Monday, December 7, 2009

Rice an unlikely global warming culprit

Seed Daily via Agence France-Presse: Asian rice farmers typically do not fly around the world on holidays or own big-engine cars but scientists say they have an important role to play in helping cut the world's output of greenhouse gases. While much of the globe's focus in the climate change fight is on the burning of fossil fuels and the logging of rainforests, water-logged rice paddies are also a major source of global warming-causing methane.

"If you step through a rice field, there is a lot of gas bubbling out and the large bulk of that is methane," said Reiner Wassmann, a biologist specialising in climate change at the International Rice Research Institute. While carbon dioxide is the most famous of the gases that cause global warming, methane is at least 20 times more effective at trapping heat in the earth's atmosphere.

In an interview with AFP from the institute's headquarters in Los Banos, a farming area on the Philippines' main island of Luzon, Wassmann explained that methane was responsible for one fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions. About 10 percent of the methane comes from rice farming, while other sources include the flatulence of cows and decomposing landfill garbage dumps.

Wassmann said it was essential that rice farmers in Asia and the rest of the world did their bit to tackle climate change, but lumping them in with more obvious, fossil-burning culprits of climate change was wrong…..

A rice paddy in Damyang, shot by yong chern lee from seoul, korea, Wikmedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

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