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:
Photo Credit: Shutterstock