NASA confirms that there is a nasty 2,500 sq mile cloud of methane floating over the Southwestern United States. (And you think wind energy is dangerous?). This is a pretty scary discovery, because the cloud was so huge that when they found it, they thought it must’ve been an error due to faulty instruments. The scariest part? The emissions found in the cloud are approximately 80% above previous estimates made by the Environmental Protection Agency. Woops.
So how did they find it? They used an instrument called the European Space Agency’s Scanning Imaging Absorption Spectrometer for Atmospheric Chartography (SCIAMACHY), which was able to find the ‘atmospheric hotspot’. The methane cloud is roughly the size of Delaware and is floating above the intersections of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah.
So where did this cloud come from? Turns out NASA believes “the source is likely from established gas, coal, and coalbed methane mining and processing.” In fact, the cloud of methane appears to be floating above the most productive coalbed methane basin in NA, New Mexico’s San Juan Basin.
The problem with methane when compared to CO2 emissions, is that it is 80% more potent at trapping heat. The reason why this cloud is so dangerous is that this amount of methane has the ability to trap more heat than all the CO2 emissions for all of Sweden… produced in a whole year!
It saddens me to hear of stats like this thanks to fossil fuels and traditional sources of energy. I’m surprised that wind energy is often overlooked and vehemently fought against when we have much bigger issues with traditional ways of generating electricity. Why has NIMBY and anti-wind folks been allowed to take so much control over the industry and politics and the purse strings of global government? We should be fighting more against resources that do more harm to our planet, and to us.
Maybe these new discoveries will help to bolster sales in wind energy, and make people realize there are far more risks with fossil fuels than there ever could be with wind.