Meet CO2’s little sibling, CH4, Otherwise Known as Methane

You flip on a light to see, a TV to entertain or an oven to cook. Your refrigerator runs 24/7. You charge your phone overnight. Where does this energy to power our homes come from?

Traditionally, our energy came from coal-powered plants. However, in recent years, the Obama administration has been relentless in closing these plants down so as to slow global warming by cutting CO2 emissions. What has been the replacement? Natural gas obtained by fracking.

First, let’s define fracking.  The process of fracking requires the construction of wells dug deep into the ground. These wells are then pumped with 8 million gallons of water (which include chemicals and carcinogens such as lead, uranium, mercury, radium, methanol hydrochloric acid, and formaldehyde). This mixture is pumped 10,000 feet down, where it meets the end of well, and create high pressure that cause the nearby shale rock to crack and release the natural gas that we then harvest to use for our energy needs. Check out this neat interactive gadget on fracking.

It has been shown that burning methane for energy purposes produces HALF the amount of CO2 that burning coal does, so what’s the issue? It’s the process in which methane is obtained. First, the mixture of water pumped down into wells leaks out to surrounding water sources that provide nearby cities with water. This mixture contains TOXINS shown to be detrimental to human health. Second, in the midst of climate change and less rain for some areas of the United States, why are we wasting all this water?

Lastly and most importantly, the infrastructure that holds the methane once it is captured is LEAKING. In other words, we are letting methane escape into the atmosphere. Why is this bad? The molecular structure of methane is way better than carbon dioxide at trapping heat. So small amounts in the atmosphere are not bad, seeing as methane is found in gases that escape organisms bodies via ways like burping. As the amount of methane increases, the amount of heat that would otherwise escape to outer space is now being trapped by methane.

Check out this article for more information on methane and its effects on the environment.

Do you still think fracking is beneficial for the environment?

About the Author: SiSi

Celebrate the sun.

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