There is an interesting opinion article in this week’s Wednesday New York Times, “Is natural gas `clean’?” by Mark Bittman. He argues that yes, it is cleaner than coal – it produces 50% less carbon dioxide than coal when burned – but still not clean. And, importantly, the methane that can escape into the atmosphere during any part of the harvesting of natural gas is far worse than burning coal. If more than 3% escapes then we’re actually better off just burning coal. But no one actually knows how much is lost in total from all the wells. Measuring and monitoring the amount of escapage is difficult and costly. Might that money be better spent developing the infrastructure for truly clean enery such as solar and wind?
The links in this article are really good. Be sure to follow the Boston one. And I look forward to watching the new series “Years of living dangerously” that Bittman has been a part of. You can read Mark Bittman’s article here.