Ranch Musings: Researchers conclude livestock have no detectable effect on climate

Regular columnist David Zirnhelt looks at methane emissions from livestock, climate and soil

This conclusion in my headline should say “Methane Emissions from Livestock Have No Detectable Effect on The Climate.”

When I see a headline in a news article, I try to check out the original research that spawns the headline. In this case, the article is in Climate Change Dispatch, back in 2018, quoting the abstract from a research paper by Dr. Albrecht Glatzle.

He concludes, “there is no scientific evidence, whatsoever, that domestic livestock could represent a risk for the Earth’s climate” and, “the warming potential of anthropogenic (people-caused) GHG emissions has been exaggerated.”

The evidence he provides is that his team “could not find a clear domestic livestock fingerprint, neither in the geographical methane distribution nor in the historical evolution of mean atmospheric methane concentration.”

To offer some evidence of proof of this argument, Glatzle states that from 1990 to 2005, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) say that there was a complete stabilization of atmospheric methane, despite the world cattle population increasing by one million head.

On the other hand, the argument goes that livestock are important in keeping two-thirds of the world’s agricultural land (grazing and grasslands) producing food.

Yes, adding another billion people is not good, and it is the demand by humans for resource consumption that is, in my view, the biggest climate challenge.

That said, our collective challenge is to convert degraded farmland on a “regenerative” path, not just a “sustainable” path.

Cattle eat much of the byproduct of human food, like grain and pulses (peas and other legumes), straw from these foods, which humans can’t consume.

This information comes from a paper by Taro Takahashi presented at the international Alltech conference in Lexington, Kentucky, this spring. He hails from an English institute which has been studying pasture soil since 1856.

He argues that manure is an important part of any sustainable arable farming system.

Further, he says that if you have a higher stocking rate and uniform distribution of animals, the soil health and structure is vastly improved.

I guess one of my conclusions is that we shouldn’t be plowing up any more of the marginal soils to try to raise human or animal food that way.

Ruminants evolved to digest coarse plant-based food.

This is a case of not throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Advocates for plant-based protein for human food need to be careful in assuming that stopping eating meat is good for the planet.

Maybe the science they are using to back their claims is faulty.

But then too, livestock producers need to up their game and focus on soil health because more soil organic matter will increase the water-holding capacity and therefore grow more and better feed, more efficiently.

High fossil fuel users are still the big emitters, while beef producers as fossil fuel users consume only about 0.7 per cent.

The study from Britain “suggest(s) that each individual beef sector and the entire value chain can produce more high-quality protein than is consumed in production.”

I have not read the whole thing myself, rather relying on a columnist for the Western Producer.

David Zirnhelt is a rancher and member of the Cariboo Cattlemen’s Association. He is also chair of the Advisory Committee for the Applied Sustainable Ranching Program at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake.

Just Posted

Forestry Ink: Forest tenure changes are occurring throughout the world

Regular columnist Jim Hilton writes about forest tenure and ownership

Quesnel Safeway honours its volunteer shoppers

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Safeway’s volunteer shopper program

Police name second suspect, lay kidnapping and attempted murder charges in connection with Rudy Johnson Bridge incidents

Drynock is considered dangerous, do not approach him and call the local RCMP detachment immediately

Grey Ghost to get back on track at Doug Larson Memorial Race

Quesnel’s Mike Spooner wants to race again after 17-year hiatus

Northern Development Initiative Trust offers rebate for businesses affected by mill closures, curtailments

Small and medium-sized businesses can apply for Forestry Affected Business Consulting Rebate

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

Canadians killed in Afghanistan honoured during emotional dedication ceremony

One-hundred-fifty-eight Canadian soldiers died during the mission

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

Most Read