Scottish Researchers again!


I’m losing track of the stories of Scottish researchers making a useful contribution well beyond our shores. Here are four recent examples:

Scottish research first to identify ways of reducing cattle-fart with view to saving the planet

Scottish Association for Marine Science to lead seaweed research to benefit developing nations

Scottish Veterinary researchers working to improve the health and productivity of farmed animals in sub-Saharan Africa.

Scottish university research to help developing nations remove arsenic from water supplies

Now researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University are working on ways to recover phosphorous from sewage. Phosphorous as some of you know is a vital element in food production. Here’s a bit of detail from the BBC website:

  • It’s in our cells. In fact – just for once – it’s not an exaggeration to say it’s literally part of our DNA.
  • Most importantly it’s an essential ingredient of the fertilisers that put food on our tables.
  • Whether it’s fruit, vegetables or the plants we use to feed livestock, they all need phosphorus.
  • And unlike nitrogen, that other element essential for growth, we can’t pluck it out of the air.
  • The planet’s phosphorus reserves are limited and diminishing.
  • Our bodies use only a little of the phosphorus contained in the food we eat.
  • The rest of it we are pouring down the drain.
  • It goes into our sewage and is washed irrecoverably out to sea.
  • It has to be mined in a relative handful of countries, not all of them beacons of stability.

The BBC website, it has to be noted, does not seem to have any anti-independence agenda comparable to Good Morning Scotland or Reporting Scotland and often tells good news stories about Scotland. Readers have often noted this before. I think we have to assume it’s under different editorship (younger?) and recognises its audience is different (more Yes-orientated?)

Professor Ole Pahl, leading the research team said:

‘The statistics say that every person uses about 22kg of the original material – in rock – per year. So, multiply that by the world population and you can imagine how much of it we use.’

I’ve done the calculation based on a world population of 7.5 billion, it’s 165 billion kgs or 165 million tonnes (?).

Footnote: Professor Ole Pahl. As pub land-lord Al Murray might have said ‘Pahl’, beautiful Scotch name meaning ‘friend.’


2 thoughts on “Scottish Researchers again!

  1. Alasdair Macdonald September 25, 2017 / 5:18 pm

    Given the recent Committee on Climate Change review of the SG’s DRAFT policy – of which, of course, Mr Severin Carrell in the Guardian has gone into hypercriticism – then given that cattle rearing in Scotland is significant, dealing with their flatulence would contribute to meeting the emissions targets.

    Of course, Mr Carrell makes no mention of the fact that the report acknowledges that Scotland met its targets for the year of study (2015) and that the Scottish performance is better than that of rUK.

    The purpose of a DRAFT is to invite comment and criticism, which is what the CCC has provided. Announcements, such as the doubling of funding for active travel and a proposed new Transport Bill, with, amongst other things the diesel and petrol vehicles announcement, indicate that actions are already in train.

    GCC is, on Wednesday, holding a seminar on transport and, if this can recommend providing more cross city/avoiding city centre bus routes and small frequent shuttle services into areas, and, if these utilise the kind of low emission buses produced by Alexander Dennis, then a significant reduction in transport emissions can be made. Keynesian spending on eco-friendly housing, plus retro-fitting older properties would also enhance progress.

    If we could stop Mr Carrell speaking through his arse, then the job would be complete.


  2. Alan Gordon September 26, 2017 / 3:00 pm

    Thank you for the work you are doing. Here’s the but, purely academic mind, a foot note to the footnote. The origins of the word pal. It is a gypsy word meaning non stranger, one of us. Gadgy (spelling?) has the opposite meaning. When I worked in rural Northumberland they would hear both terms, pal and gadgy being used. I haven’t heard the word gadgy used that much in Scotland.

    Farting cows and methane. It is good that Scottish researchers get an accolade, here’s another but, I have never heard a cow fart, they can belch though. When fed what the cow has evolved to eat, mixed herbage pasture, they don’t even belch.

    Feed ruminants grass, a foodstuff we cannot eat, bed them on the straw from our cereals, avoid storing the dung where anaerobic breakdown can happen and bingo you have dramatically reduced the methane from cattle husbandry.

    Can I get my gong now.


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