What’s Going On Here?
Initial data from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) estimates that levels of atmospheric methane, a gas that is 80x more powerful than CO2, has reached record levels.
What Does This Mean?
Methane, or CH4 to any keen chemists, is a greenhouse gas. It is only present in the atmosphere for 10 years, (as opposed to CO2 that can stay for centuries) but it can be up to 80x more powerful than CO2.
In 2019, the concentration of atmospheric methane reached nearly 1875 parts per billion, the highest level since record-keeping began in 1983. But where does it come from?
Problem: microbes in wetlands excrete methane and permafrost
Solution: if we keep global temperatures down, it will slow defrost → emissions
Problem: cows and sheep burp/belch methane
Solution: eat less meat and dairy
Oil and Gas Wells
Problem: natural gas is mainly methane, it is prone to leaking from wells
Solution: use less fossil fuels (reduce flying, switch to renewable energy at home)
Why Should We Care?
Methane levels began to rise after 2006 due to an increase in global oil and gas drilling. This is threatening the goals of the Paris Agreement. Companies could install-recovery equipment, sell the gas to cover the costs of the equipment and save 45% on methane emissions…but most of the time they tend to just burn off the methane, releasing much more wasted carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.Whilst CO2 may get a lot of the limelight, often when you hear about carbon emissions, it can be referring to CO2e. CO2e, or carbon dioxide equivalent, is the idea of expressing each of the greenhouse gases as if it were equivalent to CO2.
e.g. If 1kg of Methane causes the same damage as 80kg of CO2, the impact of 1kg Methane on the atmosphere could be described as 80kg of CO2e.
Can you use this current ‘lockdown’ to foster new, more sustainable habits?
- Switch to a sustainable energy provider; Ecotricity, Bulb, Octopus are just a few
- Sort through your wardrobe and wear something that you haven’t for a while (much better than just buying another item online)
- Give veggie or vegan a go? Switch out pork sausages for Quorn, or a beef burger for a spicy bean burger. A simple and easy change to make. You may even prefer it!