Cow dung spews a climate-warming gas. Adding algae could limit that


algae: Single-celled organisms, once considered plants (they aren’t). As aquatic organisms, they grow in water. Like green plants, they depend on sunlight to make their food.

bacteria: (singular: bacterium) Single-celled organisms. These dwell nearly everywhere on Earth, from the bottom of the sea to inside other living organisms (such as plants and animals). Bacteria are one of the three domains of life on Earth.

biogas: Gas produced by a biological process, which can contain methane, carbon dioxide and other chemicals.

carcinogen: A substance, compound or other agent (such as radiation) that causes cancer.

chemical: A substance formed from two or more atoms that unite (bond) in a fixed proportion and structure. For example, water is a chemical made when two hydrogen atoms bond to one oxygen atom. Its chemical formula is H2O.

dairy: Containing milk or having to do with milk.

decompose: Also known as decay or rot, it’s to break down compounds in once-living things so that their building blocks can be returned to the environment. Organisms that break down once-living things in this way are called decomposers.

environment: The sum of all of the things that exist around some organism or the process and the condition those things create. Environment may refer to the weather and ecosystem in which some animal lives, or, perhaps, the temperature and humidity (or even the placement of things in the vicinity of an item of interest).

Environmental Protection Agency:  (or EPA) A national government agency charged with helping create a cleaner, safer and healthier environment in the United States. Created on Dec. 2, 1970, it reviews data on the possible toxicity of new chemicals (other than foods or drugs, which are regulated by other agencies) before they are approved for sale and use. Where such chemicals may be toxic, it sets limits or guidelines on how much of them may be released into (or allowed to build up in) the air, water or soil.

extract: (v.) To separate one chemical (or component of something) from a complex mix.

feces: A body’s solid waste, made up of undigested food, bacteria and water. The feces of larger animals are sometimes also called dung.

feedlot: A facility where beef cattle or other livestock may go after living on farms or ranches and before being slaughtered for food. For three to six months, the animals eat a special diet that helps them gain weight and produce high-quality meat. Feedlots can host hundreds or even thousands of animals at a time.

greenhouse gas: A gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect by absorbing heat. Carbon dioxide is one example of a greenhouse gas.

gut: An informal term for the gastrointestinal tract, especially the intestines.

hormone: (in zoology and medicine) A chemical produced in a gland and then carried in the bloodstream to another part of the body. Hormones control many important body activities, such as growth. Hormones act by triggering or regulating chemical reactions in the body.

iodine: An element needed for the thyroid to produce the hormone used in growth, development and more. Some foods naturally have plenty. Others, principally table salt, may be fortified with this nutrient.

New Zealand: An island nation in the southwest Pacific Ocean, roughly 1,500 kilometers (some 900 miles) east of Australia. Its “mainland” — consisting of a North and South Island — is quite volcanically active. In addition, the country includes many far smaller offshore islands.

organ: (in biology) Various parts of an organism that perform one or more particular functions. For instance, an ovary is an organ that makes eggs, the brain is an organ that makes sense of nerve signals and a plant’s roots are organs that take in nutrients and moisture.

oxygen: A gas that makes up about 21 percent of Earth’s atmosphere. All animals and many microorganisms need oxygen to fuel their growth (and metabolism).

potent: An adjective for something (like a germ, poison, drug or acid) that is very strong or powerful.

risk: The chance or mathematical likelihood that some bad thing might happen. For instance, exposure to radiation poses a risk of cancer. Or the hazard — or peril — itself. (For instance: Among cancer risks that the people faced were radiation and drinking water tainted with arsenic.)

seaweed: Large algae growing in the sea or on rocks below the high-water mark.

sustainable: (n. sustainability) An adjective to describe the use of resources in a such a way that they will continue to be available long into the future.

system: A network of parts that together work to achieve some function. For instance, the blood, vessels and heart are primary components of the human body’s circulatory system. Similarly, trains, platforms, tracks, roadway signals and overpasses are among the potential components of a nation’s railway system. System can even be applied to the processes or ideas that are part of some method or ordered set of procedures for getting a task done.

thyroid: A gland in the neck that releases hormones, which play a pivotal role in directing development and metabolism (the use of food as fuel). The gland is relatively small, with two lobes separated by a bridge-like structure. Some therefore refer to its shape as resembling a butterfly.

toxic: Poisonous or able to harm or kill cells, tissues or whole organisms. The measure of risk posed by such a poison is its toxicity.


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