NASA Corroborates Giant Methane Hot Spot In Southwest USA

Four Corners Methane Gas Plume Covers An Area Twice The Size of Rhode Island

Massive Methane Plume Over SouthwestHumans are more than capable of changing the earth’s atmosphere, oceans and any other ecosystem standing in the way of our onslaught. We have been doing it for thousands of years, but the scale of our capabilities is now yhwhlike.

When in doubt, believe the people who have the satellites. A low orbit view from NASA’s space platforms is now showing a 2,500 sq. mile cloud  of methane gas sitting almost exactly on top of the Four Corners area. Why is it there and what does it mean?

The why part is easy: extensive coal mining production in the region has generated the massive methane patch as millions of tons of methane leak from the sites.* The cloud is not new, but it is getting larger as increased fracking in the area is now contributing to the plume. On the map, the methane cloud is bright oranges and reds shown against the lower methane levels on the ground, seen in the darker colors.

When fossil fuel businesses extract oil, gas and coal, their ground level measurements don’t reflect hydrocarbon accumulations from their activities at greater altitudes.** Fracking in particular is turning out to release far more gas during extraction than expected. There is far more methane being poured into the atmosphere than previously revealed. While it is true that some methane is generated by natural sources, over 60% of atmospheric C4 is now generated by humans.

Wait! What? But but but. Isn’t natural gas (methane’s marketing name) way better for the environment? The unique sales proposition (as they like to call it) is that methane burns more cleanly that coal. Gee, yes it does, and John Wayne Gacy didn’t kill as many victims as Ted Bundy.

While methane is less damaging than coal, it is still as fossil fuel, meaning the entire chain of extraction, transport and burning is by its nature harmful. The process of extracting methane from underground releases mega tons of the gas into the atmosphere, all somehow unaccounted for by official statistics. And when you consider that methane is many, many times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2, well, you see that a little bit goes a long way.***

Course, the American Southwest is not the only place on the planet generating methane into the air that was not there before. In North Dakota, they are flaring off so much methane from oil well fracking that the glare can be seen from space. Then there is the melting permafrost in Arctic regions, which is just now beginning to release gasses previously trapped beneath the frozen soil. Recently discovered methane hydrate leaks in the ocean floor are spewing forth warm water currents thaw the formerly frozen gas deposits.

Massive Methane Plume Over Southwest

All of this is relatively recent news, to the point that scientists haven’t even begun to get a handle on it. But scientists have long been concerned about the growing percentage of methane in the global atmosphere, a number that has been growing for a hundred years. In fact, just a scientists were ready to sound an emergency alarm, the levels stabilized in the late 1990′s. And the paid “skeptics” began to taunt scientists as alarmist and pussies. But then the stabilization de-stabilized and the rates began climbing again. In an alarming way.

And now, we just don’t really know what’s going to happen, but we do know that there is only so much methane you can breathe while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

*When NASA scientists first saw the data in October 2014 they believed at first that it was an instrument anomaly.
**And they would do their best to cover up the data if it did.

***Methane is 80% more efficient at trapping heat than CO2. And the argument that it’s plant food doesn’t really work.

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