Cattle play a colossal role in climate change: As the single largest agricultural source of methane, a potent planet-warming gas, the world’s 940 million cows spew nearly 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions — much of it through belches and droppings.
As such, there’s an astonishing amount of time and money being funneled into emission control. On-farm biodigesters, for example, take a backend approach by harvesting methane wafting from manure pits. A slew of research aims to curb bovine burps by feeding them seaweed, essential oils, and even a bovine Beano of sorts. The latest endeavor, a $70 million effort led by a Nobel laureate, uses gene-editing technology in an effort to eliminate that pollution by reengineering the animals’ gut microbes.
Given the world’s growing appetite for meat and dairy, these novel ventures are crucial to inching us toward international and national climate goals. Yet they beg the question: Wouldn’t it be easier to ditch milk, cheese, and beef for plant-based alternatives? Why fight nature when there’s an easier solu... Read more