An idea I can get behind – regulate [as in capture waste gas and recycle] methane first

UPDATE: Some readers took exception to my title, and I can see why now. I regret my choice of wording for the title. “Regulate its escape into the atmosphere” is where I was going. “Regulate” from my perspective in engineering things and making things work is different than what others might think. I wasn’t implying legislation. Recycling and recovery systems is what was in my mind.  Gas regulator valves and all that. This passage from the story below was my focus: “Since we already know how to capture methane from animals, landfills, and sewage treatment plants at fairly low cost, targeting methane makes sense,”.

I’ve amended the title [in brackets] -Anthony

According to the 2007 IPCC AR4 Methane has a “global warming potential” of 25 times that of CO2 over 100 years. Here’s a CH4 budget pie chart. Note that there are several sources where we can manage methane without affecting energy creation. Starting on Methane, rather than CO2, is an idea that I could get behind because it can be recycled and used for many things.

https://i1.wp.com/oceanlink.island.net/ONews/ONews7/images/methane%20sources%20-%20EPA.gif

A new paper from Drew Shindell from NASA JPL prompted Roger Pielke Jr. to write:

For years my father has been arguing that:

. . . attempts to “control” the climate system, and to prevent a “dangerous intervention” into the climate system by humans that focuses just on CO2 and a few other greenhouse gases will necessarily be significantly incomplete, unless all of the other first order climate forcings are considered.

His views are now being robustly vindicated as a quiet revolution is occurring in climate science. Here is how PhysOrg reports on a study out today in Science by NASA’s Drew Shindell and others:

According to Shindell, the new findings underscore the importance of devising multi-pronged strategies to address climate change rather than focusing exclusively on carbon dioxide. “Our calculations suggest that all the non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases together have a net impact that rivals the warming caused by carbon dioxide.”

In particular, the study reinforces the idea that proposals to reduce methane may be an easier place for policy makers to start climate change agreements. “Since we already know how to capture methane from animals, landfills, and sewage treatment plants at fairly low cost, targeting methane makes sense,” said Michael MacCracken, chief scientist for the Climate Institute in Washington, D.C.

This research also provides regulators insight into how certain pollution mitigation strategies might simultaneously affect climate and air quality. Reductions of carbon monoxide, for example, would have positive effects for both climate and the public’s health, while reducing nitrogen oxide could have a positive impact on health but a negative impact on the climate.

“The bottom line is that the chemistry of the atmosphere can get hideously complicated,” said Schmidt. “Sorting out what affects climate and what affects air quality isn’t simple, but we’re making progress.”

Of note, Shindell et al. cautiously suggest that the entire framework of international climate policy may be based on an overly-simplistic view of the human effect on climate, by focusing on carbon dioxide equivalencies in radiative forcing (i.e.,g “global warming potential” or GWP), from their Science paper out today (emphasis added):

There are many limitations to the GWP concept (25). It includes only physical properties, and its definition is equivalent to an unrealistic economic scenario of no discounting through the selected time horizon followed by discounting to zero value thereafter. The 100-year time horizon conventionally chosen strongly reduces the influence of species that are short-lived relative to CO2. Additionally, GWPs assume that integrated global mean RF is a useful indicator of climate change. Although this is generally reasonable at the global scale, GWP does not take into account the rate of change, and it neglects that the surface temperature response to regionally distributed forcings depends on the location of the RF (26) and that precipitation and circulation responses may be even more sensitive to RF location (27). Along with their dependence on emission timing and location, this makes GWPs particularly ill-suited to very short-lived species such as NOx, SO2, or ammonia, although they are more reasonable for longer-lived CO. Inclusion of short-lived species in agreements alongside long-lived greenhouse gases is thus problematic (28, 29).

Read his complete commentary here

Here’s the press release from NASA/JPL with comments from Drew Shindel also.

Methane_surface_global

Surface Methane - Credit NASA Goddard

This map shows the distribution of methane at the surface. New research shows that methane has an elevated warming effect due to its interactions with other substances in the atmosphere.  For decades, climate scientists have worked to identify and measure key substances — notably greenhouse gases and aerosol particles — that affect Earth’s climate. And they’ve been aided by ever more sophisticated computer models that make estimating the relative impact of each type of pollutant more reliable.

Yet the complexity of nature — and the models used to quantify it — continues to serve up surprises. The most recent? Certain gases that cause warming are so closely linked with the production of aerosols that the emissions of one type of pollutant can indirectly affect the quantity of the other. And for two key gases that cause warming, these so-called “gas-aerosol interactions” can amplify their impact.

“We’ve known for years that methane and carbon monoxide have a warming effect,” said Drew Shindell, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York and lead author of a study published this week in Science. “But our new findings suggest these gases have a significantly more powerful warming impact than previously thought.”

Mixing a Chemical Soup

When vehicles, factories, landfills, and livestock emit methane and carbon monoxide into the atmosphere, they are doing more than just increasing their atmospheric concentrations. The release of these gases also have indirect effects on a variety of other atmospheric constituents, including reducing the production of particles called aerosols that can influence both the climate and the air quality. These two gases, as well as others, are part of a complicated cascade of chemical reactions that features competition with aerosols for highly reactive molecules that cleanse the air of pollutants.

chart showing gas-aerosol interactions for methane and carbon monoxide
“Emissions-based” estimates highlight the indirect effects that emissions of certain gases can have on the climate via aerosols, methane, ozone, and other substances in the atmosphere. Credit: NASA/GISS › Larger image

Aerosols can have either a warming or cooling effect, depending on their composition, but the two aerosol types that Shindell modeled — sulfates and nitrates — scatter incoming light and affect clouds in ways that cool Earth. They are also related to the formation of acid rain and can cause respiratory distress and other health problems for those who breathe them.

Human activity is a major source of sulfate aerosols, but smokestacks don’t emit sulfate particles directly. Rather, coal power production and other industrial processes release sulfur dioxide — the same gas that billows from volcanoes — that later reacts with atmospheric molecules called hydroxyl radicals to produce sulfates as a byproduct. Hydroxyl is so reactive scientists consider it an atmospheric “detergent” or “scrubber” because it cleanses the atmosphere of many types of pollution.

In the chemical soup of the lower atmosphere, however, sulfur dioxide isn’t the only substance interacting with hydroxyl. Similar reactions influence the creation of nitrate aerosols. And hydroxyls drive long chains of reactions involving other common gases, including ozone.

Methane and carbon monoxide use up hydroxyl that would otherwise produce sulfate, thereby reducing the concentration of sulfate aerosols. It’s a seemingly minor change, but it makes a difference to the climate. “More methane means less hydroxyl, less sulfate, and more warming,” Shindell explained.

graphic showing methane's interaction with hydroxyl Many atmospheric pollutants compete for access to hydroxyl radicals (OH), highly reactive molecules that “scrub” the atmosphere of pollutants. This diagram illustrates hydroxyl converting methane (CH4) into carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) into sulfate aerosols. Credit: NASA/GISS › Larger image

His team’s modeling experiment, one of the first to rigorously quantify the impact of gas-aerosol interactions on both climate and air quality, showed that increases in global methane emissions have caused a 26 percent decrease in hydroxyl and an 11 percent decrease in the number concentration of sulfate particles. Reducing sulfate unmasks methane’s warming by 20 to 40 percent over current estimates, but also helps reduce negative health effects from sulfate aerosols.

In comparison, the model calculated that global carbon monoxide emissions have caused a 13 percent reduction in hydroxyl and 9 percent reduction in sulfate aerosols.

Nitrogen oxides — pollutants produced largely by power plants, trucks, and cars — led to overall cooling when their effects on aerosol particles are included, said Nadine Unger, another coauthor on the paper and a climate scientist at GISS. That’s noteworthy because nitrogen oxides have primarily been associated with ozone formation and warming in the past.

A New Approach

To determine the climate impact of particular greenhouse gases, scientists have traditionally relied on surface stations and satellites to measure the concentration of each gas in the air. Then, they have extrapolated such measurements to arrive at a global estimate.

