They may produce some carbon dioxide, but their production is much more devastating to the environment. This is because methane has 21 times the warming potential as CO2. Cows release between 25 to 130 gallons of methane each day. Livestock is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions according to the UN.
Cows only produce methane, approximately 80 million metric tons of it each year! Apparently this makes up almost 30% (28% to be exact) of all global methane emissions (from human related activities). Although each individual cow does not make that much of a difference, there are more than 100 million cattle in the U.S. alone creating a significant problem for the U.S. and the world.
The problem with methane is, like mcoffey mentioned, it is much more powerful than CO2 and makes much more of an impact per unit than does CO2. The other problem is that most of the methane gets released due to very natural processes, when the cow either burps or farts to put it bluntly, making it even more difficult to alter the release patterns of the cows.
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