Can the Way We Raise Cattle be a Climate Change Solution?

May 19, 2016

Cattle raising is often cited as a climate villain, but does it have to be?
Certainly the the huge factory farm operations have negative environmental impacts, but there might be another way.

There is a movement toward regenerative agriculture out there, which maintains that proper cattle management can be a carbon sequestering, soil building activity, much as it was when 50 million buffalo roamed over this continent. Something I hope to look into in the future.
Bud Ward briefs us.

Yale Climate Connections:

North Carolina farmer Suzanne Nelson has this thing about farming as a regenerative rather than an extractive business.

She also has a thing for cows.

Nelson says people should do what they love doing. For her, “for whatever reason, I love cows. I loved cows before I knew I loved cows.”

She says she now tends to Jersey dairy cows, St. Croix sheep, heritage pigs, laying hens, meat chicken, and, seasonally, turkeys. Cows, she believes, “are the only animal that can live on one acre and make four acres fertile.” She sees properly managed pastured livestock as “our number one antidote to climate change,” helping, with a boost from legumes and soil microbes, boost soil fertility and keep carbon in the soils and not excessively in the atmosphere.

A nine-year Carolina farmer, Nelson says in a four-minute video produced by the University of North Carolina’s Institute for the Environment that extreme weather events appear to be getting more extreme, summer droughts longer and worse. She’s trying to counter those trends on her 400-acre Haw River Ranch in Saxaphaw, in north-central North Carolina.

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35 Responses to “Can the Way We Raise Cattle be a Climate Change Solution?”


  1. It surely can help. What I am uncomfortable with are the claims of people like Allan Savory who feel that doing this can reverse the effects of fossil fuel emissions. That, to me, is a kind of “liberal climate denier” stance which appeals to people who want to “heal the planet” in a way that means they don’t have to change their incredibly impactful lifestyles.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Every little bit surely can “help”, but this is just another pie-in-the-sky for those in denial of the real problem—-7-1/2 billion people and fossil fuel emissions that are so far out of control that the planet is likely beyond help.

      I would also love to hear the “science” behind her “a cow is the only animal that can live on one acre and make four acres fertile” claim. I must have missed something in all those science classes I took.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        “I would also love to hear the “science” behind her “a cow is the only animal that can live on one acre and make four acres fertile” claim”

        Yes, I am doubtful it is the only animal. For example, Russel Cook lives in his own mind – a place so small as to be a tiny fraction of a millionth of an acre, yet he produces enough bullsh*t to fertilize vast prairies.

      • addledlady Says:

        I _think_ but I can’t be sure of course, but I _think_ she’s talking about the farming version of Savory’s rather daft notions in his TED talk about huge herds of cattle, wildebeest and their relatives constantly moving, and replicating that all over the world. (Once he suggested Australia as suitable for this treatment, I instantly wrote him off as just a crank. In fact he’s not quite that bad, but he’d do better to stick to his African last and talk only about what he knows directly.)

        It’s just about dividing your hundred acre paddock into 4 or 5 smaller paddocks and shifting the animals once you see the grass lose half it’s height above ground. (Don’t quote me on this, I’ve only seen this video once.) And not letting them back onto the grass until it’s fully recovered that growth. It’s all about maximising available feed at the same time as increasing the amount of root growth per plant – and thereby increasing biological activity within/beneath the soil surface and never, _never_ allowing the grass cover to get thin enough to allow direct sunlight, UV, to kill the microbes that keep the process going. Thereby progressively increasing the amount of vegetable matter and bugs and other critters and, obviously, carbon held in the soil.

        So “live on one acre and make four acres fertile” means that the cattle in question only ever occupy one acre at a time, but farm management moves them on to different acres on a regular basis.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGLCb9Z6y7w (It’s long but generally OK.)

        If you’re raising cattle or running a dairy herd on a smaller basis, you can augment this process by having mobile chicken coops following the cattle.
        http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2015/s4219126.htm

  2. Gingerbaker Says:

    “Certainly the the huge factory farm operations have negative environmental impacts, but there might be another way.”

