Saving private carbon (global warming) -Express Tribune

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Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, which warms the planet 80 times as fast as the leading greenhouse gas namely carbon dioxide. The trees don’t like consuming methane, yet when it comes to really tackling the climate threat, methane is a low hanging fruit. Methane is majorly released from natural gas and oil operations. Livestocks and landfills also produce methane. In natural gas, methane is the leading ingredient before burning and it is released into the air through pipes and wells through leaks. However, when this natural gas and oil are burnt, they produce the most potent greenhouse gas called carbon dioxide.

At the COP26 in Glasgow, there was more nonsense than genuineness. The battle wasn’t between polluting the skies versus saving the planet. It really was scapegoating methane in order to save the freedom of carbon dioxide to fly, which means saving private corporations’ freedom to continue to drill for more oil. This is David versus the Goliath, except that the Goliath is made to win.

Methane, while warming the planet faster than carbon dioxide, actually remains in the atmosphere for about 30 years. Carbon dioxide, on the other side, remains in the atmosphere for 300-1000 years. Seventy percent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today has been there for centuries. Of the entire concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide since the last 300 years, half have happened since 1980. That is about the time when ExxonMobil scientists came to know that carbon emissions would warm our planet and lead to catastrophic consequences, yet the industry stayed mum. It means more warming of the planet was done knowingly than in ignorance.

Let me break it to you that carbon suction or carbon capture is merely a fancy name and only wishful thinking. Beyond that, both are still in their infancy and wouldn’t suck much carbon out of the atmosphere or capture it at the production site respectively. Methane concentrations have increased 2.5 times since the Industrial Age, with almost all of that happening since 1980.

Here is why the leaders of the developed world, which is actually responsible for climate change in the first place, asked us to focus our anger at methane: one, a leaking methane exacts a toll on corporations’ profit. Blocking those leaks would be sold to the global public that methane belching was tamed but it would chiefly benefit the corporations. The war against methane does not hurt the bottom line of oil and natural gas mega corporations. Two, carbon dioxide is generated after the product (oil and gas) is sold and consumed. The carbon emissions, as mentioned above, happen primarily from the burning of fossil fuels. War against carbon emissions would mean war against the sale and consumption of oil and gas, therefore, carbon emissions aren’t made to look like the true villains that they are.

President Biden reminded the global summit that the world needed to reduce carbon emissions on an urgent basis. However, only days before that he had urged the world’s largest oil producers to keep pumping for more of the same planet killing fossil fuels. He makes the case for this irony by arguing that we needed the economic benefits of fossil fuels today and that moving away from fossil fuels quickly was “just not rational”. Last time I checked, this was the definition of doublethink. In this, Biden would find an ally in Putin.

A warming Siberia and the farthest reaches of Northern Russia are creating new possibilities of farming, mining, and energy projects. A thawing Arctic has also created a thinking in Russia that there could be an alternative to the Suez Canal. The Russians are calling it the Northern Sea Route, which would be a shipping lane between the Pacific and the Atlantic. The Russians are basically saying that while climate change would bring catastrophe in the future, why not take advantage of the economic opportunities offered in today’s warmed and melted Russia.