The methane emissions from cattle are a concerning 11% higher than previously estimated, the Guardian reported this morning.

While the news of these revised calculations may be seen as somewhat of an ‘I told you so’ to those advocating a vegan lifestyle in the interests of the environment, ultimately this news is a serious concern to us all.

Scientists have warned that this discovery is ‘an additional challenge in the fight to curb global warming’ – as if the challenge wasn’t already hard enough.

According to Julie Wolf, a researcher in the US Department of Agriculture and the lead author of a study in the journal Carbon Balance and Management, the situation is such that “[i]n many regions, livestock numbers are changing, and breeding has resulted in larger animals with high intakes of food. This, along with changes in livestock management, can lead to higher methane emissions.”

Previous estimates, she added, were based on “out-of-date data”.

While between 2000 and 2006 the concentration of methane in the air increased only gradually, this has escalated 10 times more quickly in the last decade; in 2015, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, methane accounted for 16% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Methane emissions from livestock have increased most sharply in developing regions of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

According to a group of 81 scientists, this is likely to seriously impair the Paris climate pact ambition of capping global warming below two degree Celsius.

The need to end the animal agriculture industry is greater than ever.

In the words of Dave Reay, a professor at the University of Edinburgh, “[a]s our diets become more meat- and dairy-rich, so the hidden climate cost of our food tends to mount up.” 

“Cows belching less methane may not be as eye-catching as wind turbines and solar panels, but they are just as vital for addressing climate change.”

While mainstream media and environmental ‘advice’ tends to warn us against driving our cars and leaving unnecessary lights on, these main issues have largely been brushed under the carpet. This is frankly reckless, since methane is far more potent than CO2, capturing more of the sun’s radiative force.

Scientists have calculated that within a 100-year time-frame, the ‘global-warming potential’ of the methane is 28 times greater than for carbon dioxide.

“Such a target will become increasingly difficult if reductions in methane emissions are not also addressed strongly and rapidly,” the Guardian reported that they wrote in an open letter.

The impacts of animal products are increasingly being made known about health; it’s time for the same awareness to be spread about the impact on the planet.