What is Methane (and how does it relate to Global Warming)

Methane (CH4) is a gas emitted from organic, natural B2 Lab sources like wetlands; and also animals.  Consisting of one Carbon molecule and four hydrogen molecules, it can also result from human activity like leakage from a natural gas system.  While it has a shorter lifetime than its more prevalent cousin, Carbon Dioxide, it is far more efficient at trapping radiation. Indeed, at a comparative impact of 25 percent more than carbon dioxide, CH4 has a much bigger impact than CO2 on the greenhouse effect over a 100-year period.

In 2015, methane accounted for about 10 percent of total US greenhouse gas emissions related to human activities.  Across the world, however, human activity accounts for more than 60 percent of total global methane emissions. Fortunately, US methane emission fell 16 percent between 1999 and 2015.


The two largest methane (CH4) emissions in the United States come from the petroleum and natural gas industries.  As a matter of fact, methane is primary component of all natural gas; it is emitted to the atmosphere during the production, processing, storage, transmission, and the distribution of natural gas.  Because methane often coincides petroleum, crude oil production, refinement, transportation and storage of the substance also qualifies as a source of natural methane emission.


Domestic livestock—buffalo, cattle, goats, sheep, etc—produce vast amounts of methane, naturally, as part of their normal digestive process.  In addition, whenever you store or manage animal manure (for fertilizer, etc.) in lagoons or in holding tanks, methane is one byproduct.  But while animal emission is a natural source of methane in the atmosphere, human intervention has led to vast breeding of livestock, which increases the potential for natural methane in the atmosphere, too.


Finally, methane can also generate from landfills as a result of matter decomposition. It can also result from wastewater treatment processes.  In fact, landfills are the third largest contributor of methane emission in the United States.

It should also be noted that methane can also be emitted from many other natural sources. Obviously, wetlands are the largest source as bacteria emit methane during the natural organic material decomposition process (when there is no oxygen). Other natural sources of methane include wildfires, volcanoes, termites, sediments, and even the ocean.