NASA: Argentine has a positive carbon balance

A NASA study shows that livestock in Argentine does not pollute the environment.

Posted on Mar 30 ,00:10

NASA: Argentine has a positive carbon balance

Traditional approaches to carbon dioxide measurement based on counting and estimating the amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted in all sectors of an economy, such as transportation and agriculture, have been used for years. These made it possible to assess progress in emissions reduction efforts.

But its elaboration leaves out a more than important part of the story: the incorporation of carbon dioxide into the soil. A descending approach in which the different activities are considered as part of a cycle allows differentiating the different economic productions and generating inventories. It is here that Argentine livestock has everything to gain.

A study published in Earth System Science Data using measurements made by NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission offers a new perspective by tracking both fossil fuel emissions and total changes in the "carbon stocks" of ecosystems, including trees, shrubs and soils.

The data is especially useful for tracking carbon dioxide fluctuations related to land cover change. Although the OCO-2 mission was not specifically designed to estimate emissions from individual countries, the results from the more than 100 countries are coming at an opportune time.

The finding is that Argentine is one of the few countries that appears with a positive balance (green color) due to carbon sequestration in "grazing lands" (forests, shrublands, pastures, etc.).

And here is the importance given to livestock production specifically in Argentine. Argentine livestock is part of the natural ecosystem and constitutes one of the activities that leads Argentine agriculture to be an essential actor in the management of photosynthesis and the recovery of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the natural carbon cycle.

The process occurs through the consumption of cows who feed mostly  on natural pastures. These forage resources have taken carbon dioxide from the air as part of the natural ecosystem through photosynthesis. Cows digest the carbon in the grass, releasing methane into the atmosphere. But the methane that they emit is "made" based on the carbon of the grass they consumed and its duration is between 10 to 12 years in the atmosphere. After that time the methane is transformed into water and carbon dioxide. The one that is naturally absorbed through photosynthesis by pastures and natural pastures. And this is how the cycle repeats itself over and over again. It is pure nature.

Argentine is one of the countries with the largest area of natural grasslands that exist on planet earth. It is among the five countries with the most availability of this resource.

On the other hand, Argentine livestock is one of the few activities that allows the transformation of vegetable protein unfit for human consumption into animal protein of high biological value indicated for human consumption. If NASA's sensors are further refined, these advances will be key to verifying which countries meet the commitments signed at COP 21 and beyond.

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