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Farming methods also affect climate change, Manning said. S., cows are typically kept within an enclosed space and are fed corn, resulting in high concentrations of methane gas, compared to the lower concentrations found in free-roaming grass-fed cows.

On the other hand, "we are very lucky that the forests and oceans absorb half of the carbon dioxide we emit," Manning said.

Manning has served on many national and international projects, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

He also was involved with reports produced by the IPCC, which won the 2007 Nobel Prize with Albert Gore Jr.

Three major types of greenhouse gasses contribute to global warming: CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide, but CO2-a byproduct of coal, oil, and natural gas (methane)--is the primary culprit, Manning explained.

The result is a steady march upward in the ratio of parts per million (ppm) of CO2.

"The amount of fossil fuels that we are burning is enough to increase the atmospheric concentration by five ppm every year," he said.

"Scientists need to understand how Earth responds to fossil fuels," Manning said.

Scientists measure carbon dioxide levels dating back as far as 600,000 years by drilling and taking samples from ice cores in Antarctica.

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