Farming and global warming

09 Nov 2019

Costain, f.

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I agree with many points raised by Rosemary Perkins in her letter (VR, 2 November 2019, vol 185, pp 542-543) following my article, ‘Livestock are not the global warming enemy’ (VR, 12 October 2019, p 449). In particular, I agree that intensive livestock farming is unsustainable, that methane produces an intense burst of global warming when first released and that action to mitigate climate change and restore nature must be coupled.

The methane work by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change researchers, based at the University of Oxford, reflects this. The metric they have developed, GWP*, updates GWP100, so that for the first time we’re able to accurately account for the role of methane.1

Most importantly, after a decade (the time it takes for methane to break down)3, the warming impact of continuing methane emissions is small. The historic warming contribution is maintained, but there is...