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Will Kangaroo Farts Save the World?

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You've read some outrageous headlines although perhaps none as silly, or as fact-based as that.

Kangaroo flatulence is actually being studied very seriously as a way to prevent greenhouse gas build up in the atmosphere.

I'll explain that below, but first a brief outline of the problem to make the need for the work clear.

Of course there are still people who think we aren't experiencing global warming, but any gardener knows that growing seasons have extended by up to a month and even the growing zones (showing what plants can survive in a location) are moving north in the U.S. by hundreds of miles.

These days the wild weather around the world is generally agreed to be either due to atmospheric instability or perhaps a stone calendar carved by the Mayans. (Global warming doesn't just mean it will get warmer everyplace, it means it will get warmer overall with lots of new weather patterns everyplace.)

Personally, I think the 2012 Mayan calendar is misinterpreted because the final symbol on the map probably translates as "2012-5012 continued on next stone."

Regardless of whether you think global warming this is caused by man made emissions or is just a part of nature really doesn't matter because it isn't the cause that is serious but the threat itself.

Methane gas is a major greenhouse gas and, believe it or not, cattle and sheep are major producers of methane - REALLY major, perhaps producing as much as half the methane released each year.

Now to the giant rats known as kangaroos.

It turns out that, unlike sheep and cattle, the bacteria found in kangaroo stomachs don't produce methane when they digest green matter such as grass.

Researchers in Australia are working on a way to get these same bacteria to grow and populate the stomachs of sheep and cattle which could, according to a report in the December 13, 2007 issue of Nature, reduce total world-wide methane emissions by 15%.

More recent research has shown that kangaroos also process their food more efficiently so perhaps if this project works cattle and sheep will not only produce little or no greenhouse emissions but could also grow faster and waste less food.

Note to readers: an easy way to share your public comments on this or other stories is to buzz them and post comments.

John McCormick (www.15767.com) is a reporter, /science/medical columnist and finance and social commentator, with 17,000+ bylined stories. Contact John through NewsBlaze.

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