The human dimensions of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming attract considerable attention in macrosociology. However, cross-national analyses generally neglect greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide. The current study addresses this paucity through the testing of theoretically derived models for the social structural causes of the second largest anthropogenic contributor to global warming: methane emissions intensity. The cross-national analyses consider the effects of particular economic activities and their social organization as well as other domestic conditions and the environmental commitment of nation states. Results suggest that both the intensity and social organization of production in different sectors contribute to methane emissions per capita. In particular, the production of beef and veal, oil and natural gas, and biomass energy all positively affect methane emissions intensity. Evidence indicates that while the level of economic development and foreign direct investment in the manufacturing and petroleum sectors increases emissions, the level of state environmentalism has the opposite effect. These findings illustrate the necessity for social scientists to take more nuanced approaches when studying human-caused environmental degradation.


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pp. 1779-1798
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Open Access
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