There's no delicate way to say this: Cow farts contribute to global warming.
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On average, a cow releases between 70 and 120 kilograms per year of methane gas, a greenhouse gas similar to carbon dioxide (CO2). As ruminants, cows acquire nutrients through enteric fermentation, a process by which they break down food in their unique stomach configuration before digesting it.
Combined with cows chewing their cud, significant amounts of methane are produced from the fibrous material in their diets, according to the Alliance for Climate Education
. A majority of the methane from cows comes from their burps, however.
These emissions are a threat to the climate. About 100 kilograms of methane per year per cow equals about 2,300 kilograms of CO2 per year, according to TimeForChange.org
. The website used this comparison: "The same amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) is generated by burning 1,000 liters of (oil). With a car using eight liters of (oil) per 100 kilometers, you could drive 12,500 kilometers (7,800 miles) per year."
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"The roughly 1.5 billion cows and bulls in the world emit about 2 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalents each year. Add another 2.8 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions yearly for the clearing of tropical and rain forests for grazing and farm land," TimeForChange.org said.
Agricultural emissions from crop and livestock production increased 14 percent, from 4.7 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents in 2001 to more than 5.3 billion metric tons in 2011, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations. The FAO also reports that worldwide agriculture makes up 18 percent of the total release of greenhouse gases, or more than transportation.
Beyond cows and agriculture, other natural factors that change the Earth's climate included orbital shifts, changes in solar activity, or volcanic eruptions. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, humans have increasingly affected climate, largely by releasing billions of tons of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. That has accounted for the majority of the warming since the mid-20th century, according to the Environmental Protection Agency
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