The dangers of methane emissions

I contributed the prompt “climate” for Linda’s Just Jot It January today. I actually haven’t been using the prompts other than as usual for Stream of Consciousness Saturdays, but figured I should use the one I suggested. 😉

I have written often about climate change, growing out of my commenting on the fracking battle. I have done some posts on these topics here on Top of JC’s Mind, although most of my writing has been in comment sections on articles on environmental topics.

As you may know, while we hear the most about atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, atmospheric methane has also been rising to record levels. This is especially worrisome because, over a twenty year timeframe, methane is about 86 times as potent in heat trapping potential as carbon dioxide. Given that humanity is facing a critical window to lower greenhouse gas levels to keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, with a goal of 1.5 degrees, methane emissions are very dangerous as they could push the earth into some tipping points, such as permafrost melting and the release of methane hydrates from cold water seas, that would accelerate rather than slow global warming.

Enter the terrible problem of the Porter Ranch methane storage well leak. Not only is this leak causing evacuations, illness, a no-fly zone, and explosion risk, but also a 21% increase in the state of California’s methane emissions. This one leak amounts to 2.3% of the total carbon footprint of the state.

I want to share a Living on Earth interview with Dr. Anthony Ingraffea which aired recently. Tony Ingraffea was one of the heroes of the battle against fracking here in New York State and helped to raise the alarm, nationally and internationally, on the dangers of methane emissions from shale oil/gas development, processing, transport, and use. He has recently retired from Cornell University. I was fortunate to have heard him speak on a number of occasions during the fracking fight in New York. Ithaca is only about an hour’s drive from here.

I hope that the enormity of the Porter Ranch leak and the damage it is causing will mobilize people, especially policymakers, in the United States to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.
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JJJ 2016

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