Super hurricanes, a 4-foot rise in sea level, frequent droughts, an ice-free Arctic Ocean, intensifying heat waves, and massive wildfires. Does this sound like a world you would want to live in? This is exactly what our future looks like here on Earth if we don’t mitigate global warming, which is already starting to have dire consequences all around the globe.
Scientists have already concluded that global warming is occurring due to man-made emissions of greenhouse gasses across the planet. These greenhouse gasses leak into the atmosphere and soak up sunlight, causing our planet to heat up very quickly. Normally these gasses would remain trapped within the earth, and the levels in the atmosphere would be perfectly fine. But thanks to human activities, the levels of greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere have become out of control.
And now we’re heading over a cliff that’s approaching fast. One of the worst greenhouse gasses is Methane. Methane is 25 times worse for our atmosphere than carbon dioxide, and it’s leaked every day from many different sources. Let’s have a look at how humans are leaking methane into the air, and what we can do reduce our emissions before it’s too late.Where does Methane come from?One of the 3 biggest sources of methane leaks comes from the transport and production of oil, coal, and natural gas. Leaky pipes in older cities across America are one of the biggest sources of methane leakage from the oil and gas industry. Leaks in oil and gas wells are the other main source of methane emissions from the industry.
When oil, gas, and coal are burned for energy they produce Co2, which is not as harmful as methane because it can be absorbed by plants. However, when pure methane leaks into the atmosphere it’s disturbingly effective at trapping sunlight and heating our planet.Others sources of man-made methane come from the agricultural industry and farming, as well as decomposing waste in landfills.
These three sources make up the bulk of our methane emissions on Earth. Limiting them and attempting to capture the methane they leak is truly vital to our success in the battle against global warming.This documentary “Cowspiracy” did an excellent expose on the agricultural industry and how much methane our livestock are really emitting into the atmosphere.
How Can We Reduce Methane Leaks?Though we may produce a lot of methane, it’s thankfully well within our grasp to reduce our emissions. Penalties on oil and gas companies for releasing too much methane into the air are one way of cutting emissions. Though our current administration in America has been trying to remove penalties for methane admissions, their efforts have been thwarted by the courts multiple times.
We likely won’t see any new penalties on oil and gas companies in the next 4 to 8 years, but we can rest assured that the environmentally-aware policies enacted during the last administration will keep us safe until then.Farm digesters are a genius method for capturing methane from livestock that could help greatly reduce emissions. Also known as anaerobic farm digesters, these machines are used to store manure. The methane that emits from the manure as it decomposes is then captured and stored. This captured methane is referred to as “biogas” and can be burned to generate energy. Another great benefit of using farm digesters is that feedlot odors are significantly reduced. A welcome side-effect if you’ve ever driven past one and had to plug your nose!These machines have a multitude of other benefits as well, including;Carbon Credit Payment qualification for farmersReduced fly problems in feedlotsAllow for the re-usage of animal beddingHigher quality manure for cropsEasier manure managementThe energy generated can be soldLandfills are the 3rd largest source of methane emissions in America. The compost within them decomposes and generates methane gas as a byproduct.
The solution to limiting methane leakage from landfills is just about the same as it is for farms, capturing it. Gas from landfills can be captured using a system of wells and a vacuum system. This setup allows the landfill gas to captured and directed to a place where it is then treated. The gas can be treated in a variety of ways depending on what it’s going to be used for. Some of the most efficient ways to use landfill gas include;Generating electricityReplacing the use of fossil fuelsUpgrading to pipeline-quality gasFlaringWhen landfill gas is captured and treated it can be used to battle global warming in many different ways that provide value to our society.In ConclusionMethane emissions are a major problem on Earth right now.
If America wants to set an example by leading the fight against global warming, we should begin reducing our methane emissions as soon as possible. We know where our methane leakage comes from, how it can be limited, and the massive impact doing so will have on climate change. By implementing penalties for excessive methane emissions and technology that can capture it before it leaks into the atmosphere, we can effectively reduce our methane leakage to near 0%. If we’re able to do this effectively many other countries might follow suit, which could give our planet a fighting chance against global warming.