]]]]]]]]]]]]]   FORGET THE FACTS AND GIVE THANKS    [[[[[[[[[[[[
               THAT ALL THOSE FIELDS ARE OUTSIDE      (1/5/1990)
                        By Gary Lamphier
           Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal.
     [From The Wall Street Journal, 4 January 1990, p. B1:1]

          [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 10602PANC]

   Charges that cattle are prime culprits in spreading greenhouse
gases are a lot of bull, say angry ranchers.
   The Alberta Cattle Commission, for example, is seeing red over
allegations  that  the  ruminants offend  the  heavens.   So it's
planning  an   ad  campaign   aimed  at   clearing  the   air  of
``misinformation''  it says  critics  are spreading  about bovine
emissions and global warming.
   ``We're going to take the offensive on this one,'' vows Gordon
Mitchell, an official  with the commission,  whose 46,000 members
own about 40% of Canada's  11 million cattle.  ``They've picked a
fraudulent bull's-eye.''
   The   cattlemen   are  steamed   over   criticism   from  such
environmental groups  as California-based  Earth Save,  that cite
the  contribution  of  belching,   flatulent  quadrupeds  to  the
atmosphere's  ballooning  methane  supply,  which  is  growing by
around 500 million metric tons, or 1% a year.
   Ruminants  impart   methane  as  a   byproduct  of  digestion,
compliments of the cellulose-munching microbes that rent space in
their  stomachs.  ``All  those  little bugs  are  happily passing
gas,'' says  Ronald Oremland of  the U.S.  Geological Survey, who
worries that  methane is trapping  planetary heat  and driving up
temperatures.
   Partly  to  still  the   ill  winds,  Earth  Save's  director,
Partricia Carney, says  the group seeks  a ``major reduction'' in
the  cattle  population,  which numbers  about  1.3  billion head
world-wide, 100 million of them in the U.S.
   ``We couldn't allow these stories to go ahead without taking a
stand,'' says  Pincher Creek,  Alberta, rancher  Robert Mitchell,
who sees termites and other methane sources as the real bad guys.
He heads the task force plotting a response to critics, including
the ad campaign.
   A   study  commissioned   by  the   Washington-based  National
Cattlemen's  Association supports  Mr. Mitchell's  postulate that
cattle are methane scapegoats.  Author  Floyd Byers, of Texas A&M
University,  says livestock  generate just  10.7% of  the world's
methane, compared with 42% for wetlands and rice paddies.
   Adds  animal scientist  Erasmus  Okine, of  the  University of
Alberta: ``I'd hate the word to  go out that it's only cattle who
are responsible for  the world's methane  production,'' though he
says adult beef cattle each produce about 220 liters of the gas a
day.  ``That's a lot of methane,'' concedes Mr. Okine.  ``If only
we could put a catalytic converter on these things. ...''

                     -------------------

      [The following is not part of the original article.]

Zimmerman,  P.R. and  Greenberg,  J.P. ``Termites:  A Potentially
   Large  Source  of  Atmospheric  Methane,  Carbon  Dioxide, and
   Molecular Hydrogen''.  Science 218:563-565 (5 Nov 1982).

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