Fart Like a Kangaroo (and Save the Climate, Too)

If cows and sheep can, I'm positive we can.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus)

Never mind low-emissions vehicles and low-emissions power plants. Let's talk about low-emissions livestock. Scientists are working on a bizarre solution for an embarrassing environmental problem: farting cows and sheep that emit a stunning volume of greenhouse gases.

Bacteria that live in those animals' digestive tracts make methane, a potent greenhouse gas that's been linked to global warning. (The livestock sector accounts for 37 percent of human-related methane generation, according to the United Nations.) Kangaroos, however, have different gastrointestinal bacteria—and they don't make methane. So, those clever scientists have hit on the idea of transferring climate-friendly bugs from kangaroos into farm animals, which theoretically could put an end to the livestock emissions problem.

Now, I've heard some wacky things about the good that bacteria can do. I've even blogged about some of them. But this idea of using bacteria to manipulate cow farts opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. I've read that the flatulence of 1 in every 3 adults contains methane, and parents sometimes pass the trait to their children. Will families of methane-makers soon be encouraged to swallow little capsules of kangaroo microbes?

"Ta": (Thanks) to Inhabitat and my alert colleague Jim Bock for drawing my attention to an Australian news report on the subject.