Fart-Collecting Backpacks For Cows Look Silly, But They May Have A Serious Impact

Saving the planet one fart at a time

Image via INTA Informa

Cow farts. Saying those words out loud will inspire anyone to laugh, but in reality, they’re a serious contributor to global warming and a threat to our safety. Like any fart, cow farts release the greenhouse gas methane into the air, trapping heat and wreaking havoc on the environment. Thanks to the insatiable American appetite for burgers, steaks, and cheese, methane gas from farm animals—aka cow farts—comprises 22 percent of overall methane emissions in the US.

Recently, the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research released a report on this issue, urging farmers to drastically reduce emissions if we hope to meet the climate goals set by the UN earlier this year. With 1.3 to 1.5 billion cows living on this planet today, it’s going to take some serious ingenuity to reduce those malodorous emissions.

As it turns out, Argentines might have found a solution to save us all. According to Munchies, a few Argentinian farmers have strapped high-tech backpacks to their cows that effectively trap passing gas throughout the day. They have impressive holding power, too. One backpack can collect as many as 300 liters of methane per cow per day.

Image via INTA Informa

But where do all the farts go once they’re collected? One of the project’s lead technicians, Ricardo Bualo, says you can collect and convert the gases into renewable biofuels. To put things into perspective, 300 liters of cow gas can provide enough energy to run a refrigerator for one day, INTA Informa reports.

There’s also the preventive method, which involves reducing a cow’s flatulence in the first place. Apparently, dairy company Danone introduced Omega-3 fatty acids into its cows’ diets and saw a 30 percent reduction in cow farts. On the downside, the fatty acids seemed to hinder milk production as well, disqualifying the approach as a practical solution.

The best solution for cutting back greenhouse gas emissions is almost too obvious: we need to consume fewer animal products. And if you can’t live without tasting a juicy burger every now and then, check out these plant-based patties that reportedly taste just as good as the real thing—without the climate-destroying side effects.

Images via INTA Informa

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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