Perhaps the most important environmental impact associated with rice paddies is the contribution of growing rice to global warming. The wetland microbes in rice paddies produce methane – a greenhouse gas that, molecule for molecule, contributes even more to global warming than carbon dioxide. Fortunately, however, it is possible to decrease the methane emissions from rice paddies; even more luckily, the same techniques the improve rice yield also cut back on methane. Researchers have found that less productive rice paddies are able to store less carbon, and emit more methane. As rice growing techniques improve around the world, they will help feed more people while cutting back on an important source of global warming pollution.
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