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  • Writer's pictureGregory Andrews

Natural Gas isn't Natural, it's Toxic

The fossil fuel industry would like us to think that Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) is a clean and safe source of energy. They market it as a transition fuel with lower emissions than coal. But the scientific reality paints a starkly different picture. Natural gas is not only unnatural; it's toxic to human health.

Gas stove tops, a former hallmark of Australian kitchens, have emerged as silent and serious perpetrators of indoor air pollution. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has called out the troubling link between gas stove use and childhood asthma, with nitrogen dioxide - an airway irritant released during gas combustion - implicated in the onset and exacerbation of asthma symptoms. Alarmingly, its impact is likened to that of secondhand smoke, placing children in gas-using homes at comparable risk to passive smoking. The University of NSW has also shown that other dangerous gases emitted by indoor stoves include carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides and formaldehyde.

But the toxicity of LNG extends well beyond the kitchen. Gas extraction and processing facilities are major contributors to air and water pollution. In its report "How Gas is Harming Our Health", the Climate Council has highlighted the particular toxic hazards posed by gas developments. Gas extraction and processing plants contaminate local air and water resources with hazardous chemicals and pose a huge risk to community health. The chemicals they release significantly affect reproductive and respiratory health.

Fracking, a method used to extract gas by pumping water and chemicals deep underground, has raised major environmental and health alarms. By introducing a cocktail of chemicals into the ground to release gas, fracking endangers water tables, leading to permanent contamination of drinking and agricultural water sources. This not only poses direct health risks but also threatens the integrity of agricultural and aquatic ecosystems.

In addition to the direct toxicity of LNG, of course, is its two-fold role in driving global warming: via direct emissions from combustion and methane leaks throughout its production, processing and transport cycles which have been consistently under reported. Methane, the primary component of LNG, is a potent greenhouse gas. It is more than 80 times more powerful at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

While marketed as a 'cleaner' fossil fuel, LNG extraction, processing and combustion is a significant source of CO2 emissions. As a driver of climate change, it is causing extreme weather, rising sea levels, and catastrophic environmental degradation.

The evidence is clear: the costs of clinging to natural gas, under the guise of it being a 'natural' or 'cleaner' choice, are too high. The path forward for Australia lies in embracing renewable energy and electric alternatives, such as induction cooktops, which offer cleaner, safer, and more sustainable cooking. Initiatives like the Victorian government's subsidy scheme to replace gas heaters with electric alternatives, and the ACT's legislative moves to phase out gas in new developments, are a good start. But the Australian Government and state governments also need to cease development of all new gas projects and put an end to our gas exports. We can't fix the climate crisis by pumping up more gas.

In the meantime, if you've got a gas cooktop, consider replacing it when you can. In my house, we're all foodies and have a clean and fast induction stove which we love. Most of its energy comes from the sun via our roof-top solar system and battery setup.

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2 Σχόλια

18 Μαρ

It just ain’t Natural. It’s Fossil Fuel Gas forcibly pumped from very deep underground reserves, then industrially scrubbed in several processes before being added with an unpleasant detecting odour. Then it’s pressure pumped into liquid form with seepage losses at every point including transport and shipping. Yes, It’s toxic and dangerous, there should be laws against it. Maybe we can start with a campaign to remove the false prefix and label the hazardous gas something more accurate.

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18 Μαρ

I don't understand why we continue to use the word 'natural'. The stuff is methane. People should know they're piping methane into their homes to burn in the open air.

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