Greenhouse gases from agriculture and livestock

Agriculture and livestock emit greenhouse gases. Those are the gases which lead to global warming. Agriculture and livestock emit methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2).

Laura Reynolds at the independent Worldwatch Institute tells us that agriculture and livestock are emitting more and more greenhouse gases. You can scroll down that summary for a graph of how CO2 emissions from this sector have risen since 1990. You might choose to see Ms Reynolds’ report about agricultural emissions.

Let’s put this into perspective. Agriculture emits less of the greenhouse gases than the burning of fossil fuels for power and heat, and transportation. It’s true also that farmers have become more energy-efficient. They’re producing more food and other products that people use, but Ms Reynolds says, ‘Growth in agricultural production between 1990 and 2010 outpaced growth in emissions by a factor of 1.6.’

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is promoting ‘climate-smart agriculture’. That can involve keeping fewer livestock. It can involve growing more trees. It can involve protecting the forests that already clothe much of the land.

FAO’s Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture (MICCA) Programme is getting to grips with how people can grow food as climates change, human populations rise, and people are coming out of poverty.


About argylesock

I wrote a PhD about veterinary parasitology so that's the starting point for this blog. But I'm now branching out into other areas of biology and into popular science writing. I'll write here about science that happens in landscapes, particularly farmland, and about science involving interspecific interactions. Datasets and statistics get my attention. Exactly where this blog will lead? That's a journey that I'm on and I hope you'll come with me.
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