There’s a new diet fad spreading across the world’s bovine population — and it could save the human race from the threat of climate change.
According to an Associated Press story, it all started with one farmer’s attempt to save money on feed by giving his cows seaweed from a nearby beach. Subsequent scientific research found that seaweed significantly reduces the amount of destructive methane cows burp and fart into the atmosphere. (It also meant the farmer could no longer blame bad smells in the house on the cows.)
My friends, cow flatulence is a serious problem. There are nearly 1.5 billion cows on this planet and they are happily munching on grass and burping and farting to their heart’s content. Their emissions are full of methane, a greenhouse gas that increased the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the volume they emit significantly outpaces that created by our fossil fuel-burning SUVs and factories.
When a group of really bored scientists at Australia’s James Cook University studied the phenomenon, they determined that adding just 2 percent of dried seaweed to a cow’s diet can reduce methane emissions by 99 percent.
“Holy cow!” declared one scientist. “This means I can keep driving my 2-ton SUV to the factory without any guilt!”
Saving the world’s ozone layer from destructive cow farts is noble deed, but the most important result of the research is that we now know just how many cows are roaming the world: 1.5 freaking billion!
How did scientists arrive at that number? According to a story in “Cows Illustrated,” they hired a person with absolutely no life to travel the globe and count cows. The job ad read: “Do you like the great outdoors? Do you like working with animals? Do you like stepping in cow dung on a daily basis? Have we got a job for you!”
A guy named Jethro answered the ad and showed up for the interview wearing tall rubber boots and a goofy smile. “Hi! I don’t have a life and I love stepping in cow patties!” he said.
He was hired on the spot and — after three years, $2.2 million in travel expenses and 12 pairs of rubber boots — Jethro determined there are 1.5 billion cows on the planet. His book “Among the Cow Patties” is still on the New York Times bestseller list
The cows are not too happy about the new seaweed diet. It seems that reducing the amount of methane in their burps and farts has put a kink in their quest for global domination via climate change.
Ralph the cow: “Well, Bob. It looks like our plan to take over the world has hit a snag.”
Bob the cow: (sobbing): “I don’t want to be a cheeseburger!”
Testing supplements in cattle feed is not new. Researchers in Scotland, for example, fed dairy cows dried purple cabbage. It reduced the cow’s burps and farts by 20 percent, but left the nearby town of Edinburgh in a purple haze.
A scientist in India added curry powder to the cows’ diet, but quickly learned it made cow farts extremely flammable. The doctors say his eyebrows will grow back in no time.
In Humboldt County, California, farmers sprinkled cow feed with dried marijuana, but the results were inconclusive because they lost track of the cows. They were later found at a Circle K mini-mart, asleep and surrounded by empty packages of Ding-Dongs and Doritos.
Of course, one challenge to converting 1.5 billion cows to the new seaweed diet is getting enough seaweed to the cows. Most dairy and cattle operations are located inland, far from the sea. However, our cow-counting friend Jethro, possibly high on cow patty fumes, proposed that all the cows be relocated to nearby coasts. The only problem is, getting the cows to the coast before it disappears under rising sea levels caused by climate change.
Jethro suggested sprinkling marijuana on the cows’ feed and setting up Ding Dongs and Doritos stations along the route.
Sounds like another best-seller in the making.
Scott Graves was editor of the Curry Coastal Pilot from September 2000 to November 2017. He can be reached by calling 541-469-3123 or firstname.lastname@example.org .