Today we’re talking about two climate blind spots: methane and short-term warming. Most of us think of global warming as a long game. How do we reach net zero by 2050? And how should we curb carbon dioxide emissions to get there?
But the warming happening now and in the next few years is just as important.
Short-term warming exacerbates wildfires, hurricanes and other climate impacts now. And the short-term trajectory of warming can make things better or worse in the long run. At some point before we reach net zero emissions, it’s increasingly likely that we will overshoot our 1.5 degree target. Hopefully we will come back down, but the more we overshoot, the worse the effects of climate change will be. Which is why we should bend the curve of that trajectory by tackling the causes of short-term warming.
High up on that list is methane. It lives in the atmosphere for only 12 years, but in the 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere it causes about 84 times more warming than carbon dioxide. That means it’s also a powerful solution. Methane in the atmosphere right now causes about 30% of global warming to date, but cutting emissions now would actually have a cooling effect. Why? Because, unlike carbon dioxide which lasts for several hundred years, methane breaks down relatively quickly.
So how do we tackle the methane problem?
In this episode, Shayle talks to Erika Reinhardt, co-founder of Spark Climate Solutions, a non-profit focused on under-addressed climate solutions. Right now Spark is focusing on methane emissions from livestock, also known as enteric methane.
Shayle and Erika cover topics like:
Why we should consider different time-scale standards for measuring global warming impact, such as GWP100 and GWP20
How short-lived aerosols mask the full warming impact of greenhouse gasses
Methane removal, including the process of oxidation and methane sinks
Different sources of methane, such as wetlands, livestock and fossil fuel production
Ready-to-deploy solutions to fossil fuel methane emissions, such as flaring, detection, capture and storage
How flaring may be less effective than previously thought
Solutions under development for livestock methane, such as manure management, biogas digesters and feed additives like seaweed-derived bromoform
Canary: Cutting methane emissions could make a big dent in climate change, major UN report says
Bloomberg: As Gas Prices Soar, Nobody Knows How Much Methane Is Leaking
Inside Climate News: Feeding Cows Seaweed Reduces Their Methane Emissions, but California Farms Are a Long Way From Scaling Up the Practice
Catalyst is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.
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