Friday, April 29, 2011

PETA Takes Drug Giant to Court

Merck's murky behavior isn't going to silence PETA. We're suing the pharmaceutical giant after it refused to include our shareholder resolution in the proxy materials sent to its shareholders, in violation—we contend—of securities laws.
Our resolution asks Merck to complete an annual report listing the number and species of animals used in its laboratories and for what purposes, which we believe might help prevent some of the most blatant abuse, such as what our undercover investigation of Professional Laboratory and Research Services (PLRS),  a Merck contract facility, uncovered last year. Aside from the horror of being experimented on, animals at PLRS were blasted with high-pressure hoses and harsh cleaning chemicals, slammed against the doors of their cages, and screamed at by workers. 

PETA is demanding that Merck either send out our resolution in time for the annual meeting or hold a special meeting just for our proposal. Please encourage anyone you know with stock in Merck to tell the company to stop hiding and let shareholders decide for themselves.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
Source: PETA 

PETA's Gift to Will and Kate

In honor of William and Kate's wedding, PETA is sending the royal couple "something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue."  
We chose some favorite movies and a book that each have an important message about compassion for animals. For "something old," we've chosen three classics: Disney's family anti-fur film 101 DalmatiansBambi, with its anti-hunting message; and the classic about the suffering of horses, Black BeautyFor "something new," we're sending the dolphin-hunting industry exposé The Cove.  
We're letting the couple indefinitely "borrow" from PETA's library a signed first-edition copy of the seminal animal rights book Animal Liberation by Peter Singer.
Finally, we included two films that may make William and Kate "blue," but that have touched the hearts of countless viewers and inspired them to make simple changes in their lives that have a big impact on animals. They are PETA's slaughterhouse exposé Glass Walls, narrated by Sir Paul McCartney, and the documentary I Am an Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA.
We hope the couple finds these gifts illuminating, inspiring, and even challenging—much as marriage can be.
Written by Lindsay Pollard-Post
Source: PETA

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Record Number of Whales, Krill Found in Antarctic Bays

ScienceDaily (Apr. 27, 2011) — Scientists have observed a "super-aggregation" of more than 300 humpback whales gorging on the largest swarm of Antarctic krill seen in more than 20 years in bays along the Western Antarctic Peninsula.

The sightings, made in waters still largely ice-free deep into austral autumn, suggest the previously little-studied bays are important late-season foraging grounds for the endangered whales. But they also highlight how rapid climate change is affecting the region.

The Duke University-led team tracked the super-aggregation of krill and whales during a six-week expedition to Wilhelmina Bay and surrounding waters in May 2009. They published their findings on April 27 in the online science journal PLoS ONE.

"Such an incredibly dense aggregation of whales and krill has never been seen before in this area at this time of year," says Duke marine biologist Douglas Nowacek. Most studies have focused on whale foraging habitats located in waters farther offshore in austral summer.
Nowacek and his colleagues observed 306 humpback whales -- or about 5.1 whales per square kilometer, the highest density ever recorded -- in Wilhelmina Bay. They measured the krill biomass at about 2 million tons. Small, floating fragments of brash ice covered less than 10 percent of the bay. The team returned in May 2010 and recorded similar numbers. Smaller but still higher-than-normal counts were also reported in neighboring Andvord Bay.

Advancing winter sea ice used to cover much of the peninsula's bays and fjords by May, protecting krill and forcing humpback whales to migrate elsewhere to find food, Nowacek says. But rapid climate change in the area over the last 50 years has significantly reduced the extent, and delayed the annual arrival, of the ice cover, says Nowacek, who is the Repass-Rodgers University Associate Professor of Conservation Technology.

"The lack of sea ice is good news for the whales in the short term, providing them with all-you-can-eat feasts as the krill migrate vertically toward the bay's surface each night. But it is bad news in the long term for both species, and for everything else in the Southern Ocean that depends on krill," says Ari S. Friedlaender, co-principal investigator on the project and a research scientist at Duke.

Antarctic krill are shrimp-like creatures that feed primarily on phytoplankton and live in large swarms in the Southern Ocean. Penguins, seals, seabirds and many whale species rely on the protein-rich, pinky-sized crustaceans as a source of food. Commercial fisheries are allowed to harvest up to 3 ½ tons of the krill a year as food for farm-raised salmon and for oil, rich in omega-3 acids, which is used in human dietary supplements.

