Or, bad word alert! On climate talks and climate walks.
What to call "natural" gas? You propose methane, or fossil gas. The Union of Concerned Scientists notes this stuff is produced essentially by organic matter rotting deep in the earth: https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/how-natural-gas-formed. So how about rotten gas? Garbage gas? (Landfills containing our kitchen waste generate methane.) Sewer gas contains methane plus with hydrogen sulfide, the whiff we love to hate. Gonna tell your dinner guests you're cookin' with garbage gas or sewer gas? Only if you want them to skip the invite! :-)
p.s. My dirty secret: I hate cooking on electric ranges of any type, and love cooking with gas. I dread the day I must give up my gas range, though that day seems inevitable — unless a carbon-neutral or carbon-miserly solution emerges that has not yet been invented. (Please hurry!) I'd pay a pretty penny for that.
Nominative determinism! Many decades ago, the fellow in charge of Express Mail at the Providence RI main post office was... Mr Hastee. In that same long-ago era, my then-wife's ob-gyn was a Dr Foote. Privately I wondered, in a grand expression of cosmic balance, whether somewhere in the universe was a podiatrist named Dr... Oh, never mind.
I was super happy to read you Substack interview! The wording of natural gas is a pretty nasty PR trick. Fossil gas or "fossil methane" seem like way more accurate terms.
For now, the EPA at least makes a good effort when they distinguish between:
1) Natural Gas (a methane-based fossil gas that is almost always fracked out of the ground), and
2) Renewable Natural Gas (a methane-based gas that is explicitly captured from things like wastewater treatment, landfills, cow poop, gaseous humans.) Kidding about the last one. Kind of. Human flatulence apparently produces as much methane as around 7 million cars. But we don't have a great way to capture it :-D
The EPA also point out that renewable methane lowers greenhouse emissions when we burn it for heating, cooking, electricity, or whatever.
I have a sense that renewable electrification and renewable methane could work in tandem to help free us from the fossil fuel industry. If you have any chance to dig into that, it would be nice to see your take.
Also, I'm going to try hard to break your rule about using gaseous in a subject this month :-D
Thanks as always, for keeping the serious topics a bit more humorous than anyone probably thought they could be!
Love your articles. Keep 'em coming. When anyone lets future fear out of the closet and gives it air space and keeps pumping the fear, then Buffalos happen, and keep happening. No matter how it gets repackaged and reworded, it's still the same fear of the future, facing all who live.
As a writer and a climate watcher, I love this wordy stuff! Thx! Btw, I’m with you on Buffalo. I’m in Rochester, just across the water and all I could think was he could have driven here. But Buffalo is here as far as I’m concerned. Shit.
Thanks for this, Sarah - great to do a reset on the meaning of words every now and then! While we're on the subject - how about 'global warming'? I mean, it sounds kind of nice....