    Huge factory farms are also quite resource-efficient compared to smaller operations. Their negative environmental impacts are hugely overblown – but, yes, they DO have negative environmental impacts. As does vegetable farming. And kittens. And 7 billion people.

    At least we eat cattle and pigs and chickens. And use their body parts to make hundreds of useful products that would need to be replaced by synthetic versions that would almost certainly result in a net increase in environmental effects. And humans have to eat.

    What we don’t have to do is burn carbon to make our cars and stoves and hairdryers and industrial equipment work. That is the ball we need to keep our eyes on.


    • Industrial farming methods are a product of the fossil fuel age and will hopefully be relegated to the history books along with FF. Small, grass fed operations are far more energy efficient to the farm gate!

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        All beef cattle are grass fed. What you call “industrial” farming is the grain-using finishing off months of the animals lives – which is done most efficiently at big cattle operations. For most of their lives, these (all) cattle were munching grass on “Small, grass fed operations”.


  3. Need maths. It is true that desertification can go as far as being reversed by populating with large scrub/grass eating animals. But agricultural cows on fertile land is another matter.

    A cow can lock a certain amount more of CO2 in the land than no cow. But a cows guts also contain billions of methane producing microbes, that the cow belches everyday throughout the day.

    So the question is whether the amount of extra carbon a cow can lock into the ground, that would have to be maximized at a certain level, is less than the methane the cow can burp throughout its lifetime.

    Cattle are more beneficial if they move around arid land turning it fertile and lush then moving on. That scenario would more likely have a proper impact on atmospheric CO2.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      “So the question is whether the amount of extra carbon a cow can lock into the ground, that would have to be maximized at a certain level, is less than the methane the cow can burp throughout its lifetime.”

      No, it is more complicated than that. Methane is produced when grass and grain, and other organics rot. It is part of the natural carbon cycle. Cows belch methane, yes. If the cows are not there, bison or deer will be producing methane. Rotting grasses produce some. If the cows are not there, then we have to revise the carbon debt figures to include carbon released to make synthetic leather, bone meal, glue, meat, etc etc. And then you have to account for vegetables to be grown there as well, which also have their carbon and methane counts.

      Almost all beef cattle are raised on grasslands that will not support agriculture, so this is all moot anyway. Dairy cattle tend to be raised near arable land, but we shouldn’t talk about that because that is really a small-scale organicky situation which everybody likes too much to criticize.

      The fact is that the entire U.S. agricultural sector – including all meat production – makes up about 8.1% of GHG emissions. [ http://unfccc.int/files/ghg_emissions_data/application/pdf/usa_ghg_profile.pdf ]

      Meat production: Not 51%. Not 18%. Not 13%. A fraction of 8.1 % of GHG production.


      • Half of New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions are from agriculture, namely dairy cows, recognised by the IPCC.

        There are about 7 million cows in the country, all with billions of microbes in each of their stomachs. They are machines that break down grass quickly and the bi product is methane gas. If there were 7 million less dairy cows (they are bred to be efficient methane producing machines), those microbes just would not be living in the ground in the main part.

        Most new dairy farms here have been converted from harvested forests. There’s a point where a land owner can decide whether to regrow a forest or convert to dairy. The incentive is to convert.

        One industry locks up carbon, the other emits methane.

        Beef cows might be a little different. Same with other animals.

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          “Half of New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions are from agriculture, namely dairy cows, recognised by the IPCC.”

          Do you have a reference for such a statement?

          As I pointed out, there are plenty of people throwing around plenty of statistics – such as the one that says half of GHG emissions are due to livestock. But they simply do not hold water.

