The IPCC’s latest report, released this past Monday, reports that methane is 34 times stronger a heat-trapping gas than CO2 over a 100-year time scale. Methane’s current global-warming potential (GWP) is 34, nearly 40% increase from the IPCC’s previous estimate of 25.
Over the course of 20 years, methane has a global warming potential of up to 86, up from its previously calculated 72. This is far higher than CO2. The problem: most climate change studies do not take this increase into account.
The pressing issue: Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as it is called, is alive and well and seen by many as a more environmentally friendly way to extract natural gas. Opponents have long known that fracking can lead to ground water contamination, denigrated air quality, contaminated water, and raised CO2 levels.
In August, a NOAA-led study measured a 6% to 12% methane leakage over one of the largest gas fields in the United States, totally undoing the climate benefits of switching from coal to gas.
Natural gas from even the most carefully fracked wells is still a climate-destroying fossil fuel, despite the fact that most people forget this fact.
According to studies by both the Center for American Progress and the Union of Concerned Scientists natural gas consumption must peak sometime in the next 10 to 15 years.