MANHATTAN, Kan. — A professor at the University of California-Davis who has spent nearly two decades studying the relationship between the livestock industry and air quality will be the featured speaker for the Henry C. Gardiner Global Food Systems lecture Oct. 11 at Kansas State University.
Frank Mitloehner will present, ‘Rethinking Methane: Animal Agriculture’s Path to Climate Neutrality,’ beginning at 7 p.m. in McCain Auditorium. Admission is free.
“One of the most important aspects right now in and around livestock is its impact on climate,” said Mitloehner, who is also director of the CLEAR Center, which conducts sustainability research on animal agriculture.
“There is this notion out there that the impact of animal agriculture on the climate is tremendous. We have actual data that shows what the impact really is, and we can share with the audience what beef, dairy, pigs and poultry emit, and what we can do to further mitigate those emissions.”
Once livestock emissions and mitigation processes are better understood, Mitloehner said the world can move closer to turning what can be viewed as a liability into an asset.
“When you reduce a gas like methane, for example, something really beautiful happens,” he said. “You can actually pull carbon out of the atmosphere, which can have a positive impact on our climate.”
“So,” Mitloehner adds, “educating farmers and ranchers how to reduce their impacts can reduce overall warming impacts and can lead to the opposite: a cooling effect. This will be surprising to many, but this is something that we have figured out and are capable of communicating pretty effectively.”
Mitloehner said the CLEAR Center’s research is communicated broadly. His team routinely writes a blog that covers livestock sustainability issues, and reaches up to 300,000 readers. A YouTube channel maintained by the Center regularly gets “hundreds of thousands” of views, he said, though a recent piece titled ‘Eating Less Meat Won’t Save the Planet’ was watched 2.5 million times.
Mitloehner’s Twitter account — @GHGguru – receives approximately 3 million impressions per month.
“There are people interested in the intersection of livestock and the environment, and they want to hear from people who are not just tooting some propaganda, but who actually research these things,” he said.
Kansas State University established the Henry C. Gardiner Global Food Systems lecture in 2015 to provide science-based education about world food issues. The series allows students, faculty, staff and Kansas citizens to interact with U.S. and international food industry leaders on topics of current interest.
The lecture series is funded by the Gardiner family of Ashland, Kansas. Henry C. Gardiner, who passed away just days before the first lecture in 2015, was known as a visionary leader who dedicated his career to improving the beef industry through science and technology.
— Pat Melgares, K-State Research and Extension
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