Curious about the connection between cows and climate? Dairy Cares’ new YouTube series can help satisfy that curiosity. The short videos feature Dr. Frank Mitloehner, professor and air quality specialist at University of California, Davis, known on Twitter as @GHGGuru. Throughout the Cows and Climate series, Dr. Mitloehner answers a variety of questions, like “Can we eat our way out of climate change?” and “How can we reduce livestock methane?”
For Dairy Cares—a coalition that represents California’s family dairy farmers—the videos are an opportunity to help Dr. Frank Mitloehner further share his research, knowledge, and expertise. The GHG Guru speaks throughout the world and is a leading expert on livestock emissions. Through his ongoing research, he is helping support California dairy farmers’ world-leading efforts to reduce methane emissions to unprecedented levels—further shrinking their environmental footprint. The new videos will serve as helpful resources to amplify his outreach efforts, explain scientific concepts, and promote research-based and collaborative approaches to further reduce emissions.
“I think it’s important to understand how methane emissions from livestock cycle through the atmosphere,” Dr. Mitloehner said. “It’s also important to understand how the environmental footprint of livestock production varies greatly across the globe. The videos will help put greenhouse gas emissions from livestock into perspective and demonstrate effective ways to support farmers in their efforts to reduce those emissions.”
The introductory video in the Cows and Climate series helps to clarify that in the United States, livestock’s contribution to total greenhouse gas emissions is about 4 percent. This is the same in California. By advancing their farming practices and producing more milk with fewer cows, U.S. dairy farmers have already reduced the carbon footprint of a glass of milk by two-thirds.
Dr. Mitloehner is passionate about communicating the science behind livestock’s contribution to climate change and correcting inaccuracies or misrepresentations of this science when they occur in the media. He believes the best way to promote progress in reducing emissions is to support farmers and ranchers across the globe in the adoption of improved production practices and technologies. California is currently demonstrating how well-executed incentive programs can help farmers make tremendous improvements in environmental performance.
“I'm really encouraged to see that here in California, the various parties have understood that they have to work together,” Mitloehner said. “And we are working together—scientists, farmers, regulators, and others. California is currently going through a historic change. Unprecedented efforts are being made to further reduce the carbon footprint of dairy and livestock. The goal is a 40% reduction of methane to be achieved in the next 11 years. I can tell you that only happens when everybody, all stakeholders, work hand in hand.”
Tulare County dairy farmer Gerben Leyendekker enjoys knowing that the Cows and Climate videos are helping to share positive messages. He and many of his neighbors in Tulare County have applied for grant funding to support building digesters on their farms that will capture methane emissions and create carbon-negative transportation fuel to replace the use of diesel in heavy-duty trucks.
“I think it’s really important that our policy makers and regulators understand that California dairy farmers already lead the world in environmental sustainability,” Leyendekker said. “We’re doing all we can to do even better, and we appreciate the support from the state. It’s encouraging to have Dr. Mitloehner’s help in sharing this important story.”
Three Cows and Climate videos have been published to date. Dairy Cares anticipates a total of nine videos in the series. Subscribe to the Dairy Cares YouTube channel to stay in the loop. By clicking into Cows and Climate, you can learn more about dairy’s role in the global food system and California’s world-leading efforts to reduce dairy methane. You can also tweet your thoughts and questions to @GHGGuru on Twitter!