Methane, the other worrisome GHG – coming to a dairy farm near you

Molecule of methane.

Methane Molecule: Image via Wikipedia

Via Eurekalert:

Measuring methane

Researchers develop technique to measure methane gas from cattle

MADISON, WI, MARCH 1, 2011 – Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Wetlands, gas hydrates, permafrost, termites, oceans, freshwater bodies, non-wetland soils, are all natural sources of atmospheric methane; however, the majority of methane presence ca n be accredited to human-related activities. These activities include: such as fossil fuel production, biomass burning, waste management and animal husbandry. The release of methane into the atmosphere by cattle and other large grazing mammals is estimated to account for 12 to 17% of the total global methane release.

Recently, scientists developed a methane release measuring technique as way of tracking the discharge of the gas without disrupting the regular management of the herd. This is part of a collaborative research study conducted by researchers from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Lethbridge Research Centre, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and the University of Melbourne in Australia.

Cattle were fitted with global positioning devices to track their movements and wind speed and direction were constantly measured. Unlike previous studies in which a few cattle were handled daily and methane measurements were taken directly, this technique centered on using open-path lasers to obtain a short-term measurement of methane release from an entire grazing herd. For instance in one study, the technique was used to take repeated measurements of methane concentration every 10 minutes directly above the height of the 18 cattle in the paddock. According to the results, the technique developed so well it can account for 77% of methane release at a single point in a paddock.

Sean McGinn, the author of the study describes the technique as a “significant advancement in assessing greenhouse gas emissions from the cattle industry.”

Collaborative research is continuing to further measure methane release from other agricultural sources. The full study is published in the January/February 2011 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.

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85 thoughts on “Methane, the other worrisome GHG – coming to a dairy farm near you

  1. I have to check the calendar… Hmmm,.. It’s March 1st, but this article made me think it’s April 1st.

    {/sarc}

  2. Haven’t the reference handy but a study in the Alpine region of Australia found that methane loving bacteria actually absorbed more methane than the cattle released. The cattle were actually feeding and maintaining the methane bacteria. The result is that there is an organic carbon gain from caqttle grazing in that region.

  3. Despite methane’s potency, “As a proportion of all greenhouse gases emitted in the United States, livestock belches only contribute about 2.2 percent,” notes Hristov. “The emissions from the energy and transportation sectors are much larger. In fact, looking at methane emissions alone, there are other human activities with larger methane footprints than livestock, such as emissions from landfills, for example.”
    so says Penn state

    http://www.rps.psu.edu/probing/cow_burps.html

  4. I’m sure with a tad more funding to produce a tad more research they could account for 100% of methane release at a single point in a paddock.
    /sarc off

  5. (http://theland.farmonline.com.au/news/nationalrural/agribusiness-and-general/general/ets-lifeline-soils-capable-of-absorbing-cattle-methane/1612492.aspx)
    The are plenty of other methane loving bacteria as was shown during the gulf oil spill.
    Methane might be a bad gas for heating but it is also very highly processed and converted to organic carbon. By the way, those long organic carbon molecules can remain as plantstones or be broken down by fungus/fungi to be converted into fertile topsoil.
    Typically, the alarmist concentrate on the narrowest part they can to get the most publicity.

  6. Oh goody. An excuse to buy lazerz, gizmos, saddles, thingys, and all manner of scientific gadgets at a ridiculous price, all to justify some meat ball scientist’s Porsche Payment.

    Why would I make such an outrageous claim of wasteful grant funding and scientific master….uh…self-stimulation? Simple. It’s not necessary.

    You put a representitive sampling of cows in a room, even put some of them on an equine rated treadmill, control the air in, and measure the air out of the room. Voila. You’ve got the metrics you need to see what’s coming out the bovine exhaust pipe.

    It’s been done before on a smaller scale, I know, I’ve helped build contraptions to do it. With this method, the accuracy goes up substantially from the almost laughable 77%.