          There is an infamous documentary called Cowspiracy, which also throws out that 51% figure. Read through this comment thread and decide who seems to have the more informed opinions:

          https://www.quora.com/How-accurate-is-the-movie-Cowspiracy

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Too lazy to do a little googling, GB? There’s a lot of info out there and it’s easy to find. NZ does an excellent job of gathering and reporting data. Here’s one summary document that is comparatively quick and easy.

            http://www.mfe.govt.nz/sites/default/files/media/Climate%20Change/national-inventory-snapshot-2014.pdf

            Damian may have made a slightly misleading statement with “…namely dairy cows” which isn’t true, but the “half of New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions are from agriculture” IS pretty much correct—mainly methane (from sheep as well as cows), and if you add in the nitrous oxide from fertilizer use, you get numbers around and even over 50%. We should also try to figure in the loss of CO2 sequestration when NZ forests are cut to make pastureland for the ever-increasing herds of dairy cattle (and NZ produces more than four times as much milk as is consumed in the country—how do we count the emissions produced by processing and shipping those dairy products out of the country? globalization anyone?)

            As I’ve said before, it’s all navel gazing, and an attempt at avoidance of some real truths on your part.

            (PS What are the dates for your June trip to Charlottesville?)


          • dumboldguy is correct, I should not have said ‘namely’ dairy cows, that was the wrong word.

            Here’s the figures from the Ministry for the Environment: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/climate-change/reporting-greenhouse-gas-emissions/latest-2020-net-position

            I suppose I’m trying to say that New Zealand has the largest methane emission rate, six times the global average, and over the past decades there has been increased dairy conversion. The situation is well measured here.

            My original argument over yours does not change. Methane producing microbes exist in cows stomachs. Dairy cows eat nice green grass from lush fertile pastures. It is obvious that we can’t lock up more carbon in these paddocks by cows, but if we double the amount of cows we are going to double the amount of methane emission.

            If you argue this, then you’re basically saying that an entire country is experiencing a serious con from the IPCC…….. which is kinda possible when you think about the vacuous yet devious politicians here……… but it’s a really really big long shot…… is this what you are saying?


          • Oh yeah, nearly forgot. I remember reading more than once that New Zealand and America have partnered up in some capacity to reduce or stop bacteria and methanogens acting in ruminant animals. They’ll be sources somewhere on the internet.

            The obvious idea is that if a solution was found then many animals around the world could become carbon (equivalent) neutral. If however you placed them on marginal land and that land became lush because of the animals (that don’t burp methane), then those animals would be carbon negative, they would be sequestering greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere.

            So these animals could be part of a climate solution, but first through developing the right technology, and then by managing them on the right land. Like I said, move them around.

          • Gingerbaker Says:

            So, half of emissions are from total agriculture, not just livestock, not just cattle, not just dairy or beef cows. And I still don’t believe that this statistic gives an accurate assessment.

            Because, yes, methane-producing bacteria live in the stomachs of ruminants. But they also live in the soil – hence why when permafrost thaws, methane starts getting produced and released.

            The grasses these cows munch, if cows are gone, will also produce GHG’s when they rot. But your statistic does not subtract that figure, which is absurd. One-time deforestation to make pasture gets counted for a statistic that gets repeated without amendment year after year. Sound accurate?

            And nitrous oxide is larger than livestock methane figure (which is not corrected, as I said, for the natural breakdown of biomass), not the other way around.

            So, when we see bad analyses of U.S. livestock GHG contributions @ 51% and how that gets corrected to a fraction of the 8.1% total agricultural figure – but then we see New Zealand agricilutural total at 51% we should be very skeptical of the figure and not blithely present it as a livestock figure as a fact recognized by the IPCC, OK?

            This is my point – the official AND the nonofficial reporting of GHG emissions and environmental stress contributions of the meat industry are a mess – corrected figures are WAY less than many breathless yet official reports. When you see enormous percentages of GHG production or water use associated with non third-world agriculture and livestock you can pretty much assume the books have been cooked. (Not so with subsistence farming in parts of Brasil and Indonesia, btw)

            => Be skeptical.

            Besides – this is food we are talking about. Not a choice to burn fossil fuels when an EV car is a viable option.

            I am repeating myself at this point.


          • Whereas it is necessary to get to ZERO CARBON EMISSIONS in order to contain climate disruption (CO2 increases as long as there are emissions faster than oceans and lands can sink it, principally oceans, and that takes a long, long time), and

            Whereas people on the planet still want to eat, and

            Whereas agriculture will still emit CH4 and CO2 even if all tractors and transport are electric, presently to the tune of 3 GtC per annum or so,

            Therefore, achieving zero Carbon emissions will demand some kind of negative emissions technology to be deployed, at least to offset the contribution of agriculture.

