27 CALF News • February | March 2022 • A German-born, world renowned scientist made his way to Lincoln, Neb., last fall. Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., spoke at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Institute of Agricultural Science and Natural Resources (IANR) as part of the ongoing Heuermann Lecture series. The topic was his life’s mission – educating the public on cattle, climate and truth in science. A World of Research Mitloehner received his Master of Science degree in Animal Science and Agricultural Engineering from the University of Leipzig, Germany. He traveled to Texas A&M to attain his doctoral degree in animal science, then moved on to the University of California, Davis in 2002. That’s where he filled the school’s first-ever position studying the relationship between livestock and air quality. He is also focused on food production challenges that face the earth‘s population as it grows to 10 billion people by 2050. It’s a big job. About the Heuermann Lecture Mitloehner’s lecture was followed by a panel discussion. Panel members included the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) CEO Colin Woodall, UNL’s Extension Beef Feedlot Specialist Galen Erickson and ConAgra Research Fellow Larry Quint. Setting Things Straight Although we generally understand what greenhouse gasses are (they trap heat from the sun), Mitloehner explained we see through a flawed system. Few understand that methane produced by livestock is not only made but is destroyed in a very short time. He terms this process as “atmospheric removal” or “sink” from natural chemical reactions. Methane has a brief life Carbon Neutral To be relevant nowadays, one must be “carbon neutral.” Livestock, particularly in the United States, are already there. Methane put in the atmosphere by cattle will always be the same amount destroyed. Fortunately, Oxford University in England has come out with new data confirming these statistics. Better and more research is swinging the pendulum to the side of agriculture, the whole of which provides a solution to cleaning earth’s atmosphere. Mitloehner added that, with the world’s population continuing to expand, developing countries are increasing the size of their livestock production. This will temporarily increase global methane amounts. He estimates the increase in methane will stabilize in about 10 years. Advancements in U.S. Agriculture Mitloehner stressed that the atmospheric removal of methane is not being accounted for in emissions calculations, causing bad press for livestock folk. Not only do we produce a short-lived gas, but U.S. livestock produce the least methane Agriculture is a solution to CO2 mitigation, providing plant sequestration while supplying efficiently produced foods to the consumer. Frank Mitloehner’s Mission Continued on page 29  of 10 to 12 years, then is gone from the atmosphere. It is more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide, leading to a public misunderstanding and a badly overstated environmental impact by livestock production. Methane’s short lifespan is often omitted or ignored by media or those choosing to vilify livestock production. In comparison, CO2 has a lifespan of 1,000 years and nitrous oxide 110 years. As compared to methane’s atmospheric removal, CO2 is sequestered through photosynthesis by the ocean’s plankton and earth’s plants into cellulose or starch. CO2 is then a plant nutrient. It is estimated that soil sequestration through plants traps one-third of all carbon emitted by humans. To emphasize, livestock produce a short-cycle gas of 10 to 12 years, and fossil fuels produce a long-cycle gas of 1,000 years. These numbers need to be accounted for when educating the public. Mitloehner said that only 3.7 percent of greenhouse gasses produced in the United States come from livestock, and this is a birth-to-plate number, including inputs. Vehicles running on fossil fuels contribute 18 percent, the rest is attributed to industry, transportation (ships, trains and planes) and power (electricity and heating fuels). He stressed that the public needs to acknowledge this and work toward future goals of fossil fuel emission reduction. We are all aware of New York City’s “Meatless Mondays,” Colorado’s “Meat Out Day” and the fake meat tidal wave that poured out upon us in the last year. Mitloehner said that, compared to any other segment of pollution, consuming meat is the least harmful. One must never compare eating beef to airplane emissions. He said, “You can’t eat your way out” of greenhouse gasses. It is another example of falsehoods being spread by media and anti ag groups. By Patti Wilson Contributing Editor