Not the Onion: Researchers trying to control cow gas to stop global warming

In Climate Change, Politics by Mr. RightLeave a Comment

Facepalm.

From Bloomberg:

The hamburgers and cheese that come from U.S. cattle may be favorite fare at many summer cookouts, but the methane the same cows produce is significantly less appetizing.

That’s especially the case for sustainable investors looking for a low-emission place to park their cash. “Enteric fermentation,” or livestock’s digestive process, accounts for 22 percent of all U.S. methane emissions, and the manure they produce makes up 8 percent more, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

And although agriculture is a growing industry as the world looks to feed its swelling population, some investors are reluctant to support a sector with such a hefty methane footprint.

“There are a lot of factors or buckets that go into agricultural emissions, but livestock tends to be one of the largest focuses,” said David Nicola, portfolio manager of the Gratitude Railroad Farmland Fund, which launched this week and is targeting $40 million in capital commitments focused on regenerative agriculture.

…Methane, like carbon, is a greenhouse gas, but methane’s global warming impact per molecule is 25 times greater than carbon’s, according to the EPA.

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“Methane, like carbon, is a greenhouse gas…”

Ugh. By “carbon”, they mean carbon dioxide, a very necessary gas. If we didn’t have it, we would all die. In fact, the more of it we have, the greener the Earth gets…literally.

Be that as it may, whereas carbon dioxide is measured in parts per million (ppm), methane gas is so scarce in the atmosphere that it’s measured in parts per billion (1,800 ppb). It makes up a whopping 0.0000018% of the atmosphere. To illustrate this, I’ve drawn a square that contains a million pixels. 999,998 of those pixels are red and 2 of them are blue. The blue represents the methane while the red represents all other atmospheric gases:

red-square

Can you see the blue pixels? Probably not. Click on the picture and look in the top left hand corner. Zoom in if you can. Can you see them? Maybe. If you have good eyesight.

What’s the point? Well, the point is that this isn’t about saving the environment at all. It’s about money and government. The companies pushing this are worried about losing investors. The article even says as much:

That’s especially the case for sustainable investors looking for a low-emission place to park their cash.

And that’s fine. It makes perfect sense that companies would respond to their investors. But here’s the thing: Methane isn’t a problem. It’s a fake problem. These investors are either misguided or they’re trying to benefit from some government environmental program for investors. If methane were a real problem, the people pushing strict environmental regulations would stop eating steak and drinking milk.