Carbon dioxide (CO2) isn’t the only greenhouse gas (GHG). Yet, of all GHG emissions, CO2 has gotten and continues to garner the lion’s share of attention. Of all greenhouse gases, CO2 is the leading GHG contributing to climate change in the industrial age, apparently – in California weighing in at 86.5 percent. While CO2 in the atmosphere is the longest-lasting of the GHGs, a more potent one, according to Sean Cockerham of McClatchy Newspapers’ Washington, D.C. Bureau, is methane (CH4) – in fact, more potent by an order of 25 times. Moreover, and according to Cockerham in “California looks to curb methane emissions” also, Earth’s warming is accelerating because of it.
The McClatchy Washington Bureau correspondent pointed out as well that according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in the United States, 25 percent of methane emissions come from oil- and gas-producing activity and the federal regulatory agency is contemplating whether or not to establish new rules that would target CH4 emissions from those sources. This is as I understand it.
In the Cockerham article, it was further expressed that there are various interests asking for EPA oversight in this matter.
According to Cockerham, methane is a primary constituent of natural gas; so, during the oil-drilling process, when leaks do develop, methane can get into the air that way as can also happen in delivery of natural gas via pipeline. Then there are those cases too when oil companies exhaust waste methane into the air while there are instances also where these emissions are ignited, as is common in North Dakota’s Bakken fields.
Meanwhile, there is more information available on the EPA’s Web site regarding methane here.
On the Web site in question, it is stated: “Methane is emitted by natural sources such as wetlands, as well as human activities such as leakage from natural gas systems and the raising of livestock. … Methane’s lifetime in the atmosphere is much shorter than carbon dioxide (CO2), but CH4 is more efficient at trapping radiation than CO2. Pound for pound, the comparative impact of CH4 on climate change is over 20 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period.”
Anthropogenic activities are responsible for contributing more than 60 percent of methane emissions world-wide.