A common theme in works or speeches by Joe Romm, Amory Lovins, T. Boone Pickens, and Tim Wirth (and a whole chorus of other like minded people) is that natural gas, which is mostly methane (CH4), is a bridge to a utopia that can be powered by natural flows from the sun and wind.
The problem with that view is that burning methane inherently produces a large volume of waste products that include about 67% of the CO2 that is produced by burning pure carbon. When you hear that natural gas only produces “half” of the CO2 produced by burning coal, the speaker is also taking credit for the fact that it is easier to burn natural gas in a very high efficiency combined cycle plant than it is to burn coal in that kind of power plant. Even assuming that the often repeated comparison between natural gas and coal is true, it reminds me of a bridge that I recently crossed near Pensacola, Florida. When heading to Pensacola from Gulf Breeze, there are two choices of entrances. You can get on the ramp to the right or the one on the left.
Though the photo and the posted signs make it easy to figure out which entrance is the correct one; there are times when it can be tempting to try the entrance on the right since traffic occasionally backs up enough to make it seem like it will take forever to cross the Bay on the Parkway. However, that tempting bridge on the right has some issues. About half way across the bay, there start to be some missing links that make it a long leap from one section to the next one. If you take that tempting, easy looking path when there is traffic on the Parkway, all you will find at about the half way point is open water with no way to get across without retracing your steps and starting over again.
My recommendation to people who see an easy path when there is a whole line of people waiting for a different path is to recognize that it can be a bad bet to assume everyone who has lined up at the somewhat slower entrance is stupid.