The drawback to that “abundance-based approach,” explained Gavin Schmidt, another GISS climate scientist and coauthor of the study, is that it doesn’t account for the constant interactions that occur between various atmospheric constituents. Nor is it easy to parse out whether pollutants have human or natural origins.

pie chart of methane sourcesNatural sources of methane include wetlands, termites, decomposing organic materials in ocean and fresh water, and a type of ice called methane hydrate. Man-made methane sources include livestock, rice paddies, biomass burning, landfills, coal mining, and gas production. Credit: U.S Dept. of Energy Technology Laboratory
› Larger image “You get a much more accurate picture of how human emissions are impacting the climate — and how policy makers might effectively counteract climate change — if you look at what’s emitted at the surface rather than what ends up in the atmosphere,” said Shindell, who used this “emissions-based” approach as the groundwork for this modeling project.

However, the abundance-based approach serves as the foundation of key international climate treaties, such as the Kyoto Protocol or the carbon dioxide cap-and-trade plans being discussed among policymakers. Such treaties underestimate the contributions of methane and carbon monoxide to global warming, Shindell said.

Unpacking the Implications

According to Shindell, the new findings underscore the importance of devising multi-pronged strategies to address climate change rather than focusing exclusively on carbon dioxide. “Our calculations suggest that all the non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases together have a net impact that rivals the warming caused by carbon dioxide.”

In particular, the study reinforces the idea that proposals to reduce methane may be an easier place for policy makers to start climate change agreements. “Since we already know how to capture methane from animals, landfills, and sewage treatment plants at fairly low cost, targeting methane makes sense,” said Michael MacCracken, chief scientist for the Climate Institute in Washington, D.C.

This research also provides regulators insight into how certain pollution mitigation strategies might simultaneously affect climate and air quality. Reductions of carbon monoxide, for example, would have positive effects for both climate and the public’s health, while reducing nitrogen oxide could have a positive impact on health but a negative impact on the climate.

“The bottom line is that the chemistry of the atmosphere can get hideously complicated,” said Schmidt. “Sorting out what affects climate and what affects air quality isn’t simple, but we’re making progress.”

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151 thoughts on “An idea I can get behind – regulate [as in capture waste gas and recycle] methane first

  1. I suggest we start harvesting and burning that methyl-hydrate. Should we just let that dangerous substance lie around the sea floor? I call for hysteria, now!

  2. Here’s a thing. Manure produces the same amount of methane as biofuel! So maybe we stop eating meat and dairy products after we stop producing biofuel.

  3. Sheese. The paper actually has the “it’s worse than we thought” mantra. I don’t believe it. They always think things are far worse than than they are, couldn’t some scientist somewhere ever report finding that are “just as bad as we thought they were”? For such imaginiative scaremongering people they don’t ever seem to be able to imagine things as bad as they actually find them. I find that unbelievable.

    Also how does livestock get the anthropromorphic label. If we did have the cattle we would have a lot more deer and the antelope roaming. I’m not going to feel guilty about harnessing that resource in a more usable way. Put some of that on the “natural” causes side please.

    And what about the build up of methane? I understand that there is none. WUWT?

  4. We know how to capture methane from animals?

    Meet the New silliness. Looks a lot like the Old silliness.

  5. “Our calculations suggest that all the non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases together have a net impact that rivals the warming caused by carbon dioxide.”

    Well that’s not really saying much is it. So all non CO2 greenhouse gases also have a near negligable effect. Well turn those dials up everyone, there is another facet to a non problem.

  6. If this idea goes forward, it can also be used to distinguish between the non-skeptics who have genuine interest in defending the environment, and those who mainly care about their broader political agenda of reducing energy consumption in developed countries. If CO2 is put forward as having a sub-leading effect on the ‘greenhouse effect’, then the ‘genuine’ non-skeptics would be ready to defend policies on curbing the production of gases like methane first, while the ‘political’ non-skeptics would abhor such an idea. That would most likely induce a split among them! Unless the scenario is already realized that political agendas dominate the field, and not just a generalized misinterpretation of climate dynamics…

  7. Regulate swamp gas … Put a plastic lid over the Everglades swamp.

    The biggest problem with regulating methane is it doesn’t come from cars.

  8. Carbon capture & storage is going to lead to future risk of sudden massive release of methane into the atmosphere. Carbon capture & storage is a waste of money & research resources: No benefit to the environment, no benefit to taxpayers, no benefit to consumers — it’s nothing but a deflection-tool for politicians – and a perceived opportunity for snake-oil-salesmen. “Solving” a fake problem by creating a real one is not sensible.

  9. Methane in our atmosphere: 2/3 of a single ppm.

    This pure alarmism and any measure to reduce methane incredible costly and stupid.
    It will have NO EFFECT on our climate.

    [snip]

    REPLY:
    lots of other ways to regulate methane that are on larger sources without affecting dairy, etc. And Ron, please clean up your language. – Anthony

  10. All of this complex discussion relies on the assumption that the composition of the air can affect global equilibrium temperature.

    We should all know that the sea surface temperatures control the surface air temperatures. If the air gets warmer than the ocean surfaces then the air will be cooled. If the air gets cooler than the ocean surfaces then the air will be warmed.

    It is the oceans that make the Earth warmer than it ‘should’ be, not the air.

    Of that 33C ‘excess’ warmth that the Earth is supposed to enjoy how much of it is attributable to the air and how much is attributable to all that water ?

    If the air only contributes a tiny proportion and the oceans control the air temperatures then how is a minor change to the composition of the air supposed to make any significant difference to the global equilibrium temperature ?

    The composition of the air does make a tiny difference to the temperature of the air but since the oceans are in control all that needs to happen to negate such warming of the air is a tiny corresponding change in the rate of energy transfer from air to space. I have described the mechanism more fully elsewhere.

    Note that such equilibrium temperature is not readily measurable. It is not sufficiently represented by surface air temperatures. One has to consider ocean energy content too and that is another can of worms.

    Even that global equilibrium temperature is never stable. It varies constantly over time as a consequence of varying solar input to the oceans and variable rates of energy release to the air by the oceans.

    The whole debate seems to me to be a colossal diversion from the real world physical processes that most matter.

    A comparable question would be as to how many angels could fit on the head of a pin. A well known example illustrating the pointlessness of certain lines of enquiry.

    Climatology seems to me to be currently engaged in questions of similar futility.

  11. The earth is quite dangerous,
    the Universe too.
    For many dangers
    there’s nothing to do
    (If there’s no [self-snip]
    we are simply screwed).

    But with CH4
    we can all do our part:
    build proper landfills
    and please do not fart.

  12. Methane is a third world problem. Even in first world countries third world agricultural practices are the problem.

    There won’t be any discussion of methane regulation because it doesn’t fit the agenda of further socializing first world economies.

  13. “In particular, the study reinforces the idea that proposals to reduce methane may be an easier place for policy makers to start climate change agreements….” “His team’s modeling experiment, one of the first to rigorously quantify the impact of gas-aerosol interactions on both climate and air quality….”

    How about ending all these supposed “climate change agreements” until we have both models and experimental studies that match. And, if Drew Shindels’ team’s model is “one of the first”, let’s see a whole bunch more that understand this complexity in some more detail. Stop the regulations!

    When I first started thinking about these issues (non-scientist, concerned citizen), I became interested in the idea of an accounting of all the chemicals (industrial, manufacturing, transportation, agricultural, food processing, sewage, etc. we humans add to the environment. Of main concern were/are preserving the environment (no out-of-“control” growth) including wilderness and wetland areas, limiting the effects of pollution, especially that which affects the health of children, and r&d funding for greater energy efficiency and delivery. I never realized my desires could turn into a political “control the world” movement. I still think they are good ideas.

    Can we go back to square one and begin again carefully, on a step-by-step basis without all the grandiosity? Climate change agreements? Humans don’t control climate change and we know very little scientifically about “what” does.

  14. “A comparable question would be as to how many angels could fit on the head of a pin.” Stephen Wilde

    I thought that problem had been solved recently but can’t find the link.

  15. So if we don’t eat meat because cow farts cause methane, does that mean we will have to substitute beans for our protein?

  16. Look. All this back and forth about what ought to be regulated or not regulated and by how much is ridiculous. The planet is what it is. The only thing of significance is who survives and who doesn’t. It’s called evolution and it’s better to win than lose. The most committed wins. Deal with it.

  17. I think some of the alarmists are finally snapping to the fact that the CO2=AGW paradigm is just way too simpleminded. Here’s one saying that the chemistry of the atmosphere is ‘hideously complicated’. The next step is to understand that the feedbacks to CO2 forcing are ‘fiendishly complex’. Arrhenius really didn’t settle the science.
    ===========================

  18. An idea I can get behind – regulate methane first

    Sorry – count me out – this whole argument is loopy – since global warming is NOT a problem neither is methane a problem.

