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Livestock Methane Emissions Are Dangerously High

Data from 2008 shows that the methane emissions from the livestock industry are far worse than the federal government anticipated.

The factory farming industry’s detrimental impact on the environment is well-documented, but a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, has revealed that the US may be emitting 50 percent more methane gas than the federal government estimates. Methane, which traps heat in the atmosphere and exacerbates global warming, is in large part produced by livestock. According to the Associated Press, the research data, which was collected in 2008, shows that the United States was discharging approximately 49 million tons of methane—32 million tons more than the US Environmental Protection Administration approximated. “Something is very much off in the inventories,” says study co-author Anna Michalak, an Earth scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, to the AP. “The total U.S. impact on the world's energy budget is different than we thought, and it’s worse.”

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