The Seaweed Solution to Methane Emissions from Cows

Image: screenshot from a video by William Neff  for The Washington Post

Tatiana Schlossberg reports for The Washington Post about the potential of seaweed to dramatically reduce methane emissions from cows.  It turns out that Asparagopsis taxiformis and Asparagopsis armata — two species of crimson submarine grass — can reduce those emissions by 98% when just a small amount is added to their food.  Now several companies are working to scale and commercialize seaweed products for cow food supplements, with the added benefit that growing this seaweed could also help sequester carbon dioxide, another greenhouse gas, as well as reduce ocean acidification, because the plants absorb carbon in the water.

Why This Matters:  Methane is a huge problem as greenhouse gasses go, and cow burps and farts are one of the largest sources of methane on the planet.  In fact, Schlossberg explains that livestock overall accounts for 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with nearly 40 percent of that linked to methane from the digestive process, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. Moreover, methane from livestock production alone is the equivalent to the emissions from about 650 million cars.  The only thing that is missing now?  Buy in from farmers.

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