    The accuracy in fact is up into the realm where instrumental accuracy is the greatest variable.

  7. Option 1: herbivores eat vegetation and bacteria in their gut digest it, with methane as a by-product.

    Option 2: vegetation dies and rots periodically without being eaten, bacteria release methane as a by-product of decomposition.

    Oh Nooooo – The Sky is FALLING!!!

  8. I wonder how they inventoried all the possible sources to come up with their “estimate”. I wonder what they would estimate if they did their measurements over a couple of hog farm lagoons. Since methane is so short lived, what difference does it make? Oh I forgot, they intend to pay farmers to change their feed to get carbon credits.

  9. Isn’t it reassuring to know that we spend our tax dollars studying cow flatulence?

    Firstly, methane has been steady for about 12 years with peaks occasionally from a volcano farting. There has been a growth in methane for 200 years, covering huge changes in herd animal populations (bison, antelope, etc.). NOAA is not sure why growth has stopped and speculates that decreased activity in the former Soviet countries may be the cause.

    Methane is also only at ~1700 ppb, or at 0.44% the concentration of CO2 (390 ppm). So what if methane is 20 times better at heat-trapping, it represents only 8.7% of equivalent heat-trapping to CO2. Then, taking that the real thermodynamic constant for CO2 and that doubling CO2 would cause 0.12 deg C of warming (if even this much), methane would be having an effect of 0.010 deg C of warming. WOW, PANIC! A hundredths of a degree – that’s undetectable and not worth a cow fart. We can only hope that the wind was blowing towards the researchers all of the time.

    Basically, we have gotten much better at controlling our own emissions from the gas industry. Wetland are wetlands. Tundra when it melts becomes a thriving living ecology and becomes, alas, a carbon sink—the assumption that tundra would just rot and release methane show the ignorance of these claims.

    Panic all they want, but methane is not a problem. The thousands of tons of methane that dissolved in the Gulf with the BP oil spill disappeared within 120 days as it was eaten by microscopic denizens of the ocean ecosystem; there was a huge drawdown in oxygen in these waters as the microbes ate the methane.

    Now they want to panic over a supposed mammoth methane bubble under the area where BP had drilled. Perhaps we should see if we can tap this and capture all of this wonderful resource. Instead, they are probably going to claim that we should cease all drilling and wait for it to blow anyhow. What a great political football!

  10. This is of significance to New Zealand, because the ETS will ultimately include methane from cattle.

    Unfortunately, there is very little we can do about it, unless we all become vegetarians.

  11. As an employer, in part, of some of these experts, I say they need to be told, get a job.

  12. According to the US Census, there were 98,048,000 cattle in the US in 2000.

    The pre-contact buffalo herds in North America have been estimated to be as large as 70,000,000. Add to that number the vast elk, moose, and other ungulate populations back then and I suspect the total number of ungulates/ruminants/bovines was not unlike their numbers today. However, it won’t be long before the California Air Resources Board (CARB) will blame the present commercial herds for at least a portion of GHG emissions.

    I wonder if they should also monitor all the methane generated by the consumption of bean and cheese burritos at Taco Bell or the neighborhood lunch wagon. Would controlling the border diminish the amount of burrito-sourced methane emitted in California?

  13. I wonder how the population of cattle compares with the population of bison a few centuries ago.

  14. As far as I can tell Methane would absorb at around 3.2-3.8 um (except that very little in nature is hot enough to produce energy at that frequency) and does absorb at 7-8um where a combination of existing Methane, Nitrous Oxide and (mostly) good old H2O pretty much soak up all there is. So the point of this exercise escapes me.

  15. “Cattle were fitted with global positioning devices to track their movements and wind speed and direction were constantly measured. Unlike previous studies in which a few cattle were handled daily and methane measurements were taken directly, this technique centered on using open-path lasers to obtain a short-term measurement of methane release from an entire grazing herd. ”

    ???????????????? Can’t these guys go and do some USEFUL SCIENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What about the massive herd of Bison in USA that used to exist, the cows just replaced them!

