The Truth about Greenhouse Gasses and Reducing Our Carbon Footprint

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Season 1, Episode 23 Guest: Dr. Frank Mitloehner

Climate change, greenhouse gasses and reducing our carbon footprint are critical issues to the planet and to each and every one of us. Solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change are emerging and having an impact, yet we need to do more.

Dr. Frank Mitloehner, also known as the greenhouse guru, is a UC Davis professor, air quality specialist, and Director, UC Davis CLEAR Center. He joined Kathleen on Earth Day to help us all understand the environmental and health impacts of agriculture, food waste, fossil fuels and more.

You don’t want to miss this fascinating discussion that will enlighten you about causes of climate change. It will inspire you to make informed decisions that can improve the health of the planet and ourselves. Start today by reducing your food waste to make your personal impact on global warming.

Key Messages about Greenhouse Gasses and Reducing Your Carbon Footprint:

  • There are 3 greenhouse gasses (GHG):
  1. carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, oil, coal, gas, transportation, power and cement industry
  2. methane from organic material decomposing under oxygen deprived conditions from swamps, rice paddies, food waste and ruminant animals
  3. nitric oxide from nitrogen decomposing in the ground
  • Estimated GHG impacts:
    4% livestock
    8-10% food waste
    10% agriculture
    27% transportation
    25% electricity
    24% industry
  • Plant-based diets have the lowest carbon footprint.
  • Methane is uniquely different from the others as it is naturally destroyed within 10 years, whereas the others’ GHGs stay forever.
  • Innovation is turning methane into a solution. California dairy farmers are covering their lagoons (60% methane) to trap the methane gas which is being cleaned as a renewable natural Bio Gas for semi-trucks and buses.
  • Food waste is an astronomical problem! In the U.S. we waste 40% of all food produced. Of that 40%, half or more is from produce and 10-20% from animal sources. That’s almost twice the annual emissions produced by all cars driven in the U.S. and Europe. What would the impact be if we could reduce waste?

Frank Mitloehner headshot

Frank Mitloehner, PhD

Dr. Frank Mitloehner is a professor and air quality specialist in cooperative extension in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis. As such, he shares his knowledge and research, both domestically and abroad, with students, scientists, farmers and ranchers, policy makers, and the public at large. Frank is also director of the CLEAR Center, which has two cores – research and communications. The CLEAR Center brings clarity to the intersection of animal agriculture and the environment, helping our global community understand the environmental and human health impacts of livestock, so we can make informed decisions about the foods we eat and while reducing environmental impacts.

Frank is committed to making a difference for generations to come. As part of his position with UC Davis and Cooperative Extension, he collaborates with the animal agriculture sector to create better efficiencies and mitigate pollutants. He is passionate about understanding and mitigating air emissions from livestock operations, as well as studying the implications of these emissions on the health of farm workers and neighboring communities. In addition, he is focusing on the food production challenge that will become a global issue as the world’s population grows to nearly 10 billion by 2050.

Frank received a Master of Science degree in animal science and agricultural engineering from the University of Leipzig, Germany, and a doctoral degree in animal science from Texas Tech University. Frank was recruited by UC Davis in 2002, to fill its first-ever position focusing on the relationship between livestock and air quality.

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