February 6 2013
Carbon dioxide has garnered the most attention in the climate change debate because it accounts for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions. But there is good reason to worry about methane.
Although it is short-lived, methane has more than 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, methane is also the primary component of natural gas and a by-product of decomposition from such common sources as landfills, agricultural activities, and wastewater treatment. Capturing and putting to use methane emissions bring parallel benefits: They help minimize overall methane emissions, and they offer potentially cost-effective energy sources for heating, cooking, and electricity generation—a particular concern in developing countries.