The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is stepping in where it sees government stepping back: tracking global methane, a major contributor to climate change.
Fred Krupp, president of the group, told the audience at Techonomy NYC today that “methane pollution is responsible for more than one-quarter of climate change — about 84 times more than carbon dioxide. This has long been overlooked.”
Krupp, who has been fighting for the environment his whole life, doesn’t really want us to rely just on hope, though. “”Hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up,” he said. “With the price of information gathered by technology going down and the precision of that data going up,” explained Krupp, “we can begin to start doing things to help.”
And the EDF is about to help in an explosive way, by launching MethaneSAT to collect data on which business can governments can act. “We have to start tackling the methane issue,” he said, explaining that the oil and gas industry is the source of much of the methane leakage. But because it’s invisible, it has been hard to measure until now. According to the EDF site, more and better data is needed about:

  • How large methane emissions are.
  • Where they’re coming from.
  • The biggest potential reductions.
  • Progress of those reductions over time.

MethaneSAT will provide global high-resolution coverage, and, because it will focus only on methane, it will be quicker and less expensive to launch than the complex, multi-function satellites built by government space agencies. The satellite is designed to map and measure oil and gas methane emissions worldwide, including roughly 50 major oil and gas regions accounting for more than 80 percent of global production. It will also have the ability to assess emissions from other human-made sources.
“Data makes people act,” said Krupp. “And because all the data we collect from MethaneSAT will be free and public, we hope to, worldwide, turn that data into action. In fact, Colorado and California already have methane standards — #cutmethane.”
“We are about 36 months from takeoff,” Krupp concluded. “This satellite combines the best of science and technology and heralds the fourth wave of environmentalism. It’s a big opportunity, and I can’t wait.”