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A New Cud to Chew
Seaweed Eating Cows Could Cool the Climate

The next big climate breakthrough could come to us not in the form of commercially scalable carbon-capture systems or cost-competitive solar or wind farms, but rather from the diet we feed our cows. Just as with humans, what we feed bovines affects how much methane they belch out, and researchers have found a new food that can nearly eliminate this sizable source of potent greenhouse gas emissions: seaweedCBC News reports:

[A] red seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis…reduces methane in cows burps and farts to almost nothing…The discovery, [researcher Rob Kinley] said, could be a “game changer” when it comes to global warming.

“Ruminant animals are responsible for roughly 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions globally, so it’s not a small number,” said Kinley, an agricultural research scientist now working at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Queensland, Australia.

“We’re talking numbers equivalent to hundreds of millions of cars.” Kinley thinks it could take anywhere from three to five years to get a commercial animal feed to market. He says the biggest challenge will be growing enough seaweed.

Following climate news can be tax anyone’s mental health. The constant barrage of doom and gloom is fatiguing at best and downright depressing at worst, and it gives the impression that there’s little we can do to avoid the consequences of a warming world.

That’s why it’s so important to highlight stories like this one, because as wide in scope and deep in complexity as the problem of climate change undoubtedly is, so too is our capacity to solve problems. In this case, a way to mitigate one of the largest source of global methane emissions was discovered by a farmer looking to cut the costs associated with feeding his herd. This happy accident could help mitigate one of the largest sources of global methane emissions—serendipitous to say the least.

Climate change is a real, scary threat, but we’re far from helpless before it. Keep that in mind the next time Chicken Little tells you the sky is falling.

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  • f1b0nacc1

    No, climate change is an unproven hypothetical, used as an excuse by the left to grab resources and power. If you are going to make an assertion, you need to prove it, not just pretend that an appeal to authority is sufficient.

    • Andrew Allison

      The climate is changing. The issues are what’s causing it (the AGW hypothesis lies in ruins after almost 20 yeas of negligible change despite an enormous increase in atmospheric CO2) and what we should be doing about it. When one considers that US emissions are already at 25-year lows, it’s obvious that we should be focusing on mitigating the ill-effects rather than pouring additional resources into emission reduction. The planet is warmer than it has been, sea levels are rising, and nothing we can do will stop it. Ergo, protect what we can, stop building and rebuilding in flood plains, etc.

      • Disappeared4x

        Good time to buy real estate in Siberia! and seaweed futures in Australia.

  • rheddles

    Climate change is a real, scary threat

    First snowflake of the season.

  • CaliforniaStark
  • JR

    While I’m all about things that do no harm, like making cows fart less, I’m deeply skeptical that it will have any effect on the climate whatsoever. Climate will do whatever it feels like, not consulting us, rudely enough.

  • Fat_Man

    Seriously, please stop.

  • rpabate

    Climate change a scary threat?

    I have a difficult time believing that a writer for The American Interest can be so clueless as regards the capture of climate science by the Progressive Left.

    Science as an institution is seriously broken. Today, many fields of science have been captured by the ideological Left and used to provide evidence for policies which they espouse. The climate change narrative is one such science. This is exactly what President Eisenhower warned about in his Farewell Address. The relevant passages are as follows:

    “Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

    In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

    Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

    That President Eisenhower was so very prescient is just amazing, because this is exactly what has happened.

    The rightful place of science is to provide evidence upon which policy decisions can be based, not what we have today, which are policies for which evidence is purchased (i.e., funded). This should be obvious to the scholars at TAI, but, apparently, it is not.

    That 97% of the world’s scientists endorse the idea that the warming caused by CO2 will be dangerous or catastrophic is nonsense. How did this number originate?

    John Cook of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, Australia et al did a search of the peer reviewed scientific literature published between 1991 and 2011, a period of 20 years, matching the topics “global climate change” and “global warming”. (Please note the words “dangerous” and/or “catastrophic” were not used in the search.) A total of 11,944 abstracts were found. Of those abstracts, 66.4% (7,931 abstracts) expressed no opinion as to whether any of the climate change or global warming was either anthropogenic or natural. Of those that had an opinion, 32.6% (3,893 abstracts) endorsed the view that the climate change or global warming was anthropogenic (it’s unclear whether the views expressed were a large or small anthropogenic impact), 0.7% (84 abstracts) rejected an anthropogenic cause, and 0.3% (36 abstracts) expressed uncertainty as to the cause.

    The abstracts expressing an opinion totaled 4,014 (rounded). So, 97% of the scientists in the world (presumably, since the search was not just Australia or the U.S., and neither President Obama nor the President of the Sierra Club provided any limiting guidance) is derived as follows: 3,893/4014 = 97%. Apparently, the 66.4% of scientists who did not express an opinion don’t count as scientists, nor do scientists whose area of expertise lies outside of climate science.

    This is the link to the President of the Sierra Club repeatedly using the 97% of world’s scientists meme during a Senate hearing.

    Suggested reading:

    “The Rightful Place of Science: Science on the Verge”, Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes Tempe, Arizona and Washington, D.C.

    “Truth Wars: The Politics of Climate Change, Military Intervention and Financial Crisis”, Peter Lee, Part I: Politics, Truth and Climate Change.

    “Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics and Politics of Climate Change”, Michael Hart.

    “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels”, Alex Epstein.

    “Climate Change The Facts”, Institute of Public Affairs, Melbourne, Australia

    I also recommend any if a number of articles by John Ioannidis about how corrupted medical and bioscience has become. I have a hard time thinking that the same has magically not happened in other fields of science as well.

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