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Name: Scott Tiefel
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Question:
I once heard that cow burps have a considerable effect upon Earth, causing the greenhouse effect. How is this possible?



Replies:
This story probably refers to a humorous exhibit in the Environmental Defense Fund's traveling show about the Greenhouse effect. The exhibit shows a drawing of a cow's digestive tract and every so often it lights up and the sound of a cow burping comes over a loudspeaker. It is funny but has a serious message - every cow has bacteria in its gut that help digest the cow's food, but also produce a gas called methane in the process. Methane is called a "greenhouse gas" because it traps heat in the atmosphere like carbon- dioxide. So if you add up hundreds of burps from millions of cows, you get a lot of methane going into the atmosphere, which is just one of many sources of air pollution. Cow burps are a very small part of the over-all problem, though. The carbon-dioxide from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas is a much larger source of greenhouse gas.

Mortis



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