Cover for the “Sixth Assessment” IPCC Report that addresses the most up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system and climate change.
Think Globally, Act Locally – Turning Off the Methane Tap
The new report now calls methane a more insidious culprit than CO2, since it has a warming potential in the next two decades that is more than 86 times greater. Biden and the US Congress have recognized this as well. Only by slashing methane gases by 45% in the coming decade can we avoid the most calamitous impacts of global warming.
Where has all this methane come from? About 40% is from fossil fuel operations, including abandoned oil and gas wells. But, as Energy Vision reported in its recent Op-Ed published in The Hill, more than 50% of human-caused methane emissions in the US are not from fossil fuel use. They are from agriculture and waste management/disposal activities, especially decomposing organic wastes: in landfills, food wastes from communities and food production facilities, agricultural manures, and more.
Energy Vision homed in on the methane problem a decade ago and has become the independent sector leader in showing business and government officials how organic methane biogases can be captured in airless tanks called anaerobic digesters. This keeps them from escaping into the air as potent climate warmers. The biogases can then be refined into “renewable natural gas” (RNG) fuel, which can be used in any ways fossil natural gas is used today — to generate power, to heat buildings, or, best of all, to displace diesel fuel in heavy-duty trucks and buses, cutting not only their greenhouse gases but also their health-damaging emissions.
This EV News reports on the largest anaerobic digester project in the northeast, where methane biogases from manure on the Goodrich Family Farm and local Vermont food wastes are converted into RNG. Most of the fuel is helping Middlebury College meet its sustainability goal, and the high-quality fertilizer made from the organic bio-solids will help replace chemical fertilizers on farmlands. We also report on projects capturing methane biogases to generate fuel from four municipal wastewater plants in Colorado, where we ran that state’s first state-wide “power of waste” workshop in 2016. These four plants are eliminating fugitive methane emissions and displacing over a million gallons of diesel vehicle fuel per year.
Right now, every urban and rural community has the exciting and economically viable opportunity to be part of the sustainability solution by processing its organic wastes – producing clean fuel for local fleets and compost for depleting soils while at the same time helping stabilize the global climate, and creating the makings of a sustainable future.
Every project that Energy Vision’s work has inspired has energized our team, representing one more step toward the carbon-free future our world needs. But now, we must pick up the pace in helping turn off our country’s methane tap. If your local officials have not yet considered anaerobic digestion options, it is time to encourage them to act, and we hope you will share with them our “Community Planning Guide”.
The harsh reality is that we face certain destruction of the livable flourishing planet that has been our home if we don’t act swiftly. The good news is that, if we do act swiftly in cutting methane, we can all be an important part of the solution.