Energy Exchange

Latest research leaves questions about some sources of atmospheric methane unsettled, but need to act remains


A pair of new scientific papers published in the journals Nature and Science argue that levels of so-called fossil methane coming from naturally occurring sources — underground seeps, volcanoes, and so forth — are much lower than previous estimates, and that human-made emissions from the fossil energy industry account for a much larger share of the global methane budget.

The widely reported findings arrive in the midst of a robust debate among researchers in which a great deal is still unsettled. Whether these latest findings eventually prove correct remains to be seen. But the ongoing discourse leaves no doubt about the continued need to dramatically reduce the vast amounts of methane that we know are currently emitted by oil and gas production and distribution.

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