Cadburys, the UK’s most famous chocolate manufacturer have joined the drive to reduce emissions in an innovative fashion.
Not only are they looking to reduce energy consumption via the use of timers, by ensuring machinery and lights are switched off when not in use, and by using fertilisers (which require oil to produce) more intelligently, they are also looking to reduce the methane emissions from the dairy cows that supply the milk that goes into their products by putting them on a low fibre diet.
Everyone, even children, seems to know that cows make a dramatic contribution to the planet’s emissions with the amount of methane they produce. A typical cow emits between 80 and 120kg of methane a year - the equivalent, believe it or not of an average car, although from its mouth and not in the form of farts as believed by many. Cadburys believe that they can reduce these emissions by as much as 30% by changing their cows’ diet, and lets hope they are right, but couldn’t they, and all cow owners go even further?
Cows spend a fair amount of time indoors - in the case of dairy cows, whenever they are being milked, and in the case of all cows for at least some of the winter in order not to completely destroy the fields they live in. Surely it would be possible to install a system into the typical cow barn that captures the huge amounts of methane produced, and even uses it in a practical way, for instance to heat the barn in question?
As a child, I remember being told stories about farmers being blown up when lighting a cigarette too close to farting pigs. Probably totally exagerrated, but not completely impossible, and something that returned to my thoughts these last few weeks. Whilst I agree that we absolutely need to go easy on our meat consumption, and that we should ideally look to reduce the number of polluting and consuming animals, maybe we should also be looking to harness the natural fuel being produced by them… Sounds mad? Right now, I think we should look at every option available - you never know what might work!