Methane is a greenhouse gas and methane released into the atmosphere contributes to global climate change. Compared to CO2, relatively little methane is released but it is ~ 20 times more effective at absorbing energy than CO2 so its contribution is significant. There are both human influenced and natural sources of methane. These including rice patties, swamp gasses, termites and ruminants such as cows.
My friend (and a reader of this blog) Marek Kirs send me this link to a story on NPR about attempts to reduce the amount of methane produced by cows. The idea is to adjust the types of food they eat or even manipulate their gut microbial community to eliminate the methanogenic organisms responsible for the gas production.
One of the points the researchers make is that the production of methane is the result of incomplete oxidation of food eaten by the cows. So, the elimination of methanogenesis could result in increases production of meat and milk from these animals. Cattle food conversion ration are around 12%, and any increases would likely be small but the idea is to have enough of an increase to offset any increased cost to the producers.