back to article Swedes to probe cow-belch threat to planet

Swedish researchers have secured $590,000 to determine just how much methane is emitted by belching cows, AP reports. While it's well known that cows pump out rather a lot of methane as a side product of digestion, 95 per cent of their gaseous output actually comes via belching. That's according to project leader Jan Bertilsson …

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Emigrating to Sweden !!

It is obvious that I live in the wrong country. First the Swedes get lotsa lolly to research the desirable length/proportion of leg and concluded that Kylie Minogue's pair of pins were highly desirable (department of the bleeding obvious) !! Now they pay thousands of squids to research bovine belches !!

Why can't I get a grant to research the potential of bio-thermal energy generation by harnessing the hot air emanating from Parliament or the bovine by-products that must fill that site to the rafters ??

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Paris Hilton

C'mon

Ok, reseach starts with which nations has best legs. Why do people get plastered at parties. NOW THIS? Who on earth allocates this research?

Paris cause she's always ready to try new postions (I mean things)

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Paris Hilton

Breathe in. Breathe out.

So although 95% of your gaseous output is via your mouth, it doesn't really mean anything. How much does *belching* contribute to the addition?

I think someone is taking the grant comittee for a ride.

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Flame

Cow Belches are Important!

Methane traps 20 times more solar radiation than carbon dioxide, bovine emmissions are responsible for more global warming than international flights! If we stop the belching we can carry on flying to the Caribbean! Death to all cows

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Happy

I thought the Aussies did this years ago

maybe they sorted out the other end

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Cow Tax

Maybe its time we introduced a cow tax, to discourage them from belching and farting, just likr road tax and fuel tax for the motorist. Hmm which is more usefull, a living cow or a car? we coudl get milk from somewhere else surely? or maybe just catch all the gas produced and use it to power things? Renewable energy ahoy!!

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Coat

Boffinry?

"The usual ta very much to Mike Richards for the tip-off about this "top Scandinavian boffinry", as he puts it."

Surely you mean "top Scandinavian bovinery"?

Mine's the leather jacket, thanks.

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Heart

@ Ishkandar

Seems it was the Poles who researched legs such as those belonging to Ms Minogue, so you might want to hold off on that ticket to Stockholm.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/17/perfect_legs/

Though if the Swedes are looking for some domestic research projects I suggest they look at something that has taxed the brains of men like myself since the seventies - the blonde or the redhead?

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Bronze badge

Alternative concerns

Someone called into the radio station I was listening to with a 'carbon footprint' concern that I hadn't even considered......carbonated drinks.

How much CO2 gets dumped into the atmosphere from carbonated drinks and would it have a significant impact? Worryingly they pointed out that beer gets pushed thrugh the pipes by CO2 as well (the IT angle).

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Cows

I thought the problem was what came out of the cows backside, as well as how any resulting pat decomposed.

I'd also head that mixing garlic wit the food reduced the amount of methane.

Just had a Viz moment: "Save money by giving cows a fag to smoke. Burns off methane and if the discharge is big enough you get an instant steak!"

Well, it's just a thought......

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CO2 in fizzy drinks? give me a break!

So we have to shut down all sources of CO2? Okay everybody STOP BREATHING NOW!!!

There, finally an end to Global... (THUD)

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Whats the difference ?

Does letting the vegetation rot outside of the cow produce more or less methane than letting it ferment inside ? At least inside a cow you get meat, milk and leather as valuable byproducts. I suppose what you really want is a cow bred and trained to belch directly into a methane tank which you can use to fuel a farm CHP plant.

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Anonymous Coward

Another waste of Money

Instead of using this money for something useful like finding out if they can change the diet of the cattle to reduce emissions they are wasting it on yet another study that shows that cattle produce greenhouse gasses.

I'm waiting for someone to do a study to show how much the environment could have been improved if the money spent on all the repetitive environmental research was instead spent on ways to fix the problems.

Hey I think I'm going to go apply for a grant.

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Alert

@Mark

"So although 95% of your gaseous output is via your mouth..."

Good God, man! 5% not from your mouth? Speak for yourself, and please do it in a different room from me!

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@David Wiernicki

What? Don't you breathe through your nose?

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Paris Hilton

Beverages

"How much CO2 gets dumped into the atmosphere from carbonated drinks and would it have a significant impact? Worryingly they pointed out that beer gets pushed thrugh the pipes by CO2 as well"

Good news: the carbon dioxide used in beverages was originally taken from the atmosphere in the first place, before being compressed into cylinders.

Bad news: compressing it, purifying it and transporting it to the point-of-use added some CO2 of its own.

As for beer, I thought everyone knew that all the best beers are pushed through the pipes by nothing but atmospheric pressure ..... pressure delivery is for bland products utterly devoid of character.

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@BoldMan

So what happened?

I think you must have died while writing it.

But if you were dying, you wouldn't bother to type out "THUD".

But that's what you typed in the website!

Perhaps you were dictating.

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Boffin

@ Melissa

"Instead of using this money for something useful like finding out if they can change the diet of the cattle to reduce emissions they are wasting it on yet another study that shows that cattle produce greenhouse gasses."

