Worldwide, ruminant livestock (mainly cows) are responsible for about 80 million metric tons of methane emissions every year; in the United States, the methane emissions from cattle and other ruminants equal 5.5 million metric tons each year. This methane is an important greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming. An individual methane molecule actually traps much more heat in the atmosphere than a molecule of carbon dioxide; on the other hand, methane molecules do not last as long in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide does, and so will not continue to warm the planet for as long a time. In the US, methane emissions from cattle and other ruminants amounts to about 20% of the nation’s total methane emissions.
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