Gas

Gas

Is Natural Gas ‘Clean’?

Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman on food and all things related.

The question is whether the natural gas “revolution,” which is a real thing — production is up about a third since 2005 — is also a good thing.

One reason natural gas is called “clean” is because it emits 50 percent less carbon dioxide than coal when you burn it. Thus it’s seen by some as a “bridge” fuel until zero-carbon-producing renewables can take over. But natural gas isn’t clean in the way that solar is clean. It’s clean-er than coal. It’s better than the worst; that’s all.

And the situation is actually too dire for a bridge fuel: experts say we must stop adding carbon into the air within the next 30 years [1] or face a climate “feedback loop” in which global warming continues regardless of subsequent activities, a point at which we would be able to make things worse but not better. If switching to natural gas long delays the dominance of renewables, it’s not doing us much good. That’s why action now is important.

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