Effects of Natural Gas Extraction

Nature magazine has an article about the possibly adverse climate change effects the use of natural gas, particularly regarding extraction of natural gas.

How clean is natural gas? Although it is often lumped in with coal and oil, many in the energy industry are at pains to point out that burning gas to generate electricity produces fewer greenhouse-gas emissions than does burning other fossil fuels. …The growing popularity of shale formations as a source of gas has re-energized the debate over its environmental impact. To release the gas, engineers must split the rock by injecting fluid under high pressure, a process called fracking. Last year, researchers from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, said that with this taken into account, carbon emissions associated with shale gas were no better — or were worse — than those from coal.

A study by NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, indicate that methane emissions could be roughly double the official estimates.

The article notes how NOAA collected and used the data for its study and the degree of uncertainty attached to their conclusions. Further nuances are brought into the picture including cleaner gas burning power plants and their possible negative effect due to a reduction of pollutants that reflect solar radiation back into space, thus cutting down on climate warming.

It’s not an uncomplicated picture and this slight article along with its links add to one’s understanding of the climate change picture.

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