Let's Talk Global Warming

Episode 4: Methane

January 28, 2020 Stevi Season 1 Episode 4
Let's Talk Global Warming
Episode 4: Methane
Show Notes Transcript

When you think greenhouse gases, do you only think of Carbon Dioxide? If that's the case, then you are in for a surprise when you learn that Carbon Dioxide is far from being the only threat to climate. This episode is about the second most common greenhouse gas, Methane, and its sources, characteristics, and some ways to stop emissions.

Links for Sources:

Methane:

https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases

https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/education/info_activities/pdfs/CTA_the_methane_cycle.pdf

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/methane/

Permafrost:

https://www.climate.nasa.gov/news/2785/unexpected-future-boost-of-methane-possible-from-arctic-permafrost/

Livestock Emissions:

https://www.academic.oup.com/af/article/9/1/69/5173494

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/07/03/623645396/surf-and-turf-to-reduce-gas-emissions-from-cows-scientists-look-to-the-ocean

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/heres-how-much-giving-up-beef-helps--or-doesnt-help--the-planet/2017/07/20/03bb5ba2-6d60-11e7-b9e2-2056e768a7e5_story.html

Oil/Natural Gas/Coal:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/21/climate/methane-leaks.html

 

Landfills/Wastewater:

https://www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/landfill-gas-qa.pdf

https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/lfg.pdf

https://www.epa.gov/lmop/basic-information-about-landfill-gas

Rice Farming

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/rice-farming-climate-change-global-warming-india-nitrous-oxide-methane-a8531401.html

 
Music:
“News Theme” by Kevin MacLeod licensed under CC BY. Edited to be shorter but content was not changed. 

Link to Song Profile: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4122-news-theme/

Link to Author’s Profile: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/artists/profile/9-kevin-macleod/

