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A New Idea in Climate Science: Fewer Cow Burps

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When it comes to greenhouse gases, there’s one frequent contributor that may not have crossed your mind: belching cows.

According to Wired.com, livestock puts out almost 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions each year. And most of that comes from cows. But now scientists are tackling the problem, doing their best to lessen the worldwide scourge of cow burps. They’re doing this by manipulating the things cows eat in efforts to reduce the amount of gas produced in cow stomachs.

Cows produce a ton of methane. And, while methane may not linger in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, but it has a much larger short-term climate impact. In fact, methane is 28 times more effective at trapping solar heat than CO2.

Danish scientists are manipulating grass DNA they hope will cut methane production without starving cows of nutrients. Meanwhile, researchers at Penn State have managed to manipulate gut microbes to produce 30 percent fewer cow belches.