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Re:Methane production



Ah, yes, there may well have been many fewer cattle *immediately* after the 
bison were wiped out. I was just clarifying that the bison have been more than 
replaced by the cattle (and, in fact, the West is overgrazed now because the 
cattle are both non-migratory and more numerous...)

(On the other hand, I have a feeling there were an awful lot of cattle out West 
during the cowboy era, so I'm not sure it was ecologically insignificant even 
in the 19th century...)

>>A better question would be: How many cattle were on the Great Plains in 1880? 
>>Â1920? Â1940? Âetc.


I haven't been able to find those numbers, for some reason; nor any from before 
the 60s and 70s, beyond vague references to "millions of cattle" driven to 
market.

>>How long is the lag time in the effects from any methane flux (either 
>>increasing CH3 or decreasing CH3)? ÂFurther muddying the problem: ÂMethane 
>>gets removed from our atmosphere much MUCH quicker than CO2, so that's 
>>another factor to consider.

Well, the lag time can't be very long, since within a few decades that methane 
mostly won't *be* there.

Since we didn't see a temperature dip in the late 1800s, I don't think the 
removal of bison had much effect.

To get back to the original, dinosaur-related question - for a good estimate 
we'd need decent estimates of the sauropod population and how much methane one 
sauropod produced. Simply scaling up from cattle would suggest that each 
sauropod would produce dozens of times the methane output of a cow, but there 
may be economies of scale involved. Also, sauropod guts probably worked very 
differently from ruminants' guts, which probably affects the amount of methane 
produced.







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