It’s actually not beaver flatulence per se, although I’m sure they’d say that contributes a little as well. It’s actually the methane that’s apparently generated at the bottom of standing water ponds created by beaver dams that ends up being released into the atmosphere that’s the problem.
Beavers are contributing to climate change, adding an estimated 800 million kg of methane to the atmosphere every year, scientists have found.
Over the last century, there has been a worldwide conservation effort to save beavers from extinction. The fur trade between the 16th and 19th century almost led to the annihilation of beavers across the globe.
After trapping was limited and the creatures were reintroduced to their natural ranges, their numbers grew significantly, with scientists now estimating their population to have reached over 10 million worldwide.
However, the consequence of this has led to beavers building more ponds, creating conditions for climate changing methane gas to be generated in the shallow standing water. Beavers build dams in rivers to create standing ponds, with dams normally reaching no higher than 1.5m.
In their work published in the Springer journal AMBIO, experts note that carbon builds up in oxygen-poor pond bottoms like those created by beavers, and methane is generated. The gas cannot be dissolved and is released into the atmosphere.
Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada have found this methane release from beaver ponds is now 200 times higher than it was a century ago.
Lead author Colin J Whitfield and his team estimated the size of the current global beaver population and the area covered by their ponds to work out the methane release.
Findings showed that beavers have dammed up about 42,000sq/km of aquatic pond areas. They estimate that by the end of the 20th century, beaver activities contributed up to 0.80 teragrams (or 800 million kilograms) of methane to the atmosphere annually – about 15% of what cud-chewing animals produce.
Whitfield said: “The dynamic nature of beaver-mediated methane emissions in recent years may portend the potential for future changes in this component of the global methane budget. Continued range expansion, coupled with changes in population and pond densities, may dramatically increase the amount of water impounded by the beaver.
“This, in combination with anticipated increases in surface water temperatures, and likely effects on rates of methanogenesis, suggests that the contribution of beaver activity to global methane emissions may continue to grow.”
So, I guess the solution would be to reintroduce and encourage the fur trade again? But then you’d have the animal rights and environmentalist industries all up in arms. They’d never allow it, even if they believed it would help to “save the planet.”
There isn’t a whole lot that can be done about this. Are they really going to try to disrupt beavers’ natural habitats in the name of preventing global warming? Are they really going to try to stem the population of beavers in the name of preventing global warming? Neither of those is likely.
Of course, it could be that this methane isn’t doing anything to the climate. I know that’s politically incorrect, but sometimes the facts are politically incorrect. The methane generated by these beaver dams is apparently 200 times higher than it was 100 years ago. Yet, there’s no temperature increase to show for.
I know this beaver gas is only a small percentage of our overall carbon emissions, but total carbon emissions are at an all-time high. If there really is a causal relationship between emissions and global temperature, then we should be seeing sky-high temperatures by now. But it’s flatlined, and it’s been like that for the past two decades.
The planet has been through a lot worse than what it’s experiencing now, or at least what it’s experiencing now is nothing new. And somehow, the planet always knew how to take care of itself.
Global warming is a purely political ploy that has nothing to do with protecting the environment and everything to do with propping up the “green” industry, which is neither “green” nor industrious.