Humans breathing causes 'global warming', according to new study

"We would urge caution in the assumption that emissions from humans are negligible."

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A new study out from the British journal PLOS One suggests that human beings may be a cause of global warming, not just in our actions, but by breathing. The idea is that people breathe out "small, elevated concentrations of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), both of which contribute to global warming."

These noxious fumes are in addition to the carbon dioxide that human beings already exhale and makes up nearly 0.1 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. "Experts explained that methane and nitrous oxide in the air we exhale make up to 0.1% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions. So once you factor in the farts and burps being produced by humans, it becomes clear that humans are fueling global warming by just exhaling from lungs, scientists said," per NDTV.

Of the 104 volunteers who took part in the study, every individual breathed out nitrous oxide, with 31 percent of the human beings studied breathing out methane. Methane emissions from cows has been cited by climate activists as a reason to reduce livestock and agricultural farming.

"We would urge caution in the assumption that emissions from humans are negligible," said Dr Nicholas Cowan from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Edinburgh, who led the study. Scientists who worked on the study said that because the amounts of nitrous oxide and methane are so small, "their contribution to global warming may have been overlooked."

"We report only emissions in breath in this study, and flatus emissions are likely to increase these values significantly, though no literature characterises these emissions for people in the UK," the study's authors wrote.

"Assuming that livestock and other wild animals also exhale emissions of N2O, there may still be a small but significant unaccounted-for source of N2O emissions in the UK, which could account for more than 1% of national-scale emissions," they went on to say.

"Concentration enhancement of both CH4 and N2O in the breath of vegetarians and meat consumers are similar in magnitude. Based on these results, we can state that, when estimating emissions from a population within the UK, diet or future diet changes are unlikely to be important when estimating emissions across the UK as a whole," they said, addressing the impact of diet.
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