Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Harvard Study: U.S. 'Likely Culprit' of Global Spike in Methane Emissions

Climate
Harvard Study: U.S. 'Likely Culprit' of Global Spike in Methane Emissions

New research has linked the U.S. to the massive rise in global methane emissions. Bobby Magill reported on the Harvard University study on Climate Central Tuesday.

Methane flaring on the Pawnee Natural Grassland. Photo credit: WildEarth Guardians / Flickr

Using satellite data, the researchers found that methane emissions in the country rose more than 30 percent over the 2002–2014 period and that increase "could account for 30–60 percent of the global growth of atmospheric methane seen in the past decade," the study's abstract states.

Though the study does not attribute the increase in the U.S. to a particular source, Magill notes that the rise coincided with the fracking boom.

"I'd say the biggest takeaway is that there is more we—the U.S.—could be doing to reduce our methane emissions to combat climate change," study lead author Alex Turner told Climate Central.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that methane, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is 84 times as potent as carbon dioxide over a 20-year period, was responsible for about 10 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in 2013. But previous studies have also found far higher levels of methane emissions than the agency's estimates, including a 2015 study by Robert Howarth, Cornell’s David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology.

Oil and gas wells in the Bakken Shale region of western North Dakota near Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Photo credit: NPCA / Flickr

"Methane emissions make it a disastrous idea to consider shale gas as a bridge fuel, letting society continue to use fossil fuels over the next few decades," Howarth said at the time. "Rather, we must move as quickly as possible away from all fossil fuels—shale gas, conventional natural gas, coal and oil—and toward a truly sustainable energy future using 21st-century technologies and wind and solar power."

The new study comes as the Obama administration continues to target methane emissions, with the Interior Department last month unveiling a new proposal to cut emissions of the greenhouse gas from fossil fuel extraction on public lands.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE 

Lawsuit Filed Over Oklahoma’s ‘Fracking’ Earthquakes as Its Third Largest Quake Is Felt in 7 Other States

Radiation-contaminated water tanks and damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Feb. 25, 2016 in Okuma, Japan. Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Japan will release radioactive wastewater from the failed Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean, the government announced on Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Antarctica's Thwaites Glacier, aka the doomsday glacier, is seen here in 2014. NASA / Wikimedia Commons / CC0

Scientists have maneuvered an underwater robot beneath Antarctica's "doomsday glacier" for the first time, and the resulting data is not reassuring.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Journalists film a protest by the environmental organization BUND at the Datteln coal-fired power plant in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany on April 23, 2020. Bernd Thissen / picture alliance via Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

Lead partners of a global consortium of news outlets that aims to improve reporting on the climate emergency released a statement on Monday urging journalists everywhere to treat their coverage of the rapidly heating planet with the same same level of urgency and intensity as they have the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Airborne microplastics are turning up in remote regions of the world, including the remote Altai mountains in Siberia. Kirill Kukhmar / TASS / Getty Images

Scientists consider plastic pollution one of the "most pressing environmental and social issues of the 21st century," but so far, microplastic research has mostly focused on the impact on rivers and oceans.

Read More Show Less
A laborer works at the site of a rare earth metals mine at Nancheng county, Jiangxi province, China on Oct. 7, 2010. Jie Zhao / Corbis via Getty Images

By Michel Penke

More than every second person in the world now has a cellphone, and manufacturers are rolling out bigger, better, slicker models all the time. Many, however, have a bloody history.

Read More Show Less