Methane, the primary component of natural gas, aggravates global climate change more than many people realize, according to a recent article by Earth Island Journal.
Many news reports about methane emissions cite a commonly used statistic that methane has 21 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, but a more relevant description puts that figure at 56 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, the article states.
The lower figure refers to methane's global warming effects over 100 years, while the higher figure describes methane's effects in a 20-year time frame, according to Earth Island Journal.
"Why does it matter?" the article asks. "Because we don't have a century to get serious about the impacts of runaway greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is upon us now. And we appear to be approaching some irrevocable tipping points that will create powerful negative feedback loops, the most worrisome being the release of methane stores at the bottom of the ocean and locked into sub-Arctic permafrost."
The article goes on to ask, "What if we were to use the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 20-year comparison instead of its 100-year comparison? For starters, it would force us to get much more serious about tackling the sources of methane emissions," including leaks from natural gas drilling and transmission.
To read the Earth Island Journal article, click here.