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The greenhouse Effect is the natural process of the sun warming the Earth’s surface. Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (primarily carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, and water vapor) trap the sun’s heat and cause the global temperature to rise. Thus, greenhouse gas emissions effects are wreaking havoc on planet Earth.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Effects
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere reflect heat back toward earth. Like the windows in a car on a sunny day. These gases allow light from the sun to enter the atmosphere and warm the Earth to prevent heat from escaping. Without GHGs in the atmosphere, the Earth would be inhabitable and cold. The challenge is that too many greenhouse gas emissions effects traps too much heat, causing the average temperature to rise over time. Let’s take a step back to talk about the greenhouse effect.
What is the Greenhouse Effect?
This process is called the greenhouse effect because it mimics what happens in a greenhouse used to grow plants in the winter. The sun enters the greenhouse during the day, and the glass walls trap the sun’s heat. In turn, the sun warms up the air inside the green house, even keeping the greenhouse warm overnight when the sun is down, and outside temperatures are low. Greenhouse gases change the environment.
Greenhouse Gases Change the Ecosystems
The more greenhouse gases we emit, the more heat we trap in the atmosphere. The more heat, the more the globe warms up. When the global temperatures rise, it changes the ecosystems all over the earth. For example, deforestation of the forests, melting ice capes, rising sea levels, loss of marine life and more. The main concern is to reduce these toxic GHGs.
How Do We Reduce These Emissions?
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, all industries must work together to minimize the harmful effects of climate change. Agriculture can reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions. This would offset a significant number of greenhouse gas emissions from other industries and would, at the same time, sequester carbon.
Excess carbon in the atmosphere warms the atmosphere warms the planet and helps plants on land in the ocean makes the water more acidic, putting marine life in danger.
Too Much Carbon Dioxide
Carbon dioxide packs a longer-lasting punch. CO2 is a stock atmosphere. It has been around for centuries, adding greater warming impacts over time. In fact, carbon is the primary climate change culprit. This steady accumulation leads to exponential increases in warming.
Burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, petroleum, natural gas) is a major concern. When these fuels are burned, they release large amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into to the air we breathe. These fuels originate from plants and animals (that decompose) that existed millions of years ago.
They are the leading sources of global warming. Carbon is a complicated substance for the environment. Fossil fuels are used to produce energy, produced heat for your home, and are used in large power plants to produce electricity a d used to power engines. At the same time, they are partly the cause of global warming.
The Bittersweet of Carbon Footprints
Without carbon dioxide, Earth’s natural greenhouse effect would be too weak to keep the average global temperature above freezing. On the other hand, by adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, people are supercharging the natural greenhouse effect, causing global temperature to rise. Another cause for global warming is animal agriculture.
Greenhouse Gases and Animal Agriculture
Nowadays, scientists are in battle trying to find how to stop GHGs emissions. In terms of who is responsible for these catastrophes, it is a tossup between Fossil fuels emitted by automobiles and GHGs derived from animal agriculture. At any rate, the objective is to reduce these toxins ASAP. Let’s look at the animal agriculture dilemma.
Role of GHGs
Animal agriculture contributes significantly to global warming through ongoing emissions of the potent greenhouse methane and nitrous oxide. It involves holding animals’ hostage so humans can have they meat, milk, and eggs fit. It involves the breeding, raising, and slaughter of animals. This business has a high percentage of GHGs.
Percentage of GHGs
Animal agriculture contributes significantly to global warming through ongoing emissions of the potent gas methane and nitrous oxide. According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 14.5% of the GHGs are caused by animal agriculture run by humans. Other agencies say there is a much higher percentage of gas emissions. There is an urgency to reduce these environmental gases as soon as possible.
How Producers can Reduce Greenhouse Gases
In addition to health benefits, there are environmental benefits of vegetarian diets. A vegetarian diet use less water and fossil fuel resources, lower amounts of pesticides and fertilizers, and fewer antibiotics to prevent and treat animal diseases. Also, let’s give our vegetarians a round of applause.
