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For those who don't have time to read this: - Methane emissions strangely increased rather than decreased during the COVID lockdowns - This is despite human industrial activity and emissions into the atmosphere having slowed down considerably - Scientists believe that humans emitting less nitrogen oxide, which causes 85% of methane emitted to be broken down, may have contributed significantly to methane levels going up, amongst other factors https://www.wired.com/story/the-grim-origins-of-an-ominous-methane-surge/ The story of the other half is more ironic. When we burn fossil fuels, they produce CO2, but also nitrogen oxide, or NOx. As NOx enters the atmosphere, it produces a molecule known as the hydroxyl radical (OH), which breaks down methane. All told, OH removes about 85 percent of annual methane emissions. “During the lockdown, the emission of NOx was decreasing,” says Peng. “So the OH of the atmosphere—the methane sink—could be slowed down.” That is, as we polluted less—heavy industry spun down, flights got canceled, people stopped commuting—we also produced less of the pollutant that normally breaks down methane. It’s a second unfortunate and surprising consequence of cutting pollution: Burning fossil fuels also produces aerosols that bounce some of the sun’s energy back into space, somewhat cooling the climate. While it’s imperative that we decarbonize as quickly as possible, cutting out the beneficial effects of NOx and aerosols has some unintended—and twisted—side effects.