Replacing coal and oil with natural gas will not help fight global warming

Jul 21, 2014

Both shale gas and conventional natural gas have a larger greenhouse gas footprint than do coal or oil, especially for the primary uses of residential and commercial heating.

Dr. Robert Howarth, a professor of ecology and environmental biology, came to this conclusion after assessing the best available data and analyzing greenhouse gas footprints for both methane (including and ) and over a timescale of 20-years following emissions. The findings are published in Energy Science & Engineering.

"While emissions of carbon dioxide are less from natural gas than from coal and oil, methane emissions are far greater. Methane is such a potent greenhouse gas that these emissions make natural gas a dangerous fuel from the standpoint of global warming over the next several decades," said Dr. Howarth. "Society should wean ourselves from all fossil fuels and not rely on the myth that natural gas is an acceptable bridge fuel to a sustainable future."

Explore further: Control methane now, greenhouse gas expert warns

More information: Energy Science and Engineering 2014; 2(2): 47-60: doi.wiley.com/10.1002/ese3.35

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User comments : 6

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Poj
4 / 5 (6) Jul 21, 2014
This is common sense, but when did humans ever listen to common sense?
howhot2
5 / 5 (2) Jul 22, 2014
1lb of Methane = 21lbs of CO2 for greenhouse gas heat trapping potential. Methane has an atmospheric lifetime of 9.5 years before decomposing in the upper troposphere. CO2 is different in that it doesn't decompose and will linger in the atmosphere for 500-1000yrs or more influencing global warming for a very extended period of time.
The feed back mechanisms where global warming causes massive releases of methane from the permafrost, peat bogs and other sources, could lead mankind and the globe into a very critical temperature spike that would certainly be an mass extinction event.
eBusiness
5 / 5 (2) Sep 04, 2014
This isn't news, it is just a calculation for a very short time span, which doesn't really make any sense since global warming is a long term problem with a scope much longer than 20 year.

That said, while it is less than coal and oil, natural gas combustion still produce a considerable amount of CO₂, we'd best phase out use of all three of them.
Aligo
Sep 04, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
rockwolf1000
5 / 5 (2) Sep 05, 2014
we'd best phase out use of all three of them
In this moment you'll realize, that the shift to renewable energy supply one non-renewable resource (fossil fuel) with another (metals and minerals). Right now wind and solar energy meet only about 1 percent of global demand; hydroelectricity meets about 7 percent. For example, to match the power generated by fossil fuels or nuclear power stations, the construction of solar energy farms and wind turbines will gobble up 15 times more concrete, 90 times more aluminum and 50 times more iron, copper and glass than the current production. Also, the wind turbines only work when there's wind, although not too much, and the solar panels only work during the day and then only when it's not cloudy, winter, etc.... Other than that, alternative energy is perfect.


Metals and minerals are not renewable? Yet they can be recycled?

Please show how we are running out of metal ore, limestone and gravel.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (3) Sep 05, 2014
Wow rockturd, were you dropped as a baby or just born special?
gkam
5 / 5 (1) Sep 07, 2014
Aligo seems to ignore the materials needed for the construction of fossil and nuclear powerplants. He only counts the small amounts of materials used in renewable systems.

Apparently he is unaware of the existence of accountants in utility companies, and the professionals who plan for the energy of the future, who take all of that into account.

What is HIS field, to question the professionalism of others?

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