Multiple news sites are reporting that
levels of the second most important greenhouse gas, methane, have stabilized.
From Scientific American: "During the two decades of measurements, methane
underwent double-digit growth as a constituent of our atmosphere, rising from
1,520 parts per billion by volume (ppbv) in 1978 to 1,767 ppbv in 1998. But the
most recent measurements have revealed that methane levels are barely rising
anymore — and it is unclear why."
From NewScientist: "Although tis is good news, it does not mean that methane levels will not rise again, and that carbon dioxide remains the 800-pound gorilla of climate change."
Actually, NewScientist is wrong. CO2 is not the biggest "gorilla" of
greenhouse gas on planet earth. It’s water vapor. Our earth would be much colder without water vapor in the atmosphere…it would be much like Mars.
So many of the climate models focus solely on CO2, but they leave out water vapor in the equations, or assume its "static".
CO2 is far from being the most potent greenhouse gas. Chloroflourocarbons
(CFC’s) commonly used as refrigerants as far worse at trapping infra-red in our
Of naturally created GHG’s, Methane is 23 times more effective at warming the
atmosphere than CO2. Nitrous Oxide is even worse at 296. So far no emergency
legislation has been authored to eliminate the effect of cows or dental
surgeons. The Kyoto treaty does not address these other gases either.
Global Warming Potentials
(100 Year Time Horizon)
Carbon dioxide (CO2) 1
Methane (CH4) 23
Nitrous oxide (N2O) 296
Fully Fluorinated Gases
The concept of the global warming potential (GWP) was developed to compare the
ability of each greenhouse gas to trap heat in the atmosphere relative to
another gas. In this case, CO2 is the reference gas. Methane, for example, has a
GWP of 23 over a 100-year period. This means that on a kilogram for kilogram
basis, methane is 23 times more potent than CO2 over a 100-year period.
The interesting thing here is that this stabilization of methane levels in
our atmosphere happened all by itself, and the scientists are clearly baffled as
to an explanation. As I’ve always said, the earth’s atmosphere is such a complex
system, that pinning its change on just one thing is not good science.