  16. Cows eat grass. They produce methane. Methane combines with oxygen in the air to form CO2. Grass absorbs the CO2 to re-grow. Cows eat the grass…

    It’s a cycle with no net effect.

    Any scientist who wastes time analysing the flows around the cycle is just chasing grant money.

  17. Hmm, the little ice age ended around the time massive herds of bison were being wiped out, and the end of the “big” ice age came around the time that massive herds of mastodons went extinct.

    Now someone’s got their eye on our cattle? Don’t they know that massive herds of tasty herbivores keep the earth cool? :-)

  18. “Cattle were fitted with global positioning devices to track their movements and wind speed and direction ……”

    Ahem…. Their ‘wind speed’ is kinda personal, at least for the cow, dontcha think??!

    Firstly, why do we need to know which direction they’re pointing, when they break wind??? Secondly, is their ‘wind speed’ a really relevant parameter??? Third and finally, is their ‘wind speed’ really so great that we must fit them with a GPS tracker to determine which way they have rocketed of to???

    Great Scott, Man! What are they feeding these mutant bovines? This is way beyond bovine growth hormones and ‘Franken-foods’!!!! I know from experience how hazardous the whitetailed deer can be to motorists in Wisconsin…. and now this!!!!!!!

    “It’s a bird. It’s a plane…. NO! That’s a rocket propelled bovine! Look OUT!!!!”
    };>)

  19. Bah, I’ve been studying ruminant methane production for years & first published on this in 1981 (Proceedings of the International Gas Research Conference, Los Angeles, CA, 9/28/1981). Much ado about nothing.

    According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the real culprit is methane from flooded rice-paddy agriculture. Here’s one reference:

    http://unfccc.int/essential_background/background_publications_htmlpdf/climate_change_information_kit/items/293.php

    “Wetland” or “paddy” rice farming produces roughly one-fifth to one-quarter of global methane emissions from human activities. Accounting for over 90 percent of all rice production, wetland rice is grown in fields that are flooded or irrigated for much of the growing season. Bacteria and other micro-organisms in the soil of the flooded rice paddy decompose organic matter and produce methane.

    This UNFCCC website once had a news item about this a few years ago & my jaw dropped! Of course, that heresy was soon scrubbed clean, I’ve never been able to relocate that link.

  20. Here’s an idea: How about a “significant advancement in assessing greenhouse gas emissions from the cattle AGW industry.” ? Leave Bossy alone.

  21. These authors should know a lot about manure, I’ll give them that.

    There is no way on earth the “experts” will be able to figure out methanogenesis in the earth until they understand that the bulk of it is abiogenic, produced in the earth’s crust (seriously, not even then). The Ukrainians showed the chemistry of this years ago.

    How for the luvva Mike, did seas of methane and ethane appear on Titan, in amounts that dwarfs earth’s supply? I feel sorry for these authors, they just can’t process information from diverse disciplines. By the way, termites produce methane estimated at 10 times all of the ruminants on earth—and that is just one species of insect! The earth’s crust harbors Teratons of methanogenic bacteria, by some estimates.

    And anaerobic seabeds—fugget aboud it!

    What has happened to our institutes of higher learning? I am really depressed by this “paper”.

  22. What about the termites and all the other methane producing insects? never-mind, I understand what they’re up to, they want people to stop farming and eating meat!

    If they start to pay farmers not to farm or subsidize them to raise less animals then this would be very dangerous and irresponsible, every time I read articles like this I feel like there is something very nasty behind these people and the kind of ideology they’re trying to promote.

  23. I figured it all out..

    It was methan from all the dinsaurs that cause global warming that caused the ice age that wiped them all out.

    Obvious ! ;-)

  24. CRS is correct, and atmospheric methane levels are high over Asian rice fields and low over New Zealand cow paddocks. Moreover, the only reason methane is “more powerful” than CO2 as a greenhouse gas is because its atmospheric concentrations are so low its absorption frequencies are less saturated. Since cow farts represent such a tiny proportion of methane contribution, removing them will make no perceptible difference to methane levels at great economic cost.

