Cow burps (and, yes, to a lesser extent, farts) contribute a stupid amount of planet-warming methane into the atmosphere — more than a fourth of all of the methane we’re sending up there. And while it doesn’t last as long as carbon does, methane is accelerating global warming. But what are we to do, besides eat less meat? You can’t stop a cow from burping, can you?
Well, think about your own digestive system for a second. You can exert some control over the gases that come out of it — by exerting some control out of what you put into it. This is why you do not eat beans before going to an important meeting where everyone will be sitting quietly and why you do not eat lots of raw onions if you don’t want to be burping all night.
It’s not a perfect science, but, hey, you do what you can. Researchers from the Sustainable Agriculture Flagship in Australia, though, do want to make a science out of the suppression of cow burps, FastCoExist writes. They’re installing tiny wireless devices that will monitor conditions in the mysterious caverns that are cow rumens. The devices have wings that will keep them in the cows’ digestive systems for weeks, where they’ll be measuring gas production and feeding back information.
Once the researchers know more about what stomach situations end up creating the most cows burps, they can tell farmers how to change up their feed to minimize methane emissions. Basically, cows will no longer get to eat whatever the cow version of beans is. Oh, and, ideally, they’ll have little wireless monitors in their stomachs at all times, so farmers can monitor their tummy rumblings in real time.
So, these are our choices, basically. Cyborg-like cows, or eating much less meat and dairy. Or both! And don’t be jealous — once they’ve got this figured out, it won’t be too long before they’ve developed the same device for humans, so you can ensure before you go out on a date that your stomach is not about to emit anything too treacherous.
Get Grist in your inbox