If you are worried about Global Warming Methane, it's great to know that methane is one of the greenhouse gases you as a composter can start to work to reduce. Let's have a look at the problem.
Methane is a greenhouse gas formed when organic material decomposes without oxygen being present. It's chemical composition is CH₄. As a greenhouse gas methane is about 21 times more potent at warming the earth than CO₂.
That is the bad news. The good news is that global warming methane is relatively short lived and persists in the atmosphere for about 12 years. It is the principle component in natural gas so if we were able to carefully trap all the methane that's leaking into the atmosphere we could conveniently also provide ourselves with a relatively clean source of energy.
According to the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) the effect on Global Warming of human generated greenhouse gases breaks down as follows:
Methane comes both from human activity and from natural sources. About 30% of Methane comes from natural sources - and most of that is from wetlands. The balance of 70% of methane production comes from human activities.
The breakdown worldwide on methane contributions is shown here in this pie chart. The biggest three contributors worldwide are:
In North America the biggest contributors are:
In Landfills methane is generated by the biodegradable waste doing its biodegrading. There are a few good strategies for coping with landfill methane:
So for each of us we can have a small but every little bit helps effect on methane generation by taking care of our own compostable waste and a larger effect by banding together to develop a full composting program in our landfills.
Naturally we have a huge population of soil creatures waiting to both help and to receive our help. Not to mention all the other benefits... And do not despair. Many brilliant minds are hard at work finding solutions for as many parts of the global warming methane, and overall climate change problem as possible.