Stable Cattle Herd is Climate Neutral Says California Scientist Dr. Frank Mitloehner


Oklahoma Farm Report

12 Oct 2020


Cattle are not to blame for climate change, says Dr. Frank Mitloehner, professor and air quality specialist in Cooperative Extension in the Animal Science Department at the University of California, Davis.


Mitloehner has been a popular guest speaker on many virtual cattle industry meetings this year.


He challenges the idea advanced by environmentalists that cattle are to blame for greenhouse gases.


Mitloehner credits the cattle industry for reducing the carbon footprint and suggests cattle are climate neutral.


I believe beef is on its way to becoming climate neutral, he said.


Cattle emit methane, a gas that remains in the atmosphere for only 10 years.


Methane converts to CO2 during that 10 years, he said.


The carbon in the methane is not new carbon but rather recycled carbon, Mitloehner said.


He explains the bio cycle as carbon was in the atmosphere, absorbed by plants, eaten by cattle, goes into methane and the cycle starts over.


This is a different process than what happens with methane from fossil fuels, which operates on a 1,000-year bio cycle.


If the cattle herd remains about the same over a 10-year period, there is no net increase in methane.


Since 1974 we have had a decrease in herd size and we are now producing beef with 50 million fewer head, he said.


The California scientist uses the image of two bathtubs, one with a faucet but no drain, the other has both a faucet and a drain.


Every time we burn fossil fuels...


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