Agricultural Manure and Global Methane Emissions

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While enteric fermentation alone accounts for around a third of all anthropogenic methane emissions worldwide, agricultural manure accounts for another four per cent (4%), according to statistics published by GMI, the Global Methane Initiative, in 2010. In one of my previous posts, Enteric Fermentation Largest Single Source of Global Methane Emissions, I have discussed enteric fermentation and its role in global methane emissions. Unless familiar with greenhouse gas emissions and anthropogenic climate change, one may be surprised at the fact that animal farming is the major cause for human-caused methane emissions worldwide.

Will this be the beginning of the end of animal farming? In order to gain a broader view upon agriculture and animal farming, it may be beneficial to learn about and to understand the beginning and the history of both agriculture and animal farming, along with how these have developed in the past thousands and hundreds of years, up to the past century, the past decades, current developments and future trends. Although animal farming, the domestication and breeding of animals, and agriculture have been present for centuries already, there are differences between cultures, geographies and techniques. Agricultural science, according to for instance National Geography Society, has taken rapid leaps in productivity in the past decades because new sources of energy and power.

Today, in a world where much of animal farming has been industrialized, the ethics of animal farming is being questioned by a growing amount of people. While many animal farmers are struggling in order to make their business lucrative, or even to make ends meet, millions of people worldwide are against animal farming, finding animal farming the worst crime in history as stated in The Guardian´s article from September 25th, 2015: Industrial farming is one of the worst crimes in history.

While having no trouble buying meat products in supermarkets, many people today are in fact completely completely estranged with the reality of animal farming. If people were to see what actually takes place on many animal farms, their perceptions would perhaps change, or at least be impacted. For instance in Finland, currently almost half of human excrement today ends up as fertilizers in the agricultural sector, something that is strongly opposed by the food industry. There are of course restrictions both in Finland and in the European Union for the amounts of organic matters that may be legally used as fertilizers for growing crops. Nevertheless, the food industry is worried that traces of drugs, medicines, and even plastics may end up as fertilizers. Now imagine that animals are being fed with crops grown on lands where human excrement is being used as a fertilizer. Ultimately, this is a cycle where we end up consuming and eating everything that we so to say put out there. The more toxins at hand in our atmosphere, the more toxins in our soils, and in our bodies.

Methane emissions from enteric fermentation are significant, and these have an impact on our environment, our climate, and on ourselves. Although it is impossible to stop animal farming, there are ways of improving and affecting the amount of methane emissions being released through animal farming and enteric fermentation. Many consumers today also choose to leave away animal products from their lives (vegans). Others choose to buy organically produced animal products. We can all make an impact: as consumers, as farmers, and as policy-makers. There is not one single stakeholder in the supply chain that could not influence the future of animal farming, and the agricultural industry.

Learn more by watching Fertcare´s video “Managing nitrious oxide emissions from soil & fertilizer”:

 

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Leading With Passion to receive my latest posts.

 

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Enteric Fermentation Largest Single Source of Global Methane Emissions

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Why is the amount of people worldwide who decide to go either vegetarian or vegan constantly growing? In the United States alone, the number of vegans has grown by 500% in a few years time only. The reasons for vegetarianism and veganism are many: some people simply do not like the taste of meat, others may suffer from a fish intolerance or allergy. A lot of people do not want to harm animals, and find it cruel to grow animals just in order to slaughter them and consume them. Among the many vegans I have personally met, one of the main reasons for their decision to cut out any animal products, including eggs and dairy, from their diets, is since they have found it improve their health and well-being.

Despite of the many dietary suggestions given to us by a number of experts, every individual who can afford buying and choosing their diet in the first place should be his or her own best expert. Unfortunately this is also not true most of the time since more and more people on our planet suffer from excess weight due to unhealthy consumption habits, while on the other side of the coin, millions of people go hungry and are malnourished due to lack of access to many-sided, nutrient-rich food. For those who can afford consuming meat products, dietitians usually state that (red) meat products contain all the necessary amino acids which are key ingredients of protein and our bodies capacity to build and maintain muscle tissue, while vegans especially have to make an extra effort to access all the necessary amino acids that are essential building stones of the protein our bodies need. Otherwise, human beings actually have no real need to consume meat or seafood. Even vegans can choose plant-based products with all the necessary amino acids (and, proteins). It is also a fact that consuming proteins in excess will lead to these being stored as fat (lipids) in our bodies. Thus, a balanced and healthy diet is always key to our overall well-being.

A major reason to choose veganism (or, vegetarianism) today is climate-related. Enteric fermentation, the digestive process of livestock, is the largest single emitter of anthropogenic methane emissions on a global scale. Around one-third of all human-caused methane emissions worldwide stems from enteric fermentation, predominantly from cattle. Every time we choose to consume meat, we contribute to an increase in global greenhouse emissions (methane). It is also questionable how much sense it makes to grow crops in order to feed animals that human beings will slaughter and consume, contributing at least twice as much to an increase in global greenhouse gas emissions.

The FAO (Food And Agriculture Organization of The United Nations) published “Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock – A Global Assessment Of Emissions And Mitigation Opportunities” in 2013. Access the PDF version of the publication here. The report is a compact global assessment of GHG emissions stemming from livestock supply chains with a discussion about research methodology, and dividing the study into clear chapters and themes such as overall emissions, main sources of emissions, emissions by geographical region, emissions by species, mitigation (potential and practice) with case studies, concluding the report with a chapter on suggestions for policy-making.

Most of us can afford to make individual/personal choices of consumption, influencing decision-makers to create better and more sustainable policies. In a world faced with many problems such as hunger and malnutrition, climate change, and an increasing amount of population battling problems with overweight, individual choices are not always enough. According to FAO`s “Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock – A Global Assessment Of Emissions And Mitigation Opportunities”, it is possible to reduce emissions stemming from all species in all regions, but there is an urgent need for better policies. FAO states that tackling difficult problems can be made possible with the right policies, innovations and investments. It has to be understood that through the necessary measures taken, we are better equipped to deal with large-scale problems such as climate change and a rapidly growing world population. The report concludes that additional research and development is necessary, improving the measurement of emissions, and support from global initiatives focusing on livestock especially due to its complexity and size.

Learn more by watching FAO´s video “Climate change mitigation in the livestock sector: overall potential, options and case studies”:

 

Connect with me on Twitter @annemariayritys. For climate/environment-related posts only @GCCThinkActTank. Subscribe to Leading With Passion to receive my latest posts.

 

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WordPress.com – Create A Beautiful Website

Jetpack – The ideal way to experience WordPress – Code-free Customization

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