Nature takes care of its own – it has given us the mighty methane molecule, but we have so far been blind and deaf to its untold potential. Nature manufactures methane through a process called methanization, tiny microbes called archaea that produce it as a byproduct of their metabolism. And rapidly so, not over millions of years as oil or coal come into being. Methane is odorless, non-toxic, non-corrosive and does not explode easily. It’s safe to produce, transport, store and use and it has the potential to be the backbone fuel for almost everything we do today. Done the right way, its way cleaner and safer than batteries, hydrogen, any other hydrocarbon fuel and it may be emissions free. The issues surrounding it are eminently manageable. Will we wake up from our wake dream and do what works?
The blogosphere for years has been abuzz, and particularly in recent weeks, with information – and, equally importantly, misinformation – about the near-term risks posed by uncontrollable and potentially catastrophic releases of large Arctic deposits of methane hydrates, ice-like substances holding a powerful greenhouse gas.