  25. @ Carl Chapman says:
    March 1, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Cows eat grass. They produce methane. Methane combines with oxygen in the air to form CO2. Grass absorbs the CO2 to re-grow. Cows eat the grass…

    It’s a cycle with no net effect.

    Any scientist who wastes time analysing the flows around the cycle is just chasing grant money.

    Actually cows these days eat a lot of left over grains from the corn ethanol industry. Called DDGs (Dry Distillers Grain ), as well as many other things besides “grass”. But I get your point. :) Do you get mine?

  26. Would this sudden upsurge in interest in methane as a GHG be associated with some of the footage coming out from our green friend about gas bubbling up from Coal Seam Gas and other natural gas sources, that is shown as flames coming out of fawcetts and similar bits of alarmist misinformation ?
    Get their believers going on the evils of gas prospecting and then identfy it as methane, that dreaded GHG that will push the planet over the tipping point.

  27. Laser/GPS/anemometer-equipped stockyard methane measuring system:
    $100,000+

    Individual pilot light system for burning off excess rearward methane releases:
    $80-$150

    Vegan volunteer for “nonprofit” environmentalist organization closely checking rear of bovine to verify operation and effectiveness of pilot light system:
    Priceless

  28. Methane is not a potent greenhouse gas at all! I’ts absorption band is already saturated by water vapor.
    The myth of Methane being a strong greenhouse gas is based on idiots in a lab measuring greenhouse gas potency in a non humid environment. You will never find any greenhouse gas being compared to water vapor as good old H2O wipes the board!

  29. Carl Chapman says:
    March 1, 2011 at 6:20 pm
    “Cows eat grass. They produce methane. Methane combines with oxygen in the air to form CO2. Grass absorbs the CO2 to re-grow. Cows eat the grass…

    It’s a cycle with no net effect.”

    Exactly right. And so long as cattle numbers do not change, there can be no net effect on the total methane in the atmosphere.

    In any given time period, the amount of methane added to the atmosphere by ruminants necessarily equals the amount breaking down.

  30. Don’t know about the methane from the cow’s rear (probably can’t be captured), but the cow manure is very valuable (along with other bio and food/green waste streams).

    Last year we met with developers for about 1,000,000 mmbtu/yr of methane (natural gas) from dairy waste and they wanted $11/mmbtu for the gas. If it were closer to natural gas prices ($5-6/mmbtu) at about $8/mmbtu, I would be interested in buying all that they could produce. A 7000 to 8000 heat rate engine would produce renewable energy at about $68-80/MWH. Due to the current depression, the current market is only $50-60/MWH but over the next 20-30 years this is a definite winner.

    Anyone want to step up to the plate and provide cow manure energy at $8/mmbtu?
    Forget the methane that escapes to the atmosphere.

  31. So people are not supposed to breath or fart to prevent CO2 and Methane emissions? Does that mean that beans will be a controlled substance? Or do we just have to purchase flatulence offsets?

  32. Look all your critics and other flat earthers – have you no imagination?

    Just think!
    How would you act if you had the education and the skill and the grant money to carry out this most complicated study?
    How could you not excercise such skill and spend all those beans?
    It’s like asking a Formula One driver not to race cars round and round in circles.
    Or a concert pianist, not to thump the ivories.
    To what purpose is all this activity, some of you may ask?

    Well none at all, that’s just the point.
    But it sure beats just sitting and waiting to collect you old age pension, before you die.

    Oh yes, obligitory /sarc off / in case you don’t get my feeble humour/ humor /humur or whatever.

  33. @P.F. – You simply don’t understand, the American Bison and Elk are not human related activity (if you don’t count them being driven to near extinction), therefore they fart sunshine and rainbows.

