To an alien orbiting Earth in a flying saucer, natural gas flares would be one of the most visible signs of human life on earth. Notice I said "human life," not "intelligent life."
Flaring is the practice of burning off the natural gas that is
produced in association with oil rather than piping it to market, using
it at the wellhead, or reinjecting into the ground. Flaring was once
common, but in more recent times, it has largely been limited to places
like Russia and Nigeria. Now, though, it is becoming a big source of
controversy in the United States. According to a recent New York Times article,
some 30 percent of natural gas produced from rapidly expanding North
Dakota oil fields will be flared this year—more than enough to heat
every home in North Dakota through the state's harsh winters. Elsewhere
in this country, less than one percent of gas is flared. READ MORE>>>
For more environmental topics, check out my new book, TANSTAAFL: A Libertarian Perspective on Environmental Economics.