Methane emissions from cows is far more dangerous than industrial CO2 emissions
It is relatively unknown that cows contribute more to global temperature increase than the entire transport industry does. Several recent research reveals that methane emissions from cows are harmful than previously thought.
Danish scientists have found out that stray cows pollute nature 5 times more than cows in farms. As an environmental activist, I have followed the research and covered it for an Indian newspaper.
More than one-fourth of the world’s cows are in India. The cattle population in India is growing more rapidly than the rest of the world because of the slaughter ban. Cows contribute more to global warming than the entire transport industry by burping, belching and excreting massive quantity of methane. Freely roaming stray cows pollute the environment many times more than cows in farms. A huge number of abandoned cows in India is thus an alarming problem.
Methane is 86 times worse for global warming than carbon dioxide. Excessive emission of Methane gas is toxic to global environment and human health. The livestock is responsible for the emission 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases according to a report of UN Food and Agricultural Organisation. Cows alone are more damaging to environment than all locomotives.
European scientists are increasingly asking for the reduction of cattle livestock. They are proposing artificial milk and meat to reduce the burden on the environment. This plan could be possible for Western countries. But in India, it is hard to cut the number of cattle since India has banned cow slaughtering in big states.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, India has 305 million cattle population which is the largest in the world in 2018. It is estimated that the cattle population is increased by 23 million from the last year.
According to World Animal protection, there are approximate 1.5 billion cows are burping 150 billion gallons of methane and dropping 23.7 billion methane-rich cowpats weighing approximately 43.4 million tonnes every day.
It should be noted here that cows are “ruminant” animals that burp every 90 seconds to digest their food.
According to India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests, about one-eighth of greenhouse emission of India was 1,728 million tons of CO2 equivalent that was caused by cattle population in 2007. Scientists have recently revealed that the actual figure is 38% higher than previously thought.
Globally, the number of cows is not increasing. In the USA, 39 million cows are slaughtered each year. The cow population in the USA has slightly dropped, but this is not the case of India. If the number of cows keeps on rising, that could cause a severe environmental problem for the country. The environmental issue is not national; it is a global problem.
Millions of cows are abandoned by dairy farmers in recent years. At least 5.2 million stray cows are roaming in Indian cities causing chaos in the countryside as well as agricultural fields. Cow grazing on carbon-rich soils causes the emission of CO2 from the ground.
Free roaming cows exhaust 4 and a half times more greenhouse gas than cows in farms, according to a research of Arhus University in Denmark.
Free roaming cows exhaust 4 and a half times more greenhouse gas than cows in farms, according to a research of Arhus University. The free roaming cows mess with nature. These cows don’t get the special diet for growing; they roam for food and eat much more than cows in farms. In farms, cows get enzyme that reduces the digesting process. The longer digestive process makes free cows burp more and produce more methane.
There are too many abandoned cows in India, and the number is increasing because keeping useless old cows is an economic burden to farmers. According to different sources, there are 5 to 10 million stray cows in the Indian cities. If the number of stray cows keeps on increasing at the present speed, it could be challenging to save the planet earth.
Scientists underestimated how much cow farts and poop contributes to global warming. Methane is a principal component of farts. Farts of stray cows exhaust directly to air. It is noteworthy that, methane block heat escaping earth atmosphere and thus more 85 times more harmful than CO2.
Europe and America are working on a plan to reduce their cattle inventory. But it is not possible to reduce the number of cows under the existing legislation. Sterilization of cows could be an option. Chemical sterilization is possible as an alternative to surgical castration.
American scientists say that India can reduce “cow emissions” by feeding seaweed as a dietary supplement. Researchers at the University of California experimented with the ocean algae which they added to cow food. The result showed a 30% reduction of methane emissions released by cows burping and farts.
However, this diet cannot be provided to millions of stray cows. It is essential for the Indian government to bring stray cows in shelters and offer them special food with seaweed. The Indian government must act immediately to save the planet earth.
(The article was previously published by me on Dhaka Tribue. This is an updated version)