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New satellite images catch world's worst polluters red-handed: 'Now we really know exactly where it's coming from'

Kayrros plans to continue its monitoring — and to share its findings with the world.

Kayrros plans to continue its monitoring — and to share its findings with the world.

Photo Credit: NASA

The world's 1,300 largest methane-polluting sites have been identified from space, thanks to an endeavor by environmental intelligence company Kayrros.

The identification of these methane leaks is an urgent call to action but also a great opportunity.

Thanks to Kayrros' satellite surveillance, the exact sources of potent planet-warming pollution are finally exposed. "Previously, we could measure the amount of methane in the atmosphere, but now we really know exactly where it's coming from," Antoine Rostand, co-founder of Kayrros, told Sky News.

Pursuing the where, what, and why of these polluting leaks has led Kayrros to gas wells, pipelines, coal mines, and waste sites in countries like Turkmenistan (home to the single largest oil and gas source), India, Russia, Australia, and the United States, as Sky News has reported.

With the "who" and "where" made clear, targeted reduction is finally possible.

Methane is a greenhouse gas, meaning its presence in the atmosphere can alter Earth's temperature, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Methane only lingers in the atmosphere for about a decade, but it has an intense effect during that time (per NASA), so fixing methane leaks is immediately impactful. 

Simultaneously, plugged leaks can significantly slow near-term temperature rises while improving air quality and public health.

Researchers at universities like MIT are also hard at work developing ways to capture escaped methane from the atmosphere.

The U.S. recently implemented national methane monitoring and repair policies, which are expected to eliminate 58 million tons of toxic gas over 15 years — a decisive climate victory.

Additionally, over 150 world governments have joined the Global Methane Pledge to cut methane output by 30% by 2030. If realized, the Pledge could quickly curb rising temperatures and prevent over 250,000 heat-related deaths annually (as projected by the World Health Organization).

With exact methane leak sources now in plain view from space, the path to a cooler future is illuminated.

In the meantime, Kayrros plans to continue its monitoring — and to share its findings with the world.

"Open-access climate data has a huge role to play in the climate crisis by holding governments and businesses to account," Rostand said, as reported by InsideEcology.

"We intend to increase access to climate data and increase the basic knowledge and understanding of the harm methane does and of the failure of many governments and organizations to report their emissions of it accurately."

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