Cow Burps and Climate Change?

Apparently humans aren't the only species with a carbon footprint! This most recent study is the latest spark in an ongoing discussion on the impact of methane, a greenhouse gas twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide, released into the atmosphere by burping cows.

On first read, I thought this article was straight out of The Onion. But-- it piqued my interest. And after spending much of this afternoon poking around the internet and learning what makes cow burps so problematic, I can't help but think that this is a topic that warrants more attention.

So what are your thoughts? Is the significant role that cows play in methane production further indication that the only green diet is a vegetarian diet? Should we be investing in efforts to reduce cows' methane output? Or to potentially harness cow-generated methane as an energy source? Weigh in here!

Sweden to Study Belching Cows

Stockholm, Sweden (AP)-- A Swedish university has received 3.8 million kronor ($590,000) in research funds to measure the greenhouse gases released when cows belch.

About 20 cows will participate in the project run by the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, about 40 miles north of Stockholm, officials said Monday.

Cattle release methane, a greenhouse gas believed to contribute to global warming, when they digest their food. Researchers believe the level of methane released depends on the type of food the eat.

Project leader Jan Bertilsson said that the cows involved in the study will have different diets and wear a collar device measuring the methane level in the air around them.

"This type of research is already being conducted in Canada so we will be in contact with Canadian agricultural researchers in the near future," he said.

The research will be funded by a grant from the government's Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning.

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