In Depth

The World Is Hemorrhaging Methane, and Now We Can See Where

For more than two months now, a ruptured storage well has poured thousands of tons of gas into the Porter Ranch section of Los Angeles. The Aliso Canyon leak is huge—California’s largest known source of methane emissions at this point—but not compared to another font of wasted gas miles away in Venezuela.

Punta de Mata is home to the world’s largest gas flare, one of the flaming chimneys used to burn off excess natural gas at oil wells and other energy sites. In 2012, it incinerated about 768,000 metric tons of natural gas, almost 10 times the amount given off so far from the...