Knowledge for better food systems

Methane from livestock

Since 1999 atmospheric methane concentrations have leveled off while the world population of ruminants has increased at an accelerated rate. Prior to 1999, world ruminant populations were increasing at the rate of 9.15 million head/year but since 1999 this rate has increased to 16.96 million head/year.
Since 1999 atmospheric methane concentrations have leveled off while the world population of ruminants has increased at an accelerated rate. Prior to 1999, world ruminant populations were increasing at the rate of 9.15 million head/year but since 1999 this rate has increased to 16.96 million head/year. Prior to 1999 there was a strong relationship between change in atmospheric methane concentrations and the world ruminant populations. However, since 1999 this strong relation has disappeared. This change in relationship between the atmosphere and ruminant numbers suggests that the role of ruminants in greenhouse gases may be less significant than originally thought, with other sources and sinks playing a larger role in global methane accounting. The article suggests that the reason for the levelling off in ruminant methane emissions might be improvements in animal husbandry and feeding in the developed world. Note that the article considers methane only and not nitrous oxide or CO2 from livestock-caused land use change. You can read the article here.
 

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