Friday, June 08, 2018

Climate change: Why we need to worry about methane

In its Our Climate Your Say discussion document released yesterday, the government attempted to back away from its previous promises of net-zero emissions by 2050. Instead, they'd like to ignore methane - basicly so they can keep giving farmers, our largest polluters, a free ride. The proposal breaks faith with their supporters and doesn't stack up economically, in that the additional cost of going all the way to net-zero emissions is next to nothing. But in addition, its just a bad idea. Why? Well, for a start, atmospheric methane levels are still increasing:

This isn't a natural increase: two-thirds of atmospheric methane comes from human sources. So, this isn't a greenhouse gas we can just ignore.

Secondly, much is made of methane's short lifespan - it lasts less than ten years in the atmosphere before being broken down. Unfortunately, what it breaks down into is carbon dioxide, the very long-lived gas that the government says it wants to focus on. So, every "shot-lived" methane source is effectively a source of long-lived carbon-dioxide as well, and if we want to solve the latter problem, we need to solve the former.

Basicly, trying to take the focus off short-lived greenhouse gases is just more special pleading from polluters to allow them to keep on destroying the world. And that's not something we should let them do.