![methane-leakage-rates-from-ng-system-600x417.jpg](https://steemitimages.com/DQmXNptHKufyhzFNEQEHAesrGE4veyM1odNT8c1HGM7DcU1/methane-leakage-rates-from-ng-system-600x417.jpg) Methane has been long touted as a clean fuel, as it produces a great deal of energy and water when burned, and relatively little carbon dioxide due to its high hydrogen to carbon ratio. It has even been claimed that it could serve as a bridging fuel that allows us to cleanly transition to truly renewable forms of green energy. However, <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/nasa-led-study-solves-a-methane-puzzle" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a new NASA study proves</a> that methane may not be the savior that it has been touted as. In fact, global methane emissions have risen greatly as a result of leaks, largely from the fossil fuels industry. Methane on its own is, an extremely potent greenhouse gas- <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-bad-of-a-greenhouse-gas-is-methane/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">86 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide is</a>. After analyzing the data, NASA concluded that despite the fall of a significant source of methane (forest fires), methane from the fossil fuels industry and wet rice farming are rising so greatly that the reduction makes little difference. Since 2006, methane is increasing at an average rate of 25 teragrams a year - putting total current emissions at about 550 teragrams a year. To put that number into context, a teragram is 1000,000,000,000 grams or the weight of <strong>200,000 elephants. </strong>At that rate, we're adding 5 million elephants worth of methane more than we did last year. We have only a million real elephants left in the wild sadly. Tracking the origin of methane isn't easy though; in order to determine the source, researchers had to rely on the combination of several types of evidence. "A fun thing about this study was combining all this different evidence to piece this puzzle together," John Worden, scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said. One method they used was identifying the carbon isotope in the methane molecule. An isotope is an atom with more or fewer neutrons. Carbon found in methane emitted by fires tend to have more mass as a result and are heavier. Microbial emissions, from farming and animal rearing activities, tend to be the lightest. Fossil fuel emissions tend to be in the middle. Ethane tends to be emitted together with methane when released from fossil fuel sources; hence, an increase in ethane indicates that an equivalent source of methane was from fossil fuels. Combining these methodologies, the scientists found methane emissions from fires were down an average of 4 teragrams a year, while fossil fuels rose 17 teragrams and rice farming contributed a yearly increase of 12 teragrams - explaining the average increase of 25 teragrams a year. So methane is rising, and the primary culprit is the fossil fuels industry - what does that have to do with fracking? Well, this increasing rate of methane leakage from fossil fuels industries coincides with the increasing prominence of fracking in America. In fact, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/feb/17/us-likely-culprit-of-global-spike-in-methane-emissions-over-last-decade" target="_blank" rel="noopener">a Harvard study conducted two years ago found that the US alone could account for</a> 30-60 percent of the global growth of human-caused atmospheric methane emissions since 2002. The government has been content to ignore such research (even NASA did not specifically point out fracking as a cause - only "fossil fuels") because fracking is seen as beneficial to the economy. Another study conducted in <a href="http://energyblog.nationalgeographic.com/2014/02/13/methane-emissions-far-worse-than-u-s-estimates-but-study-concludes-natural-gas-still-better-than-coal/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">2014 shows that emissions of methane are 50% higher than government estimates</a>. The fact is fracking's main product happens to be oil and methane-containing natural gas, <a href="https://www.epa.gov/hydraulicfracturing/process-hydraulic-fracturing" target="_blank" rel="noopener">and the process to extract these</a> from the ground by shattering rock formations with high-pressure water causes more than the all-too-visible <a href="https://www.popsci.com/fracking-fluid-hydraulic-fracturing-spill#page-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener">groundwater contamination and the above-ground destruction that has afflicted communities and wildlife</a>. Large-scale gas <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/massive-methane-leaks-from-texas-fracking-sites-even-more-significant--1882177479.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">leaks occur all too often</a>, afflicting environmental degradation as well. It turns out that there really is no defending shale, not even in the production of a "bridging fuel".