Hug a cow to stay warm.

  Lots of folks are worried about how coal mining and fracking  can leak natural gas or methane into our atmosphere and its catastrophic effect on global warming.  Methane is  a potent  greenhouse gas  20-23 times more potent than Carbon dioxide or CO2. .

 According to these authors from Washington State University, Ruminant livestock can produce 250-500 litres of methane per day.     It would seem to me that  despite the efforts of many to “keep the coal in the hole” to minimize on our emissions of carbon dioxide,  that they should look to the big picture, change their tune and start  looking at our burgeoning dairy industry.

    Little old New Zealand milks close to 5 million cows,  plus a beef cattle industry of 1.5 million. So, taking a conservative estimate of say 300 litres/day, we are looking at  6.500,000 x 300 = 1,950,000,000 litres of methane or natural gas being emitted to our atmosphere every day, equivalent in Greenhouse warming to 22 times the volume of CO2  making 42,900,000,000 litres of CO2 equivalents/day.

Now according to the  Ideal gas law,  Avogadro’s number and  the universal gas constant, 22.4 litres of CO2  at STP equals 44 grams.  So, when we convert to equivalents of carbon dioxide in terms of weight rather than volume, we are talking about  42,900,000,000 litres divided by 22.4 x 44grams  and divided by 1,000,000 to get the answer in Tonnes of CO2.=84,268  tonnes/day of CO2 equivalents from our cattle.            

    Now, our annual coal production peaked at 5,300,000 tonnes, in 2010.  Mostly for electricity and for export.  On a daily  basis that’s 14,520.5 tonnes/day which would produce  x44/12 = only 53,242  tonnes of CO2/day.   Oh, if we could just connect up a line of cows to the Huntly power station and burn gas instead of coal,  what could we do to save the Planet!  

Ken C Calvert