Cow farts + seaweed = no more methane?

This is one form of climate change mitigation.

The significance of cow farts and burps to climate change:

“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.

How seaweed comes to the rescue?

Joe Dorgan began feeding his cattle seaweed from nearby beaches more than a decade ago as a way to cut costs on his farm in Seacow Pond. He was so impressed with the improvements he saw in his herd, he decided to turn the seaweed into a product.

“There’s a mixture of Irish moss, rockweed and kelp, and just going to waste,” he said. “And I knew it was good because years ago, our ancestors, that’s what they done their business with.”

Then researcher Rob Kinley caught wind of it.

The agricultural scientist, then at Dalhousie University, helped test Dorgan’s seaweed mix, and discovered it reduced the methane in the cows’ burps and farts by about 20 per cent.

Kinley knew he was on to something, so he did further testing with 30 to 40 other seaweeds. That led him to a red seaweed Asparagopsis taxiformis he says reduces methane in cows burps and farts to almost nothing.

While it’s difficult to consider a post with ‘farts’ and ‘burps’ seriously, the impact of this research is actually very impressive. 🙂



Nile farmers adapt to Climate Change

There are 2 ways to face the threat of climate change:
1. Climate change mitigation – reduce the effect of climate change by reducing ghg emissions,
2. Climate change adaptation – accept that things are changing, consider ways to survive in the new conditions

It doesn’t mean that the 2 are mutually exclusive (an either-or choice) – one can adapt but still work to mitigate climate change’s impacts.

The Nat Geo article discusses how international organisations like the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) works with Egyptian farmers, who have for centuries been relied on the Nile River and consistent weather conditions for farming, to adapt to climate change and find new ways of growing crops.

Fortunately for Regaa and his peers, there is some help at hand. The FAO has launched 15 schools across five regions. Here, in informal settings such as the field shack, groups of 15 to 25 farmers meet once a week for four months to talk through their struggles and receive instruction in more efficient agricultural techniques. “We teach them to pick better seeds, to disinfect them before planting, and to level the soil—this is crucial. It saves water and improves germination,” says Zahra Ahmed, FAO’s lead project manager in Egypt.

And despite some early opposition from older agricultural laborers, who’ve regarded the reforming outsiders with suspicion, most indications so far suggest Ahmed and her counterparts might be onto something. The Beni Suef farmers who’ve adhered to their coach’s advice have seen their yields grow so much—often at least 50-60 percent, that the governor has pledged to roll the teaching scheme out across his entire portion of the Nile Valley.

Source: NatGeo

Reservoirs, climate change and the danger of methane

Turns out overcoming global warming is way more than merely reducing our energy consumption and burning less fossil fuels. What we thought was clean energy – hydropower – may end up being a source of greenhouse gas (methane) in the atmosphere.

Reservoirs are a classic instance of how major human alteration’s to the Earth’s landscape can have unexpected effects. Flooding large areas of Earth can set off new chemical processes as tiny microorganisms break down organic matter in the water, sometimes doing so in the absence of oxygen — a process that leads to methane as a byproduct. One reason this happens is that the flooded areas initially contain lots of organic life in the form of trees and grasses.

The impact of agriculture (farming) nearby also excerabates matters:

Meanwhile, as nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus flow into reservoirs from rivers — being poured in by human agriculture and waste streams — these can further drive algal growth in reservoirs, giving microorganisms even more material to break down. The study finds that for these reasons, reservoirs emit more methane than “natural lakes, ponds, rivers, or wetlands.”

“If oxygen is around, then methane gets converted back to CO2,” said John Harrison, another of the study’s authors, and also a researcher at Washington State. “If oxygen isn’t present, it can get emitted back to the atmosphere as methane.”And flooded areas, he said, are more likely to be depleted of oxygen.

Similarly, our asian food staple of rice also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

A similar process occurs in rice paddies, which are also a major source of methane emissions.

So what now? Stop consuming rice and abandon all reservoirs? No…

…reservoirs may be emitting just shy of a gigaton, or billion tons, of annual carbon dioxide equivalents. That would mean they contributed 1.3 percent of the global total.

Just as there are unavoidable contributions to ghg emissions – hydropower is most likely still cleaner than fossil fuels, and rice will still remain a staple food for many Asians, we can focus out attention on avoidable sources of greenhouse gases. These include the excessive usage of electricity, overuse of motor vehicles instead of public transport or other means of transportation, etc.

Source: washingtonpost

Climate Change and Health

Climate change can impact health directly and indirectly:

1. Heat (can result in heat stroke)
2. Higher incidence of infectious diseases (vector-borne diseases) like malaria and dengue as areas become warmer and more suitable for mosquitoes to breed
3. Higher incidence of water-borne diseases like typhoid fever, cholera due to more rain – which result in unclean, waterlogged conditions.
4. Harvest losses can lead to malnutrition and starvation

The chain reaction climate change is MASSIVE, but proactive policies and actions can be made to mitigate the impacts.

Stop climate change by not wasting food

Reducing food waste around the world would help curb emissions of planet-warming gases, lessening some of the impacts of climate change such as more extreme weather and rising seas, scientists said on Thursday.

Up to 14% of emissions from agriculture in 2050 could be avoided by managing food use and distribution better, according to a new study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

“Agriculture is a major driver of climate change, accounting for more than 20% of overall global greenhouse gas emissions in 2010,” said co-author Prajal Pradhan.

“Avoiding food loss and waste would therefore avoid unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate climate change.”

Between 30 and 40% of food produced around the world is never eaten, because it is spoiled after harvest and during transportation, or thrown away by shops and consumers.

Perhaps Singapore Climate Action Plan should also focus on this, but…

“It is not a strategy of governments at the moment,” …