I love cows. Despite their size, they are docile, gentle creatures. When left to their own devices, cows give us milk, which in turn we use to nourish ourselves, make butter, cream and all manner of deliciously naughty things. But cows have a darker, more sinister side. Their seemingly innocent way of life is feared to play a major role in the biggest problem facing humanity today: global warming.
Happily Farting & Burping Cow
As many of you know, cow gas, or bovine flatulence (farts) and eructation (burps), is suspect when determining the factors that contribute to global warming. Why? The reason is simple: cow gas emits methane gas and according to environmentalists like EarthSave, methane is by far the most important non-CO2 greenhouse gas floating around the atmosphere and threatening the ozone layer.
So the immediate problem to a cow lover like me is what to do about cows right now? After all, it is not too far-fetched to imagine a scenario where these sweet creatures could end up the unfortunate targets of the environmentally terrified. I mean people have tipped cows for a lot less. I suppose you could slaughter them, but that hardly seems ethical or humane. Instead, why not just keep tabs on them with United States patent 5265618? The patent, issued in 1993 to Patrick R. Zimmerman of Boulder, Colorado, is for a System for Measuring Metabolic Gas Emissions from Animals. Or, as I like to call it, the cow gas meter.
The meter works as a gauge designed to measure how much gas is emanated from the cow. (Although the meter can be used with many different farm animals, cattle are the only animals specifically mentioned in the patent application.) First, an internal tracer in the shape of a tube is fed to the animal. This shouldn't be too hard to do, many of today's industrial agricultural practices are centered on feeding cows all manner of foreign, unnatural junk. Next a collecting device, some kind of container, is attached either to an inflatable collar or a halter. Then every time the cow belches, er, breathes, metabolic gas samples are collected and easily analyzed for methane because the tracer ratio is known and constant.
But what about cow farts? Well, that's a whole other discussion. Suffice it to say, that right now methane gas emitting from the other end of the cow, or "biogas" is sometimes burned and the heat energy is used to generate electricity, which we like and all agree contributes to the greater good. Long story short? Cow burps bad - cow farts kinda' good.
So go ahead and enjoy those dairy products knowing that a bowl full of ice cream doesn't have to come at the expense of the planet. And you won't need it to keep you cool on our increasingly warm planet either. That's because the cow gas meter is hard at work helping us all, including the cow, survive. Looks like the cow and I will live to love another day!