oil for electricity and heat is the largest single source of global greenhouse gas emissions.
There are many species of red seaweed in the North Atlantic and New England waters, but three species are commonly seen along the shoreline of Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island: polysiphonia, red ceramium, and gracilaria. Polysiphonia is the most common genus of red seaweed.
In addition, professional grading and consumer tests found the seaweed supplements had no effect on the quality or taste of the meat. “Compared to how much the animals eat daily, the amount of seaweed we give them isn’t all that much a day,” Kebreab said. “So it’s not enough to make any impact in terms of flavor.”
Most scientists have focused on one red seaweed species —asparagopsis taxiformis — which thrives in tropical and sub-tropical climates. While asparagopsis can be found in Southern California, its habitat in the U.S. is relatively small since it’s a warm-water species.
I am often asked how carbon dioxide can have an important effect on global climate when its concentration is so small – just 0.041 percent of Earth’s atmosphere. And human activities are responsible for just 32 percent of that amount. I study the importance of atmospheric gases for air pollution and climate change.
Seaweed contains enzymes that break down the indigestible sugars that cause gas formation. Most seaweed contains high levels, and a person may consume too much if they eat a lot of seaweed over an extended period.
Seaweed grows in or near salty waters. There are several types, and they generally contain many healthful minerals that are easy for the body to break down. Adding seaweed to the diet may help with thyroid function, digestive health, and weight loss.