WILL THE United States’ energy revolution hurt the planet or help it? Will fracking for natural gas make fighting climate change harder or easier? Can the United States meet its goal of cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent of 2005 levels by 2020? The answer to all of these crucial questions could depend on a colorless, odorless gas that shows up all over the place.
The substance is methane, the primary component in natural gas. Methane rises from landfills, escapes from coal mines, exits from cows’ posteriors, seeps out of drilling sites and leaks from the pipes that transport the fuel to large power plants and countertop stoves. Burning methane produces about half the heat-trapping carbon dioxide as burning coal, the greatest climate villain of the fossil fuels. But, uncombusted, methane is a powerful greenhouse gas in its own right, a heat-trapper many times more potent than carbon dioxide.
After six months of record cold, the morons at the Washington Post are worried about trapped heat and cow farts.