Around the Western Antarctic Peninsula, krill migrate in austral autumn from open ocean waters to phytoplankton-rich bays and fjords, where juveniles feed and the population overwinters under the protective cover of ice. There is a strong correlation between the amount of sea ice and the amount of krill that survive the long, harsh Antarctic winter.

"If there are more areas with large aggregations of krill hanging out in waters where sea ice has diminished, you could see a big decrease in the standing krill stock, especially if we have a few years of back-to-back bad ice and the krill can't replenish themselves," Friedlaender says.

Scientists already have documented drops in krill abundance over the last 50 years related to reduced sea ice cover. Further drops could have far-reaching consequences. Seals and penguins have a relatively small foraging range, and some can't eat any prey other than krill or hunt without the presence of sea ice. Whales can migrate longer distances and might be able to find food elsewhere, but may be affected in other ways, as evidenced by snippets of unexpected sounds being transmitted by 11 whales the Duke team tagged in the study.

Read more at:

Green UV Sterilization: Switching on LEDs to Save Energy and the Environment

ScienceDaily (Apr. 27, 2011) — Ultraviolet light can safely sterilize food, water and medical equipment by disrupting the DNA and other reproductive molecules in harmful bacteria. Traditionally, mercury lamps have supplied this UV light, however mercury release from power generation and lamp disposal have generated discussion of harmful environmental impact. A potentially energy efficient and non-toxic alternative is the light-emitting diode, or LED, which can be made to emit at almost any desired wavelength. LEDs are also more rugged and operate at lower voltages than glass containing mercury bulbs.

Thus, LEDs are more compatible with portable water disinfection units, which could also be solar-powered and used in situations where centralized facilities are not available, such as disaster relief. LEDs currently require a lot of electricity to produce UV light, but researchers from around the world are focused on improving this efficiency.

LEDs are semiconductor devices that operate in much the same way as the tiny elements on a computer chip. The difference is that some of the electrons flowing into an LED are captured and release their energy as light. Because these are solid materials rather than gas-filled bulbs, LEDs are more compact and durable than alternative light sources. The first commercial LEDs were small red indicator lights, but engineers have developed new materials that emit in a rainbow of colors. Nitride-based LEDs are the most promising for pushing beyond the visible into the ultraviolet. Some of these UV LEDs are already being used in the curing of ink and the testing for counterfeit money, but for sterilization, shorter wavelength light is required. These short wavelength, or "Deep UV" LEDs, present a number of technical challenges and are predominantly implemented in highly-specialized disinfection systems in industrial and medical applications, as well as other non-disinfection markets.

The Joint Symposium on Semiconductor Ultraviolet LEDs and Lasers at CLEO: 2011 will feature several talks addressing these challenges, while highlighting current efforts to improve the efficiency of nitride-based LEDs. Max Shatalov of Sensor Electronic Technology in Columbia, S.C., will report an improved design for making high-power UV LEDs that would be especially good for knocking out bacteria. From the birthplace of nitride (blue and white) LEDs, Motoaki Iwaya from Meijo University in Japan will describe a joint effort with Nagoya University to extend the range and improve the efficiency of UV LEDs.

The application of these UV LEDs is also being pursued in a related CLEO: 2011 session. Gordon Knight from Trojan Technologies in Canada will review advances in production of novel UV light sources, along with necessary validation procedures for verifying the operation of water disinfection systems in a one-hour tutorial.

This research will be presented at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO: 2011), May 1 -- 6 at the Baltimore Convention Center.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to be cooled down over the next 6 to 9 MONTHS!

Japanese nuclear power plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) hopes it will be able to achieve cold shutdown of its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant within six to nine months, the company said on Sunday.

