What is Methane?

 

Methane, along with CO2, is one of the frontrunners in human caused climate change. It doesn’t stay in our atmosphere as long as CO2 does, but it has a 34% larger warming capacity – meaning it can change our temperatures faster in much less time. It’s dangerous for our environment because it can easily absorb the sun’s heat, quickly warming our atmosphere and causing irreversible damage.

So where does methane come from? Well, the 2nd leading source of methane is cows (after the oil and gas industry). When cows burp, they release methane into the atmosphere and it’s nearly impossible to track just exactly how much they are releasing. But with 94.4 million cows in America alone, that’s a ton of methane that’s released everyday. (That’s about one cow for every 3 people – that’s a whole lot of cows). And this number has been increasing by at least 1% for the past few years.

So what can we do about it? Luckily, the soil around the cows is able to absorb much of the methane, but not all of it. Scientists are studying the soil to learn new ways to absorb the methane promising a more sustainable future in cow farming! However, for not, it’s important to try to decrease your consumption of cow products (beef, cheese, milk, cream, etc). The less demand there is for dairy and meat products, the less likely ranchers are to breed more cows which means there will be less and less methane released.

We talked a couple weeks ago about voting ethically with your money and this same principle applies here as well. It is SOOO important to remember that if you buy cheese, you’re funding this release of methane. And if you choose to pass on the cheese then you’re showing the farmers that dairy products are . becoming less popular and perhaps they’ll take steps to either switch to a more sustainable product or increase the sustainability of their ranch.

I know this is a bit of a short and sweet blog post, but I think this is a very important topic to discuss. There’s not a ton to know about methane (just that it’s a greenhouse gas and much more destructive than CO2), but I honestly didn’t even know that before researching this post. When I was asked why I gave up cow products, I would brush it off, just saying they’re bad for the environment, but not really being able to educate others about it. However, now I’m able to know a bit more about methane so I can help educate others when they ask me about it! I hope this post can help you in that situation as well!

 

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