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A potent planet-warming gas is seeping out of US landfills at rates higher than previously thought, scientists say

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on CNN  or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: A comprehensive study involving more than 200 landfills across 18 states revealed that methane emissions from these sites are significantly higher than previously reported
• Conducted from 2018 to 2022, it's the largest survey of its kind in the United States, finding average methane emission rates to be 1.4 times higher than those reported to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program

🔭 The context: Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, contributes to global warming. It's produced when organic waste decomposes without oxygen in landfills
• Despite being a lesser-known source compared to oil and gas or agriculture, landfills are estimated to account for about 20% of global human-caused methane emissions
• Traditional methods of measuring these emissions, such as handheld sensors, often miss significant emission sources

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: The study highlights the persistent and underestimated issue of methane emissions from landfills, stressing their impact on climate change
• Unlike emissions from oil and gas production, those from landfills tend to be more persistent, with some lasting for months or even years
• This underlines the critical need for addressing landfill emissions alongside other sources to combat climate warming effectively.

⏭️ What's next: The findings call for a reevaluation of current methane monitoring and reporting systems, advocating for the inclusion of advanced monitoring technologies
• This would not only provide a more accurate picture of landfill methane emissions but also stress the importance of incorporating waste management strategies in climate policies
• The enduring nature of landfill emissions implies that waste management will remain a significant challenge, even as the world shifts to cleaner energy sources

💬 One quote: "If we’re going to hit our climate targets, reductions in methane emissions can’t come from oil and gas alone," said Daniel Cusworth, lead author and scientist with the non-profit Carbon Mapper. "Landfills should be garnering a similar type of attention as oil and gas."

📈 One stat: Methane emissions from the surveyed landfills were found to be 1.4 times higher than the figures reported to regulatory authorities

Click for more news covering the latest on climate change


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