The apparent sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 methane gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea released enormous amounts of heat-trapping methane gas into the atmosphere and could signal a dramatic escalation in tensions between Russia and Europe. Methane traps more than 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than CO2 over a 20-year period. Neither of the pipelines were actively transporting gas at the time of the explosions, as Russia has throttled back gas deliveries to tighten the screws on European nations as winter approaches, but massive amounts of the extremely potent greenhouse gas were still released.
Estimates vary on the exact amount released, but the analysts contacted by the AP all agreed it was the worst in history. “That’s one thing that is consistent with these estimates,” Andrew Baxter, a former chemical engineer in the offshore oil and gas industry now with EDF, told the AP, “It’s catastrophic for the climate.” (AP, The Guardian, New York Times $, Politico Pro $, CBS, Reuters, Climate Home; Methane and global warming: Reuters explainer; Geopolitics: Washington Post $, Politico, FT $, New York Times $, The Hill, Reuters, CNBC, The Hill)