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Climate change has a cow and worm problem

The Verge Wednesday, 7 October 2020 ()
Climate change has a cow and worm problemCattle graze on a dry meadow at a livestock farm, on August 5, 2020, in northwestern France as a heatwave is forecast for the coming days. | Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images

Cows with tummy troubles could be a big problem for the climate, a new study finds. That’s because cattle and other livestock with worms and other parasites produce more of the super potent greenhouse gas, methane, than healthy animals. Methane is 28 to 36 times more powerful than carbon dioxide when it comes to heating up the planet.

The amount of methane coming from cattle and other livestock was estimated to grow 20 percent from 2017 to 2050 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. But when parasitic worm infections are taken into consideration, the increase in methane could jump as high as 82 percent, according to a new paper published today in Trends in Ecology & Evolution.

"A dangerous feedback loop"

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