How could methane-eating bacteria help fight against global warming?

Question from Lottie Fitzpatrick

Methane is a greenhouse gas. There’s much less of it in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, but it does an even better job of trapping heat around the Earth. It’s released during the manufacture of fossil fuels, by farm animals and by the natural decay of organic material in landfills and sewer systems.

Methane-eating bacteria, also known as methanotrophs, use methane to make energy, pumping out carbon dioxide as a waste product. They already naturally filter methane gas in the Arctic and Antarctic, and scientists wonder whether they could help clean up the atmosphere on a larger scale.

Answered by Laura Mears for Brain Dump in How It Works issue 104.

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