Methane Primary Threat Considered Secondary Issue

Topics: Methane, Natural gas, Greenhouse gas Pages: 6 (1710 words) Published: February 21, 2013
Primary Threat
Considered Secondary Issue

Methane (CH4) is a hydrocarbon that is a primary component of natural gas. It is a greenhouse gas present in the atmosphere, which affects the earth's temperature and climate system. Next to carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane is the second most prevalent anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas. Although there is far more carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution than methane and soot pollution, Methane is far more potent. To what extent does Methane effect climate change and what are the uses and limitations of science in addressing this issue? Methane is influenced by various natural and anthropogenic factors such as landfills, farms, drilling for natural gas, and coal mining. All of these factors that generate Methane emissions create ground level o-zone which is not only hazardous for our health, but it is a great concern for our climate. EPA is one of several organizations that plays a significant role in encouraging voluntary reductions from large corporations, consumers, industrial and commercial buildings and many major industrial sectors. Although EPA has effectively decreased methane emissions, there are still several reasons why the initiatives are not as widespread.

This topic is worthy of investigation because Methane is overlooked and considered a secondary issue compared to Carbon Dioxide. Methane is in fact a greater threat to our climate than Carbon dioxide C02 because of Methane’s ability of the gas to trap heat in the atmosphere is 25 times that of C02, which most people are unaware of. There is a great amount of natural and anthropogenic sources that emit methane into our atmosphere and can be reduced. EPA encourages large corporations and consumers to reduce the amount of Methane emitted while maintaining economic growth. People need to understand the effects of Methane to our climate and how simply it can be reduced, which will be argued in this paper.

Methane (CH4) is a primary component of natural gas that is emitted from anthropogenic and natural sources. These sources influence earth’s climate and contribute to climate change. Natural sources are Wetlands, termites, Oceans, Rivers, Hydrates, Geologic, Wildfires, and Wild Animals. The primary natural source of Methane emissions are from wetlands because they provide a beneficial habitat to methane-producing bacteria.[1] Wetland conditions are environments with no oxygen and an ample amount of organic matter which is what these bacteria require.1 Wildfires also release a great amount of Methane into the atmosphere due to the incomplete combustion of organic matter during wildfires.[2] For example, in high latitude regions, fires significantly cause the release of methane from the soil after the fire is extinguished.2 Lastly, global emissions from methane hydrates are also a major contributor to the natural sources of methane emissions on the planet. Methane hydrates are solid deposits of cages of water molecules containing methane which are found in Polar Regions deep underground.2 When there are temperature changes, pressure and instability in salt concentration changes, Methane is released.2 Human related activities are also a significant factor in emitting large amounts of Methane into the atmosphere. Human related activities are landfills, Natural Gas Systems, Coal Mining, Livestock manure management, wastewater treatment, and rice cultivation. Landfills are an example of a primary anthropogenic source that emits methane into the atmosphere. Landfills are similar to the natural source wetlands; this is because they both have anaerobic conditions. In this specific type of condition where there is an absence of oxygen, the process of microbes decomposing garbage in the landfills occurs which produces Landfill Gas, generating Methane.[3] The content of the waste controls the amount of methane created. Humans can control the amount of methane emitted by ensuring that the content of waste does...
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