A toilet for cows could help the environment

in September 17th, 2021
toilet-for-cows

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The latest in climate solutions? Potty training cows. You see, an individual cow urinates roughly eight gallons each day. As that urine mixes with soil, it produces nitrous oxide, a colorless gas that accounted for roughly seven percent of greenhouse gases in 2019. And if that wasn’t enough, frequent cow peeing also produces between 55 to 110 gallons of methane a day. Both these gases are more detrimental to the earth than carbon dioxide: nitrous oxide has 296 times the global warming potential as CO2 while methane has 80 times.

That’s why a group of German researchers created the MooLoo, an outdoor toilet made of turf that collects, treats, and neutralizes cow urine to pose a lesser risk. And while not every cow was successfully potty trained, the group says collecting even 20% of global cow urinations could significantly reduce emissions. That said, the cow toilet does not yet account for stool, which is also a major nitrogen contributor.

And the problem stretches beyond just emissions. Nitrogen compounds pollute rivers, making the water dangerous for people to swim or drink from and poses a risk to wildlife.

That said, a lot of the burden falls on American farming practices. Cow manure is stored in pits that encourage bacteria whose growth doubles the amount of methane produced. This method was previously unaccounted for resulting in big underestimations of global emissions. In fact, adding in the emissions caused by manure pits bumps global emissions by 37%. What can be done to change that?

  • The obvious solution is cutting livestock production, which the Netherlands is considering. Their hope is to force farmers to cull herds by 30%, reducing nitrogen contributions by simply eliminating some of the source.
  • Then there's the livestock’s diet. One study shows cattle feed cut with three ounces of seaweed could reduce methane emissions by 82%. That said, Burger King faced controversy over a campaign last year in which they fed lemongrass to some of their livestock, which has been shown to reduce methane emissions by 33%.

🎬 Take Action 

Calling all meat eaters: Consider reducing your consumption. Studies show that if the biggest meat eaters limited themselves to 1.5 hamburgers a week, it would result in a reduction of 5.5 billion tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Gizmodo (Where we found this story) 5 days old | 6 minutes long
  • CTV News Details of the MooLoo 5 days old  | 5 minutes long
  • Washington Post Data behind greenhouse gas producing urine 2 days old | 8 minutes long
  • Forbes Cow poop contributing to global warming 3 years old | 4 minutes long
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         '.__/`_ / \ _`\__.'
            | (')| |(') |
            | .--' '--. |
            |/ o     o \|
            |           |
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         ;::'    / \      .;
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      /  |  . /       \    |  \
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      |  (  ')         (.  )::|
      |: |   |; U U U ;|:: | `|
      |' |   | \ U U / |'  |  |
      ##V|   |_/`"""`\_|   |V##
jgs      ##V##         ##V##

This toilet is legen-dairy.

Art Credit: Chad Racine

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