Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 6:30 - 6:30pm

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Results of methane survey of parts of Manhattan on 27 November 2012

Results of methane survey of parts of Manhattan on 27 November 2012


New York, NY 10003



Is Manhattan sitting in a cloud of methane?

Odorless, invisible, lighter-than-air methane is a significant urban pollutant that is a potential crisis in the making.

Developed by artists Ruth Hardinger and Rebecca Smith as a confluence of climate change research, environmental activism and artistic practice, EMISSIONS: Images from the Mixing Layer initiates new ways of sourcing information, sharing and expressing data.  The project draws upon a scientific study conducted by Gas Safety Inc. under the aegis of Damascus Citizens for Sustainability which utilized highly sensitive technology to measure fugitive methane emissions over 160 miles of roadway in Manhattan. 

This study reveals the island lies under a cloud of methane originating primarily from aging natural gas pipelines - some laid in the 19th century.  Since methane is 20 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and natural gas is over 90% raw methane, the study challenges the notion that natural gas is part of the solution to climate change.  In fact, it suggests that methane leakage, throughout its life cycle, makes natural gas a greater contributor to climate change than other fossil fuels.


Panel Participants:

Al Appleton, Moderator; Senior Fellow for Sustainable Entrepreneurship, The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design; former Commissioner of the NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Barbara Arrindell Artist; founder and Director of Damascus Citizens for Sustainability
Ruth Hardinger, Artist
Bryce Payne, PhD, Associate Research Professor, Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA, Senior Fellow of Wake Forest University CEES, Winston-Salem, NC
Rebecca Smith, Artist
Samara Swanston, Legislative Counsel to the Environmental Protection Committee of New York City Council


Link to Manhattan methane emissions study.

EMISSIONS:  Images from the Mixing Layer is a two-part program consisting of a panel discussion moderated by Al Appleton and an art exhibition curated by Ruth Hardinger and Rebecca Smith.  It is sponsored by the Institute for Sustainable Design at Cooper Union for Marfa Dialogues/NY in cooperation with The Rauschenberg Foundation.


Located in The Great Hall, in the Foundation Building, 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.