Cattle farts worse than coal for warming

The greenhouse gas emissions of Australia’s livestock this year will have a bigger impact on the global climate over the next 20 years than all of the greenhouse emissions from our coal-fired power stations, according to The Advertiser (23/5/2007, p.7).

Animal Liberation assertion: This fact was revealed to the audience at the Conservation Council of South Australia conference by Geoff Russell from Animal Liberation on 20 May. It was backed by scientific data and endorsed by University of Adelaide Professor of Climate Change and Sustainability, Barry Brook.

Methane more potent than carbon dioxide: Figures from the Australian Greenhouse Office indicate Australia’s cattle produce about three million tonnes of methane each year. But methane was a more potent global warmer than carbon dioxide (CO2) in the short term. “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calculates the relative potency of methane to C02 is 72 over a 20-year period," he said.

Time to reduce methane emissions: All our coal fired power stations together produce about 180 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, but the methane production by cattle and sheep is equivalent to 216 million tonnes (3 x 72), he said. “None of which means we don’t have to worry about carbon dioxide, we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but while this is happening we must reduce methane to stabilise temperatures while we wait for the effects of any carbon dioxide reductions to kick in."

Academic endorsement: Brook said Russell’s argument was very well-researched. “If you want to do something immediately to reduce our emissions impact, targeting methane is one way to do it," Brook said.

The Advertiser, 23/5/2007, p.7

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