Two videos are circling Twitter, both focusing on the methane reduction from livestock. One video is from a fast-food chain, the other from a California university. When it comes to cows and their impact on the environment, a UC Davis professor says it is best to stick to science.
Burger King released a marketing commercial titled ‘Cows Menu’ and according to the fast-food chain it shows the work they are doing to, “help address a core industry challenge: the environmental impact of beef.”
The commercial features a child yodeling about cows releasing methane, polluting the atmosphere thus causing global warming. In a statement, Burger King says they worked with scientists to develop a new diet for cows, “which according to initial study results, on average reduces up to 33% of cows’ daily methane emissions per day during the last 3 to 4 months of their lives.” The restaurant will offer beef sourced from those cows in its Reduced Methane Emissions Beef Whopper.
After the video was released, Dr. Frank Mitloehner who is a professor and cooperative extension air quality specialist for the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis tweeted out the university also produced a video on methane. UC Davis’ video titled ‘Rethinking Methane’ is, “One that’s rooted in science,” Mitloehner said. “It may not feature the yodeling kid, but it does explain why it’s time to rethink methane.”
The video discusses biogenic methane–methane from cows and wetlands– and the role it plays in the changing of the climate. The big difference is its short life-span and that it is part of the natural carbon cycle. Mitloehner says this why biogenic methane impact should be measured differently.
The professor’s initial tweet has been shared by industry professionals and sparked conversations with many others. In his Twitter thread, Mitloehner said, “When an iconic brand such as Burger King commits to innovative methane reduction solutions, it’s a big deal and it should be applauded. But when they drop the ball on the significance of the solution and lose the context, it’s very disappointing.” He added, “reducing methane emissions is worthwhile and shows that yes, it is possible for animal agriculture to be more sustainable. It will buy us time to fight climate change. But fossil fuel CO2 is the largest GHG source by far. And that’s where the real focus should be.”