Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What The Frack, Methane!

Oh Goody, More Bad News!

We want to lower CO2 emissions to curve the greenhouse effect and slow global warming. This has been the message repeatedly year after year. Energy-related CO2 emissions decreasing should be good news. America's Natural Gas Alliance announced today via their Twitter feed (@ANGAus) that in 2012 the levels are lower than those in the mid-90's. We should be dancing in the street. However, this news is more terrifying than anything.

If the point is to reduce CO2 emissions to curb climate change then what is the concern? The problem is the process of which these natural gasses are collected are causing a different and more immediate threat: methane. The American Environmental Protection Act has an Overview Of Greenhouse Gases. This guide explains the Global Warming Potential over the next 100 years.Whereas CO2 has the highest volume currently in our atmosphere, methane gasses are 21 times more damaging. And even the 21 figure is still obscure. The real figure is closer to 56 times more heat trapping except it breaks down faster; therefore over the 100 years it averages in at the 21 figure (from Methane's Contribution to Global Warming Is Worse than You Thought on AlterNet).
Methane versus Carbon Dioxide
Most people believe that natural gas is our future, and it very well might be. What is most important that while we're fighting against climate change we're not jumping out of the pot and into the frying pan. Or getting excited about inaccurate victories. The increase in natural gasses and methods to obtain (like fracking) is still so new that any long term effects have not quite been solidified yet. We need more measurements, tests, and accurate reporting before we can celebrate any reduction in CO2. This is something that I will be watching closely, and I hope you will be too!

Season 1 Episode 6: Chasing Methane

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