The firm said the first step would be cooling the reactors and spent fuel to a stable level within three months, then bringing the reactors to cold shutdown in six to nine months. That would make the plant safe and stable and end the immediate crisis, now rated on a par with the world's worst nuclear accident, the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
TEPCO, founded 60 years ago, added it later plans to cover the reactor buildings, damaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami that struck on March 11.
The latest data shows much more radiation leaked from the Daiichi plant in the early days of the crisis than first thought, prompting officials to rate it on a par with Chernobyl, although experts were quick to point out Japan's crisis was vastly different from Chernobyl in terms of radiation contamination.
TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata said he was considering resigning over the accident, but that he couldn't say when.
"This is the biggest crisis since the founding of our company," Katsumata told a news conference at which the timetable was unveiled.
"Getting the nuclear plant under control, and the financial problems associated with that... How we can overcome these problems is a difficult matter."
The toll from Japan's triple catastrophe is rising. More than 13,000 people have been confirmed dead, and on Wednesday the government cut its outlook for the economy, in deflation for almost 15 years, for the first time in six months.
TEPCO and the government are under pressure to clarify when those who have had to evacuate the area around the damaged plant will be able to go home. Prime Minister Naoto Kan faced heavy criticism over comments, which he later denied making, suggesting the evacuees might not be able to return for 10 or 20 years.
"We would like to present objective facts to help the government make judgment and outlook on when those who have evacuated can come back home," TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata told a news conference at which the timeframe was unveiled.
Read full story at

A year after the Gulf spill, cleanup workers are suffering

Jamie Simon worked on a barge in the oily waters for six months following the BP spill last year, cooking for the cleanup workers, washing their clothes and tidying up after them.
One year later, the 32 year old said she still suffers from a range of debilitating health problems, including racing heartbeat, vomiting, dizziness, ear infections, swollen throat, poor sight in one eye and memory loss.
She blames toxic elements in the crude oil and the dispersants sprayed to dissolve it after the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico about 50 miles (80 kilometers) off the coast of Louisiana on April 20, 2010.
"I was exposed to those chemicals, which I questioned, and they told me it was just as safe as Dawn dishwashing liquid and there was nothing for me to worry about," she said of the BP bosses at the job site.
The local doctor, Mike Robichaux, said he has seen as many as 60 patients like Simon in recent weeks, as this small southern town of 10,000 bordered by swamp land and sugar cane fields grapples with a mysterious sickness that some believe is all BP's fault.
Andy LaBoeuf, 51, said he was paid $1,500 per day to use his boat to go out on the water and lay boom to contain some of the 4.9 million barrels of oil that spewed from the bottom of the ocean after the BP well ruptured.
But four months of that job left him ill and unable to work, and he said he recently had to refinance his home loan because he could not pay his taxes.
"I have just been sick for a long time. I just got sick and I couldn't get better," LaBoeuf said, describing memory problems and a sore throat that has nagged him for a year.
Robichaux, an ear, nose and throat specialist whose office an hour's drive southwest of New Orleans is nestled on a roadside marked with handwritten signs advertising turtle meat for sale, says he is treating many of the local patients in their homes.
"Their work ethic is so strong, they are so stoic, they don't want people to know when they're sick," he said. "Ninety percent of them are getting worse... Nobody has a clue as to what it is."
Read full story at

EPA, eco groups at odds in climate change case

Who has the right to make the rules: the government agency or a federal court?

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration and environmental interests generally agree that global warming is a threat that must be dealt with.

But they're on opposite sides of a Supreme Court case over the ability of states and groups such as the Audubon Society that want to sue large electric utilities and force power plants in 20 states to cut their emissions.

The administration is siding with American Electric Power Co. and three other companies in urging the high court to throw out the lawsuit on grounds the Environmental Protection Agency, not a federal court, is the proper authority to make rules about climate change. The justices will hear arguments in the case Tuesday.

The court is taking up a climate change case for the second time in four years. In 2007, the court declared that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. By a 5-4 vote, the justices said the EPA has the authority to regulate those emissions from new cars and trucks under that landmark law. The same reasoning applies to power plants.

The administration says one reason to end the current suit is that the EPA is considering rules that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. But the administration also acknowledges that it is not certain that limits will be imposed.
At the same time, Republicans in Congress are leading an effort to strip the EPA of its power to regulate greenhouse gases.

'The ultimate backstop' 
The uncertainty about legislation and regulation is the best reason for allowing the case to proceed, said David Doniger, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which represents Audubon and other private groups dedicated to land conservation.

"This case was always the ultimate backstop," Doniger said, even as he noted that the council would prefer legislation or EPA regulation to court decisions. The suit would end if the EPA does set emission standards for greenhouse gases, he said.

