Global warming could be solved by genetically engineering or breeding cows to fart less Bill ‘The Science Guy” Nye said in an interview Tuesday.
“Agriculture researchers are going to produce or breed farm animals that produce less methane by changing the bacteria that are in their stomachs,” Nye said on BigThink. “To get all the way down to a plant-based diet might be tricky for a lot of people. However, it seems like a good idea.”
Nye was responding to a question from a vegan on how eating meat could reduce the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, which scientists say contributes to global warming. Methane is about 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas, but persists in the atmosphere for a shorter amount of time. Cattle emissions alone make up 20 percent of U.S. methane emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“The human population [is] getting so big that we are raising so many farm animals,” Nye said. “It’s very reasonable that we’re creating a tremendous amount of extra methane that wouldn’t otherwise be there in the atmosphere. And that is causing global warming and climate change to happen more rapidly than [it] would otherwise.”
Environmentalists are very interested in reducing methane from cow farts, with some groups like Friends of the Earth pressuring public schools to switch their lunch menus away from beef to reduce emissions.
The Obama administration released a methane plan in 2014 that called for reducing emissions from the dairy industry 25 percent. That meant finding ways to capture or reduce emissions from cow farts and burps. Republican lawmakers, however, were quick to criticize the White House’s proposal, arguing the government could end up taxing cow farts.