    We don’t need more hype and alarmism and another new wasteful environmental policy on Methane…

    I did not expect this kind of nonsense – at least not from this website.

    Is it April fool’s day?

  19. crosspatch (12:32:41),

    Excellent link, thanks for posting.

    The methane map in this article shows clearly that most of the methane emissions come from China, Russia, India and Brazil [the BRIC countries].

    Those countries would have to agree to drastically cut their emissions to make a dent in global methane, and they have all made it very clear that they will not take any actions that slow their economic growth.

    Certainly the U.S. and western Europe should not futilely act, while the BRIC countries more than make up for any mitigation by the cleanest countries on Earth.

    The BRIC countries, which emit the most pollution by far, are the ones responsible for cleaning up their own countries. We are not polluting the atmosphere. They are.

  20. Have learned some time ago that there are other and more powerful greenhouse gases. Methane as an example.
    Good to see some science about it being published.
    It will however be considered a dangerous argument in eyes of hysterics: It only detracts non-climate-scientists (many of us in this blog) from the identified CO2 threat.
    The thing I don’t like in this article is the proposal to let politicians now regulate the methane issue.
    Ha, do we have to give them something to feel important, even earth-saving?
    There is already a lot to do for serious politicians.

  21. I seriously doubt that anyone has actually measured OLR reduction due to methane and I don’t believe it contributes to global warming. HOWEVER, it is a major clean energy source that should not go to waste. Modern sewage plants use anarobic digesters to produce enough natural gas to make enough electricity to run their run whole operations. It is cost effective. Figure the savings if this established technology was applied to all sewage plants, feed lots, and hog farms. We would not only be converting waste into clean energy, but also producing cleaner water and air. Also, we should consider developing technology for capturing naturally produced methane like swamp gas or from methane hydrates. It might not have any effect on the climate, but it is another source of clean energy.

  22. OK, me bad. I could not resist that asinine joke. I thought it was a gas even if it made someone the butt of it.

  23. “Jerker Andersson (12:25:51) :
    Where are the cow farts?”

    Somewhere back in my memory, I remember hearing that the “termites” of the world were the largest contributors of “Earth’s” Methane.

  24. I think any of this anti-warming regulation is bogus. But that’s not why I am posting.

    If I were Obama. . . . I would stop importing foreign oil with a sliding close of the spigot, while simultaneously giving a tax credit to have your car altered to NG, or retrofit your gas station.

    US has NG resources we don’t use. More is suspected everywhere. Think of all the jobs. . . .

  25. I think this is a Halloween “trick”. Getting “behind” methane? Something stinks! :)

    Put the money into the Asteroid Defense System, or free permanent contraception for anyone that wants it, or spaceflight development. Heaven knows the real risk an errant asteroid could pose. And I really think there probably are too many people running around the planet (we make up at least 10% of the CH4 budget by just defecating), so let’s make it easier to keep the numbers steady or slowly decreasing. Maybe we could fore-go number two if we made significant strides in space development and exploration. Then we could export CO2 and CH4 and whatever else to Mars.

  26. Why is Ivan waiting until “next summer”? The ice is gonzo says Goreacles.
    Notice the SovietSpeak: “Andrei Smirnov of the state-run company Atomflot”.
    Smirnov?
    …-

    “Russia to launch Arctic Sea shelf mission

    Russia is planning extensive research to help uphold its claim to the energy-rich Arctic Sea shelf, which the country believes is an extension of the Eurasian continent, an official says.

    At a conference in Moscow Friday, Andrei Smirnov of the state-run company Atomflot said Russia is planning icebreaker missions in the Arctic over the next three years to conduct a detailed geological analysis of the seabed.

    The mission will kick off with an atomic-powered icebreaker and a research ship travelling to the Arctic next summer, Smirnov said.”
    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2375406/posts

  27. Anthony: I agree that we should be going after methane, and other pollutants. I speak as an expert in this area, holding several patents in methane control. (no snickering, now).

    Not so much for controlling AGW, but other, more immediate concerns. In oil wells, leaking methane can get in ground water, and contaminate rural water supplies.

    Capturing methane allows it to be used as a power source, and control nuisance odours. (hey, I said to quit snickering.)

    This really only applies to large point sources. Putting diapers on a cow makes no sense. Taking the manure from the barn, and capturing methane from the resulting pile of [politicians verbiage] does make sense. It also makes the neighbours down wind a lot happier.

    Capturing methane from industrial sources is also relatively easy, and encourages co-generation of power.

    Methane capture from swamps is unpractical. But installing methane capture in a land fill is practical.

    Flaring an oil well’s excess methane is wasteful, especially in 3rd world countries that are energy poor to start with.

  28. Al is probably enjoying a big delicious steak right now as we speak.

    Made you hungry I know…but let me enjoy my steak as you save the planet.

  29. Sorry, I’m missing why you can get behind this nonsense any more than the C02 nonsense of Algore, Anthony.

    The way I read it, the article is saying “OK, so we screwed up and C02 is not the evil boogy man we said it was. The fact is, the science is complex. Now methane! METHANE is a gas we can all agree to limit, right? So let’s keep the current global pseudo-science/political infrastructure and go hunting methane emitting unicorns now instead of C02 emitting ones. Science is dead! Long live science!”

    I also question the general argument of knowing more about the atmosphere by tracking what we emit vs what ends up detected by satellites etc. in the atmosphere. It’s what ends up in the atmosphere that (presumably) matters. To get an accurate picture of that from what we know we emit takes a MUCH better knowledge of atmospherics and chemistry than we appear to have. UNLESS we all decide not to act until we KNOW how it works. Otherwise I see this as just a second bite at the global governance apple by the Greenies.

    I also agree with an earlier comment that saying that the effects of all the other greenhouse gases combined can be as great as (the insignificant) effects of C02 isn’t really stating much, now is it?

  30. Ron de Haan (12:24:43) :

    “Methane in our atmosphere: 2/3 of a single ppm.

    This pure alarmism and any measure to reduce methane incredible costly and stupid.
    It will have NO EFFECT on our climate.

    [snip]

    REPLY: lots of other ways to regulate methane that are on larger sources without affecting dairy, etc. And Ron, please clean up your language. – Anthony”

    I am sorry Anthony but are we switching one hoax for another?

    In the past half of Europe was one big swamp.
    Methane, just like CO2 is a natural gas present in our atmosphere less than 1 ppm!

    Lord Monckton yesterday made an excellent and most convincing presentation burying the CO2 and…the Methane Hoax.

    One day later we dig it up again.

    Are we infected by a virus called “regulation”.

    Don’t you think we have much more urgent problems that are in need of our focus?

  31. “Our calculations suggest that all the non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases together have a net impact that rivals the warming caused by carbon dioxide.”

    Is it fair to say, then, that CO2 has, at most, has caused about half the warming of the last 130 years…perhaps .35C?

    If so, hope the word doesn’t get out. I mean…what would people think ?(sarc off)

  32. Most methane is produced by anaerobic digestion of biomass. There is no way we can alter that process.

    Biomass grows, then it rots or burns. Whether the metabolism of cellulose occurs in a domestic cow or not, that cellulose will metabolize, like it or not.

  33. We should figure out where it is coming from mainly as well.

    Have a look at this animation of methane from 2003 to 2005 (looks like a vegetation signal to me – industry does not have a seasonal signal):

    CO2 also available at:

  34. Paul Biggs: That article you referenced is mostly on the fear of natural methane coming out of the permafrost. This article is about anthropogenic methane capture.

    Seems consistent to me. Perhaps you should read with a little more comprehension?

  35. Great! They’ve found something else to scare the sheeple with, now that carbon dioxide seems to be going out of fashion. What next? Nitrogen, oxygen? Why not ban ALL gases and have done with it, that’ll get rid of us all in double quick time. Think of the money it’ll make for , for, for…. Hello? Anyone there?

  36. Russia is the largest emmitter of CH4. Send them a bill. Don’t hold your breath because you will be O2 starved…

  37. In my experience a vegetarian diet produces more methane. Did Lord Stern think of that?
    Lentil casserole, anyone?

