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The heat is on for greenhouse gas methane

May 27, 2007
clipped from www.sciam.com


For the moment, the amount of methane in the atmosphere is
steady after leveling off around 1999, said Fraser, leader of
the Changing Atmosphere Research Group at Australia’s
government-funded Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Research Organization.

This is thought to be because the drying out of tropical
wetlands seems to canceling out a rise in emissions from the
oil and gas industry. But how long this lasts is anyone’s
guess.

In the United States, cattle emit about 5.5 million tonnes
of methane per year into the atmosphere, accounting for 20
percent of U.S. methane emissions, the Environmental Protection
Agency says.

what worries Singer most is a rapid release of methane
stored in sub-polar permafrost or in huge methane hydrate
deposits under the sea. While this has not happened, some
scientists suggest it might occur in a warmer world.

“If methane hydrates leak, then we’re gone, then it’s
over.”

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