Cows like this one at the RA Brown Ranch in Texas spew methane into the atmosphere at an alarming rate, but a solution is in sight.
- The Plate
A Sprinkle of Seaweed Could Deflate Gassy Cows
Scientists are working to curtail the seven billion metric tons of CO2 equivalents cattle spew into the atmosphere every year.
Our passion for cheeseburgers isn’t doing the planet any good. All those Holsteins and Jerseys and relations—the ultimate sources of burgers, T-bone steaks, milkshakes, and ice cream—are wreaking havoc with Earth’s climate. But it looks like there’s a cure in sight, and it just might be seaweed. Specifically, a red alga known to scientists as Asparagopsis taxiformis.
A major environmental problem with cows is their insistence on spewing out methane, a greenhouse gas that packs, ton for ton, thirty times the disastrous punch of CO2. This isn’t a deliberate plot on the part of Earth’s 1.5 billion cows: it’s the inevitable by-product of ruminant biology. Cows and other cud-chewing animals digest their cellulose-laden food with the help of stomach bacteria in