In many of the rich countries of the world, a great deal of effort is being put into reducing emissions. It is true, that these countries are responsible for a large amount of historical emissions. The problem is, that there are a number of so called carbon bombs that are being recognized around the world. Any of these could if unbalanced could emit so much carbon as to virtually eradicate the remaining carbon budget for the human race. These cover all sorts of things, but one that has been going on in the last year is very worrying.
Currently, the statistics state that the UK is emitting more carbon dioxide than all countries but 17. Turkmenistan however is far down the list with emissions at 47. Yet in 2022 methane emissions leaking from just two of their fossil fuel fields caused more global heating than the whole of the UK.
A few years ago, an area of sea in Siberian waters was found to be boiling with methane rising from the sea bed before. This ‘fountain was unlike anything seen before, and has concentrations of the gas across that region 6-7 times higher than average.
Morrisons is to have its cows given additives of seaweed in an attempt to reduce methane emissions.
This additive reduces methane emissions by as much as 80%, and given that morrisons currently has roughly 10% of the country shopping there, they have the potential of reducing cow based emissions by 8%. Now other brands need to follow Morrisons lead on this, but about 5% of the UK emissions is accounted for by the emissions of cows, which means that Morrisons move alone, should cut carbon emissions in the UK by around 0.5%, now while this is not huge, if everyone across the country chose to use this meat, 5% of emissions is a pretty substantial cut.
More to the point, with the main supermarket chains in such close competition in the UK, I find it hard to believe that others are not going to follow Morrisons lead. I for one will be happy to get our beef from Morrisons (though in our case, we have already replaced most of our beef mince with turkey mince which has a far lower carbon footprint anyway.
Methane emissions are 80 times more warming that carbon dioxide. They do not stay in the atmosphere for ever, but in the short term, they could still cause the human race an enormous task which could quickly become unmanageable. Methane (natural gas) is often found in the same place as oil yet, bizarrely, extractors are generally after one or the other. By making rules on methane capture, significant quantities can be stopped from escaping into the atmosphere, never mind the fact that this methane can then be sold, greatly increasing income.
According to a recent NASA study, methane is responsible for about 25% of the global warming that has occurred since the industrial revolution.
Under Obama the central American government tightened rules on methane extraction in an attempt to deal with this issue. The larger companies engaged with the new rules, but unfortunately the smaller companies which are responsible for much of the fracking that occurs complained and the EPA under Trumps oversight (Trump had installed many fossil fuel executives into its ranks) reversed these cuts.
The industry claimed that there was not much leakage and that the problem was under control. Unfortunately this was a lie. At the same time that they were claiming tiny leaks publicly, privately they were admitting to a huge problem.
So far, these lies which are going to cost the world population have not been punished at all. What is worse, we wouldn’t know about the behaviour were it not for a secret recording made of a member of the independent petroleum association. According to the recording Ron Ness president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council told the meeting “We’re just flaring a tremendous amount of gas. This pesky natural gas. The value if it is very minimal”. A few months later, the same organisation had a lawyer state that it is not in their interests to let even a molecule of gas escape.
Yet this requires us to be fools. The most long lasting view of an oil rig is with a flame blowing out, burning off excess gas.
We need to make pollution the expensive option. If venting is the cheapest way to work, lets tax it to such an extreme level that it is worth their while to catch the waste. Of course the best way to end this practice is for the producers to go out of business. While we are moving in that direction at a reasonable speed, it is perhaps too slow for the survival of the way of life that we humans have got used to over the last few millenia. If we continue as we are, the climate we will leave for out children will not be as pleasant.
The Arctic does, unfortunately, have a built-in exaggeration of any heating. The bodies and vegetation of inhabitants of the Arctic have been locked away in the Arctic permafrost for millennia. As the Earth warms this permafrost starts to melt for the first time in millenia releasing this huge store of global warming gases.