  38. Rice paddies. Uh-oh, Asia is in big trouble with the UN.
    C02 theory on the rocks?
    No problem, just call 1-800-hysteria for a new horn to toot.
    Omigod, it’s global flatulence.
    Let’s see, how many binge-scares have we endured?
    First it was eggs were bad because of cholesterol.
    Then they found out eggs were a different type of cholesterol and were good for you.
    Then it was salt. So we switched to sea salt. Then they said sea salt was bad for you.
    Then it was the coming Ice Age, and it didn’t.
    Now it’s been Global Warming but it got left outside to freeze.
    So here we go again with another big panic attack.

  39. Sarah from Saskatchewan (15:17:12) :

    Don’t look now, but seems to me they’re working up to a herd of something else to shoot. Hmmm… don’t seem to be many buffalo around lately…
    Independence Day (Wil Smith) “Oh no you don’t. Don’t you go shootin’ that Green Stuff at me !!”

  40. His team’s modeling experiment, one of the first to rigorously quantify the impact of gas-aerosol interactions on both climate and air quality
    Oh really? This is just more of the same BS with the same agenda. If it’s financially viable to capature methane to use as a fuel then fine, people will do it. As for regulation, no way. This is the same bunch of people trying to find new ways to justify themselves, and control the rest of us.

  41. Anthony,

    The proponents of AGW, UN IPCC believe they have to regulate greenhouse gasses.
    Their proof is based on bad climate models, spin and another hoax they call consensus. They have kidnapped the science and turned it into a political instrument which is going to cost us billions of dollars, our economy, our middle class and our freedom.

    The skeptics think there is no evidence that greenhouse gases play any significant role influencing our climate. They debunked the IPCC statements and put the evidence at the table that entirely destroys the scientific arguments for any emission regulation.

    We really don’t do our case any good if we create a rift in opinion which is absolutely the case if people from within the skeptic camp make a call for the regulation of greenhouse gases.

    In my opinion this is a strategic blunder.

    Besides that:
    Methane recycling and generation is not new, in fact it’s what we call an “old cow”.

    In Europe you can find many thousands of examples of energy generation (heating and electricity) where chicken, hog and cow shit is used in “methane breeders” which power a generator. It’s cheap energy and therefore it’s an economical application.

    I really hope you see the point I am trying to make.

  42. Regardless whether the methane model is correct or not, the important point here is that this peer-reviewed asserts that the other greenhouse gases are on par with CO2. Rather than reducing the presumed risk associated with CO2, it increases the overall risk by all GHGs. Thus there are more ways to control the lives of everyone on earth… just tie something to global warming and you have the mechanism to restrict, manage, allocate, whatever, virtually anything.

    When I started looking at the issue of AGW I used to laugh at the silly notions of a left-wing conspiracy to control the masses. I am still not convinced as to intent, but I am firmly convinced that the practical outcome of this movement will be the same. Control of life by governments at a level not seen since the fall of the iron curtain.

  43. It seems to me that scientists who have backed the IPPC line so far are finding their CO2 dogmatism increasingly untenable, and will quite likely “discoveHr” something new that gives them a lifeboat to escape from the sinking AGW vessel.

    After all, Copenhagen looks more and more like a dead duck, and if so than all the hysterical calls from Gore, Hansen, Prince Charles et al will be seen for the bogus scaremongering they are.

  44. Methane capture (or any other action) as a method to prevent “global warming” makes no sense. It may make sense economically though as a way to get off foreign oil dependencies and to lower the cost of production for certain fertilizers. Of course, that would feed more sheeple, which would produce more methane… Never mind :)

  45. Les Johnson (13:57:53) “capturing methane from the resulting pile of [politicians verbiage] does make sense”

    Interesting ideas Les.

  46. This appears to be a movement toward saving face for the GISS/Gavin assembly. By deflecting climate fears to methane they think the political agenda of climate change can be salvaged.

    In reality the two items are separate. The science from the politics. Lord Monckton did a fine job of that last night. It would be best for the alarmists to accept the defeat of any political agenda disguised as science.

    Of course, a health campaign to mitigate consumption of Whoppers would not be bad.

  47. As with CO2, CH4 has very little effect on global temperature and H20 vapour is by far the most important GHG.

    However, as we are heading (at speed) into a cold century, we will be needing commercially viable methane capture to help keep us all warm.

    With small government subsidies CH4 can become a worthwhile energy source.

  48. Les Johnson – consistency of whether or not methane is a problem – someone needs to explain 10 years of atmospheric methane stability with a couple of upward blips in 2007 and 2008 attributed to natural causes:

    Rigby, M., R. Prinn, P. Fraser, P. Simmonds, R. Langenfelds, J. Huang, D. Cunnold, P. Steele, P. Krummel, R. Weiss, S. O’Doherty, P. Salameh, H. Wang, C. Harth, J. Mühle, and L. Porter (2008), Renewed growth of atmospheric methane, Geophys. Res. Lett., doi:10.1029/2008GL036037: since all worldwide levels rose simultaneously throughout the same year, it is now believed this may be part of a natural cycle in mother nature – and not the direct result of man’s contributions.

    Dlugokencky, E. J., et al. (2009), Observational constraints on recent increases in the atmospheric CH4 burden, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L18803, doi:10.1029/2009GL039780: In 2007 the extra methane emissions came from northern wetlands, and in 2008 they came from tropical wetlands.

  49. It sounds like we get 25 times more bang for the buck (sequestering methane) and a potential new energy source at the same time.

    This is the low hanging fruit (cherry picking) that we should go after first.

    After we have demonstrated that sequestering Methane works and the climate warming decreases in response, then we can work on the harder stuff : )

  50. bucko36 (13:47:25) :

    “Jerker Andersson (12:25:51) :
    Where are the cow farts?”

    Somewhere back in my memory, I remember hearing that the “termites” of the world were the largest contributors of “Earth’s” Methane.

    I thought it was “Termite burps”

  51. My climate record seems to be skipping.
    Can someone give it a good whack!
    I’m going out for a burger, before someone tells me
    cow farts are killing Polar Bears.

  52. paul: Nope. The article you referenced from a previous WUWT posting, had a main theme was that global CH4 was not increasing due to release from the permafrost.

    This article’s thrust is that methane can be used for something else.

    There is no inconsistency.

  53. A few points from a non-scientist:

    1. World climate changes from warmer to cooler without any intervention by humans and it always has.
    2. In the past million years or so there have been a number of ice-ages and quite likely at some time in the future there will be others.
    3. In the historical record we have clear evidence of centuries that were significantly warmer that we are now.
    4. On all occasions of such warming life was easier for humans. On all occasions when it was significantly colder than now life was harder for humans.
    5. Rising sea-levels were not in evidence during times of historical warming when it was warmer than now so we can safely say it can get a good deal warmer than it is now before we have any significant risk of sea-level rise.
    6. We don’t know if the next natural cycle will be warming or cooling.

    So my question is: Why, Why, Why should we do anything at all to cause cooling of any sort whatever, even an insignificant cooling? In the next few decades we might (and we might not) be glad of every last degree the temperature goes or stays up. Let us first ask the scientists to put their house in order about what is going to happen next BEFORE we do anything to cool the planet whether relating to CO2, methane or anything else.

  54. Wow! Some of you scientist types are cowed by a peer reviewed document saying CH4 is a problem. You do not learn do you?

    Here is some simple logic:

    If there is no God we are doomed anyway by all sorts of earthly and space threats.

    If there is a God then it is extremely unlikely that He cares how we handle cow farts. I would reckon He is more concerned about moral issues than logistical ones.

    The general public is more sensible than some on this blog; after the CO2 scare is discredited they will not be fooled anytime soon thereafter. Some will think that is illogical but that is only because their premises are wrong not the general public’s. You will spend years discrediting the CH4 scare only to learn what the general public will already know; it is bogus.

    Meanwhile, some will be hacking at the roots of the general cultural insanity. To each his own, I guess.

  55. But hey, methane is a nice energy source. If it makes economic sense to collect and burn it, then go for it. Otherwise chill, is my advice.

  56. At some time in the future, Methane will be the energy source we use the most.

    We might as well start building up better infrastructure now to re-capture it from natural and other sources. Natural gas is 98% Methane so a lot of that is already in place but when the oil and natural gas starts to run out, re-captured and manufactured Methane will be the energy source.

  57. Terryskinner (16:23:57) :
    “So my question is: Why, Why, Why should we do anything at all to cause cooling of any sort whatever, even an insignificant cooling?” Terry Skinner

    Excellent point. When in all human history has heat been a problem?

