'Vastly underestimated': Fossil fuels emit 40% more methane than previously thought, study finds

Methane is 80 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
  • Methane is the second most abundant greenhouse gas on the planet.
  • A recent study analyzed ice core samples from the pre-industrial era to measure the extent to which industry has played a role in increasing atmospheric methane levels.
  • The researchers note that their results suggest action can be taken to stem methane pollution.
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  • How widespread within NASA is the conviction that human activity is responsible for climate change?
  • Michelle Thaller knows. She has worked with hundreds of Earth scientists at NASA who study the climate.
  • It's important to note that NASA is an apolitical organization devoted to science, not policy solutions.
From the Twitter feed of Chris Mooney
  • Esieh Lake is in a part of Alaska that's in the Arctic Circle.
  • Each day the lake emits methane at a rate equivalent to about 6,000 cows.
  • If more like it are found, it could be an ominous warning of things to come.
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Had It up to Here with Climate Change? Eat Beans Instead of Beef

A new study shows how one dietary change in the U.S. could make a 46%-plus dent in greenhouse gas reductions. 

Hey Bill Nye! Should Humans Go Vegan to Slow Global Warming?

Methane gases from livestock production is contributing to the acceleration of global warming. Is a plant-based diet a smart way for individuals to curb the effects of climate change?

Make all the jokes you want, says Bill Nye, but methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, and as Earth's population increases so too does the size of the meat industry that caters to it. Demand for meat is growing steeply in developing nations, according to the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and the methane emitted by livestock is undoubtedly contributing atmospheric gases and accelerating global warming. So is a plant-based diet the answer, slashing the demand placed on the meat and dairy industries? Nye finds himself choosing to eat more and more vegetarian dishes, so while he hasn't gone 'full vegan' yet, his awareness of the problem has sparked a reductionist diet. Nye also mentions that agricultural scientists may soon find themselves under public pressure to reduce methane output. One way they might do that? Changing the bacteria in livestock's stomachs so they metabolize food with less methane byproduct. So we could bio-engineer the stomachs of other animals, or we could simply reduce the amount of animal products that go into our own.

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