Removing methane; what is being done right now?

The issue of methane pollution and its impact on overall global warming is serious. With the many ways that humans contribute to this problem, it is also up to us to work on reducing the methane released from our industries. The main sources of methane come from our livestock and agriculture industry, petroleum and natural gas, coal mining, and landfills. In order to really have an impact on methane pollution and reduce the amount of this harmful greenhouse gas getting into the atmosphere, we need to address all of these areas of pollution.

Here are some of the ways that each one of these industries has begun adopting solutions for the methane that the release.  

There are many different research projects working to solve the issue of methane from cows and other livestock. In fact, the Australian government has committed $27 million dollars to 18 different research projects addressing this issue [1]. These projects include selectively breeding livestock that produce less methane, reducing methane emissions by eliminating particular livestock gut microbes, and changing the diet of livestock to create less flatulence (i.e. methane).

When our waste gets trapped in an oxygen free environment, such as a landfill, it decomposes and produces methane as a byproduct. In order to stop this methane from getting into the atmosphere, landfills are beginning to turn it into a biogas that can be converted to electrical energy. In fact the U.S. already operates 500 “landfill-to-energy” plants, and Germany produced enough energy from biogas in 2009 to power more than 3.5 million homes [2].

Fossil Fuels:
Coal beds natural contain methane which gets released when the coal is mined. Much like the methane extraction from landfills, methane from coal mines can be harvested and used as an energy source. The picture above shows one coal mine that is doing just this.

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