Friday, April 24, 2015

Vilsack unveils climate change goals

United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack unveiled voluntary guidelines for farmers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

Specific actions include reducing the unnecessary use of fertilizer and methane emissions from cattle and swine, reforesting areas damaged by wildfire and disease and encouraging tree planting in urban areas. 

For methane reduction in particular, the federal program promotes installing more anaerobic digesters, which use naturally-occurring bacteria to break down organic waste to produce biogas.

Vilsack's department estimates that if all steps are followed, it would reduce annual emissions and enhance carbon sequestration by roughly 120 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent — like taking 25 million cars off the road.

Vilsack said U.S. agriculture accounts for about nine per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

That’s a much lower estimate than others claim, pointing to cattle belches and farts as a huge contributor.