Narrative on Methane Produced by Cattle is Changing

Published: Sep. 5, 2019 at 7:16 AM CDT
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The anti-animal agriculture movement began by arguing for animal rights and animal welfare, then moved to food safety, and now the major argument being used is the carbon footprint, but in the scientific community the story surrounding methane as a greenhouse gas in changing. Frank Mitloehner is a Professor and Air Quality Extension Specialist with the Animal Science Department at UC-Davis.

“As we speak, we are changing the entire narrative around greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases are actually the Achilles Heel of livestock. This is what it’s all about these days. How much methane comes from beef and so on, and that’s where the notion comes from that we either stop eating beef or the world comes to an end. The world will not come to an end.”

Mitloehner says that scientists have learned that methane is drastically different than other greenhouse gases in so far as the other greenhouse gases are long lived.

“Things like carbon dioxide, stuff coming out of the tail pipe of your car. Once it’s in the air, it’s up there for a thousand years. And our critics say, well look methane is even more potent than CO2. Twenty-eight times more potent in trapping heat from the sun. That’s true. But what these people don’t say is that this methane does not stay in the air for a thousand years like CO2, but for ten years. For ten years.”

Mitloehner explains that short life span of methane changes the entire narrative.

“Because what that means is that the same amount of methane that’s produced every year is being destroyed because there are chemical processes in the atmosphere that destroy methane. That’s not the case with CO2. That story is not being told and I tell you it will be told. It’s very important. And so the story line in and around methane and in and greenhouse gases will change fast. And those people who lean themselves out of the window a little too much right now, they’re likely to regret it in years to come because they are saying a lot of hogwash out there.”

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