Whatever makes you happy, Bill.
Billionaire philanthropist and toilet tech evangelist Bill Gates' climate fund, Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), just invested $12 million dollars in — checks notes — Australian cow farts and burps.
More specifically, BEV is investing in a startup called Rumin8, an Australian climate tech company seeking to reduce livestock methane emissions — by creating an affordable, seaweed-based feed that they claim makes cattle less gaseous.
To put it simply, Rumin8 believes that improved cow digestion will result in a happier climate.
"The company identifies naturally occurring compounds that have anti-methanogenic properties," reads a Rumin8 press release, "and reproduces them in a highly efficient, low-cost, scalable, and high-quality process to feed to livestock to reduce their emissions."
What can we say? It's the essential Bill Gates crossover, where farmland meets flatulence — a digestible effort to save the environment.
Rumin8's mission is certainly intriguing, considering how big of a climate problem animal-emitted methane really is.
A major chunk of global greenhouse emissions — around 14.5 percent, according to the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) — come from livestock.
But it's a difficult problem to tackle. We can't just get rid of all farm animals — we've got mouths to feed, farms to keep afloat, and food systems to maintain.
If it does indeed work as advertised, a product like Rumin8 would be an incredible addition to our efforts of scaling down industrialized cattle operations.
"The demand for sustainable protein has never been more apparent," BEV investor Carmichael Roberts said in the statement, "which is why BEV is keenly interested in reducing methane emissions from beef and dairy."
That said, while the startup has raked in nearly 18 million investment dollars and attracted international attention, there hasn't been a ton of product testing just yet, although preliminary research on the seaweed itself has shown incredible promise.
Two "safety and efficacy trials" — one for dairy cows, another for beef cows — are set to take place in New Zealand this year, according to a company press release.
In any case, we're sure Gates is thrilled to add the fart-reducing cow chow to his very long list of waste-related startups — something that both cows and the environment can benefit from.
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