            I think Klaus Lackner’s ideas have a bright future.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Not to be too cynical, but it’s I think it’s Klaus Lackner and not his ideas that have a “bright future”. He now has a job for life pursuing carbon capture, a concept that appears to be very bright-sided and not very promising. This four year old piece by Lackner is not really out of date, and shows that he himself realizes the problems with CCS are huge.. (IMO, insurmountable and begun far too late)
            http://www.pnas.org/content/109/33/13156.full

            To go into full cynical mode, Lackner has landed at an “institute” at ASU, which seems to be more and more a place that is ruled by “bright ideas” (and opportunities for publicity and funding), to say nothing of offering a huge number of “on-line” degrees. I’m a bit old-fashioned, and think people should have to “go to school” to be properly educated.

            ASU is one of the main centers for the study and teaching of Biomimicry, remember, IMO a competitor with Solar Roadway for scam of the year.


          • Solar roadways, “scam of the year”?

            https://hypergeometric.wordpress.com/2016/02/14/france-to-pave-1000km-of-road-with-solar-panels/

            I don’t think there’s any more realistic option for managing CO2 than Lackner’s, and to the degree Wally Broecker agrees with him, that gives Lackner plenty of creds to me.

            Lackner might combine his capture with local Urey reactions and, so, not need any sequestration deep in the ground or anywhere else.

            And Ray Pierrehumbert talks in his Principles of Planetary Climate from time to time on how solar activated rocks might accelerate Urey reactions and very effectively sequester CO2 in situ.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Yes, Solar roadways, are indeed the “scam of the year” as a viable contribution to fighting AGW, if not the decade, and the French have proven themselves to be the biggest suckers of all, far exceeding the Dutch with their solar bikeway, and the folks in the U.S. who have given $2+ million to that nice couple in Idaho.

            There may not be any MORE realistic option for managing CO2 than Lackner’s, and the fact that Wally Broecker agrees with him may be proof of that, since Wally is one who “gets it”. That doesn’t give Lackner “plenty of creds”, though, but just makes him somebody who has some better but likely unworkable, too little, too late type ideas. Like the guy on the Titanic who said “Maybe we shouldn’t have been going so fast” or the guy on the Hindenburg who says “Maybe be we shouldn’t use hydrogen”. Captain Obvious at the wheel.

            “Lackner MIGHT combine his capture with LOCAL Urey reactions and, so, not need any sequestration deep in the ground or anywhere else”. Uh-huh.

            “Ray Pierrehumbert talks on how solar activated rocks MIGHT accelerate Urey reactions and VERY effectively sequester CO2 in situ”. Yup.

            I won’t go OT here and talk about how pigs MIGHT one day fly or how Donald Trump MIGHT make a wonderful president of the U.S, other than to say that Urey reactions and other planetary processes evolved over billions of years, didn’t always work that well (resulting in some planetary disasters and mass extinctions), and that we have turned the whole process upside down by our massive burning of fossil fuels over the past 150 years. Read Dumanoski’s The End of the Long Summer for an excellent review of those planetary processes and how we’ve short-circuited them.


          • Well, you can be as cynical as you like, but at least Lackner is on the proper side of doing geoengineering. Sure, it would be a huge scale-out. The Institute of Physics has put a price tag on it. Lackner thinks the price is perhaps 2x too high. But I agree with you, this is the wrong way ’round: Mitigation by getting onto zero Carbon energy is in the end less expensive. But it isn’t the first time. Europe (primarily Germany and Norway) had a dalliance with Carbon Sequestration and Storage (CCS) which, at scale, was more expensive than going to full renewables, but, oh boy, retained the possibility of still doing coal, even if 40% or so more needed to be burned to make up for the inefficiencies CCS imposed. Norway abandoned their experiment.

