Study finds high methane emissions from factory farms are contributing to climate change
by Megan Thompson
Categories: Causes, Environment, Science.

When it comes to global warming, the infamous carbon dioxide is overshadowed by methane – a potent gas that traps 21% more heat than its well-known cousin. The frightening news is that, according to a recent study, the U.S. is spewing 50% more of this heat-trapping gas into the air than the federal government originally estimated. And the source of all this extra methane may come as a surprise.

The study, which was published last Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, found that huge amount of the excess methane has been coming from the manure, belches and flatulence of American livestock.

In 2008 alone, the U.S. released roughly 49 million tons of methane into the air; this amount of methane was responsible for trapping as much heat as all of the carbon dioxide that came from all cars, truck and planes in the country for six months.

That 49 million tons is also significantly more than the 32 million tons and the 29 million tons that the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration and the European Commission, respectively, estimated.

It is hard to accurately measure methane pollution and locate its exact source, but scientists have determined that about one quarter of the entire country’s methane emissions come from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. In these three states, major culprits – cows, oil, refineries and gas – form leading industries.

Related on Ecorazzi:

Daryl Hannah Talks Fossil Fuel and Veganism

James Cameron to Release New Star-Studded Global Warming Doc

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

About Megan Thompson

Megan is a healthy living and natural beauty advocate who is obsessed with sustainable gardening, food politics, human rights and animal protection. An L.A. native, she loves staying on top of the latest pop culture news and green lifestyle trends. When she is not writing, she loves going to the beach, hula hooping and working on upcycling projects.

View all posts by Megan Thompson →
  • doomedby2020

    How convenient. Now that the Dems ended the filibuster they can enact immediate regulations on methane. Sounds way too coincidental to me.
    Whats the point anyways? They know how much methane is in the air, a tiny fraction of the amount of co2. They don’t know how co2 affects global warming and the same for methane. This is ridiculous. Whats the rush? Their climate models are not accurate, they are trying to prove something that they simply can’t. Its circumstantial science at best, plenty of peer reviewed studies out there to show that much. This is simply a ruse to validate enviro regulations. Its madness.

    • zlop

      “They don’t know how co2 affects global warming and the same for methane” — they do know that greenhouse gases interact with H2O and cool slightly — Surface temperature is accurately predicted by radiation and surface pressure (Thermal Effect vs Greenhouse Effect. .. Nikolov and Zeller)

      • doomedby2020

        They didnt predict this current slump in warming. Their models are off. A real scientist would go back and find the error, instead the IPCC responded by increasing their confidence level in their science from 90% to 95%…go figure.

        And no, they do not know how co2 affects our atmosphere.

      • zlop

        “They didnt predict this current slump in warming”
        Only 114 out of 117 (97%) models were wrong

  • zlop

    Bull CH4 cools, but not much.
    Extra radiation, to space above the clouds, cools the air,
    lowers the height of the dew point and clouds.
    Lower clouds imply colder surface, per adiabatic lapse (-g/Cp)