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Methane Is On The Rise: Blame It On Texas, Our Oil Drilling And Our Cows

Moo! Methane is on the rise -- and cows are partly to blame, a new study says.

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Methane is on the rise, and you can partly blame Texas, several North Texans are accused of burning down an old plantation home in Louisiana, a chatty macaw has been found, and more.

A new study says the United States is spewing 50 percent more methane than the federal government estimates. Much of it is coming from just three states: Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Scientists say that means methane may be a bigger global warming issue than they thought.  Methane is 21 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, the most abundant global warming gas, although it doesn't stay in the air as long. Much of that extra methane seems to be coming from the belches, flatulence and manure of livestock, and leaks from refining and drilling for oil and gas. The study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Cows seem to be spewing twice the methane that scientists previously thought, said study co-author Anna Michalak, an Earth scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif. While burps and flatulence are part of the methane emission from cattle, University of California Santa Barbara professor Ira Leifer said a bigger factor is manure.

  • North Texans accused of burning down plantation house in Louisiana: The seven men in custody in connection with the suspected arson of LeBeau Plantation near New Orleans apparently were looking for ghosts, a sheriff told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The sheriff told the newspaper that the men had been smoking marijuana and drinking in the vacant house. Five of the men are from North Texas. The house, destroyed in a fire early Friday, was built in the 1850s and was one of the largest plantations south of New Orleans, the Times-Picayune reported.

  • The chatty Captain Jack has been found. The macaw belonged to an automotive shop in Arlington, but was stolen in a burglary earlier this month. He was dumped out of an SUV on Nov. 17. Captain Jack was found and taken to a veterinarian’s office in Hurst, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Captain Jack, who’s been the shop’s mascot for several years, loves to talk and has a vocabulary of more than 50 words. He repeats other conversations. He’s flown the coop a few times, but never too far. A reunion is scheduled for this morning.

  • White House Christmas at Bush Library: The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum has recreated the 2001 White House holiday displays in a new exhibit. "Home for the Holidays: Christmas at the White House," which opened Monday and runs through Jan. 5, includes original decorations, photos and videos. The exhibit includes models of the family homes of American presidents, including George Washington's Mount Vernon and Lyndon Johnson's Texas ranch. Holiday gowns worn by former first lady Laura Bush will also be shown, as will the 2001 White House Christmas card featuring a painting of the White House's second floor.

  • A Christmas Carol: The Dallas Theater Center presents A Christmas Carol at the Wyly Theatre through Dec. 24. Here’s how the group describes the show: “This dazzling new carol will fill the Wyly Theatre with music and special effects -- from flying ghosts to falling snow -- with the audience right in the middle of the action. From 'Bah! Humbug!' to 'God bless us, everyone!' A Christmas Carol is a holiday tradition full of merriment and chills.”
Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.