    I have heard it posited that the now extinct Unicorn farted the pure stuff of life, but as that is CO2 that can’t be right.

  34. If the earlier figure quoted above of ~1700 ppb for atmospheric methane is correct, researchers are worrying about the impact of a trace gas whose presence in the atmosphere is so small it can only be called a trace of a trace gas?

    The mind boggles…. Haven’t they anything more productive to do?

  35. Y’all don’t know yer ruminants. Most bovine methane comes out the front end, not the back end of cattle. Useless trivia, I know. It pretty much doesn’t matter where atmospheric CH4 comes from. There’s not a damn thing we can do about it and, like CO2…it just doesn’t matter. What DOES matter is that taxpayers are funding this nonsense research.

    I saw a documentary a while back with some marine biologist who looked to be in her late 20s. She was in a research vessel off the coast of California and was warning of global warming causing the release of methane hydrates from the ocean floor which would then, of course, cause even MORE global warming. All I could think about was the spectacular waste of government funding I was witnessing. The school scored big with the grant. The biology department benefited. The fuzzy brained young grad student got to take boats rides out in the ocean, take measurements, write a ridiculous thesis about a non-existent problem and probably earn her Ph.D. and set about starting a career in academia. For this I pay taxes?

  36. Methane is a by-product of Solar Energy in photosynthesis. It is merely a storage medium until the energy is released.
    Energy is neither created nor destroyed in the creation of methane and subsequent release.
    That energy comes from fusion in the Sun.
    The only alarming thing about Methane is it’s UEL and PEL, and the fact that many worry needlessly over one of natures clean-energy storage schemes.
    Lignite. Now that’s a very dirty fuel with an ash problem. Best used in Coal-to-liquids process.

  37. John in NZ says:
    March 1, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    According to http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1890646,00.html there are 283 million cows in India.
    ______________________________________________________
    Imagine what a formidable force India would be if all them Indians figured out that there’s good eatin’ and extremely high quality protein right there on the hoof! I understand…we probably have almost as many sacred cows in US government.

  38. Imagine if this much time, effort and money were directed toward REAL research, perhaps cancer cures…or maybe even Delusional Disorders, but I digress! /sarc

  39. you can’t tax farmers for their GHG releases if you can’t measure. Note that these studies were done in Aus and Aus is about to introduce a “Carbon price”. The Greens want to include farming in paying for the carbon price. You can’t tax it if you cant measure it :(

  40. The world has more termites (by weight) than cattle, and they emit more methane. And we can’t milk them or eat them.

    So how about a termite bounty – a cash payment for anybody who brings in a pair of termite ears.

  41. “…Cattle were fitted with global positioning devices to track their movements and wind speed and direction were constantly measured….”

    Josh does such a great dragon….Can’t imagine what he’d come up with for a high-tech fitted-up science cow….

    But wait till PASCO comes up with the Methane Cow kit. I’m so excited!

  42. The release of methane into the atmosphere by cattle and other large grazing mammals is estimated to account for 12 to 17% of the total global methane release.

    What’s wrong with this picture? If humans and their farm animals didn’t exist what would be in their place? Answer: large grazing animals. So why do humans get the blame for methane?

    Here is an interesting statistic. There are an estimated 10,000 trillion ants in the world. The combined mass of ants exceeds the mass of humans. All are eating food and emitting CO2 but ants are only about 1% of the number of insects which include termites. Termites are a HUGE emitter of methane. So the amount of food eaten (and CO2 and methane emitted) by humans is a tiny fraction of life on Earth.

  43. sophocles says:
    March 1, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    It’s much worse than we previously skepticized:
    A trace hypothesis of a trace hypothesis.

  44. Phil’s Dad and RobJM above point out that increments of CH4 can have no effect in a watery atmosphere like Earth’s since H2O already saturates the 7-8um band. Hit these bozoz with a simple assertion, over and over: “Methane has a GHG effect only in dry atmospheres. Ours is wet.”