            But, to ridicule this is ignoring what’s being proposed. People are seriously beginning to consider doing solar radiation management, essentially spraying a fine mist of sulphuric acid at altitude to serve as incoming sunlight scatter, in order to directly affect radiative forcing.

            https://www.technologyreview.com/s/511016/a-cheap-and-easy-plan-to-stop-global-warming/

            http://www.nap.edu/catalog/18988/climate-intervention-reflecting-sunlight-to-cool-earth

            There are lots and lots reasons why this is a bad idea, things I’ve heard from atmospheric scientist after atmospheric scientist. Yet, the recently proposed Senate energy bill had language for funding into this:

            http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/04/fight-global-warming-senate-calls-study-making-earth-reflect-more-light

            And the UNFCCC implicitly affirmed this was a direction with which they would be comfortable.

            And here are some links about why it might be a bad idea, at various levels of technicality:

            http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/02/nrc_geoengineering_report_climate_hacking_is_dangerous_and_barking_mad.html

            http://grist.org/climate-energy/more-research-into-geoengineering-is-not-such-a-hot-idea/

            http://www.pbs.org/newshour/making-sense/cheap-controversial-solution-climate-change/

            So, laugh all you want at Lackner’s proposals or Urey reactions, but, as SRM is considered “cheaper”, you may want to redirect your ridicule.


          • Oh Gingerbaker, you’re repeating yourself at this point? Could it be because you miss the point?

            Writing in bold screams for reply: ‘hence why when permafrost thaws, methane starts getting produced and released’ (in point that micbrobes exist in soil, not just cows stomachs).

            Great point Gingerbaker. You couldn’t make a better one to explain the reverse of your argument. The more the Arctic Circle warms, the more microbes become active and spew greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. The more cows stomachs there are, the more methane will be burped into the atmosphere. Both forms of micbrobe activity should be avoided.

            Fantastic point mate. Even though permafrost has about as much to do with stomachs or New Zealand green grass, as a cow has to do with a Russian jet fighter, it’s all to do with the amount of active microbes working in the system, and no, thinking there are anything like those micbrobes living in lush grass when it ‘rots’ as there is in the stomachs of cows is plain silly. The lifecycle of grass is part of the carbon cycle. The carbon cycle is not known to have an accumulative behaviour. You’re confused.

            And even though we’re ‘repeating ourselves at this point’, I don’t appreciate you challenging the reality in this country. We went to Paris proposing to increase our greenhouse gas emissions at a time the government plans to intensify the dairy cow sector, the backbone of our economy. 7 million cows and counting, 5 million or so people. I’ve got over a cow adding to my carbon equivalent footprint, and I expect 2 before too long.

            I was joking when I asked you if you thought we were on the receiving end of a great con from the IPCC. Looks like you weren’t.

  4. dumboldguy Says:

    Here we are again—-it’s navel gazing of the highest order (the Greeks called it Omphaloskepsis) to be talking about cows burping and crapping and “industrial agriculture—it’s meaningless in the context of runaway AGW and the whole planet going to hell in an eye-blink of geologic time. Stop, already!

    Now reading another real eye-opener of a book by Alan Weisman, author of “The World Without Us”, a terrific book I have touted here before. This one is “Countdown: Our Last Best Hope For a Future on Earth”, Little Brown, 2013.

    It’s all about human population dynamics and how humans impact the biosphere (and respond to it). Weisman visits 20 countries and examines how the human societies interact with the environment there. I’ve read only the sections on Iran, Libya, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Niger so far, but it’s clear that the real problem on this planet is too many humans and our inability to focus on anything but our own narrow self interest (as expressed through the capitalist model, economic growth, and “profit”).

    Climate change and overpopulation is destroying agriculture at every level in so many places, and dragging human societies down with it. Niger is a textbook case—-the Sahara is creeping ever southward into the Sahel, and the resulting loss of forage and lack of water is causing the Nigeriens to sell off their cattle—-no worries about “cow burps” there. Drought and water issues are expected to impact more than 1/2 the world’s population before long, and many of those folks will have never seen a live cow.


