Do You Feel Threatened By Sheep Farts?

| June 5, 2008

Sheep-Farts2.jpg

I think studying earth’s climate is a worthy endeavor if it is done using scientific methods and an open mind. But sadly the fashion these days involves directing effort to “save the planet” (like we could ever destroy something as big as a planet) which is sucking up millions of hours of research time and billions of dollars of investment. All of this because we both think that it’s getting a tiny bit warmer and we somehow think we can change that.

Now comes word via the UK’s Telegraph that some enterprising scientist has developed a way to inoculate sheep so that they won’t fart.

New Zealand scientists claim to have developed a “flatulence inoculation” aimed at cutting down on the massive amount of methane produced by its sheep and cows.

Such animals are believed to be responsible for more than half of the country’s greenhouse gases, causing huge environmental problems.

Ruminants are responsible for about 25 per cent of the methane produced in Britain, but in countries with a large agricultural sector, the proportion is much higher.

The 45 million sheep and 10 million cattle in New Zealand burped and farted about 90 percent of that country’s methane emissions, according to government figures.

Under the Kyoto Protocol to combat global warming, New Zealand must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

So many things are wrong here. First off – how are sheep farts a threat to anyone or any thing? Second off – did a bunch of pointy headed diplo-scientists really spend the time to draft a section of the Kyoto Protocol to regulate animal gas? Did anyone stop to think that our Earth, a dynamic system, has it’s own ways of making beneficial use of excess methane gas? Did these folks somehow decide this is the first time that the earth has had herbivores wandering around eating plants?

Lastly – someone funded a group of biologists to do the research to find a way to make sheep stop farting. And someone devoted a measurable chunk of their career studying sheep farts.

I would have to classify this whole lot right along with the Golgafrincham and their phone sanitizers.

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Category: Climate Change, Environment, Main, Science

About the Author ()

Bruce Henderson is a former Marine who focuses custom data mining and visualization technologies on the economy and other disasters.

Comments (2)

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  1. FutureNerd says:

    Okay, so…we’ll put you down as “global warming skeptic,” then?

    “Did anyone stop to think that our Earth, a dynamic system, has it’s own ways of making beneficial use of excess methane gas?”

    Sure. For instance, ice ages. You start by praising the scientific method and an open mind, but by this sentence I’m not feeling the rigor, neither from you nor that article.

    Which is probably less scientific than the work they’re trying to report on, so who are you criticizing? Methane is a greenhouse gas, natural or not, and it’s a much more effective one than CO2. So maybe, if reducing greenhouse gas production is a good thing, methane is high bang for the buck target. Maybe particularly so in a country with high sheep to cars ratio.

    I don’t know, I don’t have any more figures to cite than you do…unless you count Wikipedia:

    “The most important greenhouse gases are:

    “* water vapor, which causes about 36–70% of the greenhouse effect on Earth.[…]
    * carbon dioxide, which causes 9–26%
    * methane, which causes 4–9%
    * ozone, which causes 3–7%

    “Note that this is a combination of the strength of the greenhouse effect of the gas and its abundance. For example, methane is a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, but present in much smaller concentrations.”

  2. Bruce Henderson says:

    Ok, so it’s months later and I noticed someone commented here. FutureNerd, thanks a bunch for taking the time to read and post. What I would say is you are missing the point. You cite lots of technical information about greenhouse gasses, and that’s just fine. I am telling you that none of it matters. The warming, the cooling, the sun spots, the sheep farts, the bus exhaust – not going to matter a bit.

    Huge dynamic system, no way us monkey boys can destroy it, or (at this point of our evolution) even understand what is going on. So sit back and enjoy the ride, make the best of it you can. If that involves getting worried that it might be warmer, you are welcome to it.

    Having spent a bunch of time in high latitude cold places, I can tell you a bit of warming would be welcome up there. It’s not like this has not happened much more vigorously before.