We are kamaaina, born and raised in Hilo during the 1930s and 1940s. Bill, now living in Nevada, visited me here in Kona for the Christmas holidays and we traveled back on many old, sentimental journeys. One of the special ones was about his hike to the summit of Mauna Kea in 1945.
Nighttime photographs of the United States from space are at first surprising and, upon reflection, dismaying. In rural stretches of North Dakota and Texas, where you’d expect to see dark swaths, you instead see bright splashes of light from the burning of uncaptured methane, a natural gas that can be released as a byproduct of oil drilling. Not all of the unused methane produced by oil extraction is “flared,” as the industry calls that burning process. In addition, massive amounts of methane — which is a more dangerous contributor to short-term global warming than carbon dioxide — are simply released and spewed into the atmosphere. Both processes — the burning and the release of wasted methane — are bad for the environment.