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Measuring U.S. Methane Emissions: Is the EPA Way Off?

November 26, 2013 16:58 by Bran

Uh oh. A new study from researchers at Harvard and published in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" reveals that U.S. methane emissions are up to 50 percent higher than the levels the EPA calculates.

According to USA Today, "Nationwide, emissions from cows and livestock operations may be twice as high as previously thought, and in the south-central region, those from fossil fuel extraction and refining may be almost five times higher than calculated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency." The discrepancies are alarming.

Why has the study found different answers than the EPA? According to Live Science, "The U.S. EPA and EDGAR count total emissions from the source, such as each cow and each unit of coal and natural gas sold in the country." For the new study, however, records were taken with a "top-down" approach, which more accurately measures how much methane is in the air and where it most likely came from.

What do you think? Is it time for the EPA to update its calculations?

Did Dinosaur Farts Warm Earth?

May 8, 2012 15:07 by Bran

No, you didn't read that headline incorrectly. A new study suggests that ancient Earth may have been warmed by gaseous emissions from dinosaurs. 

According to National Geographic, "Like modern-day ruminants, giant plant-eating dinosaurs likely had microbes in their guts that gave off large amounts of methane—a potent greenhouse gas even more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide."  Currently, ruminants like cows and giraffes release as much as 100 million metric tons of methane every year--a major piece of the up to 600 million metric tons emitted per year.

Because these animals have large forestomachs filled with microbes to break down plant material, the byproduct called methane is created.

Scientists estimate, based on their size and the amount of land available at the time, that each dinosaur emitted approximately 4.2 pounds of methane every day. "A U.S. cow, by comparison, might give off a daily average of 0.4 to 0.7 pound (0.2 to 0.3 kilogram)," reports National Geographic.  Combined, dinosaurs could have produced an extraordinary 520 million metric tons of the gas annually.

Could all the extra gas explain why dinosaurs lived in a warmer world than we do?

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Plastic Backpack Bags Cow’s Farts

August 22, 2008 15:10 by Admin

Now here is something you’d think you’d only see on The Simpsons. And yet, here it is – scientists are testing out plastic backpacks the capture a cow’s gassy expulsions, to see if this can combat global warming. By capturing the methane expelled by cows, Argentine scientists hope that they’ll be better able to understand the impact the gas has on global warming.

Considering that cow flatulence makes up over 30% of Argentina’s greenhouse emissions, and that methane is >23 times more heat-trapping than CO2, I can see why the scientists interested in pursing this. They’re also changing up cows’ diets to see if that helps them produce less gas, giving them clover and alfalfa rather than grain to help them produce as much as 25% less gas – kind of a major DUH thing to do considering cows are evolved to eat clover and alfalfa and not grain anyway, so a diet of grain is bound to give them a bit of indigestion.

Anyway, the backpacks don’t seem to bother the cows much, and we’ll have to wait and see the results of these odd tests – and wait to see if someone figures out how to run cars on the methane collected from feedlots…and, um, other sources. Personally, I say we all just eat less red meat and skip manufacturing yet more plastic or wasting time on selective breeding. However, I love the fact that cattle emissions is getting the attention it needs, and I won’t bash on this backpack much – and I won’t even get started on the long list of issues to using this on a large scale – because it’s likely not going to be a realistic solution to global warming anyway.

Written by Jaymi Heimbuch   
Friday, 11 July 2008

Via EnvironmentalGraffiti, Telegraph