Viewpoint: Animal agriculture offers potentially ‘game-changing solutions’ to climate change

Credit: Sentient Media
Credit: Sentient Media

Cows are often assigned disproportionate climate change blame, but recent weeks in Washington bring hope that political leaders may begin to embrace livestock’s potential game-changing solutions to climate challenges.

When President Biden issued his Jan. 27 executive order on tackling the climate crisis, he said his administration sees farmers “making American agriculture first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and gaining new sources of income in the process.”

[C]attle can actually accelerate the process of pulling carbon out of the air and storing it in the ground, where it can improve our soils and slow warming.

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For example, [UC Davis’] programs and research show that feed additives such as seaweed can significantly reduce methane produced during cows’ digestion, which is the primary greenhouse gas associated with livestock production.

California is also a world leader in working with dairy farmers to capture methane emissions from manure and turn them into renewable natural gas using anaerobic digesters. The technology has reduced California’s livestock methane emissions by 25% since 2013, and the state is on track to meet its goal of reducing livestock emissions by 40% by 2030.

Harnessing the power of livestock as a climate change solution requires properly measuring the impacts of different greenhouse gases on the environment, understanding how they are both created and destroyed.

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