I had a dream about MLK (Methane Leaking Knowledge)

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

Martin Luther King's contributions to social justice have made such a strong impact that it has transcended impacts on social justice and become synonymous with any positive change. This inquiry seeks to establish the causes of methane emissions in order to encourage behavioral changes to help maintain human and planetary health inspired by the messages of Martin Luther King which successfully changed behaviors to improve social equality.

Global warming and the topic of greenhouse gases are common in household discussions, debates and arguments. What is new is the introduction of methane emissions into this arena. ClimateChange.org stresses that the burning of fossil fuels creates carbon dioxide which creates a greenhouse effect. However, methane traps 29 times more heat per mass unit than carbon dioxide.

According to the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas and is caused by both natural and human produced sources. Information provided by WhatsYourImpact.org concludes that wetlands, termites and the oceans are the main contributors of natural methane emissions. The Environmental Information Administration reports that the energy sector, waste management, agriculture and industrial processes, such as iron, steel and chemical production, are the main contributors of human produced methane emissions. An additional element stressed by WhatsYourImpact.org highlights that natural methane emissions account for about one-third of total methane emissions and the remaining two thirds are from human produced sources.

An example of how agriculture contributes to methane emissions is the flatulence and manure produced by livestock such as cattle and pigs. Watching the documentary "Cowspiricy" directed by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn in 2014 presents a strong argument for the impact of commercial agriculture on the growing concern about methane emissions. The program observes that methane from livestock is 86 times more destructive than carbon dioxide from vehicles. Raising livestock for food is responsible for 30 percent of water consumption, occupies 45 percent of earth's land, is responsible for up to 91 percent of Brazilian Amazon destruction, is the leading cause of ocean dead zones, leading cause of habitat destruction, and the leading cause of species extinction. An additional element stressed by Cowspiricy is that a vegan diet on requires 1/6 of an acre and vegetarian diet would need 1/2 acre (three times a vegan need) and an omnivore diet requires 3 acres (18 times a vegan diet) of land to produce food for a year. The vegan diet presents a possible solution to reducing methane emissions although the EPA observes that commercial agriculture production and management of manure produced by raising livestock represents only 10 percent of total human produced methane emission sources.

Martin Luther King said he wanted to see positive changes in the world and the issue of methane emissions is a new topic that requires attention in order to initiate positive changes in human habits.

Works Cited:


EPA - United States Environment Protection Agency  

EIA - United States Energy Information Administration

“Cowspiricy” - documentary film. Director and produced by Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn

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