    • Sure on the cows, but I would leave everyone on the planet apart from the wealthiest 10% out of the condemnation. That wealthiest 10% includes every one of us, and our carbon-intensive self-indulging lifestyles. That 10% is responsible, through their travel, heating, cooling, commuting, and buying, 50% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

      Before talking about overpopulation and all else, I’d like to see that 10% reduce their emissions by half or more.

      First things first.

      • Gingerbaker Says:

        I find it hard to blame myself for the situation of the world.

        I was born in New England, and have lived here all my life. I live in an automobile-based societal architecture not of my design. My home is old, difficult to insulate properly, and uses natural gas for heat. I’ve done reasonable amounts of caulking, and keep the place cooler in winter and warmer in summer than I would prefer. I use my car only occasionally, turn off light switches like a maniac. I eat meat and smoke tobacco and drink whiskey and, although I do realize that I am part of the human collective who is to blame, I don’t feel personally guilty at all about AGW.

        Because that is not MY job, it is the job of our governments. I suppose if I have a job, it is to spend time on-line trying to get people to demand more action from their governments, and to demand more egalitarianism and common cause in our energy future.

        I don’t feel guilty about having a “self-indulgent” lifestyle – I call it a decent lifestyle, and would think that every person on the planet should live as well or better. I would like to see our energy systems revamped so all could enjoy a decent lifestyle without emitting carbon. But, for me, GHG reduction should come about through improved technology, not through a regression of my living standards toward the mean.

        The very idea that, in a world where we are bathed in a billion-fold excess of harvestable energy, that humans should suffer energy deprivation in the name of environmentalism seems absurd. Carbon, not comfort, is the enemy.


        • Governments can no longer do it as quickly as we need. Could have done so if started by 1990-1995, and the failure to do that is a combination of Clinton and the Republican House. It was possible to do it thereafter, but it would hurt economically, and there’s no stomach for that, at almost any level. Relying upon governments now is effectively giving up.

          Sankey efficiencies (see https://hypergeometric.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/what-it-takes-to-power-a-light-bulb-and-sankey-diagrams/) mean that cutting demand for energy is the single biggest thing we all can do. In fact, part of the untold story of residential photovoltaic solar is that because most of the energy is consumed near where it is generated, whether in the home or by non-solar homes nearby, it is vastly more effective in terms of recurring cost per KWh than even utility scale wind or solar. That’s not figured into things like “levelized cost of energy” (LCoE) such as Lazard’s otherwise excellent analysis: https://www.lazard.com/media/2390/lazards-levelized-cost-of-energy-analysis-90.pdf

          Kevin Anderson puts the question in perspective:

          No matter. What was once government responsibility is being pursued by corporations and the marketplace, partly out of self-interest and self-protection, partly because in the displacement of the present energy hegemony there is lots of money to be made. The disruption will hurt, as market disruptions do, resulting in the unemployment of hundreds of thousands, and new jobs in unforeseen areas. There will be new markets and businesses because the cost for energy in the new energy world will be more consistent and much lower than it was with fossil fuels, and that predictability will result in greater productivity, both worker and fiscal. Had government gotten the religion earlier, the landing would have been softer. Alas.

          It’s possible to switch, that is, to retrofit. We have. And we aren’t stopping there. We had someone over for another energy audit today to reduce our energy use below our annual generation of solar energy.

          And if someone wants to follow the story, see http://hypergeometric.wordpress.com.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        The 10% and their “life style” are definitely the proximate cause of what has happened in the most recent decades, but ALL humans are contributing to the problem—-there simply being too many of us. Many peoples in the developing world have little choice, and are doing what they need to do to survive.

        That, however, does not excuse the Nigeriens (Muslims) where the men all want their allotted 4 wives and expect them to each bear 10 or 11 children, or the Filipinos (Catholic) who have overpopulated their countries to the point that they are exceeding the carrying capacity of their land.

        Read “Countdown” and perhaps you will better understand the big picture—-it is NOT to be found in the fact that Germany “this” or Denmark “that” or electric cars “the other”.

