Methane is yet another obstacle in the path of combatting climate change.

So, carbon dioxide isn't our only concern : In conversation around the climate crisis, there's often a focus on carbon dioxide. It is trapping heat and warming our atmosphere, fueling deadlier climate disasters than normal and costing billions years after year.

We are right to focus on carbon dioxide. In 2019, it made up about 80 percent of human-caused, heat-trapping pollution, say, in the United States. Reducing it remains the key to achieving as soon as possible a net-zero economy.

But an alarming new report, released last Monday by the United Nations backed intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sheds light on the urgent need to cut down on another harmful pollutant :  methane.

Over a 20 year period, methane has more than 80 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide, making it a major contributor to the climate crisis.

The new report makes it clear : If we are to keep global temperatures in check, we urgently need to focus on cutting methane pollution. When every fraction of a degree counts, moving quickly to reduce this super pollutant is one of the most immediate and powerful ways to start solving the climate crisis.

And because of methane's relatively short life span - it lingers in the atmosphere for around 12 years,  while carbon dioxide hangs around for hundreds of years - bringing down methane emissions will help clear the atmosphere, helping to moderate temperatures and making a real impact on our near-term climate goals.

The science is clear on the need to keep greenhouse gases like methane out of our atmosphere. A global methane assessment released in May showed how reducing its emissions by 45 percent this decade could help us avoid nearly 0.3 degrees C of warming globally as early as 2040s.

That doesn't sound like a lot, but it would make a world of difference for vulnerable communities in America and across the globe.

Each fraction of a degree of warming we avoid can help protect families from climate-fueled devastation, including more intense hurricanes, more severe flooding, more frequent droughts and more extreme heat and wildfires.

We're already living with the devastating consequences of having warmed the planet more than 1 degree C. From the deadly heat domes in the Northwest to the harmful algal blooms killing the fish that we see washed up on the shores of Florida, humans have caused this problem.

But we have the tools to fix it.

We've known for years that we are in a race against time. We've run out of time. Now, every bit of pollution - and every fraction of a degree - counts.

The publishing continues and the World Students Society thanks author Kathy Castor.


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