Skip to Content

Tapping an Unconventional Source

August 25, 2010

In recent years it has become clear that the United States and Canada hold a bonanza in recoverable natural gas, a resource once thought to be declining. Because natural gas releases just half as much carbon dioxide as coal when it’s burned to produce a comparable amount of electricity, the fuel could play an important role in reducing carbon emissions.

In the United States, for example, 45 percent of electricity comes from coal and 23 percent from natural gas. If half the electricity from coal were replaced with electricity from natural gas, it would eliminate 20 percent of the U.S. carbon dioxide emissions attributable to electricity generation.

Much of the optimism stems from the discovery that natural gas can be extracted economically from vast deposits of shale found across the United States (see “Natural Gas Changes the Energy Map,” November/December 2009). At current rates of consumption, those resources alone could meet U.S. demand for decades. Known worldwide supplies of natural gas add up to 150 times annual global consumption, and this estimate doesn’t include unconventional sources outside North America.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

computation concept
computation concept

How AI is reinventing what computers are

Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

seeing is believing concept
seeing is believing concept

Our brains exist in a state of “controlled hallucination”

Three new books lay bare the weirdness of how our brains process the world around us.

We reviewed three at-home covid tests. The results were mixed.

Over-the-counter coronavirus tests are finally available in the US. Some are more accurate and easier to use than others.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.