Researchers discovered a pink seaweed that ‘completely knocks out’ greenhouse gasses expelled by cows

via Ria Tan / Flickr and Kevin Walsh / Flickr

Climate change deniers often mock the claim that gas expelled from cows, either through the mouth or the bottom, is a major cause of global warming.

It was even a point of debate when Republicans were discussing the Green New Deal.

But it's true. According to the United Nations, livestock farming produces about 18% of environmentally damaging gases — and about a quarter of that chunk comes from cow emissions.

When cows digest food in their intestines it ferments, which causes them to expel methane. When methane is released into the atmosphere without being burned off, it absorbs the sun's heat, warming the atmosphere.


RELATED: Still don't think climate change matters? Here's how it's hitting people where it hurts.

Dr. Nick Paul, a University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) Seaweed Research Group leader Associate Professor, believes he may have a solution to the massive amount of greenhouse gasses expelled by cows.

He has discovered that when cows eat asparagopsis, a puffy pink seaweed that grows prolifically off the Queensland Coast in Australia, they stop producing methane.

"When added to cow feed at less than two percent of the dry matter, this particular seaweed completely knocks out methane production," Dr. Paul said in a statement. "It contains chemicals that reduce the microbes in the cows' stomachs that cause them to burp when they eat grass."

Plus, the cows think it's pretty tasty.

"Seaweed is something that cows are known to eat. They will actually wander down to the beach and have a bit of a nibble," Dr. Paul said.

His team at USC is currently researching ways to grow more of the seaweed species so one day it can be used to supplement cow feed on a global basis.

RELATED: Finnish company making food of the future out of thin air

"This seaweed has caused a lot of global interest and people around the world are working to make sure the cows are healthy, the beef and the milk are good quality," Dr. Paul said.

"That's all happening right now," he continued. "But the one missing step, the big thing that is going to make sure this works at a global scale, is to make sure we can produce the seaweed sustainably."

The researchers aren't just looking for ways to mass produce the seaweed, they are studying its chemical composition so similar compounds can be made that mimic the seaweeds effects.

"We know the chemical composition of asparagopsis and we know the chemical compounds that actually reduce methane production in cows, so now we want to maximise the concentration of that chemical so we can use less seaweed for the same effect," project scientist Ana Wegner said.

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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