IPCC assessment calls for lesser known greenhouse gas – methane – bulletin of atomic scientists

Editor’s Note – This article was originally published by Wired. He is seen here as part of it Climate desk Collaboration.

Last week, the United Nations Climate Change Panel released an alarming report on the state of the planet – a devastating warning – that did not look good. Assessment of archaeological carbon dioxide (CO)2), But he called his lesser-known brother: Methane. The greenhouse gas emissions, which are 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, are now at an all-time high of at least 800,000 years, the report said. If it were difficult for humans to deplete methane emissions, it would have a major and rapid breakdown in climate change.

“Methane is the next important, fast, climate stabilization award,” he said in a press release Monday. There is nothing easier than buying the necessary time to maintain the future of our local climate, reduce energy, and develop advanced alternatives such as negative-emission technologies.

“It’s currently the fastest, most effective way to reduce global warming,” said Ilissa Oko, a senior climate scientist with the Environmental Fund.

Like carbon dioxide, methane contains carbon. Its chemical formula is CH4. It is an integral part of natural gas and many ecosystems. Rotten plants produce methane – wet soils are particularly high emissions. And when insects feed on termites and cows, they produce methane. (Most of the gas contained cattle, not Persia.)

But CH4 The earth’s atmosphere is perfectly natural, and the amount that is now added to the sky is unnatural. One big reason is not only cows but also sheep and pigs – all this manure adds extra methane. In the United States, this “stubbornness” is responsible for more than a quarter of indoor methane emissions. Production and transportation of natural gas, coal and oil increased by another 30 percent, and garbage dumps – filled with decaying plants – increased by 17 percent.

When determining how powerful greenhouse gas is, there are two main considerations: how effective the molecule is in retaining heat and how long it stays in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases such as CO2 And CH4 Both are very effective in maintaining heat. They help keep the earth’s habitat from escaping heat. But methane is better. “You have carbon attached to two oxygen atoms in CO2 Molecule, but carbon attached l four Hydrogen Atoms in Methane Molecules And so there are many ways in which the bonds between those atoms vibrate when they receive or drink infrared radiation and therefore emit infrared radiation.

The resulting methane can hold more than 100 times the heat of one pound of CO2 When it was first released, ”agreed with Tianni Sun, a climate scientist who specializes in methane. But she pointed out, methane would quickly disappear. It stays in the atmosphere for only ten years, and it is gone. In contrast, carbon dioxide can last for hundreds of years.

Before humans can produce much of each, these gases naturally occur, float in the atmosphere, absorb radiation, and oxidize at various times. Therefore, a volcano can emit CO2 In the atmosphere, and in wet soils, methane slowly decomposes, but both eventually disintegrate. The atmosphere is balanced, creating a kind of blanket that keeps the planet warm but not too hot.

Thanks to escaping emissions, mankind has darkened that blanket – methane is now responsible for a quarter of global warming. But the relatively rapid extinction period makes it a viable target for climate change. Because it doesn’t last long in the atmosphere, once we start to reduce emissions, you can actually see the atmosphere decrease, ”says San. And that’s very different from carbon dioxide.

Sun recently estimated the potential impact of a paper published in the magazine Environmental Research Letters. Using existing technologies – for example, holding CH4 Oil and gas production and better manure production: By 2030, it estimates that methane emissions will be halved. At the end of this century, ”says San. And it could reduce the temperature by about 30 percent in the near future. And this is especially important when thinking about trying to heat below 2 degrees Celsius.

Steps to monitor natural gas production are relatively simple, and some come at no cost, Sun added, “This means we don’t have to spend more money to reduce methane emissions by about a quarter. Over the next few years. And that’s huge. .

But pointing out where CH is4 Because many sources are biological, it is not always easy to see a pipeline. After all, the planet generates methane by default. And even if you focus on man-made emissions, such as livestock, it will be difficult to say which ones are the biggest polluters, because they do not fit their size. Animal gut biomasses are unique, and they produce gas differently, so it is difficult to know which animals are most combustible. It is very easy to understand and calculate emissions from an industrial process, if you know the amount of oil you burn, for example, you know how much CO is2 Gives.

Scientists use two methods to measure methane emissions: Haik says: from top to bottom and from top to bottom. Each has its own weaknesses, so it is important to do both. The bottom-up method, for example, counts pigs and uses the model to estimate how much methane is consumed per pig (and waste) per day, then use that information and create a collection of estimated emissions. (The same method was used only by researchers who wanted to calculate the carbon cost for cattle pigs to extract soil and release CO).2.) “Of course, you have a lot of uncertainties in that collection,” says Hayek. Of course, two pigs are not the same.

So scientists want to take top-down estimates, measure the atmosphere, and use models of where that gas came from. Say you want to find a source of methane somewhere in the Middle West. There are some pig farms on the east and some oil fields on the west. If you have wind data and sensors that measure how much methane is measured in the air, “then you know that on the day the wind blows from the east, it is animal methane,” says Heck. And on the day he left the West, that oil and gas was methane.

It is important to take this kind of methane stock to meet the environmental requirements of oil and gas companies that the Trump administration has weakened and is trying to restore. Highlighting emissions can help raise social and policy questions, says Heik: “Do we want to stop drilling for oil and gas? Do we want to stop eating beef? Or do you want to reduce oil and gas and beef by slightly methane-emission? ”

Of course, the game is even more exciting – dispersing fossil fuels, replacing them with renewable energy. And despite the long, slow process, she says we have an “unprecedented chance” of the sun breaking the brakes immediately.

“Coping with methane emissions is something we can do now, and we know in advance how we can do it,” she said.

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