Natural Sources of Methane Surprise Climate Scientists
Methane is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Look where it comes from.
The media are all reacting to the latest report from a federal commission on climate change, which says that global warming is a bigger threat than thought. Leftists are demanding prompt action (Science Daily) to avoid catastrophe (Nature). Some conservatives (Breitbart News), including President Trump (CNS News), are claiming the report is politically-motivated ‘fake science’ written by Obama holdovers in the government. CEH is not taking a position on this, but we do like to point out when peer-reviewed journal papers and consensus-believing secular science media cast doubt on whether global warming is humanity’s fault, if for no other reason than to show that a consensus can preach dogmatically from shaky ground – just like they do with Darwinism. Consider:
From burping cows and food miles to greenhouse gasses (BBC News). This short article with video claims that cows, who emit methane from both ends of their digestive tracts, are at an all-time high in number.
The amount of methane produced by livestock farming is predicted to rise by 60 percent over the next 11 years, which could be catastrophic for combating climate change. So what changes should we make to our eating habits?
This could be blamed on humans, because we are breeding so many cows, but before humans began domesticating cattle, there were times in earth history when wild animals were much more numerous. Think of the methane that must have been emitted by herds of sauropods! Does it make sense that humans need to cut back on eating beef because today’s cows are at record numbers? What about the herds of wild bovines before the rise of agriculture, and the millions of bison that used to roam the American west?
How a termite’s mound filters methane—and what it means for greenhouse gases (Phys.org). Cows are not the only belchers of methane. Many animals that digest plant material have gut bacteria that digest the cellulose and emit methane as a by-product. That includes termites, which are far more numerous than cattle. This article says that termites are able to recapture some of the methane they emit, which is helpful, but not all of it. Their measurements show that half of it escapes into the atmosphere. So even if science cuts termite methane emissions in half, that’s still a lot of greenhouse gas coming out the rear ends of these “poorly understood creatures.” Did the IPCC take termite methane into account? Remember methane is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) which receives most of the attention in climate mitigation talks.
4,000-year-old termite mounds found in Brazil are visible from space (Science Daily). Let’s combine the previous paragraph with this finding also reported in Nature: “Termite mounds dating back millennia can be seen from space.” These are big termite mounds if they can be seen from space! Found in Brazil, they cover an area as big as Great Britain. How much methane were these billions of termites emitting for millennia before the Industrial Revolution? Both articles say nothing about that.
Volcanoes and glaciers combine as powerful methane producers (Astrobiology Magazine). This article and another in Phys.org report a surprising discovery of large amounts of methane coming from a glacier in Iceland. This is the “first published field study to show methane release from glaciers on this scale,” and it represents a “huge amount” of methane.
A study of Sólheimajökull glacier, which flows from the active, ice-covered volcano Katla, shows that up to 41 tonnes of methane is being released through meltwaters every day during the summer months. This is roughly equivalent to the methane produced by more than 136,000 belching cows.
This means that even if many people gave up eating beef, and if ranchers cut their herds significantly, it would not make up for what is already coming from one glacier. Undoubtedly there are other sites on the planet with these conditions that are also emitting natural methane without any help from mankind. The open-access paper in Nature Scientific Reports explains all this, and yet another paper in Nature Scientific Reports insists that “increased mitigation efforts” will be required to meet the UN goals. Did the climate consensus take this into account when building their models and informing governments at climate conferences that drastic action must be taken by man to remove the threat we put ourselves in by building smokestacks? Not likely; the first paper admits that “subglacial microbial communities with methanogenic potential may be more significant and extensive than previously anticipated.” The press release gives astonishing news:
“This is a huge amount of methane lost from the glacial meltwater stream into the atmosphere,” said Dr. Peter Wynn, a glacial biogeochemist from the Lancaster Environment Centre and corresponding author of the study. “It greatly exceeds average methane loss from non-glacial rivers to the atmosphere reported in the scientific literature. It rivals some of the world’s most methane-producing wetlands; and represents more than twenty times the known methane emissions of all Europe’s other volcanoes put together.”
Climate sensitivity to ozone and its relevance on the habitability of Earth-like planets (Icarus). Another factor not considered in climate models is the interaction of greenhouse gases with ozone. This paper is noteworthy on two fronts: (1) ozone warms the planet, and (2) exoplanets without proper ozone concentrations may not be habitable. So while humans have worked very hard to reduce the “ozone hole” they believe was produced by man’s use of fluorocarbons (which appears to have worked, thankfully, since the ozone hole is healing), they may have been warming the planet as a side effect of getting the atmosphere back to its natural state. Ponder that conundrum, as we ask again if climate models took this factor into account:
Atmospheric ozone plays an important role on the temperature structure of the atmosphere. However, it has not been included in previous studies on the effect of an increasing solar radiation on the Earth’s climate. Here we study the climate sensitivity to the presence/absence of ozone with an increasing solar forcing for the first time with a global climate model. We show that the warming effect of ozone increases both the humidity of the lower atmosphere and the surface temperature. Under the same solar irradiance, the mean surface temperature is 7 K higher than in an analogue planet without ozone. Therefore, the moist greenhouse threshold, the state at which water vapor becomes abundant in the stratosphere, is reached at a lower solar irradiance (1572 W/m2 with respect to 1647 W/m2 in the case without ozone). Our results imply that ozone reduces the maximum solar irradiance at which Earth-like planets would remain habitable.
Climate correction: when scientists get it wrong (Phys.org). In this consensus-defending piece, Patrick Galey tells how the media and scientists goofed on November 1 by reporting a flawed paper. The paper claimed that oceans were warming faster than thought. But in science’s defense, Galey assures readers that you can trust the scientific consensus, even when they are wrong. Watch this dramatic illustration of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat:
Peter Frumhoff, chief climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the ocean study correction was “a beautiful thing”.
“The rapid, transparent acknowledgement and correction of inadvertent errors in scientific papers… is at the heart of what separates science from dogma,” he told AFP.
“Science is a human endeavour and it’s therefore imperfect. What’s important is that results are scrutinised and replicated by others so that we can assess what is robust and what isn’t,” Gavin A. Schmidt, director at the Goddard Institute for Space Sciences at NASA, told AFP.
“Current climate change has been looked at by thousands of scientists (and other interested people) and our understanding of it is pretty solid,” he said.
If your confidence in the consensus has just been restored, despite the “replication crisis” science is dealing with (16 Nov 2014), consider that those previous articles all admitted that the consensus did not take into effect methane from glaciers, methane from termites, ozone warming, and methane produced by vast herds of large and small animals (from termites to sauropods) long before mankind built the first coal plant.
Folks, you are watching a real live current case of dogmatic scientists banding together in self-promoting consensus, convincing the media they are right, and pushing governments to redistribute wealth as penance for mankind’s climate sins. And yet at the same time they keep finding new natural sources of greenhouse gases, like methane that is 30 times more potent than CO2, that they never thought about before. The climate models used as a club by these fallible scientists cannot know all the unknowns and unknown unknowns. So is it possible, we ask, that thousands of scientists can be wrong? There are historical cases of this phenomenon, where the minority or the maverick was right against all the screaming hordes of consensus bigots accusing their critics of being “anti-science.”
Whether you believe the climate consensus is your business, but you had better build your case on research into real data, not on appeals to authority. And do that with Darwinism, too. Hopefully we have shown for 17 years now that the Darwin consensus is trusting in a house of cards built on quicksand in a windstorm, despite their dogmatic, bigoted intolerance of skeptics.