Can using seaweed to feed cows help slow climate change? Scripps Oceanography scientist thinks so
Cows have become the latest culprits of global warming, scientists say. Seaweed, of all things, could help change that.
Cows emit a lot of methane, which is considered a big factor in climate change. Methane has a shorter shelf life than carbon dioxide but is much more potent in warming the atmosphere.
That’s why there is worldwide focus on reducing methane releases. Estimates vary, but more than half of all methane emissions in California come from cattle operations, primarily dairy cows, according to Inside Climate News.
Some advocates have been calling for the world’s populations to be weaned off beef and dairy products, which would reduce the population of cows.
But Americans show no sign of giving up meat, though consumption has been declining. Meanwhile, demand for meat is rising in developing countries.
Scientists at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla and at UC Davis and the University of New Hampshire are researching ways to make cows — and livestock in general — more environmentally sound. One way to do that is to make their high-fiber diets easier to digest.
A particular type of seaweed has delivered big results, according to Jennifer Smith, a professor of marine biology at Scripps.
Smith joined a UC Davis project to cultivate Asparagopsis taxiformis, a red seaweed used in the research. Smith said adding that to cow feed has reduced methane emissions 50 percent to 98 percent. The range results from variables such as how a given cow eats and the quality of the seaweed.
“We really do believe this is going to be one of the fastest ways of reaching methane reduction targets set by the Biden administration,” Smith said.
Cows have become the latest culprits of global warming, scientists say.
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