While the coronavirus curve bulges upward again, climate bad news has come back as well.
Methane emissions have increased 10 percent over the last two decades, with the highest level ever reached in 2017, according to a Nature magazine report citing findings by the Global Carbon Report, which measures changes in greenhouse gases.
Produced by natural gas production and livestock, the odorless gas is a more potent pollutant than carbon dioxide, while not lasting as long in the atmosphere, the article said.
As Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro recuperates from what he says is a symptom-free case of covid-19, the destruction of the Amazon under his rule races onward, according to satellite data.
"Nearly 3,000 square miles of tree coverage were lost in the 11 months ended June 30, according to preliminary numbers from Brazil’s National Institute of Space Research," the Wall Street Journal reported. "That is a 64% increase from the same period a year earlier, when 1,772 square miles of forest were destroyed."
During the pandemic lockdown last spring, carbon dioxide emissions decreased, bringing bluer skies across the world. But methane didn't abate; cows kept on burping.
The use of natural gas for energy was seen as more beneficial to the environment than oil, and the Obama administration tightened rules against the methane release from natural-pipes and drilling gear. But Trump, in his relentless drive to remove regulations, let the methane flow again.
And, as poverty falls across the world, the taste for juicy steaks rises. The increased desire for more red meat means more cows, and more methane.
The earth is experiencing a major extinction of animal species. But cows will always be with us.