In his Aug. 17 Forum piece “Fight Climate Change With Natural Gas,” petroleum geologist John J. Interval makes a forceful argument in favor of the increased use of natural gas as a way to address climate change. But he is being disingenuous. He leaves out of his argument the crucial fact that natural gas, which is methane, is a highly potent greenhouse gas.
Methane is estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to have 86 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide over a 20-year period. The gas industry leaks upward of 9 percent of what it produces and is the largest human-made source of methane emissions globally. The truth is that every step of natural gas exploration, processing and transportation emits considerable air pollution including greenhouse gases.
The effort to slow climate change is not just about carbon dioxide but lowering our emissions of all greenhouse gases. The single most effective way to fight climate change is to rapidly slow down the consumption of all types of fossil fuels including natural gas. The real discussion should be about how to greatly expand renewable energy and energy efficiency now.
Community Health Director
Pennsylvania Clean Air Council