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Methane Leak Lessons

March 3, 2016

The massive methane leak in California’s Aliso canyon highlights the global side effects of the fossil fuel industry on the atmosphere.



Aliso Canyon SS 25 wellhead, December 17, 2015. (Earthworks, CC BY 2.0, via Wikipedia)


The lessons of Aliso Canyon. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The massive natural gas leak in Aliso Canyon, California released a hundred thousand metric tons of methane, and was the largest leak in U.S. history, according to a report in the journal Science. But NOAA research chemist Tom Ryerson points out that it was just a blip compared to methane leaks worldwide.


It’s great that Aliso’s capped now, but every single day of our lives, there’s so much more emitted to the atmosphere than Aliso did, across the U.S. and across the globe, that it’s really gonna be the death of a thousand cuts unless we systematically address each and every one of those as best we can.


He says there are cost-effective technologies to reduce the leaks. But fossil fuel extraction and combustion even at its cleanest will continue to drive global warming as long as we rely primarily on carbon-based fuels. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.