One Scientist’s Ambitious Plan to Achieve Global Cooling With Cattle
Cows could be a climate change solution — if we take the science seriously
Farts are funny. Burger King thinks yodeling about cow farts is even funnier. In mid-July, the fast food chain released on Twitter an ad campaign starring boot-stomping kids, led by Mason Ramsey of Walmart Yodeling Kid fame, singing about cow farts contributing to global warming and claiming that lemongrass can reduce methane in those farts by a third.
The ad, part of the company’s #CowsMenu campaign, generated a backlash of social media criticism. Pissed-off ranchers and a concerned science community pointed out that the ad perpetuated a long-standing misconception about cow farts and the hotly debated narrative that cows are a major climate change problem. Plus, it promoted an unproven solution as its big greenhouse gas win. In doing so, Burger King missed the chance to highlight the real potential for change: turning cows and their methane-producing digestive systems into a climate cooling solution.
“Because it really is a major deal that agriculture can contribute here.”
Adding insult to injury, Burger King doesn’t know which end of the cow to focus on.
It’s the burps, BK, not the farts. The burps.
Frank Mitloehner, PhD, a University of California, Davis animal science professor and air quality expert, shared strong words about the campaign. “Nearly all enteric methane from cattle is from belching,” he tweeted in response. “Suggesting otherwise turns this serious climate topic into a joke.” Cattle, he argues, can cool the planet — herd sizes, efficient production methods, and burp management are key — and it’s past time for the conversation to shift toward exploring how their emissions could be manipulated in favor of global cooling.
“This is why I have a beef [with] making a silly story out of this,” Mitloeher tells OneZero. “Because it really is a major deal that agriculture can contribute here.”