        If we wait to see the 10% reduce their emissions by 50% or more, it will be too late—-it’s not going to happen soon enough. Read this to see one reason why not:
        http://e360.yale.edu/feature/reduce_co2_emissions_shipping_aviation_regulation_paris/2995/


      • hypergeometric, There is no first things and second things. Look at Syria, where drought and exploding farmer population (plus a million refugees from Iraq) multplied each other in impact. The carrying capacity (local and global) is no longer simply finite. Nope, the mysterious exponential function is now approaching a wall that accelerates toward us. Local crashes already happening. Paradigm Syria. Now imagine climate refugee millions breaking he back of a camel shortnamed Carrying capacity. … And when the oil runs out, subsidizing imported food gets difficult (e.g. Egypt)… Oh, which reminds me of the Boko Haram terrorist group which recruits lots of population overshoot youth…

    • addledlady Says:

      “Niger is a textbook case—-the Sahara is creeping ever southward into the Sahel,”

      But there are also occasional encouraging things in this region. I just love this bloke’s talk about his “forestry” project in Niger. Didn’t plant a single tree, used a $2 pocket knife, and the resulting 5-15 million hectares of forest/ woodland/ tree cover is visible from space. In desertified environments, he argues that there are invisible or underground forests. Trees which are constantly ploughed over, cut or burned because of a combination of misguided government policies, unfortunately stubborn – hidebound – foresters and agricultural advisers and the resulting damaging practices of impoverished farmers. There are similar encouraging projects everywhere from Mali, Senegal to Ethiopia, Rwanda and beyond.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dm_qlyvdZ_A (A terrible video btw, but the talk is good.)

      If you want to see seriously spectacular reforestation and regenerative agriculture, try China.

  5. SmarterThanYourAverageBear Says:

    One thing that has show promise in reducing methane emissions is the addition of Oregano to their diet.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Yes, oregano has been shown to do that, and it’s laughable. If we should try to do that, we can add it to the dosing of cattle with growth hormones, antibiotics, and vaccines, as well as the feeding of “unnatural” foods and intensive feed lot farming that the “smarter than the average bears” have come up with to override the way cattle and the environment have evolved over time. All for the sake of “profit” and greed.

      The “smarter than the average bears” in agriculture, just like their contemporaries in so many fields of human endeavor, are using technology to override Nature, and Nature is in the warmup circle swinging her bat and getting ready to knock us out of the ball park.

      PS My favorite “app” for oregano was back in the 1970’s when the drug dealers were fleecing high school kids by selling them oregano instead of marijuana. When we caught the kids with bagfuls, it was fun to see their faces when we tested it and told them it wasn’t MJ—-they were simultaneously relieved that they weren’t “busted” and angry that they had been ripped off—sorry I didn’t take pictures of their contortions.


  6. Actually, I’d go one step further — it would be even better if we all switched to a vegan diet!

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/jun/02/un-report-meat-free-diet

    I’m eating mostly plant-based foods these days and have never felt better. I’ve lost weight, I no longer suffer from Type 2 Diabetes and my cholesterol levels have gone from scary high to normal range. The fact that it’s good for the environment is icing on the cake.

    I also used to waste a lot of food, but there was an easy (albeit slightly tedious) solution to that: I now plan my meals and prepare a grocery list for when I shop, trying to buy as much local produce as possible.


  7. Interestingly enough, the 1 April 2016 issue of Science has an article documenting, as its title says, “A 21st-century shift from fossil-fuel to biogenic methane emissions indicated by {}^{13}\text{CH}_{4}“, by Schaefer, et al, 352(6281), the biogenic increase geing assigned to agriculture. I’ve skimmed but have not yet read the article.
    See http://science.sciencemag.org/content/352/6281/80.abstract

  8. Gingerbaker Says:

    OK, …. I admit I am a bit touchy about the leftist propaganda campaign against meat. Let me put it into perspective:

    The number one thing we can do to fight global warming is:

    getting rid of wetlands.

    Yup, we need to fill them in. Turns out they are the largest contributor to global methane release.

    We also need to get rid of rice farms – they’re huge!

    Lakes and wild fires are also gigantic sources. Let’s drain the lakes and cut down all that timber and put it into dry caves where it can’t rot or burn.

    And, oh yeah… stop eating beef. Because global warming.

    Problem solved./snark


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