Most of us have little knowledge or concern about methane. But this small molecular gas in the air could play a major role in the future of aquaculture or even for humanity itself.
Much of the recent news about methane is draped in political controversy. I don’t want to step into that discussion. The purpose of this post is simply to establish why methane could be more important in the future of aquaculture.
- Atmospheric methane is a natural gas produced by plant decay that normally has little effect. However it’s levels are increasing rapidly in our air. It is believed to have a greater impact on atmospheric warming than CO2 due to its molecular structure.
- Most methane is naturally produced without human involvement.
- The largest source of methane is wetlands.
- Sea level rise (and other factors) is triggering a sharp and dangerous increase in atmospheric methane.
- Draining and development of wetlands through management of sea level rise response decreases methane production.
- Conversely, creating man-made wetlands like rice paddies or fish ponds increases methane production.
- Oysters and shellfish aquaculture is implicated in methane production.
There is a lot of news about methane in the past few weeks. We will need to wait until the dust settles to see any useful trend in government response to know what real long term impact any of this news has on management of wetlands. I posted a primer on methane gas including points note related to aquaculture on my personal blog titled “15 basic facts about methane and the environment“.