The legal claims advanced by six states, New York City and the land trusts would be pressed only "if all else failed," he said.

When the suit was filed in 2004, it looked like the only way to force action on global warming. The Bush administration and the Republicans in charge of Congress doubted the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

Federal courts long have been active in disputes over pollution. But those cases typically have involved a power plant or sewage treatment plant that was causing some identifiable harm to people, and property downwind or downstream of the polluting plant.

Global warming, by its very name, suggests a more complex problem. The power companies argue that any solution must be comprehensive. No court-ordered change alone would have any effect on climate change, the companies say.

"This is an issue that is of worldwide nature and causation. It's the result of hundreds of years of emissions all over the world," said Ed Comer, vice president and general counsel of the Edison Electric Institute, an industry trade group.

Read full story at

Friday, April 15, 2011

How to Grow Biodynamic Tomatoes in a Home Garden

Biodynamic growing involves some mystical notions about the influence of the moon on crops. Here's what it's all about.

Biodynamic farming goes beyond organic growing, which deals with boosting soil health through composting rather than the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Organic growing methods have a good basis in science, which shows that healthy soils are more drought- and pest-tolerant, and may even produce more nutritious crops. Biodynamic growers believe the phases of the moon, among other more mystical influences, have a role, too. The Daily Green asked Kiva Bottero, who has worked on biodynamic and organic farms and publishes, a "journal of engaged living and mindfulness," to explain the idea behind biodynamic gardening, and offer some tips for home growers interested in trying it out on this year's tomato crop.

To fix the new, look to the old. Biodynamic gardener Maria Thun appreciates this paradox of modern day agriculture. Inspired by philosopher Rudolf Steiner's lessons on the spiritual science of biodynamics, she set out to scientifically prove what peasant farmers have been saying (often scoffed at) for centuries: the positioning of the moon, sun and planets influences a plant's development. Adherents believe biodynamic gardening can reap better tasting, longer lasting fruits and vegetables.

In her book Gardening for Life the Biodynamic Way ($19.80 at, Thun categorizes plants into four groups: root plants (such as carrots and beets cabbage); flower plants (roses and tulips); and fruit plants (tomatoes and peppers).

The moon passes in front of the twelve zodiac constellations every time it orbits the earth. These constellations are grouped into four categories (earth, water, air/light and warmth) that represent the four types of plants (root, leaf, flower and fruit). The moon's passage through the warmth constellations (Ram, Lion and Archer) positively affects the growth of fruit plants. You can put these cosmic principles to work on your tomatoes (or any fruit) by following these three simple steps:

Plant On Fruit Days With The Moon Descending
Plant or transplant according to the dates on the Stella Natura Biodynamic Planting Calendar. Fruit periods that fall during the descending moon are of added benefit to plant growth. "When [the moon] is descending the earth breathes in," says Thun, "and the sap-flow and forces of plants concentrate in their lower portion: this stimulates better and stronger root-growth." This stage of growth has the strongest formative influence so try to keep on schedule. If you can't, make up for it by hoeing at the right time.

Hoe On Fruit Days
Continue the cosmic trend initiated through planting by working your soil according to the chart. Use the soil's natural rhythm of breathing out in the morning (exhaling moisture) and in again in the afternoon (inhaling moisture) to regulate its moisture. Hoeing in the evening lets moisture in while hoeing in the morning lets excess moisture out. Hoe only the top 3 cm. Thun is one gardener who always has time for a tea break. By working the soil in this manner she manages to water her plants only once a year (after planting). Unless you're caught in a drought, this translates to less work for you and less water wasted for the earth.

Harvest On Fruit Days With The Moon Ascending
Fresh is always best, but if you plan on preserving tomatoes pick them on fruit days when the moon is ascending (refer to chart). On these days plants direct their natural force upward in sync with the rising moon to produce better storing fruit.

Stick to these tricks of timing and you'll reap the rewards of better tasting, longer lasting tomatoes with less work.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Russia bans polar bear hunt this year

Russia has banned the hunting of polar bears this year, thanks to a group with close ties to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a longtime defender of large endangered animals.

A Russian-U.S. commission last year agreed to restrict polar bear hunting to 29 animals per year for each country. But The Polar Bear program, established under Putin's patronage, said this week that Russia had waived its quota for bear hunting.