    There’s also the wee matter of lifespan: CH4 continuously breaks down quite rapidly into the “much weaker” CO2 and H2O.

    This stuff just reinforces the perverse desire to see the NLIA (New Little Ice Age) kick off and force AGW bozoz everywhere to beg for more atmospheric heating!

  45. Wasted fuel! I’m not suggesting a hose to every cow, but… we do it to maple trees… :)

    Best,
    Frank

  46. Water in the atmosphere doesn’t necessarily trump methane absorption since at high altitudes where it is dry methane could still have an impact.

  47. They say that they constantly measured wind speed. I am wondering how the velocity of the methane as it exits the beast figures in their calculations ;-)

  48. One of the most useful comments here was:

    “Dr. Dave says:

    Y’all don’t know yer ruminants. Most bovine methane comes out the front end, not the back end of cattle. Useless trivia, I know. It pretty much doesn’t matter where atmospheric CH4 comes from. There’s not a damn thing we can do about it and, like CO2…it just doesn’t matter. What DOES matter is that taxpayers are funding this nonsense research.”

    Scientific American confirms this in an article published on June 23, 2009. However, a part of their very important research also indicated that cow flatulence can be reduced by up to 15% by introducing garlic into their diet. So there is still hope for us all!”!!!

    “Climate science” is so discredited and corrupted by the grant culture that one has to rate this as one of the better examples of its purveyors’ “science”.

  49. Italy produced the first methane driven car in 1932, today there are more than 400,000 methane consuming cars on the road in Italy, cost ? about $0.25 a gallon, and if you Google you can build a methane producing plant for the home using household waste. I am one of the 400,000 screwing the govenment out of their taxes.

  50. That’s been an entertaining read! Thank you, one and all.

    The overall plot seems to be to make us feel guilty just for existing. Well, I don’t feel guilty. I try to be reasonably careful in use of energy, etc. but Mother Nature has allowed us to come into existence, and given us (well, most of us) a natural desire to eat a good selection of foods, including meat.

    I wonder how many termites and ants I equate to?!

  51. One key point is that methane is produced during anaerobic metabolism, so it is not the usual pathway for decomposition of plant organic matter. That being said, the biggest concern for methane is the thawing in the arctic, which has the potential for releasing large amounts of the gas. Lakes and ponds as well as moist soils in the tundra are releasing increasing amounts of methane. If we are going to understanding cycles of methane in the environment, we need to quantify various sources, including wetlands (including arctic, tropical and inbetween), ruminants, termites, escape from oil and gas drilling etc. We also need to know how quickly methane is oxidized to C02 in the atmosphere, because methane is a more potent green house gas, molecule per molecule, than C02.

  52. It’s always interesting to hear studies claiming various sources of methane and corresponding percentages of contribution…I suspect most of these claims, however scientific, cannot be verified in any significant, reliable manner.

    For example, in the state of New York alone, there have been over 70,000 natural gas wells drilled, of which 40,000 wells are now all but uncharted and undocumented, and many of which leak methane continuously – 24/7/365. Add to that number the thousands of naturally occurring sites in NY where natural gas simply oozes out of the ground – and has done so for thousands of years – and one gets the impression that cows passing wind, comparatively, is NOT an issue worth worrying about.

    Yet, we have here another example of a study that simply defies common sense.

  53. This effort from the Peoples’ Republic of Madison is excellent justification for Governor Walkers’ efforts to shrink the state budget. What a waste of time, money and energy.

  54. The eco-history of these “man-made” emissions of methane from cattle is that it replaced similar methane emissions from bison. Those latter emissions would have been of course, “natural”.

  55. What are the Greens suggesting? Eliminate all animals that produce methane? I can tell you that I personally would resist!

  56. These scientists sure seem to be anal retentive, anal obsessed, whatever, why not study lemming flatulence in population boom years which directly affects flatulence in arctic fox, snowy owls, wolves, etc….