How Does a Vegetarian Lifestyle Help with GHGs?
We cannot talk about a vegetarian lifestyle without talking about the environment, global warming, and the rise of greenhouse gas emissions. For many die-hard vegetarians, particularly, vegans, this is one of their main reasons for reducing or limiting their meat consumption. Vegetarians significantly offset greenhouse gas emissions.
Besides the vegetarian communities, agriculture can also reduce its own greenhouse gases emissions. This helps offset a significant number of emissions from other industries. Exxon Mobile is zooming in to lend a helping hand. In addition, here are two other key players in the fight to defeat GHGs – Enteric Methane Reduction and Anaerobic digesters.
Enteric Methane is produced when ruminant animals (cows, sheep, goats, oxen) digest plant fibers. Ruminant animals have special features. For example:
- They are hoofed herbivores
- Grazing or browsing mammals
- Able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food
- They ferment food in a specialized stomach prior to digestion
- Through a microbial action
- Deer, giraffes, bison, camels, alpacas, llamas, wildebeest, antelope.
The bacteria in their rumen (stomach) they generate methane. This methane is released by the animals when they belch. Some methane is very potent greenhouse gas. Therefore, it is important to find ways to inhibit methanogens (gases) that live in the rumen.
This production of methane also represents a loss of energy that could be used by that animal for growth or milk production. So, minimizing enteric methane production will help animals be more productive (producing more meat and milk). Let’s dive into anaerobic digestion.
What are Anaerobic Digesters?
Anaerobic digestion is a process through which bacteria breaks down organic matter such as animal manure, wastewater biosolids, and food wastes (like compost) with the use of oxygen. This is done in a continuous stirred-tank reactors. These are giant tanks in granular sludge bed (95% of bacteria). From here, let’s move on from sludge beds to solutions.
Solutions of Animal Agriculture
According to the Center for Biological Diversity, “industrialized meat and dairy production are killing the planet, poisoning rural communities, and hurting independent farmers. Take action to help support a just food system for people and the planet.” Here a few ways to help industries fight GHGs:
- GHGs reductions decrease costs of electricity, fuel, packaging, and other business expenses.
- Improving efficiencies and implementing GHG reduction
- Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is considered a key solution to decarbonization
- Reroutes Carbon away from the atmosphere
- Safely stores it below the earth’s surface.
It is part of ExxonMobil’s plans to enable large-scale emission reductions. They are at the forefront in their efforts to achieve society’s net-zero ambitions. Exxon Mobil is planning to phase out fossil fuels by 2050.
Phasing Out Animal Agriculture
According to Stanford University scientists, replacing animal agriculture and shifting to a plant-based diet could drastically curb greenhouse gas emissions for the next 30 years. A new model suggests that phasing out animal agriculture over the next 15 years is a good start. This would have the same effect as a 68% reduction of carbon dioxide emissions through the year 2100. Check out Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, 2006. Did you know he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental efforts in 2007? https://youtu.be/FKww6xMTCc0
We have a predicament on our hands that needs a solution. Greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise. As a result, we are experiencing global warming and climate change, simultaneously. If we all put our heads and hearts together, I am confident we can put a dent in these environmental challenges. Do you have any questions or concerns about greenhouse gas emissions? What is your perspective on this topic? Please chime in and let’s share our thoughts. Leave your ideas and opinions in the comment section below. Thanks for joining me and until next time ~
2 thoughts on “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Effects– Why Blame the Ruminants?”
Thanks for your detailed description of the Greenhouse Effect and its possible solutions. I appreciate this information. Happy Holidays and all the Best.
I certainly appreciate your response to my article on Greenhouse Gas Emissions. I recently transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle, and I am discovering more and more topics that I know very little about. I am not quite where I want to be in terms of my stance on a meatless diet. However, I am concerned about saving our planet.
I love all of your comments.