NYTimes food columnist: While EPA’s getting rid of coal, let’s get rid of natural gas, too

NYTimes food columninst Mark Bittman writes:

Natural gas is made up mostly of methane [2], and methane, unburned, is around 70 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide. There isn’t nearly as much of it, and it’s shorter lived, but it’s not so short-lived that we can allow a great deal to escape into the atmosphere, which it does when anything in the production, transmission or distribution processes leaks [3]. It’s a scarily powerful greenhouse gas for over 20 years, and merely powerful (25 times stronger than carbon dioxide) over a span of 100 years. By which time much of the world’s coastline will be what we now call “inland.”

To see natural gas as even semi-clean, then, you have to burn all you take out of the ground [4]. Because at least one study found that if as little as 3 percent of the methane produced escapes, you might as well be burning coal, from a climate perspective [5]. All that talk of a bridge to a renewable future … forget it. That’s why Anthony R. Ingraffea, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Cornell University, refers to natural gas as a “gangplank”…

We’re running out of time to measure emissions, and we’ll never arrive at an absolute number anyway. Embarking on a huge push to real renewables, and accepting the costs — which may actually be less than making natural gas “clean” — is the only responsible path to take. The real bridge to renewables is to begin to dismantle the existing infrastructure, starting with coal and nuclear — while using it as necessary to fill in the inevitable gaps as we build a new infrastructure of power from solar, wind and more.

If that’s impossible, we blew it. And if you plan to be on earth 50 years from now, I’ve got a nice piece of land in Murmansk I’d like to show you.

7 thoughts on “NYTimes food columnist: While EPA’s getting rid of coal, let’s get rid of natural gas, too”

  1. Let’s get rid of idiots. But we can’t. First, there is freedom of speech, and then, if we do manage to be rid of all of them, we might experience a population bottleneck.

  2. Wondering how he cooks. Obviously not with gas – but he can’t use NG based electric either. I guess he prefers raw food?

  3. sure let’s give up coal and natgas too. hell let’s give up civilization and culture and surplus food production. let’s give it all up. i am willing. once Mark Bittmant gives up his cush Manhattan lifestyle for the hardscrabble but noble calling of subsistence dirt farmer i will follow him

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