A mysterious rise in methane levels is sparking global warming fears

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Livestock, particularly cows, are a major source of methane

plainpicture/Jan Håkan Dahlström

IN A University of Colorado lab, near a furnace running at 1100°C and machines adorned with Star Trek posters, lie rows of metal flasks holding clues to the cause of an alarming rise in a powerful greenhouse gas. They contain samples of air from around the world that Sylvia Michel‘s team of methane detectives analyse to reveal whether the gas came from burning fossil fuels and wood, or from wetlands and cow guts.

The work isn’t merely academic. Pinpointing the sources of the methane …

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