Pollution | VOL. 16, ISSUE 96, May-June 2016

Capture Methane

Methane contributes approximately 20 per cent to the annual increase in global warming. And landfills and sewers contribute to approximately 15 per cent of global methane emissions (West et al., 1998). If methane is allowed to leak into the atmosphere before being used, it effectively traps the sun’s heat and contributes to global warming. In fact, methane traps 20 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2) and there is enough empirical evidence to prove that methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report listed methane in the earth’s atmosphere with a global warming potential (GWP) of 34 compared to carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. GWP values compare the impacts of emissions and reductions of different gases and carbon dioxide is chosen as the reference gas and its GWP is set equal to one (IPCC, 2013; Gillenwater, 2010). Although the earth’s atmosphere consists mainly of oxygen and nitrogen, neither plays a significant role in enhancing the greenhouse effect because both are essentially transparent to terrestrial radiation. The greenhouse effect is primarily a function of the concentration of water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide (N2O), and other trace gases in the atmosphere that absorb the terrestrial radiation leaving the surface of the earth. Changes in the atmospheric concentrations of these greenhouse gases...

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