  58. Stephen Wilde (12:28:17) :

    All of this complex discussion relies on the assumption that the composition of the air can affect global equilibrium temperature.

    Your analysis is faulty on a number of points.

    The Earth’s climate system gains heat through sunlight (solar insolation) entering the oceans and loses heat through radiation from the atmosphere out to space.

    All other effects on the Earth’s climate’s heat balance are minor.

    Therefore, climate change occurs either because more/less solar radiation enters the oceans or more/less radiation is lost to space from the atmosphere.

    Which means the theory behind GHG warming is sound, because increased GHG concentrations should, all else being equal, decrease the amount of radiation lost to space.

    Unfortunately, ‘all else’ is never equal when it comes to the Earth’s climate and its many complex feedbacks.

    Therefore we have to rely on empirical measurements to determine what is actually happening in the Earth’s climate.

    Empirical measurements show methane and water vapour contribute more warming than CO2, and Ocean Heat Content (which is where heat accumulation will occur) doesn’t show much if any heat gain (Argo data).

    Frankly, to argue that GHGs can’t warm the Earth’s climate is silly. They clearly can, although with large feedbacks. The issue is where is the evidence that they are? And which GHGs are causing the most measurable warming? (Answer = not CO2)

    The article above is correct on all points.

  59. Fred H. Hayne:

    The idea of using easily-captured methane for fuel instead of letting it go to waste is a good one.

    (OT) I read your climate analysis the other day. It makes sense to me as far as my knowledge of physics goes (lower division college level). The variations in atmospheric water vapor could easily compensate for tiny additions of CO2 to the atmosphere since there’s not much there anyway. It’s hard to imagine such small amounts having enough kinetic energy to impart to other molecules to have a measureable effect on atmospheric temperature.

    Any luck getting someone(s) to review your paper yet?

  60. “Our calculations suggest that all the non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases together have a net impact that rivals the warming caused by carbon dioxide.”

    Looks like the CO2-forcers are “perforce” going to have to cut their doubling figure in half, right? After all, The Model hath spoken.

    Smokey:

    The methane map in this article shows clearly that most of the methane emissions come from China, Russia, India and Brazil [the BRIC countries].

    And it sounds like the BRICs owe us a lot of money, perhaps even enough to buy our way out of the CO2 guilt debt! I feel better already.

  61. Methane is just a head fake and it’s not just happening here. If I get you to go for methane capture, I can throw the deep ball on CO2.

  62. Meh. You will never convince me that methane at a concentration less than 2 ppm can have any effect on temperature.

    I saw an article in my local paper earlier this year where it was claimed that the hydrofluorocarbons now used for air conditioning have a GWP 17,000 times greater than CO2. So even though we saved the O3 layer by replacing CFC’s with HFC’s, now we’re gonna cook ourselves with our AC’s. A little data hunting showed that HFC’s are maybe 25 parts per trillion in the atmosphere.

    I’m not worried about those, either.

  63. According to the surface methane map, the two global hotspots are Argentina and Iraq.

    Why?

    OK cattle in Argentina (farting visible from space!), but why Iraq?

  64. Anthony, you have gone off the rails on this one. Methane has a half life in the atmosphere of 7 years. The increase from the pre-industrial level has been 1 ppm, which is equivalent to 20 ppm of CO2, which in turn is 5% of the 388 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere. Of that 388 ppm of CO2, the last 20 ppm only contributes 0.02 of a degree C of the 3.0 degrees C that carbon dioxide contributes to the greenhouse effect. So you are willing to contemplate regulations on something produces an infinitessimally small amount of heating?

    This sort of rubbish research out of NASA was not meant for us. It is just fresh theology for the warmers.

  65. “Unfortunately, ‘all else’ is never equal when it comes to the Earth’s climate and its many complex feedbacks.” Philip_B

    I would bet that there are latent feedback loops just waiting for the need and that the existing ones scale up as necessary.

    I remember when PCBs were a big scare. Later it was discovered that some species of bacteria break them down to harmlessness. There are also bacteria that deal with radioactive waste (don’t ask me how, it seems impossible to me). Those little bacteria seem up to anything.

    We should take care to not trash the planet but PERSONALLY, if I were God, I would be INSULTED by 1) the ignoring of the wonderful balance of the planet and 2) the dangerous hysteria.

    We need a low pass filter and some common sense with regard to all this nonsense.

    Too bad we are all stuck on this one planet. I would love to leave this place for a saner one.

    Are there imbalances in the world? Yes, but the root causes are a dishonest, corrupt, unstable money and banking model.

  66. Methane as natural gas is very unlikely to run out any time soon, current known reserves exceed that of oil and approach that of coal: and that is only the gas we know about, remember nobody has really been looking for it.

    It is the usual question of the price, natural gas is cheap to extract but expensive to ship. In the UK recovery of methane from landfill is used on a small scale but North Sea gas is cheaper. Likewise for many years there was a farm in Northern Ireland that used cow dung to produce methane, and there are similar small scale plants in England: but the gas is expensive.

    Fossil fuel, whether coal, gas or oil is cheap and abundant and offers unlimited energy where and when we want and need it. That is why it has supplanted all other energy sources for general use.

    Ans also why in just two hundred years wehave grown so wealthy in material terms. And a very good thing too.

    As for the levels of atmospheric methane if human activity had anything to do with it they would not have stopped rising a decade ago, even allowing of rthe recent blip.

    Kindest Regards

  67. The great climate scientist Steve Martin had some amazing insights on this subject 30 years ago….

    Skip to the 55 second point unless you just want to listen to Steve.

  68. “but why Iraq”

    In Iraq, the capture and use of gas obtained from oil wells was until recently considered too expensive for too little value. The infrastructure just wasn’t there to make economic use of it so it is vented or flared off. Only now is the infrastructure being put into place to use a lot of that gas.

    Power plants, for example, are now being built which can utilize that gas and pipelines are being built to move the gas the short distance from the oil field to the power plants. Iraq’s older plants were designed to use oil which could be moved by rail or truck in addition to a pipeline that didn’t have to be “gas” tight.

  69. David Archibald (17:45:51) :

    Hello David.
    If the panic-stricken would stop to think for a second (and that’ll be the day) and wonder how the energy got into the Methane in the 1st place, they might just get it.
    It’s nothing more than organicly stored Solar Energy.
    Nature’s battery. Use it or lose it.
    Whether it’s prehistoric green energy or contemporary green energy, it was made by the same Earth organic processes which continue to this day, and it stores the same solar energy that it did millions of years ago.
    I guess you can say that you cannot teach new dogs about old tricks.
    And I’ll say here that there are those amongst us who do not appreciate the wonderful source of energy that millions of years of Earth organic processes have saved for us.
    Instead, they want to ruin it for everyone.
    Maybe it’s fitting. They owe thier lives and leisure time to dream up anti-Earth theories to this energy they so despise.
    Let them have a go without it.
    Survior: Warmist. Place: Greenland. Enjoy the ice. Camp out with the Polar Bears, but remember to bring some Diet Coke & sunglasses to appease the bruin.

  70. Bill Illis (16:32:39) :

    “At some time in the future, Methane will be the energy source we use the most.

    We might as well start building up better infrastructure now to re-capture it from natural and other sources. Natural gas is 98% Methane so a lot of that is already in place but when the oil and natural gas starts to run out, re-captured and manufactured Methane will be the energy source”.

    If oil runs out?
    We currently have the biggest oil reserves ever and more is found every day.
    Peak oil is the second hoax of our times.
    http://www.fwbusinesspress.com/display.php?id=9155

  71. I used to read the Book of Revelation and be shocked at all the people killed but now I learn that some humans wish to kill billions or at least prevent them from ever living.

    I guess all the Lord will have to do is step out of the way and we’ll do much of it ourselves.

    David just wished to commit secret adultery but ending up being driven to murder of one of the top 37 men in his army. Where did we err? I would bet in 1913. That must have been one weird generation.

  72. Interesting, there is one direct human source of methane that I don’t see covered in the graphic. Tobacco smoke contains more methane than co2. Isn’t global cigarette consumption in the region of 10 billion per year? If as we are told in the case of co2 to stop leaving lights on or electrical equipment on stand by surly the same would apply to smoking?

