Cow's breath. Global warming, that...

BLAME IT ON

July 29, 1995

BLAME IT ON cow's breath. Global warming, that is.

Increasing amounts of methane gas in the air are said to be responsible for about one-quarter of the predicted global warming, or greenhouse effect.

And cud-chewing animals, cows in particular, account for one-sixth of the world's total methane gas emissions. Landfills, marshes and mines are other significant sources.

Greenhouse gases, most prominently methane and carbon dioxide, rise to trap the earth's radiated heat in the atmosphere, theoretically resulting in hotter temperatures on the planet's surface where we live. Methane has 20 times the warming potential of the more prevalent carbon dioxide gas, because of the way it reacts with sunlight and because of its longevity in the atmosphere.

Scientists at the U.S. Agricultural Research Service believe the belching bonus of methane can be sharply reduced worldwide through changes in the cow's diet.

Grains are more digestible than grass or hay, and so stay shorter periods in the cow's stomach, reducing fermentation and resulting gas. Putting more cows on feedlots and developing more digestible types of grass are two possible solutions.

A beef cow grazing on pasture can belch out nearly 350 quarts of methane a day, from grass fermenting in the first of its four stomachs.

But studies in Australia show cows fed oats and other grain instead of pasture grass produce only one-third that amount of methane.

The government researchers are measuring the relative methane emissions of cattle on different diets to find ways for farmers to help reduce potential global warming.

Next thing, they'll be looking for a more powerful mouthwash to fight bovine morning mouth.

* * *

THE UNIVERSITY of Maryland's University College will soon become the first U.S.-based institution of higher education to award degrees in Russia.

A total of 56 Russian students will receive degrees in September from the University of Maryland's programs at Irkutsk State University in Siberia and Far Eastern State University in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok.

The Russian business program was started four years ago to prepare local managers to deal with the free market system.

The first two years of the Vladivostok program are taught in Russian and the final two years are taught in English by University College faculty members.

UMUC is one of 11 degree-granting institutions that make up the University of Maryland System and specializes in degree programs for the professional work force both in its home state and at some 125 locations overseas.

University College has two residential campuses in Germany and provides degree programs for members of the United States military and their families in 22 countries.

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