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Abstract

Emissions of methane from bovine animals have been estimated elsewhere at approximately 60 million tons per year, 15% of global methane releases. This estimate is misleading for two reasons: it ignores the differences in atmospheric residence time between carbon dioxide and methane, and it overlooks the biological and chemical cycling that occurs. The result is an overemphasis of the role of this methane as a greenhouse gas. This is demonstrated by showing the carbon withdrawal and emission cycle for a representation of the one billion global livestock animals. In terms of cost effectiveness, this method shows energy efficiency and fossil fuel switching to be more efficient policies than biological methane reduction. Finally, implications for negotiations of climate change accords are discussed.

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