Methane in atmosphere hits new high, rising at fastest rate recorded


Via Flickr

Simone Garza | April 11, 2022

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported the amount of methane is rapidly increasing. This is an air pollutant and greenhouse gas resulting in 1 million premature deaths yearly. 

Methane is a colorless and odorless flammable gas. While it is an important element of natural gas, methane emissions are responsible for 30 percent of climate change. Methane emission is associated with raising livestock and organic matter decaying.

Greenhouse gasses ,like carbon dioxide, are more potent and a secondary contributor to global warming, but break down faster and are temporary. The greenhouse gasses absorb infrared heat in the form of heat. Greenhouse gasses can also be released into the atmosphere when oil, coal, and natural gas are mined and transferred. 

On April 7, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the atmospheric methane levels for 2021 have spiked 17 parts per billion. 2021 has the biggest recorded annual increase since the development of systematic measurements in 1983.

The Earth System Science Data journal found human activities made up about 60 percent of global methane emissions last year alone. In 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported about 18 percent  were responsible for all greenhouse gas emissions. 

Jae Edmonds, a chief scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Joint Global Change Research Institute and contributor to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, said methane symbolizes both a barrier and advantage for smoother progress to maintaining climate change. 

“It’s both good news and bad news. Its human-related sources are quite varied, many of which are relatively straightforward to tackle,” Edmonds said in an interview about the newest IPCC findings.

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