  73. I really thought that some scientists had learnt a lesson,seems not.Doomed to make the same mistakes over and over.I would be happy to see the government cease all funding to climate studies and research.Take all the money being wasted on dictator science,and spend it on medical research.

  74. Iraq methane hot spot.

    Not looked at the map but one might suggest it could be to do with un-draining the southern marshes?

    As I recall Saddam had them drained and dried in order to gain economic (etc.) control over the local Marsh Arabs who are not Sunnis. I read that this policy is being or has been reversed.

    Clearly from an AGW perspective whoever allowed this to happen should be prosecuted. My guess would be that the decision would have been strongly supported by big NGO on the basis of human rights. Which would be quite ironic in some small way. (Assuming my theory is correct of course ….)

  75. It’s late fall and the Indians on a remote reservation in South Dakota asked their new chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild.

    Since he was a chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked at the sky, he couldn’t tell what the winter was going to be like.

    Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared.

    But, being a practical leader, after several days, he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked, ‘Is the coming winter going to be cold?’ ‘It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold,’ the meteorologist at the weather service responded.

    So the chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared.

    A week later, he called the National Weather Service again.

    ‘Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?’

    ‘Yes,’ the man at National Weather Service again replied, ‘it’s going to be a very cold winter.’ The chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find.

    Two weeks later, the chief called the National Weather Service again. ‘Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?’

    ‘Absolutely,’ the man replied. ‘It’s looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters we’ve ever seen.’

    ‘How can you be so sure?’ the chief asked.

    The weatherman replied, ‘The Indians are collecting firewood like crazy.’

    Remember this story whenever you get advice from a government official!

  76. “I would be happy to see the government cease all funding to climate studies and research.” Noelene

    Police yourselves scientists or be prepared to see all government funding cut. (Actually, that would be a good thing. We could get back to gentlemen scientists.) We expect better from scientists. I’ve pretty much forgotten the scientific method but it is not my job to remember it. It is yours!

  77. I’m sorry, but, allowing the Gubmint to regulate ANY naturally occurring atmospheric gas is insane!!!

  78. What is wrong with methane? Nothing. Use it or lose it.
    You don’t need to regulate it. You don’t need to tax it to death. You don’t need to endure endless nightmares of being chased by methane monsters. You don’t need to hear alarmists going bonkers over it’s existence.
    You just need to capture it and put the energy to good use.
    What could be more simple?
    What’s wrong with C02? Nothing, if you are a plant.
    This whole agenda thing reads like a sci-fi thriller. People are abducted by aliens who get them to outlaw all forms of carbon compounds, which the aliens cannot tolerate. Then, when the Earth is rid of life, the aliens can colonize. George Lucas, where are you?

  79. As i suspected WUWT is just another believer that what we know about climate is enough to act. Unfortunately the same WUWT puts enough of data here that goes against what WUWT believes.

    A sad state of affairs.

    [REPLY – WUWT tries to be open minded and covers both sides of the issue(s). Anthony encourages participation by all sides. ~ Evan]

  80. One other thing that should be mentioned. Most discussions of methane and other GHGs, as above, give the greenhouse warming potentials as the amount of warming over 100 years. But if we are looking at, say, the next 20 years, then the GWH of methane — prior to this article — jumps from 24 to 75. In other words, 3 times as much. Now, with this article, it should jump further.

    Too many of us on WUWT make climate change an either-or thing. Many say global warming isn’t anything to worry about because people who come up with hockey sticks and other false Al Gore-like propaganda must be wrong, or else why would they come up with such BS. It’s hard not to feel that way.

    The way I look at it, we know that increasing CO2 will increase warming (everyone from Richard Lindzen to John Christy to Roy Pielke Jr. and Sr. to Patrick Michaels agrees), but we don’t know how much. It might be at the low end or lower than the IPCC, which is why I don’t support GHG legislation right now — the present lack of warming suggests to me that the positive feedbacks in the climate models are likely to be overstated, perhaps by a lot. So I worry that any benefits of GHG legislation might be far worse than the costs to our jobs and economy, and I think we should do R&D to bring down costs of, say, algae for renewable fuels and solar for electricity.

    But, if we can reduce methane for relatively low costs, and if that might buy us some time just in case CO2 turns out to be more of a problem than Prof. Lindzen (among others) thinks, then I’m all for controlling methane more. I think this may be what Anthony was suggesting?

  81. Whatever happened to water vapor.
    Much of the original research concluded that all the
    atmospheric gases combined had less impact on radiation
    than water vapor. Has this changed?
    If not why are we still debating the pro’s and con’s
    of Carbon dioxide and methane.?

  82. Philip_B (16:45:22) :

    Which means the theory behind GHG warming is sound, because increased GHG concentrations should, all else being equal, decrease the amount of radiation lost to space.

    This is not possible in an open system. Thermal expansion of the gas increases entropy and equilibrium is rapidly achieved if the energy input remains constant.

    Equilibrium may be delayed by the addition of more gas at a given rate but entropy increases in lock step.

    The rate of a few parts ppm by man over periods of years can have no measurable effect on the climate through retarding entropy in the absents of other gases.

  83. Is today’s column an about-face, Anthony?

    My belief and support of WUWT? has always been because I understood you held firmly to the philosophy that as nothing was broken it was both foolish and unnecessary, perhaps even dangerous, to even begin to promote a “fix”.

    Today your headline is : An idea I can get behind – regulate methane first.

    Where do you really stand?

  84. I don’t see this as a call to action. All I think this is about is that if we “feel the need” to do something, even something relatively useless, at least let it be cheap and have some side benefits.

  85. “[REPLY – WUWT tries to be open minded and covers both sides of the issue(s). Anthony encourages participation by all sides. ~ Evan]”

    A post titled “An idea I can get behind – regulate methane first” is choosing a side.

  86. evanmjones (20:50:21) : “I don’t see this as a call to action. …

    Assuming you are answering my post two above, Evan, then I cannot accept your: we “feel the need” to do something, even something relatively useless, at least let it be cheap and have some side benefits.” as a reason to promote what is essentially just another “contain and control” scheme unless WUWT? actually believes something, any goddamn thing, must be done.

    Is that what WUWT? believes? Has Anthony always believed that? Or is An idea I can get behind – regulate methane first. merely an abberation?

    I prefer to believe it is just an abberation; but I do need to actually know.

    REPLY:
    I regret my choice of wording for the title. “Regulate its escape into the atmosphere” is where I was going. I’ve amended the title. “Regulate” from my perspective in engineering things and making things work is different than what others think. I wasn’t implying legislation. Recycling and recovery systems is what was in my mind. -Anthony

  87. Use methane – fine. Capture it – fine too.

    But regulate it? That’s just as insane as CO2 regulation.

    The planet’s temperature is self regulated. This is what Miskolczi derived from first principals a few years ago and what Lindzen and Choi more recently demonstrated empirically in their August 2009 GRL article.

    If the temperature were not self regulated, a “tipping point” would have long ago been tripped. All the BS about “tipping points” is about how badly constructed models fall apart when they are fed bad numbers.

    REPLY: I regret my choice of wording for the title. “Regulate its escape into the atmosphere” is where I was going. See amended title and explanation.

  88. “REPLY: I regret my choice of word for the title. …

    Thanks, Anthony. Quite a relief. I kept looking down and seeing a shark…

    REPLY: Yeah just one of those times when words convey meanings not intended. When I think of the word “regulate” I think on voltage regulators, current regulators, pressure regulators, flow regulators…etc. Other people see the word regulate and think law and legislation, which was not my intent at all. – Anthony

  89. Are you sure, Anthony? Are you certain that methane regulation will save the world from global warming or climate change? Isn’t there more science that should be accomplished before you decide that methane should be regulated?

    Ugh.

    REPLY: You have the wrong idea, and its my fault for a poor choice of words. Refresh the story and look at the update at top. – Anthony

  90. Before I refresh, I think you are a saint. Thank you for all you do to educate us. The only reason I am able to debate global warmers is because of your blog. God bless and please continue your good work.

