GERMANY, Bonn. A new assessment of methane emissions from livestock farming is widely supported by the scientific community, but the general media almost completely ignores this approach, says US scientist Dr Frank Mitloehner, professor and air quality specialist in the Department of Animal Sciences at the University of California.
The expert cites, among other things, scientific studies from Oxford University, where differences between biogenic methane from livestock farming and fossil methane from oil and gas were discussed. Chemically, it is the same, but the origin and climate impact are completely different, said Mitloeher.
Three main greenhouse gases are important for the climate: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). He added that CO2 and N2O are long-lived climate pollutants, whereas methane is a short-lived climate pollutant. Long-lived pollutants are emitted and remain in the atmosphere for a long time.
Methane, on the other hand, is broken down in the atmosphere within 10 years to C02, which is absorbed by plants. The carbon from the CO2 is then converted into carbohydrates in the plants - like cellulose. The cellulose starch is then again a component of the feed and is absorbed by cows or other animals. In this way, methane is in a continuous cycle that is balanced when livestock numbers are constant. So when there are constant livestock numbers, they do not add new extra carbon to the atmosphere. The carbon emitted by the animals in the form of methane is recycled carbon, said Mitloehner. This is a total change in the narrative surrounding livestock.