New UC research rebuts UN livestock greenhouse gas study
September 14, 2009
In an article due out Oct. 1, researchers at the University of California-Davis will rebut a United Nations study that claimed that livestock operations are responsible for 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. The study, titled “Clearing the Air: Livestock’s Contribution to Climate Change,” makes use of Environmental Protection Agency reports that agriculture as a whole emits only 5.8 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gases, said Frank Mitloehner, a livestock air quality specialist who worked on the project. The article also shows that American beef and dairy production accounts for a much lower percentage of the gases believed to cause global warming.
The UN said that worldwide, livestock creates more greenhouse gases than does transportation. Further, it said livestock causes 40 percent of all methane and 65 percent of all nitrous oxide. Mitloehner said based on the UN study, news reports have erroneously applied the percentages to U.S. livestock operations and even to individual states. However, he said the EPA has found that livestock is responsible for less than three percent of America’s global warming-related emissions. “Cars produce way more smog-producing gases than cows or steers ever will,” he said.