Since they're researching how different diets affect the levels of methane the cows produce, I think they are probably looking for something just like that.

The purpose of the study seems to be to find how much gas these cows produce and why, not if they produce any at all.

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Joke

@AC

"Though if the Swedes are looking for some domestic research projects I suggest they look at something that has taxed the brains of men like myself since the seventies - the blonde or the redhead?"

Only uptight Westerners have this problem !! Us Easterners are smarter !! Just have one of each, blond, brunette, redhead and dark !! Variety, they do say, is the spice of life !!

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AHHHHHHHHHHH

I love the smell of methane in the morning.............

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Paris Hilton

Easy fix

Down under in Oz , there is a more then ample supply of Kangaroo's to replace those methane front and rear green house gas belching cows !

For what other nation can actually eat it's yummy tasty national symbols on the countries coat of arms and their meat is not only tasty but contains no unhealthy fats either

The beauty is they don't generate green house gas either as the gut of the Kangaroo contain assorted bacteria which converts the stuff to an edible food stuff as well !

As Paris would say "Good For You" !

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Re: Cow Belches are Important!

While it's true that methane is a _much_ more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 in the short term, it also (eventually) turns into CO2 and H2O in the presence of oxygen and ultraviolet light. Essentially, it "burns", except it's individual molecules splitting and recombining, so don't expect to see a big flame.

If that weren't the case, well, we'd have a methane atmosphere by now. Since the Carboniferous, fermenting it in the stomach has been pretty much the only way to deal with plants. Plus there's the decomposing of leaves outside or in bogs, which produces the same effect. Essentially a part of most trees, bushes, grasses and so on that ever lived, got turned into methane. Which eventually turned into CO2 and H2O, which were used by plants again.

So while I applaud the initiative to see if anything can be done about the cows' diet, I'm a bit puzzled: why are people so obsessed with the cattle? Rabbits, deer, antelopes, elephants, koalas, termites, and generally any herbivore alive, well, produces methane by the exact same process. Anything that can eat leaves without them being cooked or boiled, produces methane.

If we're going to count cattle burps against their carbon quota for Aussies, why not start counting the antelopes and elephants in Africa against those countries' carbon quotas?

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Anonymous Coward

Call for Mr. Pullman

If we only grant Philip Pullman his right to arm bears, they could sort this out in no time, at least in the northerly reaches of Sweden

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Anonymous Coward

Belch/Fart

A couple of years ago,our Government tried to introduce a tax on our local cows, that soon got called the

"Fart Tax" , and it got world wide publicity and laughter.

They became so embarrassed that they dropped the idea.

Fancy the Swedes being as stupid as our lot

PS . From New Zealand

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Anonymous Coward

Belch/Fart

A couple of years ago,our Government tried to introduce a tax on our local cows, that soon got called the

"Fart Tax" , and it got world wide publicity and laughter.

They became so embarrassed that they dropped the idea.

Fancy the Swedes being as stupid as our lot

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Anonymous Coward

capture the methane

How about capturing the methan and burn it to create energy? The resulting CO2 would be less damaging to the atmosphere. the carbon foot print would be zero because the grass the cow ate is regrowing rapidly.

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Cows

AFAIK - Cows (& Ruminents in general) don't fart that much, they mainly belch, hence the interest in the mouth-gas

The research into 'Roos was because they have a similar diet to cows, but don't produce the save Methane, this turns out to be because of an enzyme in their digestive systems, so the research is looking at introducing that to cow feed. Or sumfink like that.

Also the cow methane / flying thing is not comparing like with like, unless all your planes are at ground level or your cows are at about 11Km up.

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Rod

Disgusted of Surrey

Articles about "Swedes probing cows" are beneath your usual journalistic standards! "Stop" I say.

"disgusted" of Surrey.

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CH4, CO2

I recall some decades ago, someone collected the slops from a piggery and used the methane for farm power.

The CO2 emissions from cattle (and any other herbivores) is pretty unimportant wrt global warming, a lot of it was in the atmosphere a week or so before it got eaten. In the case of supplements (hay, grain) maybe it's been out of circulation for a year or two.

Methane's more of a problem, it's lighter than air (CO2 is heavier) so drifts off into the upper atmosphere.

CO2 gets absorbed into plants and forms rocks (limestome and such). The problem there is not as quickly as we release it.

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Dead Vulture

@Belch/Fart

Shh!, Don't tell HM Gov there's a new way of extracting money from us.

The dead vulture - That's what you get from sniffing cow breath!

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@CH4, CO2 / John

Power from farm slop (anerobic digesters to create Methane to then burn for leccy) is fairly common - there is even a storyline in The Archers at the moment...

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Joke

So...

...is this a load of bull?

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Joke

What about vegetarians ...

Why don't they do their research on vegetarians, after all they have the same diet so also produce methane

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Heart

kangaroo shit

I heard that there was research being done on getting kangaroo gut bacteria into cows, as they are much more efficient and generate far less methane.

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