Although the polar bear is an endangered animal, officials in Russia and the U.S. have said hunting is vital for the indigenous people in Alaska and in far-eastern Russia across the Bering Strait.

The Polar Bear program, which said U.S. officials had long been reluctant to introduce the cap on hunting, said around 100 polar bears a year have been killed in Alaska in recent years.

"Measures taken by Russia will ensure that the United States will be killing at least 70 polar bears fewer than before, which, according to Russian specialists, will help to sustain and boost the population of this beautiful Arctic animal," the group said in a statement posted on Putin's official website.

Putin last year helped scientists put a tracking collar on a sedated male polar bear. Before leaving the bear, he patted the animal affectionately, shook his paw and said "take care."

He also joined scientists last year in studying the gray whale off Russia's Pacific Coast, firing darts from a crossbow to collect skin samples from a whale swimming near their small boat.

Putin also has championed the cause of endangered big cats. In 2008, he was given a 2-month-old female Siberian tiger cub for his birthday, which he later gave to a zoo in southern Russia.


Maya Mystery Solved by "Important" Volcanic Discovery?

Volcanic ash found in canals may explain how cities survived with poor soil.

Even at ancient Maya cities far from volcanoes, ash rained down relatively frequently, a "spectacularly important" new study says. 

The finding could explain how these ancient metropolises survived—and even prospered—despite having poor soil.

Extending south from southern Mexico, through Guatemala, and into northern Belize, the Maya Empire prospered from about A.D. 250 to 900, when it crumbled. (See an interactive map of the Maya civilization.)
Recently scientists discovered a distinct beige clay mineral in ruined canals at Guatemala's Tikal archaeological site—once the largest city of the southern Maya lowlands. The mineral, a type of smectite, derives only from the breakdown of volcanic ash.

Using chemical fingerprinting techniques, the team showed that the smectite at Tikal didn't come from dust ferried from Africa by air currents—the common assumption—but rather from volcanoes within Guatemala and in what are now El Salvador, Honduras, and Mexico.

"We believe we have a series of volcanic events" represented in the minerals, said team leader Ken Tankersley, an anthropologist at the University of Cincinnati.

Once-in-a-Lifetime Eruptions?
Prior to the new discovery, it was known that highland Maya cities closer to volcanoes could be drastically affected by eruptions. For example, the Maya village of Chalchuapa in El Salvador was completely buried when the nearby Ilopango volcano erupted in the sixth century A.D.

But until now, it's been unclear what effect, if any, eruptions had on lowland Maya cities hundreds of miles away. Now it appears that air currents regularly carried volcanic ash many miles away from the region's volcanoes. That's not especially surprising, considering that winds often carry dust all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, Tankersley said.

Tankersley and his team think their ash samples were deposited in Tikal over a 2,000-year period, from about 340 B.C. to A.D. 990. There's no way yet to determine just how many eruptions occurred, their frequency, or which volcanoes the ash came from, he said.

"If you were a Mayan, you would probably have experienced at least one of these events during your lifetime, and perhaps more, during certain periods," said Tankersley, who presented the team's findings at a meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Sacramento, California, in late March.

Ashfall has been reported at Tikal as recently as the 1960s, according to University of Colorado anthropologist Payson Sheets.

Supersoil Saved Maya Cities?
The new findings are "spectacularly important," Sheets said, because they could help explain a central mystery about lowland Maya cities.

"The literature consistently talks about the soils in these places as being very weak and fragile and nonproductive because they were derived from weathered limestone, which does not form a very good soil," said Sheets, an expert on the effects of volcanoes on Maya culture.

And yet archeological evidence suggests cities such as Tikal were able to support between 160 to 230 people per square mile (400 to 600 people per square kilometer).

"This is much denser than we would have thought possible from relatively poor tropical soil," said Sheets, who wasn't involved in the Tikal ash study.

But if the Maya-lowland soils were dusted with volcanic ash every few years or even decades, they would have been periodically enriched.

Volcanic ash can help make soil more fertile by increasing its permeability and porosity, thus improving its ability to retain water. Volcanic ash is also a source of plant-friendly minerals such as iron and magnesium.
"Periodic enrichment provides some of the answer for how those soils can support such dense populations," Sheets said.

