A billion head of cattle roam Earth – burping out methane

Cows, you see, have a serious emissions problem. To digest tough plant material, their cavernous stomachs act as fermentation vats. They’re teeming with methanogens, microbes that process cellulose to make volatile fatty acids, which the cows turn into meat and milk. But those methanogens also produce methane, a particularly nasty greenhouse gas that is 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide, thanks to the way its molecules vibrate to absorb infrared radiation. These gases capture heat, and that means more global warming…

Now multiply those burps by the world’s huge cattle population. To satisfy humanity’s bottomless appetite for beef and milk, a billion head of cattle now roam the planet. A paper published in September in the journal Nature Food by an international team of researchers found that the global food system generates a staggering 35 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. Beef is responsible for a quarter of those food emissions, with another 8 percent coming from milk production…

If scientists can figure out how to get cows to stop belching so much, that would make a big dent in emissions, and we’d see the climate effects almost immediately. So Mitloehner and other researchers are experimenting with food additives like seaweed, garlic, and even essential oils derived from plants like coriander seed, which tweak the animals’ gut environment in different ways, for instance by disrupting the enzymes that produce methane.

RTFA. Lots about hows and whys of the difficulties coming up with a solution to the problem. Beaucoup detail about the inventive constructs researchers come up with to measure the methane output…and what they’ve tried, so far, in attempts to mitigate that production.

Researchers pave the way for roads that recharge electric vehicles

The state of Michigan, which coincidentally is home to the first paved road in the country, may also become home to the first wireless electric vehicle “charging” road in the country. Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently announced the new initiative to develop the country’s first wireless charging infrastructure on a public road. The charging road will help advance state goals for more electric vehicle adoption and environmental sustainability in the state, hopefully creating more clean energy based jobs and reaching carbon neutrality by 2050…

Michigan’s Inductive Vehicle Charging Pilot, a collaboration between the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification, includes plans to deploy the electrified roadway system that “allows electric buses, shuttles and vehicles to charge while driving, enabling electric vehicles to operate continuously without stopping to charge.”

An electrified road would save electric vehicle owners and public transportation agencies the need to stop vehicles from charging constantly, and would support transit in parts of the country with little to no electric vehicle charging stations like the Midwest…

“[Michigan is in the] midst of the most significant shift in the automotive industry since the Model T rolled off the assembly line more than a century ago,” said Trevor Pawl, chief mobility officer at the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification in a press release. “This electrified roadway has the potential to accelerate autonomous vehicles at scale and turn our streets into safe, sustainable, accessible and shared transportation platforms.”

I’ll second that emotion.