What Are We Talking About?
We're talking about natural gas leaks. Natural gas leaks are obviously wasteful and potentially hazardous. Researchers have recently discovered that gas leaks may contribute to climate change. Natural gas is made up mostly of a gas called methane, which is known to act as a greenhouse gas when released into the atmosphere. There are many sources of methane which occur naturally. However, human activity emits large amounts of methane gas into the atmosphere. Natural gas leaks are just one source, but they may be a significant one.
Why It Matters
Natural gas leaks are widespread, especially in large, older cities where the pipelines carrying the gas to homes and businesses have been in the ground for a long time. Recent research has demonstrated that these leaks are more widespread and go unrepaired longer than most people probably think. Because natural gas leaks change the metabolism of cities, it's important that researchers have data about gas leaks all across urban areas. This is hard, because natural gas grids are so large and so hard to get reliable information about. In order to better understand the impacts of natural gas leaks in urban setings, researchers need to know more about how many leaks there are, where they are, and how much methane they're releasing into the atmosphere.
How You Can Help
Because of the size of natural gas grids and the dynamic nature of leaks, researchers find it difficult to gather reliable data about them. This is where people like you come in. We need people to tell us about natural gas leaks. First, let's be clear about something: If you suspect a gas leak in your neighborhood or at work or anywhere else, contact the natural gas provider in your area, now! Though natural gas is generally safe, there can be real dangers associated with gas leaks. It's critical that you contact the appropriate utility company to alert them. You can post the leak here later.
Safety first, as always. But we do want you to post leaks here. We'll add them to our database for use by community members and researchers who are interested in tracking gas leaks. You can also comment on leaks in your neighborhood. See a leak here that you think is bogus? Post a comment and say so. This is the place for this kind of conversation. With your help, we can all learn more about gas leaks in our communities.