There are two parties responsible for the methane that provokes global warming: humankind and nature. Over the past three centuries, methane emissions to the atmosphere have dramatically increased by around 150%. Until about 1870, when humans started using fossil fuel, almost all of the methane emitted into the atmosphere had been biological.
Unlike carbon dioxide, the other devil that warms the atmosphere, methane has a short life expectancy — only nine years, while carbon dioxide has one of almost a century. So, there is nothing much that can be done about it, but there is a lot to do about the methane, by preventing methane leaks from oil and gas extraction.
While nature can’t be stopped from being what it is, humanity has its ally: consciousness. With the help of knowledge, humans can do something about their share of guilt and reduce their methane emissions.
Anthropogenic methane emissions are the culprits for global warming
Nature’s biological sources, such as wetlands or animals, can’t be controlled. It is an interdependent system, and we can’t intervene without causing more damage. But we can do something.
A new study brings proof that fossil fuel used by humans is 25% to 40% noxious than previously believed. 38-58 billion kilograms per year is an underestimation for anthropogenic emissions. This should be alarming, and it is.
But, the sunny side of the discovery is that, if humans do everything in their power to reduce the usage of fossil fuel, then the drop of methane emissions would suffer a serious decrease. This way, the curve of global warming could be significantly modified.
“Most of the methane emissions are anthropogenic, so we have more control. If we can reduce our emissions, it’s going to have more of an impact,” says Benjamin Hmiel, a professor of earth and environmental science at the University of Rochester and one of the study authors.