  91. Crikey. A better Molotov than the damp squib I threw, Anthony. What manner of heresy was that? Good post! I agree, use it as a fuel. A chicken farmer in Winkliegh, Devon was running his car on the stuff back in the late sixties (until the government tried to tax him off it IIRC) …

    So which money trail to follow now, there are several? A couple of clues in this Times article (GWP ratchet again). Guardian obviously on a group hug weekend, team insight on Monday then probably. This is getting more entertaining than the bit player 2012 apocalypse scams by the day. Sony’s new scare ’em half to death movie hits the flea pits on Nov 13th. Timing about right then with Christmas lights going on, hot chestnuts and tinsel everywhere. LOL :-)

  92. I suppose if you you use nuclear to power the following two CO2 strategies, they might remove enough gas from the air:

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16621-sunpowered-device-converts-co2-into-fuel.html

    http://www.grestech.com/

    I would like to add some tech to remove CO2 to make carbon fiber as a CO2 sink. I see the above as way to solve perceived problems, and a legitimate dependency on foreign oil. Why not do the same to another greenhouse gas, methane?

    I prefer active removal as opposed to a silly cap and trade strategy that China and India will not implement.

  93. It is interesting to see how this article has triggered a knee-jerk reaction from the crowd that undermines the credibility of the non-alarmist camp.

    Note to partisan deniers:
    Negotiation is a fine art.

    Conclusion:
    There really is a serious difference between being a non-alarmist and being a denier.

    The political dynamic is changing.

    Reminder:
    In order to rule, you need to secure power. Extremist ideology, of any variety, is not necessarily the path to security & prosperity.

    Anthony is wise to spark this internal debate *now* (as opposed to later…)

  94. They used to harvest methane from sealed landfills and burn it to generate “green” power, a great idea. However, the big wigs in europe decided this practice made landfills economic and therefore had to go to discourage new landfills from being constructed, well done politicians, next they will no doubt decree that methane from landfills should be harvested and burnt!

  95. Anthony – some more clarification please.

    As I’ve stated above, I’m open to the recycling methane. But I think maybe one of the reasons your initial title was taken in a manner other than you figured it would be is that the article is still couched in the absolute fairy tale “pseudo-science” that is AGW. The authors want to add another raison d’être for the existence of the global, governmental, quasi science groups like IPCC. This isn’t a pollution related document. It’s another angle for the AGW crowd to their nose under the tent. This entire viewpoint is so utterly anathema to most readers of this blog including myself that whatever other valid points the article may contain just can’t be taken seriously.

    If this were an article about how we can pollute less or get off foreign oil and make the US more independent then great. Let’s talk. But it is NOT about that, it’s based on the myth that is AGW and must be despised for the methane producing garbage that it is.

    Just my $.02.

  96. In summary, they lost me at “In particular, the study reinforces the idea that proposals to reduce methane may be an easier place for policy makers to start climate change agreements.”

    :)

  97. At first glance I thought this looked like an interesting and serious paper about methane. But then I noticed “NASA/GISS” and “Gavin Schmidt” and the fact it is published in “Science” and unfortunately my BS meter went off the scale again.
    Perhaps I need to come out of the closet here. The fact is, I have worked for 35 years in the British Coal Industry. (I’m proud of it. We helped keep the lights on.) But perhaps Anthony needs to flag my comments in some way to avoid being accused of being in the pocket of “Big Coal”. Except that, in the UK it is now actually “Tiny, Pathetic Little Coal” and my directors are far more interested in working out the angles on Carbon Trading than they are in examining (let alone challenging) the AGW “Science”.
    Anyway. This methane paper seems to be an attempt to line up the next panic and the next avalanche of research grants for when their CO2 fox gets shot.
    But the interesting thing is that the Coal Industry has made huge advances in capturing methane from coal mines and mine gas and using it to generate electricity. Other industries have done similar things. In some cases they have managed to get some kind of subsidy along the way but not always and it is often being done for sound commercial reasons. (Compare and contrast with the ludicrous schemes for “carbon sequestration”!)
    Clearly, utilising methane (or any other kind of waste or byproduct) makes absolute sense if it increases efficiency and saves money. Just as recycling metallic scrap makes sense (whereas recycling cardboard and plastic bottles probably doesn’t – much more sensible to burn them and make electricity and heat energy).
    If you believe that this will also save the planet? Well, that’s your hangup. I always hesitate to poke fun at anyone’s religion. (Unless they threaten to destroy the economy and plunge millions into poverty and despair whilst they are worshipping!)

  98. Paul Vaughan (23:09:20) “… Anthony is wise to spark this internal debate *now* (as opposed to later…)”

    You wrote this before or after reading Anthony’s “Reply” paragraphs, Paul? And before or after Anthony changed the head lines?

    There was a strong philosophical reason for the challenges. There was a fundamental dichotomy created. I would prefer to leave the subject alone following Anthony’s responses; but I will not accept being branded as a knee jerk. My comments were considered in mind and draft before being posted. In their time they were correct.

  99. Jeremy says
    “We don’t need more hype and alarmism and another new wasteful environmental policy on Methane…”

    Since methane is a fuel and therefore a valuable resource and the world is short of fuels thanks to rapid population growth it makes sense to harvest the methane which is easily available.

    Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater for the sake of pursuing a spat with alarmists, say I.

  100. How to guarantee non-ending climate research funding:
    1. find a gas A that should have a strong warming effect
    2. persuade political instances that emissions of A should be forcibly regulated ( = limited)
    3. when Nature does not follow (warming does not increase with rising emissions) put a blind eye
    4. when blind eye and denial of non-causality become impossible to defend, find another gas B
    5. exchange A with B. In programming language B:=A
    6. goto 1

  101. Methane sequestration technology…

    …something I would prefer not to be behind, especially if it leaks. So, it’s a good thing for us that we have a brave volunteer.

    But seriously, I repeat. “Regulate What?”

    Methane has gone from about 1,785 to 1,795 parts per billion in about the last 10 years. What is so threatening about 1ppb per year? Sorry, I just don’t see the urgency. Note, that’s from the geniuses at Mauna Loa.

    ASIDE – there’s a US Army Air Force base just 20 miles from Mauna Loa that’s been taking temp readings since 1940. To see it, go here…
    http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=mauna+loa+temperature
    …and under “History & forecast” place your cursor over “Current Week.” A drop-down menu will be activated, from which choose “All.” I trust you will be pleasantly amused.

    And if that’s not enough to get you to stop worrying about trace gasses that have an essentially insignificant affect on temperatures, check this out…
    http://antigreen.blogspot.com/2009/09/melting-greenland-you-would-be-hard-put.html

  102. One would think that King Canute or Cnut the Great if you prefer had laid to rest
    1 000 years ago the conceited notion that mortal Man can control the natural elements or should try.

    You should have left your original title because irrespective of what you meant by it, it would be but a matter of time before those scorpions without a personality – I refer to the political class – would tax and regulate in that other sense. Like scorpions, they cannot help the way they are and behave.

    Personally I just want clean water, adequate food supply, decent roads, cheap petrol, cheap energy, my rubbish taken away regularly, modest luxuries, time to marvel at our scientific and technological advance, a stop put to a self-serving, self-aggrandising political neo-aristocracy imposing their social engineering and trying to arrest ” the environment” in some supposed perfect state of their imagining.

    In fact the way life used to be before our modern political class started improving things.

    I just want to get on with the rest of my life. “The Planet” can take care of itself and if that means getting rid of Mankind so be it. By what arrogant assumption do we suppose Mankind is the final word in the evolution of Earth or that Man’s time on Earth as opposed to elsewhere in a vast Cosmos is the final chapter of his development?

  103. One of the things about saying that Methane should be regulated, not CO2, is it fits with the trend to try to “improve” legislation that is erroneous or evil in its conception. It’s the problem with deals with the devil. You always advance his program. We need to STOP the UN/Obama cabal, not steer it.

  104. Some have asked about Methane’s contribution to warming. It is the second biggest greenhouse gas but it should only make a small contribution to the +3.0C by 2100 that is predicted.

    Even the IPCC recognized that Methane would peak at some point and probably decline given its short residence time in the atmosphere. It looks like that peak will happen much sooner now (today for instance) and Methane might contribute 0.2C to 0.4C to the 3.0C by 2100 (according to the way the climate models calculate the numbers).

  105. Theres a LOT of things that can be done to reduce CO2 emissions. Fully 10% of all human CO2 emissions come from underground coal fires, most of which are in China and have been spreading for centuries (number 2 is India). Surely putting out these fires would be a lot cheaper than taxing the hell out of all economic activity involving fossil fuels. The US should respond to Copenhagen by demanding an end to underground coal fires globally. It not only adds CO2 to the atmosphere without benefit for humankind, it consumes precious resources that may be needed by future generations.

