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Methane (CH4)

Methane (CH4) is a colorless, odorless, and highly flammable gas that is the simplest hydrocarbon, composed of one carbon atom bonded to four hydrogen atoms. It is a potent greenhouse gas, significantly contributing to global climate change. Methane is the primary component of natural gas and is extensively used as a fuel source for heating, electricity generation, and industrial processes.

Natural sources of methane include wetlands, termites, and oceans, while human activities such as fossil fuel extraction, agriculture (notably livestock digestion and manure management), and waste management (landfills) substantially increase its concentration in the atmosphere. Despite its relatively short atmospheric lifetime of about a decade, methane's ability to trap heat makes it approximately 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 100-year period in contributing to the greenhouse effect.

Reducing methane emissions is crucial for mitigating climate change and improving air quality. This can be achieved through techniques such as improved waste management, repairing leaks in natural gas systems, and adopting sustainable agricultural practices. Addressing methane emissions swiftly provides a significant opportunity to slow the rate of global warming in the near term.