Read more @

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How Children Cope With the Aftermath of a Hurricane

ScienceDaily (Apr. 11, 2011) — Living through a natural disaster is a traumatic experience for everyone, but especially for children. A new study by University of Miami Psychologist Annette La Greca and her collaborators, indicate that some children who directly experience a devastating hurricane still show signs of posttraumatic stress (PTS) almmost two years after the event. The findings suggest that new models for intervention to help children after a natural disaster are needed.

The study, titled "Hurricane-Related Exposure Experiences and Stressors, Other Life Events, and Social Support: Concurrent and Prospective Impact on Children's Persistent Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms," is published online in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology and will be in print in the December 2010 issue.

Previous research mainly has focused on children during the few months after a major hurricane, or two years or more after the event. Most of the existing post-hurricane interventions are designed for children experiencing PTS two years or more after the storm. The new study "picks up where others left off," assessing children during the in-between period, at nine months (Time One) and then at 21 months after a hurricane (Time Two), explains La Greca, professor of Psychology and Pediatrics in the college of Arts and Sciences at UM and principal investigator of the study.

"There have been no tested interventions developed for children who still show significant symptoms of PTS almost a year after a devastating hurricane," says La Greca. "What this study shows is that there may be a need to test intervention programs to be used from several months to two years post-disaster, to keep kids from developing persistent stress."

The researchers studied 384 children, in second to fourth grade that lived through Hurricane Charley, a strong category four hurricane that struck Charlotte County, in Southwest Florida in 2004. The storm caused 35 deaths, extensive damage of more than $16.3 billion and prolonged school closures.

According to the study, 35 percent of the children reported moderate to very severe levels of PTS at Time One, and 29 percent were still reporting these levels of stress at Time Two. Although previous studies have shown that children stress symptoms decline the first year after the hurricane, this study shows that children who are still showing signs of stress towards the end of the first year are likely to persist having symptoms another year later.

"It's more common than not for most children to overcome, on their own, the effects of exposure to a severe hurricane," says Wendy Silverman,professor of Psychology and Director of the Child Anxiety and Phobia Program at FIU.

Florida International University (FIU) and co-author of this study. Our findings that posttraumatic stress symptoms continued in such a high percentage of children almost two years after Hurricane Charley were somewhat unexpected."

Read more @ :

Natural Gas from Shale Contributes to Global Warming, Researchers Find

ScienceDaily (Apr. 12, 2011) — Natural gas extracted from shale formations has a greater greenhouse gas footprint -- in the form of methane emissions -- than conventional gas, oil and coal over a 20 year period. This calls into question the logic of its use as a climate-friendly alternative to fossil fuels, according to Robert Howarth and colleagues, from Cornell University in New York.

Shale gas has become an increasingly important source of natural gas in the United States over the past decade. Shale gas is extracted by a high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process. Large volumes of water are forced under pressure into the shale to fracture and re-fracture the rock to boost gas flow. A significant amount of water returns to the surface as flow-back within the first few days to weeks after injection and is accompanied by large quantities of methane.

Howarth and team evaluated the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas, obtained by high-volume hydraulic fracturing of shale formations, focusing on methane emissions. They analyzed the most recently published data -- in particular, the technical background document on greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas industry (EPA 2010), as well as a report on natural gas losses on federal lands from the General Accountability Office (GAO 2010).

They calculated that, overall, during the life cycle of an average shale-gas well, between four to eight percent of the total production of the well is emitted to the atmosphere as methane, via routine venting and equipment leaks, as well as with flow-back return fluids during drill out following the fracturing of the shale formations. Routine production and downstream methane emissions are also large, but comparable to those of conventional gas.

Methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, but methane also has a 10-fold shorter residence time in the atmosphere. As a result, its effect on global warming falls more rapidly. Methane dominates the greenhouse gas footprint for shale gas on a 20 year horizon, contributing up to three times more than does direct carbon dioxide emission. At this time scale, the footprint for shale gas is at least 20 percent greater than that for coal, and perhaps twice as great.

Robert Howarth concludes: "The large greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas undercuts the logic of its use as a bridging fuel over coming decades, if the goal is to reduce global warming. The full footprint should be used in planning for alternative energy futures that adequately consider global climate change."


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