Burger King stepped in a big controversy this month with its new ad campaign claiming that cow farts are to blame for climate change. The company had to pull the ad because it just isn’t true.
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Burger King used 13-year-old Mason Ramsey to push the cow fart myth in the ad. Unfortunately for Burger King, most of what Ramsey sang about is wrong.
First things first: The methane produced by cows comes from the front, not the back.
“It is really the burps of these animals, the belching, that causes the methane,” said Frank Mitloeher, an air quality specialist in the animal science department at UC Davis. “That is the number one contribution of ruminant livestock.”
Mitleoher was called-in by Burger King to help the company better understand how animal methane and industrial methane are quite different.
While the methane created by cow burps is the same chemically as the methane created by extracting oil, coal, and gas, there is a huge difference in what happens with that methane when it’s released.
“The carbon in this biogenic carbon cycle of a cow is just that — a cycle,” Mitloeher said. “It is a recycled carbon. It’s not new, additional carbon.”
The methane created by cow burps disappears in 10 years and becomes carbon dioxide, which feeds the plants that the cows eat, and the cycle continues. The CO-2 created by burning fossil fuels is a new emission, not a recycled one.
That is what most people, Mitloehner told the

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