Sheep and cows on methane roundabout

Letter the Herald declined to publish

Jamie Morton’s recent Herald article How NZ could cut agriculture emissions by to [sic] 10 per cent states:

Nearly half of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture – the main source being methane burped from cattle and sheep.

It’s indeed surprising to again hear this non-factual assertion that methane in ruminant eructation constitutes cumulative emissions, when it’s well established that the methane arises from the digestion of recently-eaten grass as part of a cycle.

One has to wonder where the government gets its scientific advice.

There is no evidence to claim that ruminant methane is one-way traffic, for it moves in a cycle, and has done for millions of years. After a short time in the atmosphere the methane breaks down, the carbon dioxide is released to contribute to more grass growth, the grass is consumed and digested and around it goes again. Nothing is added to beyond wool, milk, meat and the rest of the beast (at slaughter nothing is wasted).

To continue claiming that farmers are in this way adding to global warming signals deep ignorance.

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