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Living Less Unsustainably: Methane

John Fischer

Hi all, Climate Master John Fischer here with KLCC's Living Less Unsustainably.

Carbon Dioxide is not the only climate changing gas increasing in our atmosphere. Methane accounts for 20% of the warming, and with levels  increasing even faster than CO2, that contribution is increasing.

Fortunately, methane has an atmospheric residency time of only 10 years. CO2 stays in the atmosphere for 200 years. And we can reduce methane emission levels quickly. The U.S. has reinstated methane controls on oil and gas production. Most of the emissions are leaks in the production and transport infrastructure. But, methane, or natural gas, from industry is only about a third of the problem.

Agriculture, primarily livestock production, contributes another 25%. Changing feed for cattle can help, manure management, and even cow breath capture can make a difference. But reducing the number of animals is the best way to cut emissions from livestock. Eat less meat and dairy, and you can have an impact. 

Landfills account for another 20% of emissions, and we could stop that overnight by never throwing organic matter into the garbage.  Never put grass clippings, tree prunings, food scraps, or the poop from dirty diapers or doggy clean-up bags into the trash. Organic matter decomposing without oxygen present creates methane. A landfill - particularly in a wet climate - is the perfect environment for methane production. While landfill methane capture helps, properly designed organic digesters are much more efficient.

Credit John Fischer / KLCC
Only yard clippings and kitchen scraps should go in your green bin.

Composting your yard and kitchen scraps, or putting them in the green bin, and putting baby and dog poop down the toilet can all but stop methane emissions from landfills. Many sewage treatment plants - including our own - capture the methane emissions and use them to generate power.
I'm John Fischer with KLCC's Living Less Unsustainably.

Copyright 2021, KLCC

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