Link to license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode



speaker 0:   0:00
Welcome back to Let's Talk Global Warming. My name is Stevie. Just as a reminder, this is a purely informational channeling. All fine fax come from verified and dependable sources, all of a chicken. Check yourselves the links in the description of this episode. In a previous episode, we learned about greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, Florida two gases and water vapor. Today I'm going to be talking about methane, and it's characteristic sources and the solutions being proposed to minimize emissions. Methane, also known as CH four, is a greenhouse gas that can come from both natural and human sources. It is the second most common greenhouse gas found in the atmosphere behind carbon dioxide. Despite the fact that methane is not nearly as coming to hear about his carbon dioxide, it is still playing a massive role in climate change. According to National Geographic, methane doesn't last nearly as long as carbon dioxide, as it only lasts about 10 years, and it is much less common than carbon dioxide, since carbon dioxide is 200 times more concentrated in the atmosphere compared to methane. But methane is just as dangerous. A greenhouse gases carbon dioxide because it is much more powerful than carbon dioxide. Methane is more than 28 times as powerful over 100 years and 80 times more powerful over 20 years than carbon dioxide. Even though it's not as popular as carbon dioxide, Methane packs a much more deadly punch. Like every other greenhouse gas, methane comes from many sources, many of which are actually natural. According to National Geographic, about 1/3 of methane comes and actually from microbes in the wetlands, just like we breathe in oxygen and produce carbon dioxide microbes in the wetlands. Oxygen deficient environment released methane instead of carbon dioxide, according to the E. P. A. Methane is also naturally emitted from termites, eating wood, oceans, volcanoes, wildfires and many more smaller sources. Permafrost melting is also considered a naturally mirror of methane, but I consider it a little more of a human emission just because it's humans fault that the permafrost is melting. According to NASA, scientists have discovered that there are large wasn't reservoirs of carbon dioxide and methane frozen in ice sheets that should stay furs and all year long. But as the ice sheets melt, do the hotter temperatures caused by global warming. An unprecedented amount of carbon dioxide and methane will be released into the atmosphere beyond what scientists can estimate now, which makes it a great concern to scientists and another episode. I'm going to go into more depth about these ice sheets and why it is so bad that they're melting. But for now, let's go back to methane. Despite how bad these naturally voters are. National Geographic says in their article that excluding the wetlands, natural sources on Lee released about 10% of all totally missions every year. So where's the rest of the emissions coming from? I highly doubt that many of you are even bothering to acts that question anymore, because by now you've probably figured out that it's almost always human's fault. According to the E. P, a livestock production releases more methane than any other sector of emissions. The vast majority of these emissions come from animals burping methane, indicating animal dung. Yes, our methane crisis is caused in part due to burps and poop. In an article from Oxford Academic, it describes a process called in Terek fermentation, which is responsible for the methane burps from animals known as ruminants. Ah, part of the stomach, called the Rumen, contains microbes that breakdown in ferment plants eaten by an animal. The broken down plants are then converted into fatty acids, which then pass of the circulatory system into the liver. Then animals burp up methane as a waste product of digestion. This process supplies most of the energy for ruminants, which include cows, goats and sheep. According to the E. P. A. This process alone created 27% of US methane emissions in 2017. The second biggest livestock emission source is manure or, in other words, poop. Manu of releases both methane and nitrous oxide and my next up. So we're going to talk about poop even more when we discuss how it emits nitrous oxide. But for now, let's focus on methane. You might remember from earlier that microbes in the wetlands emit methane because they emit methane instead of carbon dioxide and respiration, according to Oxford academics. Something similar happens in manure storage. Manure is often stored in oxygen deficient environments like tanks or lagoons. In these conditions, bacteria decomposing manure and release methane instead of carbon dioxide, just like the microbes and wetlands. D'oh! The longer, warmer and what are the environment is the higher the methane emissions? According to the E. P A. This resulted in 9% of US methane emissions in 2017. Even more methane is emitted from the livestock sector when you factor in the methane emitted from processing transportation and feed production. To sum up a long description, we are admitting way too much methane from our Big Macs and chicken sandwiches. There are many solutions being introduced to try to minimize thes emissions. The most common solution you could do yourself is to stop eating meat by not eating me. You eliminate your own methane emissions from livestock and make a difference, even if the difference is a small one. But becoming vegetarian is difficult and can get expensive, which is why an article from The Washington Post suggests that simply eating less of certain meets makes a huge difference. Chooses the example of replacing a five ounce steak per week with vegetables, beans, eggs, screens or other meats. For example, if you replaced a five ounce steak with the calorie equivalent and beans, you would avoid the release of 331 kilograms of emissions that's equal to about 38 gallons of gas. Or instead, maybe you should replace your five ounce steak with the collar equivalent and chicken. That would save 270 kilograms of emissions, which is equal to almost 30 gallons of gas. The point the article is trying to make is that simply replacing ruminant source meets like beef with other non ruminant meats, such as chicken or pork, or with other foods like vegetables, beans or grains. You can still prevent a massive amount of emissions without completely giving a meat. Sometimes it's the simple things that can go a long way. Because beef is such a popular product, many scientists are looking into how to stop the release of methane from the source. At the University of California, for example, they have done tests with the feet of dairy cows and found that adding small amounts of seaweed reduces the methane emissions by half. While not influencing the quality of the milk, the cows produced only slightly altering the amount of milk. This study