Wanna Stop Global Warming? Get Drunk

Grape marc diet lowers cow methane emissions by 20 percent, study finds.
Cow methane emissions—burps and farts—are a climate killer. (Photo: Stuart Pearce/Getty)
Dec 7, 2011· 1 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

Just in time for the holidays, scientists in Victoria, Australia, have gifted the wine industry a preposterously fantastic selling point: “If you consume copious amounts of our fermented grapes, you will help pump the brakes on climate change.”

New research has found that if cows are fed the leftover material from the process of making wine—stems, seeds, and skins (known as grape marc)—their toxic, climate-killing methane emissions will fall by 20 percent, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

And yes, by methane emissions we’re talkin’ ‘bout cow burps and farts.

The indolent creatures digest their food through enteric fermentation, which emits methane, a gas that is roughly 23 times better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.

In the United States alone, cattle release about 5.5 million metric tons of methane per year into the atmosphere—20 percent of total U.S. methane emissions, reports the E.P.A.

Put differently, the average milk-making cow emits up to 120 kilograms of methane each year, about the same as an average family car.

Conducted by the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, the new study also found that a cattle’s milk output went up by five percent.

Finding ways to lower a cow’s carbon fartprint is certainly not a new scientific quest. Other studies have proven that garlic diets as well as keeping dairy cows outside year-round will, for lack of a better word, cork a cow’s methane excretions.

If a grape marc diet indeed proves to be the panacea in the fistfight to reduce bovine methane emissions, then all the fall-down drunks who regularly wake up with unholy hangovers after a night at the wine bar can take solace in this fact: you took one for Team Earth.