In 2022, EDF, Environmental Defense Fund, will launch a very special satellite through its affiliate, MethaneSAT LLC. The satellite, MethaneSAT, is designed to focus on only one problem: methane emissions. This high tech machine will be able to provide global coverage and detect methane emissions from any part of the world.
In conjunction with Harvard University and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, MethaneSAT will collect data from the major gas and oil-producing areas of the world and agricultural areas, landfills, and other sources. The information gathered by the satellite will be available to anyone for free. EDF hopes that this data will help environmental scientists concentrate on reducing the fight’s biggest leaks to prevent climate change. Even a half-degree Celsius change can make an enormous difference.
Research done by EDF indicates that the emissions from oil and gas production in the USA
exceed the EPA estimates by 60%. While monitoring methane emissions, MethaneSAT will be able to determine how large the emissions really are and whether reductions are taking place over time.
In focusing on methane, EDF is singling out the pollutant responsible for at least one-fourth of global warming. Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps the sun’s energy in the atmosphere and prevents radiation into space. And the oil and gas industries are releasing as much as 75 million metric tons of methane into our atmosphere every year.
EDF is using other technology here on Earth to monitor methane leaks as well. Sensors on drones and trucks are gathering data for the Mobile Monitoring Challenge, being done with Stanford University.
Decreasing methane leaks will aid in slowing global warming. MethaneSAT and the other EDF projects will find the source of the worst leaks so that pressure can be brought to bear on those industries that are most responsible for climate change. But the corporations will profit from the coming changes. Decreasing leaks will enable the industry to recover a large part of the $30 billion of methane that is released into the atmosphere and wasted. Instead of a loss of income for the oil and gas industry, these changes will produce a situation in which everyone wins.