  57. I have often heard it said, as in this article, that methane is a potent greenhouse gas (values of around 26 – 30 times co2 potency are usually mentioned) but nowhere is it said why this is.

    I’m then left trying to figure out in what way a molecule of methane has 26 times the radiative forcing of co2. The only possible solution that comes to my limited understanding, is that methane must absorb over wavelengths that are 26 times as wide as that over which co2 absorbs. But then, if that were the case, these wavelengths would overlap water vapour and shouldn’t be included.

    In an even more extreme example, I’ve heard that HCFC’s have greenhouse gas potencies not 26, but thousands of times greater than co2. This makes even less sense because such a huge width of absorbtion would extend way beyond what the Earth emits in its outgoing radiation.

    So I have to conclude that I don’t really understand how they calculate the relative potencies of greenhouse gases. Any atmospheric physicists here care to comment?

  58. The greatest source of methane is rice paddies. So much for the vegetarians claiming moral superiority.

  59. My experience with cows is they can kick really quick. And I learned early on to keep my distance from a bull when possible. But I never thought of blaming cattle for the weather.

  60. I can’t believe that buffalo and deer release as much of the wrong kind of methane, so the solution is obvious. We need to reduce the amount of “domesticated” animals in the world. Besides, from what I hear these days, they’re really not that good to eat either; I mean from a health perspective, too many additives and genetic whatnots.

  61. “”””” MADISON, WI, MARCH 1, 2011 – Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. “””””

    Please define ” extremely potent ” Other greenhouse gases have infra-red absoption spectra, and other characteristics; I don’t remember if any of them also have extremely potentness as well. Can you elaborate please.

  62. So let’s all eliminate domesticated animals; all of them, cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, tastes like chickens, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, whatever, and we’ll all go back to eating grass and other tasty plants and weeds.

    Guess WHO will be emitting the METHANE then .

  63. I think their real problem is protein as evidenced by Michele Obama’s new dietary regulations for the government schools. So low as to produce brain damage in growing children.

    But that makes them easier to control.

    And remember too that most of these either are sixties radicals or those taught by them. And that those people are strongly influenced via New Age teachings by Hinduism.

    North American megafauna were more numerous than cattle are today.

  64. As if the fabled tens of millions of pre-Columbian buffalo were too naturally fastidious to fart.

  65. Alan Wilkinson says:
    March 2, 2011 at 12:27 am
    Water in the atmosphere doesn’t necessarily trump methane absorption since at high altitudes where it is dry methane could still have an impact.

    High altitude CH4 is broken down by reactions with OH (exponentially with altitude above 14km – virtually none left by 60km) so the small amount of 7-8um energy that manages to get past everything else to those heights is pretty much home free.

  66. Vince Causey says: March 2, 2011 at 6:53 am
    “I have often heard it said, as in this article, that methane is a potent greenhouse gas (values of around 26 – 30 times co2 potency are usually mentioned) but nowhere is it said why this is.”

    My understanding it is because CO2 absorption is relatively saturated at its very much higher atmospheric concentration. On a molecule vs molecule basis CO2 is the stronger greenhouse gas.

    Phils Dad, when you say CH4 is broken down, what are the products and why would these not also have a similar greenhouse effect albeit at slightly different frequencies?

  67. CRS, Dr.P.H. says:
    March 1, 2011 at 6:31 pm (Edit)

    Bah, I’ve been studying ruminant methane production for years & first published on this in 1981 (Proceedings of the International Gas Research Conference, Los Angeles, CA, 9/28/1981). Much ado about nothing.

    According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the real culprit is methane from flooded rice-paddy agriculture.

    Thank you for the reference.

  68. They are focusing on the wrong group, it should be insects. Scientists say that the insect biomass is nine times greater than the human biomass; therefore the flatulent methane production by insects should far outweigh the combined flatulent methane production by humans and their domesticated animals. Of course, methane loving microbes do limit the amount of actual methane reaching the atmosphere where they say it disappears between 9-12 years.

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