A cold turkey approach to energy is a ridiculous idea endorsed only by the truly militant but it is clear we have to migrate from high-pollution solution fossil fuels while science advances on energy generation that is clean and cost-effective enough that we don't create energy ghettos where only the rich can be warm or own cars, like we would have with silly windmills or solar panels using current technology.

Chris Mims, writing at the Txchnologist, engages in some funny framing worthy of anyone from his Scienceblogs.com days, but he asks a reasonable question; is natural gas as good as advertised?  

At issue is that people in the environmental community seem to have discovered methane five years after Science 2.0 did.  When everyone in 2006, Mims included, had an irrational focus on CO2 and Kyoto, we were noting that methane was a critical issue in actual global warming and climate change because it has 23X the warming effect of CO2.

Mims, clouding an apples-to-apples comparison, cites a RealClimate blog on fracking stating that methane is 72-100x the effect - if you stretch that out to 20 years.   Well, using decades is sure to muddy a lot of issues in climate science and Gavin Schmidt should know better than to do so lest climate science credibility become even more of a mess than it is in the eyes of the public.  His intent is to question the belief that natural gas is a reasonable "bridge" fuel between something like coal and whatever we come up with in the future, be it hydrogen or whatever.

He cites a sketchy paper from last month (hey, let's be fair, the NY Times fawned over it without question) with little data but rationalizes it by saying little data is available - still no reason to try and undermine the natural gas industry unfairly so we have to factor that out.    

The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) reacted with skepticism and some math and showed it to be wrong so it's unclear why he writes about the Robert Howarth claim that shale natural gas is worse for the environment than coal at all, other than maybe it being an easy way to look like it is an honest debate on a General Electric site.

It's also unclear what G.E. is doing with an in-house energy publication but they're a $150 billion a year company so they must know what they are doing.   Today they announced a hybrid power plant that will be primarily natural gas so it's a good time for them to be talking about natural gas.   After recent events in Japan, nuclear is politically sketchier than ever and no one will take wind and solar seriously unless mandates and subsidies are exorbitant.

And their About section says they "offer an optimistic, but not utopian, take on the future and humanity’s ability to tackle the great challenges of our era through industry, technology and ingenuity" and I am certainly a fan of that, since the key to our energy future will likely not be found by academics or politicians.