and others like it are making huge headway in taking the meth thing out of your hamburger to make it delicious and environmentally friendly. The second biggest emitter of methane is the natural gas and oil industry, which, according to the E V A contributed to 31% of methane emissions, according to a factually from the N O. A. A natural gas is made up mostly methane. When natural gas is produced, process stored, transmitted and distributed. Methane is released. Natural gas is often found in oil, so any time oil is used, you're also using the method admitting in natural gas within it. According to The New York Times. Many of these emissions are due to methane leaks and poorly maintained pipes, seals, storage tanks and equipment. Environmental groups have urged politicians to pass regulations on the amount of pent of methane that natural gas companies can leak without penalty. However, like usual, politicians have been slow to regulate the wealthy fossil fuel industry. We see this especially with President Trump, who has moved to repeal many regulations from president from President Obama's term that regulated the amount of natural gas leakage allowed. And of course, it's not a fossil fuel burning emissions party without cold. According to the n o a. A. The simple act of mining coal releases methane from where it is trapped in coal deposits. So once again we have another reason not to use the fossil fuel trio that is coal, oil and natural gas and episode dedicated to fossil fuels. We're going to go into a little more depth about these three and their methane emissions. For now, let's move on to the next methane emitter. Landfills. The levels of methane and landfills are larger dependent on the landfill, according to the Sierra Club and an e P a article. Methane is generated when microbes decompose organic waste, such as food or yard clippings in oxygen enriched environments. The waste product of this process is carbon dioxide, but in today's more common landfill conditions, where there is little to no oxygen, methane is produced and set instead. Today, label gases are a 50 50 ratio of carbon dioxide and methane with a small amount of other organic compounds such as nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, sulfur and in addition to inorganic compounds such as mercury and the radioactive Trudi. Um, as you can probably assume, emitting all of these gases is not terrific for the environment. In a similar sense, according to an N o. A. A fact sheet. When what wastewater treatment processes air done without oxygen, the treatment processes can emit methane, which can in turn be released into the atmosphere. Look, I'm gonna be honest with all of you. There's a lot of contradiction involved with howto handle methane emissions from wastewater and landfills. It's PhD against PhD. From what I've read, the biggest consensus I've gather is that the best solution would be to stop disposing of organic waste and come in composting recycling. Instead. The NRDC writes that if no organic compounds were disposed off, there wouldn't be any landfill gases to deal with. But because the solution is extremely difficult to administer, since it would take a large scale change quickly, The second best thing is to not release these gases into the atmosphere without first being treated. Treatment is done by burning the landfill gases in a flare engine or turbine. By doing this, the toxicity is 2023 times less. Then if it would have been untreated. Here's where the problem comes in many landfills. I propose using the landfill gases as an energy source to not only make money but to reduce the use of other energy sources involving the burning of fossil fuels, the process of changing methane from landfills into energy releases, carbon dioxide and water as a waste product. This process has been criticised greatly by environmental groups who say that commercializing landfill gases believed to landfills purposely creating more methane for profit. Their argument centered around the idea that if more methane is produced, the more likely it is to escape from landfills and damage the environment. In addition, they say that painting landfill gases as a quote unquote renewable energy source will overshadow the much better reduce, reuse and recycle movement. The NRDC says that using landfill gases is an energy source would be best if accompanied by air pollution regulation and energy efficiency. In the long run, it seems clear that that replacing fossil fuels with green energy sources like solar and wind energy is more logical than replacing it with landfill gases, which release carbon dioxide. It may unintentionally released methane. In the end, landfill gas is an energy source or not. I encourage you to practice recycling and re use instead of using plastic water. Biles, get yourself one reusable water bottle. Don't excessively throw away food if you can take up composting in the fight against global warming. Anything helps Another emitter that isn't often talked about his rice Patties, according to an article from an online UK newspaper called Independent. Recent New Research has shown that rice paddies admit both methane and nitrous oxide. Methane is admitted when the bacteria, when bacteria is produced in flooded rice fields called rice Patties. Because rice provides more valuable calories to the global population than any other food, we can't just get rid of rice altogether. But researchers have introduced new farming techniques to combat these emissions because the solutions for emissions from rice cultivation has to do with nitrous oxide and methane. I'm going to wait into the next episode to fully explain it. Despite the fact that methane isn't the most emitting greenhouse gas, it is still in extremely active and widely present source of global warming, according to the I P C C, which a source in the National Geographic article, we must keep methane emissions in check to keep the planet from warming. Further fighting global warming isn't all about carbon dioxide is about attacking global warming on all fronts. That is why this so important to fully educate yourself on climate change. We won't fix anything if we are only worried about the mainstream emission sources like fossil fuel burning and not bothering to attack the livestock or waste industries. In order to make any change, we must make complete change to everything, not just one industry or one greenhouse gas. That is the only way we can be climate change if you have any questions. Or there's a climate change topic you'd like me to talk about. Don't forget to comment on the instagram post associated with this episode. And if you haven't already subscribe to this podcast and follow me on instagram at talking underscore about underscore Global underscore warming. Spread the word about this channel so that more people can be informed about global warming and we could take true steps to saving our world from climate change. Thanks for listening