Climate: reduced pollution leads to increased greenhouse gases


This is a mystery that has just been revealed: in 2020, scientists observed an unexpected increase in the concentration of methane in the atmosphere. The reason is paradoxical: the reduction of atmospheric pollution is partly to blame.

Methane is a potentially more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, even though it stays in the atmosphere for a shorter time. The increase in concentration observed in 2020 has scientists interested in the fact that the arrests in that year significantly reduced man-made emissions.

Only two possibilities remain to explain this significant increase of more than 50%: either environmental sources have increased, or the natural degradation of this gas in the atmosphere has become less efficient than usual. According to a study published in the journal Natureboth have an equal share of responsibility. “Almost all of the methane released into the atmosphere by human activity is scavenged by a molecule called OH”explains Philippe Ciais from CEA’s climate and environmental sciences laboratory, which participated in the study. “If the scrubber is less effective, the methane concentration increases.”

And this is what we see in 2020: “By modeling the chemistry of the atmosphere, we found that less pollution, especially nitrous oxide, which is responsible for brown clouds over cities, leads to less OH and therefore more methane remaining in the atmosphere.”, he continues. So paradoxically, cleaner air is good for methane.

The authors of the study warn: there is no question of stopping anti-pollution measures to combat climate change. We must continue our efforts to always be on the side of human waste.

Christmas is bad for the environment

What impact do end-of-year celebrations have on the climate and environment? ADEME, the French environmental transition agency, made the calculations. Thus, more than 6 million tons of CO2 equivalent are emitted in the country on this occasion. More than half of them come mainly from gifts, taking into account production and transportation. ADEME points out that it would be easy to limit this effect, since the French calculate that the 12 million gifts distributed under the tree each year are actually useless.

Among the latter, for example, there are more and more video games. The sector is now the world’s number one culture industry with nearly 3 billion users on the planet. If data is scarce, researchers at the University of Cambridge have still managed to calculate Playstation 4 footprint, from Sony. Considering the entire chain from production to logistics, more than 100 million units have been sold worldwide for a total of 9 million tons of CO2 emissions.

Bloomberg also estimated video game-related electricity consumption in the United States. This is 34 terawatt hours per year. That’s equivalent to the annual output of Palo Verde, the nation’s largest power plant, and its three nuclear reactors. In the United States, the sector’s total emissions are comparable to adding 5 million cars to the road.

In the DRC, M23 also affects gorillas

The M23 rebellion in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is not without consequences for the mountain gorillas in Virunga National Park. Park authorities say the presence of the rebels prevents rangers from tracking the gorillas. The latter become the target of poachers and without effective monitoring, they are lost. Therefore, they are more sensitive. Park officials announce the loss of several months of monitoring. According to the latest estimates, 234 mountain gorillas live in the southern part of Virunga Park.

The shark’s regret

Steven Spielberg has one regret: In an interview with the BBC, he talks about the impact of his release. Sea teeth on the shark. The director estimates they paid a heavy price: 50% of them were killed in North America in the years since the film’s release. This is an opportunity to remember that a person is more likely to die from a lawnmower accident than from a shark attack.

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