'Bridge' fuel may escalate atmospheric greenhouse gas

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests there has been a decline in measurable atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use in the U.S. for the past seven years, a Cornell scientist says the EPA's computation may be in error – by a wide margin – due to problematic accounting for natural gas, the so-called "bridge" fuel.

Instead, thanks to a heavier dose of emissions resulting from increased use of , in the U.S. may have been rising rapidly over that time.

In 2013, the EPA has estimated emissions in the United States – including methane from natural gas – at about 6 petagrams, or 6,000,000,000,000,000 grams into the atmosphere. By using better accounting for methane as a key greenhouse contributor, the emissions to the atmosphere are closer to 9.5 petagrams, according to Robert Howarth, Cornell's David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology. By 2040, greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. fossil fuel use (including methane) could be close to 12 petagrams.

"The EPA has seriously underestimated the importance of methane emissions in general – and from shale gas in particular," said Howarth, a fellow in Cornell's Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, who published "Perspectives on Air Emissions of Methane and Climatic Warming Risk from Hydraulic Fracturing and Shale-Gas development: Implications for Policy," in the journal Energy Science and Engineering (Oct. 12)

"As a result, the federal government has been stating that total greenhouse gas emissions from energy use in the U.S. have been steadily declining since 2008 – which they attribute to exchanging shale gas for coal for electricity generation – although other studies say the economic downturn was more important."

Howarth said methane accounts for 40 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Shale gas development over the past 8 years may be further increasing the rising average temperature of the Earth, compared to the pre-industrial baseline.

Methane resides in the atmosphere for just over a decade, a relatively short time compared to carbon dioxide, which lasts for hundreds of years. However, methane is 100 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent in the atmosphere. Curbing methane emission reductions leads to instant atmospheric concentration reductions that significantly slow global warming rates almost immediately, said Howarth.

Within the next 15 years, Earth will warm to very dangerous levels, doubling the total increase in the average temperature that has occurred since the start of the industrial revolution to now, said Howarth. Tipping points in the climate system may kick in and lead to runaway global warming.

The natural gas industry is the largest source of in the U.S. By reducing methane and soot (black carbon) emissions, society can buy time while moving aggressively toward a renewable energy economy, said Howarth.

While it is essential to reduce , this alone would result in no measurable improvement on global warming rates in less than 30 years, he said.

"Methane make it a disastrous idea to consider shale gas as a bridge fuel, letting society continue to use fossil fuels over the next few decades," Howarth said. "Rather, we must move as quickly as possible away from all fossil fuels – shale , conventional , coal and oil – and toward a truly sustainable energy future using 21st-century technologies and wind and solar power."


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

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Oct 13, 2015
Within the next 15 years, Earth will warm to very dangerous levels, doubling the total increase in the average temperature that has occurred since the start of the industrial revolution to now, said Howarth. Tipping points in the climate system may kick in and lead to runaway global warming.


This has got to be a misprint or a lie or something.

GHG have diminishing returns on how quickly they can raise the temperature...In order to raise the Earth's temperature by 1C over a 15 year period of time...wed literally have to intentionally suck all the fuel we can as fast as we can and burn it just for hte hell of it, non-stop for the entire time...and even then we wouldn't be able to do that.

It might be useful if we could somehow trigger a VEI 7 Volcanic eruption in a "safe" location, there are a few magma chambers known to be primed, and let the ejecta block out the Sun and fertilize the ocean life. Problem is volcanic winters of this scale are unpredictable.

Oct 13, 2015
Alternatively, we could stop removing sulfur from oil during the processing, so that diesel and gasoline would produce sulfates which could help block out the Sun a bit more gradually and controlled than would an induced volcanic eruption.

Spraying sulfates around at high altitudes is problematic, because it...costs fossil fuels...to fly an airplane...and droplet size is important for ensuring you get the right reflectivity, and keep the particles in the atmosphere for as long as possible.

Acid rain is a problem, but life on Earth has survived much worse acidification events.

however, the leftists are already complaining about carbonic acid causing ocean acidification, even though a recent study shows corals are adapting to real world rates of change just fine...so I know you guys will object to injecting sulfur into the atmosphere citing ocean and inland lake acidification, and you would be right, except we can do things to fix that...lime injection or something.

Oct 13, 2015
Alternatively, we could stop removing sulfur from oil during the processing, so that diesel and gasoline would produce sulfates which could help block out the Sun a bit more gradually and controlled than would an induced volcanic eruption.

