The most common greenhouse gas culprits are those that seem diametrically opposed to nature: transport, electricity and industry. So it may come as a surprise to some that a seemingly sustainable sector, agriculture, is the fourth largest GHG emitter in the United States. This is due both to emissions directly produced by livestock and to certain agricultural practices, including those used to cultivate the soil. , clear land and fertilize crops.
The three main GHGs produced as by-products of agriculture are carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Methane is perhaps the most important. Livestock account for almost a third of man-made methane emissions into the atmosphere. Methane is a particularly alarming GHG to watch because of its potency – it’s 80 times more effective at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, and levels are currently rising exponentially, largely due to the explosion world demographics.
Reducing agriculture-related emissions is more complicated than it seems. Many GHG hotspots are low-income countries that depend on agriculture as a major part of their gross domestic product, and many of the practices that produce high levels of methane are also those that make farming faster. and more effective within these communities.
To find out how agriculture has contributed to US greenhouse gas emissions over the past three decades, Thistle analyzed 30 years of livestock emissions data from the Environmental Protection Agency. Read on to learn more about how agricultural practices have played a role in greenhouse gas levels in the United States.