More people, more money, more machines: This seems to be how development proceeds. But the machines that save our time and improve our lives (we think) need to be powered one way or another. One way of fueling our machines and our economy is natural gas.
Natural gas is combustible, which means it will burn. It's made of different hydrocarbon gases, mostly methane. It's usually found underground near oil deposits, but it is also made biologically, as microorganisms break down organic matter into methane and other substances.
Natural gas has a lot of benefits as a fuel. It is widely available. It burns cleaner than other fossil fuels, releasing from 30% to 45% less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than coal or oil. It doesn't create soot or sulfur dioxide when burned. It can be used to run a variety of household appliances, as well as cars, trucks, buses, and even airplanes. And because it's lighter than air, any leaking gas would likely float up into the sky and dissipate. This reduces the chances of an explosion.
Of course, there are drawbacks. While natural gas is cleaner than other fuels, it still releases some carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned, meaning it contributes to global warming. Like its dirty cousins coal and oil, natural gas is a fossil fuel and will eventually run out. Being far below the surface, natural gas requires long pipelines to reach it and distribute it. These pipelines disrupt ecosystems. It's also not very efficient in cars and buses; the mileage from natural gas is lower than that from gasoline.
In the end, natural gas is probably best as an interim step but not a solution to our fossil fuel addiction. It is cleaner than coal and oil, but it still results in pollution. It may not speed up global warming as much as those other fuels, but it still contributes. It may be greener, but it is not the green power source that will save us.