Spraying sulfates around at high altitudes is problematic, because it...costs fossil fuels...to fly an airplane...and droplet size is important for ensuring you get the right reflectivity, and keep the particles in the atmosphere for as long as possible.

Acid rain is a problem, but life on Earth has survived much worse acidification events.

however, the leftists are already complaining about carbonic acid causing ocean acidification, even though a recent study shows corals are adapting to real world rates of change just fine...so I know you guys will object to injecting sulfur into the atmosphere citing ocean and inland lake acidification, and you would be right, except we can do things to fix that...lime injection or something.

Oct 13, 2015
You know, after double checking some information on the production of another compound I had in mind, I say forget it.

The entire chemical industry is one big circle jerk.

The amount of energy used to make certain comounds I had in mind is completely insane, and is almost certainly NOT worth it for the purpose the compound gets used......I'm not even gonna say what it is, because you'd cry...

Biofuels are a circle-jerk too. They probably cost more energy to raise than the amount of energy they produce...

Oct 13, 2015
The problem is how we gather and distribute methane, not the fuel itself. Another point: I've read that methane is about 15 to 17 times worse than carbon dioxide, not 100 times.

The advantage of using methane is that with this fuel, a gas turbine can start up rapidly, with lots of power. The same can not be said for coal, nuclear, or even diesel fuels. It is also used in fuel cells.

If Methane is not the fuel to transition toward more ephemeral sources of power such as wind and solar, then we're going to have to find a different fuel. Right now, as bad as methane is, it's the least awful.


Oct 13, 2015
Well, we can't use nuclear. We still cannot control it, in any form. Here is the news for today:

http://www.japant...Jy2ttGGk


Oct 13, 2015
For Ira, who follows me around to award me "ones", here is another set of references. Read them, and think of Grand Gulf, and what it is going to do to the swamps.

http://ago.mo.gov...landfill

http://www.stltod...083.html

http://news.stlpu...andfills

Tell Willie.

Oct 13, 2015
For Ira, who follows me around to award me "ones", here is another set of references. Read them, and think of Grand Gulf, and what it is going to do to the swamps.


For glam-Skippy who is so goofy with his rah, rah, let's go team, and Palinizing the physorg.

1) Why I want to spend any time thinking about Grand Gulf? East bank Texans are not that interesting to me. I only think about them when they cross the river and don't hurry up and go home.

2) Grand Gulf is not part of the Louisiana swamps. Grand Gulf is not even in Louisiana. That is in Mississippi.

Tell Willie.


Why you don't tell him your self? He is on my "Don't-Show-Me-This-Skippy's-Stuff" list and it is to much trouble to switch it on and off just to tell him again what you already told him a dozen hundred times before.

Oct 13, 2015
For Ira, who follows me around to award me "ones", here is another set of references. Read them, and think of Grand Gulf, and what it is going to do to the swamps.

gkam..... I was also involved....I also give Ira "1's" sometimes, like I also give you "5's" sometimes...... My perspective is that Nuclear is the true "bridging" power source. It is and has been. It has got to be the bridge going forward. In 50 years I have no doubt we could be claiming victory on being completely renewable - maybe sooner given some good news/developments. But if we don't start NOW with new generation and next generation technology we run straight toward tipping points the human species won't survive.

Oct 13, 2015
Zzzz, good points, but I think we can do it without burdening the rest of Humanity with this Faustian Bargain.

How about if we just stop until we find sure ways of holding the nasty waste we have already created?

Oct 13, 2015
Flood the storage faciliity with Argon gas, which can be condensed out of the atmosphere.

It's inert, so it won't react with anything nor carry away pollutants, but it will serve to choke out the fire if the fire gets close to the storage facility.

After the situation is under control, you should be able to safely release the gas, as it will not be able to carry any pollutants with it.

Cryogenic cooling of earth has been used in the construction industry on a couple occasions to help stabilize the ground while crews worked.

Similar techniques could be used to pump the whole facility full of Argon. You want a little over-pressure to prevent oxygen from getting back in there.


Oct 20, 2015
Methane is 84 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide over a time period of 20 years. Landfills are currently considered the largest human-generated source of methane, and shale gas was never intended to be a sustainable solution. However, we need an increased focus on more innovative technologies that aim to solve both problems, like waste conversion. Current efforts to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost leave a portion of material destined for the landfill. Waste gasification can not only avoid the greenhouse gas emissions associated with landfills, but also efficiently and profitably produce renewable, domestic electricity and fuels.

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