I know it is April 1st but this is not an April fools joke, for those who have not been following the story.
New Zealands proposed answer was to tax agriculture for the gas emissions of farming livestock and use that money to fund studies, as they estimated that livestock produced an estimated 50% of NZ’s gas emissions.
It quickly became known in the world press as the fart tax and caused many a childish joke … I can’t help it, I’m giggling as I type.
Whilst the idea of taxing per litre of fart had us all roaring with laughter there is a serious side to this issue.
The tax should have really been nicknamed the burp tax, as the methane is produced by bacteria in the rumen (the first stomach of cows and sheep) and mainly emitted by burping but that doesn’t play so well to our childish sense of humour about farting.
In 2007 Australian scientists were discussing transfering the bacteria from kangaroo’s stomachs to cows and sheep, as kangaroo’s don’t burp or fart methane.
In 2008 we heard that NZ scientists had developed a flatulence inoculation for sheep and cows.
Following the scrapping of the fart tax idea in NZ they created the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGGRC), who seem to be doing some interesting into the issue of methane released from farm animals.
They have been mapping genome sequences, testing a vaccine, manipulating diet, looking at fertiliser application timing, etc.
In a press release in 2007 about a the PGGRC stated: “The consortium believes it is still five years away from providing practical solutions to reduce methane emissions, and another 10 years away from seeing cost effective changes integrated into farm systems and widely adopted by farmers. Ultimately the solution could be delivered in the form of a drench, vaccine or by changing forage (feed) systems for animals.”
So where does that leave us now. We are still left with the methane timebomb in the Arctic and animals that will insist on burping and farting.
Should we be introducing yet another tax for farmers for producing the food we eat or should we just give away a free bag of corks with every cow or sheep sold.
It may stop them from farting and burping but would exploding cattle and sheep be seen as animal cruelty?!