Cow farts and melting permafrost


Much has been made of the cow fart problem and its contribution to methane levels in the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas and, while it is present in the atmosphere in much lower quantities, it is capable of trapping some 20 times more heat than CO2. The methane emanating from the rear ends of ruminants like cattle is certainly a problem and there are studies underway researching how diets might be altered to reduce these ’emissions’. However, more of worry, perhaps, is the methane being released from the melting permafrost in Arctic regions. A report in The Guardian yesterday details how there has been a 30% increase in methane emissions from this source in the last five years. With the positive feedback mechanism, this could get a lot worse pretty quickly.