One person passes gas normally 0.5 – 2 liters per day. There is 0-10% (even up to 26%) methane in the gas. So, let’s assume I have a normal day without too much gas producing food: I create one liter of gas with 6% methane content, or 0.06 liter of pure methane during one day. Let’s also assume that each and every human on Earth eats and reacts the same way. This means that globally we pass something like 400 million liters methane every day.
One cow is estimated to burp 100-400 liters methane per day when it ruminates. The hundreds of millions cows emit maybe 400 billion liters methane per day. That is thousand (1000) times the amount we humans are passing.
It’s about global warming.
Methane (CH4) is over 20 times more effective as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2). Cows are estimated to count of up to 25%, even 37% of the
global greenhouse gas human-induced methane emissions, that is as much as we are producing by burning fossil fuels. Scientist and farmers are jointly trying to find ways to reduce this.
Again, so what?
- Human methane emissions have an insignificant role in greenhouse effect.
- Sill, humans cause indirectly more than 60% of all methane emissions: using fossil fuels, rice cropping, landfilling and burning biomass. That is important.
- Cows’ methane emissions are an important reason for greenhouse effect. Also, cattle farming is increasing the deforestation of the tropical rain forests (Brazil has the second largest cattle population in the world), thus accelerating the global warming.
- People in Denmark – or New Zealand or USA – eat 50 times more meat than people in Bhutan or 30 times more than in India or in Congo. (They also live 10-25 year longer. But do they live longer due their meaty diet? Probably not. They just can afford to eat more meat due to their higher standard of living (GDP per capita). There are other factors like good healthcare, and overall better nutrition than in the countries where life expectation is lower.) – This means that the people in the countries who eat more, are indirectly contributing more to the global warming as well.
Question is: should we eat less meat to help – even with a tiny amount – the prevention of greenhouse effect and global warming?
For the statistics lovers, here are a couple graphs (click for larger).