Don’t diss dung beetles — they’re cooling the planet
You know how everyone freaks out about the methane in cow poop (and burps, and farts, and basically anything fun that comes out of a cow)? I mean, for good reason — methane is a huge contributor to climate change. Well, it turns out that dung beetles are the antidote. Take heart! Our shit-eating insect friends are bovine kryptonite!
The lowly dung beetle, which feeds on animal feces and is found on every continent save Antarctica, helps reduce the amount of methane released into the atmosphere from farms by doing what it does best — burrowing into cow patties and other animal droppings.
That makes it a surprisingly effective weapon in the battle against climate change, notes a study released this month in the science journal PLOS ONE, because methane is one of the most potent of the heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
“We believe that these beetles exert much of their impact by simply digging around in the dung,” said Atte Penttilä, a masters student at the University of Helsinki and one of the study’s co-authors.
Just diggin’ around in the dung. Apparently it helps aerate turds! According to the Atlantic, on one exceptional day, dung beetles reduced the methane released from cow shit by 80 percent. WHOA. A chicken in every pot — and a dung beetle in every toilet!
But not so fast, says researcher Eleanor Slade. Various species of dung beetles are dying off, and meanwhile, earthlings have an insatiable desire for beef. This combo meal is a recipe only for increased emissions. Sad trombone. Quit tryna harsh my mellow, Slade. I for one am celebrating dung beetles’ day in the sun. With a Baby Ruth bar and a brownie. Anyone joining me?
- The Poo-Eating Bug That’s Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions , Think Progress