NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Scientists Find Another Source Of Methane, A Greenhouse Gas

November 9, 2000

A significant source of the greenhouse gas methane is rice farming, say scientists. Methane is implicated in global warming and the destruction of the ozone layer. It is a more powerful heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide (CO2), the most abundant greenhouse gas.

According to scientists from the University of California, Irvine, who measured emissions of methane from California rice paddies:

  • Approximately 1 percent of atmospheric methyl bromide and 5 percent of methyl iodide arise from rice fields worldwide.
  • Emissions of these methane compounds vary with the growth cycle, soil content and flooding conditions.
  • It is unclear whether the methane comes from the soil and is emitted through the plant, or is created by the plant itself.

By contrast, cows and other domestic farm animals are thought to produce about 15 percent of the atmospheric methane emitted each year.

Source: "First Cows, Now Rice," A Better Life, USA Today, November 9, 2000.


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