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What You Should Know About Methane (CO2′s Evil Stepsister)

What You Should Know About Methane (CO2′s Evil Stepsister)

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the greenhouse gas that gets tossed around in most climate change conversations.

But methane (CH4) is making its way into the mainstream spotlight.

Methane is released in heavy doses from factory farms in the form of cow belches and flatulence. Why they don’t call that moo-thane, I don’t know.

It’s also emitted in the production and transport of coal, natural gas and oil… not to mention the anaerobic decay of organic waste in municipal solid waste landfills. Garbage in, garbage out.

But so what?

Listen to the latest Green Divas myEARTH360 Report to learn more about methane (and possibly more than you want to hear about cow flatulance) then read on for further explanation.

Thawing permafrost in the northern hemisphere will lead to relatively more methane than carbon dioxide emissions, which could lead to more serious climate impacts than previously thought, a study said. – See more at: http://www.rtcc.org/2014/04/09/melting-permafrost-will-release-more-methane-study/#sthash.UXCf2GvK.dpuf

What’s with methane and permafrost?

Climate change is warming up areas that were typically cold enough for permafrost. Permafrost—soil that’s frozen year round and comprises 24 percent of Northern Hemisphere land (8.8 millions square miles)—is no longer “perma.”

Some permafrost that’s been frozen for tens, even hundreds of thousands of years is thawing (i.e., no longer so frosty).

277 billion tonnes of carbon are contained in the peatlands in the permafrost zone of the Northern Hemisphere. That’s equivalent to 1,017 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2). Guess where that’s gonna end up when thawing occurs?

But… thawing and decomposing permafrost will lead to relatively more methane than carbon dioxide emissions, which could lead to more serious climate impacts than previously thought, a study said.

To top it off, a newly discovered microbe happens to thrive in thawing permafrost, blooming like algal blooms. Methane is a byproduct of its metabolism. Oops! This new microbe stuff is adding fuel to the fire and, one could say, the microbe’s booming and blooming lifestyle is indirectly caused by humans (hey—we’re the ones who started throwing all those extra greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which has thrown off climate cycles according to 97 percent of climate scientists).

So what’s all this “evil stepsister” name-calling of poor old misunderstood methane?

Why is methane such a big deal for climate change?

Globally, over 60 percent of total methane emissions come from human activities. Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States from human activities. We’re the enabler here.

Methane — a more powerful greenhouse gas — is 33 times more effective in heating the Earth than carbon dioxide.

Need I say more?

Adapted from “Why Methane is CO2′s Evil Stepsister” written by Green Diva Lynn (aka Lynn Hasselberger).

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The Green Divas share low-stress ways to live a deeper shade of green through a weekly radio show, podcasts, videos and blog posts. Working with talented partners and credible sources like myEARTH360 the Green Divas produce content on a variety of topics relating to a healthy green lifestyle. Visit The Green Divas website to learn more, and check out The Green Divas on FacebookTwitter too!

92 comments

+ add your own
12:42PM PDT on Jul 6, 2014

Man needs to know more about Mother Nature's activities before he tries to change ANYTHING...

2:04AM PDT on May 7, 2014

Thank you for the article & some comments.

6:08AM PDT on May 3, 2014

THANK YOU!

11:29AM PDT on May 1, 2014

Thanks

11:30AM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

Love the picture.

11:19AM PDT on Apr 21, 2014

Lol.

7:22PM PDT on Apr 20, 2014

Here is a website that is a must read:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/vast-methane-plumes-seen-in-arctic-ocean-as-sea-ice-retreats-6276278.html

It is one of the mechanisms that was active during the Permian Extinction when greenhouse gases rose due to volcanic activity most likely caused by a meteor strike. Now it's just little us that is causing the looming disaster
It is scary, but don't let that put you off reading it. Just turn your despair into determination and act in every way that is possible to you to reduce greenhouse gases.
Kamia T. has a valid point - we must collect and burn the Methane for power and heating and turn it into the much less harmful CO2.
I stayed in India for a while and our electricity and the gas for cooking were all due to the Methane collected from the septic tanks, where the cow dung was also processed. Later it was all spread out on our vegetable gardens which really flourished.

9:13AM PDT on Apr 20, 2014

good to know

7:54AM PDT on Apr 18, 2014

useful for my geography revision, thank you :)

6:18PM PDT on Apr 17, 2014

Some humans I know produce more methane than any cow.

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