  106. “It not only adds CO2 to the atmosphere without benefit for humankind, it consumes precious resources that may be needed by future generations.” Mike Lorrey

    CO2 is plant food, last I heard. It may well be that coal fires are benefiting humanity by feeding the plants. It is a shame, though, that the energy isn’t being tapped.

  107. Long time ago in 1988 I suggested it made more sense to control methane than carbon dioxide. See http://goklany.org/library/preparing-for-CC-1988.pdf (pages 277-78 and table on p. 280). The rationale offered then is still pretty good today (although I don’t think that CH4 is increasing at the rate as it was then):

    “The importance of reducing CH4 cannot be overemphasized. See Table 3. Pound-per-pound it has a greater potential for greenhouse warming than carbon-dioxide (CO2). One estimate indicates that it has already contributed about 27% of the total greenhouse warming since pre-industrial times (compared to 59% for carbon dioxide) (Dickinson and Cicerone, 1986). It’s atmospheric concentration is now growing at a faster rate than CO2’s (1.1% per year vs. 0.4% per year) (Wuebbles and Edmonds, 1988). Also CO2 can be beneficial to agriculture and vegetation because it can increase both the photosynthesis rate and drought resistance in many plants (see e.g., Warrick et al., 1986), whereas CH4 has little or no redeeming value associated with it.”

  108. Neither CO2 nor methane cause a planet amosphere to warm. The planet atmospere effect is due to pressure. Venus is hotter than Earth because the pressure at the surface is 90x the presure on Earth. It is not because the atmosphere happens to be mainly CO2.

    Even talking about methane as a potential greenhouse gas helps to validate the false claims made for the effects of CO2.

  109. Martin Brumby (02:15:55)

    This methane paper seems to be an attempt to line up the next panic and the next avalanche of research grants for when their CO2 fox gets shot.

    Pretty much, except I don’t think they see their fox being shot and it runs deeper than that. This is just reinforcement. Watch for articles in the Guardian next week aimed at useful idiots plus the response. That will tell us more about this latest dynamic. Agriculture will also latch on to this, methane capture from slurry pits and silos, biomass projects, etc. and just like your industry will focus on the subsidy/grant/carbon trading angles too initially. Neither has any cash. Whichever way you look at this mugs’ game it seems to be an amorphous yet inconsistent mix of eco-nuts and ego-nuts oozing everywhere like paint stripper. Ultimately the only thing that’ll contain it is the difference between money and wealth and that has a way to run yet. The UK is bankrupt. Public debt is still increasing at an alarming rate. The euro-fascist project is revving up to max rpm but the engine’s badly in need of a de-coke and not firing the same on all cylinders. There’s an election just around the corner. Things could run off in several directions: Some of them very ugly; others rosy for primary industries. The key is timing so stay sharp and play along for now like this guy. Enjoy!

  110. “In case anyone missed my point, we need laws to reduce and drastically limit the level of Greenies.” yonason

    If and when the government backed counterfeiting cartel is eliminated either by allowing lawful competition and/or by direct abolishment, a lot of silliness will be defunded.

    But the true cause of the problem is that this pseudo-capitalism of ours is driving people insane. The central bankers and their supporters are at fault; the Greenies are just a natural reaction to old fashioned dishonest thievery via government privilege.

  111. Back2Bat (12:32:46) :

    Yes. Minimally (and sanely) regulated Free Marked Capitalism is essential to a decent society, which is why the Greenies and their minions in government do all they can to thwart it.

    That’s why they hype all these crises, like [CH4], which according to the NOAA graph I linked above is now stable. The lack of any problem can be seen better by looking at the long term trend for the last century through today….

    The rapid rise that began in about 1910 and ended about 1990 is over. Perhaps we have achieved a steady state? I don’t know, but it’s clear to me that there is no crisis; not even the hint of one.

  112. “…which is why the Greenies and their minions in government do all they can to thwart it.” yonason

    Not that it matters much, but I wonder if old and/or big money is behind this? It must be frustrating to be rich and see all the peasants prospering. A true meritocracy might really frighten them. It is said that most of the brilliant economists are hired by the Federal Reserve.

  113. Back2Bat (14:01:13) :

    A little too much room for speculation there. I just don’t know enough about what goes on in the minds of the very rich, not that I would turn down the opportunity to, if it ever presented itself.

  114. “… not that I would turn down the opportunity to, if it ever presented itself.” yonason

    Not me, I am comfortable enough. The number of people who avoided selling out on the way to wealth and/or power is remarkably small. Ron Paul is one of the few I know of.

  115. This must be placed in context of the huge volumes of methane involved in totally non-anthropogenic natural gas seepage from sedimentary basins wordwide, largely offshore on the continental margins.A very useful discussion can be found as paper no 2 (Biosphere-geosphere interactions: fluid flow and gas seepage at continental margins), with total methane flux estimates, in

    http://ec.europa.eu/research/environment/pdf/deepseefrontier.pdf

  116. There is practically no helium in the Earth’s atmosphere, is there? In fact, helium was completely unknown until it was discovered on the Sun. [Thus the name.]

    Just to keep the extremely tiny amount of methane in the atmosphere in perspective:

    Methane = 0.00017%

    Helium = 0.0005%

    Thus, there is about 3.4 times as much [almost non-existent] helium in the atmosphere as methane.

  117. Adolfo Giurfa

    Yes the Argentinian methane could be natural. But if it were cattle – it raises an interesting international political issue. There is a plume of methane from Argentina extending over the South Atlantic. It looks like it goes over the British South Georgia Islands, it misses the Falklands but it the wind changed they could potentially also be in line for this methane plume.

    Does this qualify as an act of chemical warfare against United Kingdom territory? This blog thread could conceivably then provoke renewed hostilities between Britain and Argentina. Of course, recent history involving Tony Blair and George Bush shows that, if the UK decided to go to war over this issue, it would help if they could allege the creation of WMD (weapons of mass destruction). Could Argentinian cattle qualify as such? Well if not exactly Weapons of Mass Destruction, then possible Weapons of Gastric Ruption?

    p.s. you’re probably right about it being Georgia not Iraq. (You should see what they eat in Georgia!)

  118. Adolfo Giurfa

    Yes the methane from Argentina could be natural. But if it was from cattle, this could raise an interesting international political issue. Note there is a plume of methane from Argentina extending over the south Atlantic. It reaches the British Islands of St Georgia and could potentially (with a change of wind) also go over the Falkland Islands.

    Would this qualify as an act of chemical warfare against United Kingdom territory? In view of recent history involving Tony Blair and George Bush, if the UK chose to go to war over this issue it would help if they could accuse Argentina of stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.

    Would Argentinian cattle qualify as such? Well if not weapons of mass destruction (WMD) then maybe weapons of gastric ruption (WGR)?

  119. If you can correlate the methane output of tobacco against the temperature rise in any of the AGW temperature hockey stick graphs based on global cigarette sales per year you could defuse the whole AGW political debate.

    Governments will not go after big tobacco as a possible source of man made global warming, by using their own science methods to point out a relationship would IMHO ultimately defuse the political thrust of their AGW argument. Tobacco accounts for 5.2 billion kilograms of methane per annum.

    I’m not a statistician and cant easily get the info necessary to plot the appropriate chart but I’d be willing to bet there would be a massive upward sales trend especially in third world counties over the last ten years.

  120. 149 post and not a single one mentions the “problem” that only recently (2006) have scientist discovered that live plants (as in rain forest) create significant amount of Methane gas. http://www.mpg.de/english/illustrationsDocumentation/documentation/pressReleases/2006/pressRelease20060110/index.html Surely it is impossible and thus quite undesirable to generate fixes for a problem so poorly understood. If it is economical to generate useful power by capturing methane, of course, do it. How can the scientific community still not be blushing????

  121. Skimming through, I doesn’t look like any of the commenters realise methane was already covered under the Kyoto Protocol, 1997. I don’t know why everybody thinks methane was not already part of the picture.

    Mr. Watts, looking at methane recovery from landfills and the like is an active area. But if you’re into methane recovery, what do you do if companies do not find it cost-effective to limit methane emissions while extracting or handling crude oil and natural gas? If you want companies to do things that don’t have a big ROI, then some sort of legislation becomes necessary.

    Jerker Andersson: the cow farts are under ‘ruminants’.

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