70 billion farm animals are produced every year. This may seem like an empty statistic to you and me but it’s this worldwide desire for meat that is contributing to deforestation and climate change. The sheer amount of farm animals being reared for the meat industry is only increasing, taking up dwindling forest and using valuable resources. Many are concerend about the environmental impacts of the demand for meat, prompting many to give up eating it for environmental concerns. I, for example have given up eating beef for this very reason. But are cows really to blame? A new study from the University of Geneva thinks otherwise.
One species of fly, Chaoborus spp, spends up to two years underneath lakes in a larval state. This may seem harmless but new research has found that the larvae use the methane in lakes to help them move around when they emerge to feed at night. By moving the methane to the surface, the larvae increase the chances that it will be released into the atmopshere. This wouldn’t be a problem if it was an isolated event but as Chaoborus spp are found on every continent except Antarctica, it is. The fly larvae travel using inflatable air sacs but at depths of 70 metres, the pressure is too much for them to inflate the sacs. Their solution is to use methane to inflate their sacs and then release it when they’re done. Compared to carbon dioxide, methane absorbs 28 times more heat so even if this seems small-scale, if it is happening worldwide it is a genuine cause of concern. So what’s the solution? Chaoborus spp are found primarily in poor quality water so the idea is to improve water quality by reducing pollution. If we do, there will be less larvae and ultimatley, a reduced greenhouse effect.