The Facts

  • On Tuesday, NASA said its Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation mission detected and identified more than 50 "super-emitters" of methane gas in Central Asia, the Middle East, and the southwestern US. The observations occurred as a part of the International Space Station's operations.

  • Methane absorbs infrared light in a way allowing the NASA mission to detect greenhouse gas more easily. Sites under investigation included oil and gas facilities as well as extensive landfills.

The Spin

Narrative A

NASA's findings are critical to supporting policymakers in regulating dangerous methane gas emissions. Game-changing monitoring tools are also being developed in Europe, which will help to pinpoint sites like power plants and fossil facilities. These space-based tools will help to hold "super emitters" accountable.

Narrative B

While satellites are excellent sources for monitoring and tracking greenhouse gas emissions, there are shortcomings with space-based data collection systems. Satellites don't typically measure all greenhouse gases everywhere all the time, and they must be coupled with ground-based detection systems if we want a true picture of emitters.

Narrative C

While it's crucial to monitor and hold accountable human-based "super emitters," soon the Arctic will be ejecting just as much greenhouse gas into our atmosphere as a large industrial nation — and even potentially as much as the US has emitted since the start of the industrial revolution. We need to bring the power of satellites and sensors to the barren Arctic as well as to human infrastructure.

Nerd narrative

There's a 50% chance that global CO2 emissions will peak by June 2037, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

Articles on this story

Sign up to our daily newsletter