Sunday, March 7, 2010

It's all a matter of perspective

The Time Online UK is reporting that Russian scientists are warning about a dangerous new environmental threat.

As I've noted before, we don't understand Earth's natural temperature cycles.  This is one of those things that we don't know.  But it makes a bit of logical sense that something like this must be a big part of the puzzle.  Large amounts of something must build up and then eventually escape to cause significant change.  In this case it is methane.

But, wait a second, isn't methane also a fuel?  Yes.  Yes it is.  We normally call it natural gas.

So climate change scientists find this leaky permafrost full of methane and cry that we are all about to die.  I've got an easy solution for you, fellows.  Send in some natural gas extraction companies.  Let's bottle and burn that stuff.

Burning natural gas generates CO2, a greenhouse gas.  But, as the Times article says, methane is 25 times more damaging than CO2.  It's not a perfectly clean win, but it is a big win, nonetheless.

We might have to subsidize the extraction.  Or subsidize the insurance on the extraction.  But surely it would be worth it to save the planet from methane catastrophe.

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