Cattle a possible solution to global warming

09 Dec 2016

Over the past few years scientists have focused their attention on ruminant livestock like cattle as significant contributors towards global warming due to their gaseous emissions. A simple example of a gaseous emission is methane that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide and that is produced during the rumination process of cattle and other ruminant livestock.


However, delegates at the recent 2016 World Meat Congress in Uruguay were given a different view on the matter, thanks to a presentation by Alan Savory. His presentation fuelled a view on grazing and cattle techniques that can actually minimise the impact of global warming.

Savory said that land is actually desperate for animals, saying the opposite is true. “In a nutshell, livestock is not the problem but rather the solution.”

Zimbabwean-born Savory spent the best part of 50 years studying the causes of desertification around the world. Seven years ago, he established the Savory Institute of Colorado that is one of 11 finalists in the U$25 million Virgin Earth Challenge – an initiative for the successful commercialization of ways to capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and keep them without any compensatory impact.

According to Savory, based on studies and years of experience, it is guaranteed that if we graze livestock on grasslands, these will recover. “We need to take the animals to the grasslands. The earth needs animals,” he said.

“Animal hooves break up the crust of algae that forms on barren soil in dry areas. Breaking it up encourages the growth of grass. By trampling vegetation and coating it with manure, the livestock produce mulch that ensures the soil absorbs and retains more water.”

Savory said that countries like Uruguay in which extensive pastures abound, could easily double their beef output by adopting more efficient grazing techniques.