The Environmental Protection Agency recently updated their policies dealing with greenhouse gases, focusing on one in particular: methane. The agency made changes with the goal of cutting 50 percent of methane emissions from companies in the United States in the next 10 to 15 years.
Kellis Bayless, professor of biology, said that the 50 percent reduction in methane emissions would help, but that it will take a combined effort to offset the effects of CO2.
“No question [it will help],” Bayless said. “There’s not a scientific debate about that. Will it help enough to offset the CO2? Depends on what China does and what India does.”
Bayless also described the other major players in the environmental conservation movement, mainly countries with large manufacturing industries. He added that human activity also contributes to the effects of climate change.
”Both CO2 and methane are known to be greenhouse gasses,” Bayless said. “In both cases, human activity is resulting in CO2 and methane being in the atmosphere.”
Bayless explained that though these changes in policy are a positive step forward, we cannot be certain what it will take to correct the problem of greenhouse gases.
“From the science point of view, any reduction in greenhouse gasses will slow human-caused climate change. I don’t wanna say there is a scientific consensus of ‘will it be enough?’ because I don’t know,” Bayless said.
He explained that the agency focused on methane specifically as it is likely the best gas to limit.
“Goal wise, you would absolutely want to prevent methane emissions, preferentially to any other chemical compound because they emit so much heat,” said Bayless. “A single methane molecule up in the atmosphere is something like 20 CO2 molecules or four nitrous oxide molecules. Addressing methane is important, but I don’t wanna say there’s a consensus on exactly how much we would have to reduce.”
Madison Weidenbach, freshman English major, said, “When you look at records, the global temperature has definitely increased with occasional flubs in weather, and I can’t tell you it’s been straight up connected to disappearing ozone [layers], but it’s pretty clear that if there are more emissions then there’s more harm to the ozone.”
She said that since there is evidence that some climate change is caused by human activity, we have a responsibility to use our knowledge to combat its effects.
“If we have this knowledge, we need to use it,” Weidenbach said. “We’re a big country and we’re responsible for a lot of the pollution.”