Evidence that methane emissions from natural gas production have been considerably underestimated by the EPA was recently reinforced by the initiation of an investigation into how the EPA estimates methane emissions by the EPA’s Inspector General. If it is found that emissions of methane from natural gas production are considerably greater than current estimates, the advantage that natural gas has over coal will be eroded and the advantage of switching to natural gas as a cleaner form of energy diminished.
Approximately 800,000 years ago something changed in the Earth’s climate system that led to the climate then following a series of approximately 100,000 year cycles. Small, predictable changes in the Earth’s orbit about the Sun act as triggers for the glacial and interglacial periods, but other factors such as ice sheet volume, CO2 concentration, and biological feedback mechanisms are also involved.
New evidence from analyzing fossil plankton shells has revealed that CO2 concentration in the Earth’s atmosphere was about triple current levels around 52 million years ago. It then declined to levels close to current atmospheric CO2 concentration 34 million years ago when Antarctica began to glaciate.
Oxygen is fundamental to oceanic biological processes and its decline can cause major changes in ocean productivity and biodiversity. Over the past 50 years low oxygen zones in the open oceans have expanded by an area equivalent to half the size of Canada and hundreds of coastal sites now have low oxygen concentrations that limit the distribution and abundance of animal populations.