Surgical anesthetic gases coming under fire for global warming potential – Only one problem: they haven't been observed in the atmosphere

The net upward atmospheric radiance spectrum at the tropopause.22 Dashed lines are Planck functions for blackbody emissions at 290, 260, and 220 K, respectively. (B) IR absorption bands for CFC-11 (CCl3F), isoflurane, and sevoflurane. Halogenated organic compounds absorb strongly in ‘the atmospheric window’ region.

The press release below is from the University of Copenhagen Department of Chemistry. The anesthetic gases isofluran, desflurane and sevoflurane are coming under scrutiny for global warming potential. However, what isn’t stated in the press release is this important paragraph of the scientific paper :

There are no production numbers available in the literature

for the anaesthetic agents. The three compounds have not yet been observed in the free atmosphere, and current atmospheric levels are expected to be small (of the order of part per trillion/volume). At these concentrations, when viewed in isolation, their present contribution to the relative forcing of climate change is negligible in comparison with the current forcing of 1.7 Watts/sq meter due to CO2.

Later though, even though they admit they have no numbers on the production quantity of these anaesthetic agents, and “the three compounds have not yet been observed in the free atmosphere”, they use some SWAG to make this claim:

Hence, we conclude that global emissions of inhalation anaesthetics, when measured by the 100 yr GWP, have a contribution to the radiative forcing of climate change which is comparable with that of the CO2 emissions from one coal-fired power plant or approximately 1 million passenger cars.

Gosh, more than a whole coal-fired power plant! Somebody tell China immediately so they can stop building two a week.


Neglected greenhouse gas discovered by atmosphere chemists

When doctors want their patients asleep during surgery they gently turn the gas tap. But Anaesthetic gasses have a global warming potential as high as a refrigerant that is on its way to be banned in the EU. Yet there is no obligation to report anaesthetic gasses along with other greenhouse gasses such as CO2, refrigerants and laughing gas.

By Jes Andersen

Ole John Nielsen ved den fotokemiske reaktor han bruger til at undersøge stoffers globale opvarmningspotentiale

Significantly worse than CO2

One kilo of anaesthetic gas affects the climate as much as 1620 kilos of CO2. That has been shown by a recent study carried out by chemists from University of Copenhagen and NASA in collaboration with anaesthesiologists from the University of Michigan Medical School. The amount of gas needed for a single surgical procedure is not high, but in the US alone surgery related anaesthetics affected the climate as much as would one million cars.Tænk før bedøvelse

Think before you gas them

Analyses of the anaesthetics were carried out by Ole John Nielsen. He is a Professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of Copenhagen, and he’s got an important message for doctors.

“We studied three different gasses in regular use for anaesthesia, and they’re not equally harmful,” explains Professor Nielsen.

All three are worse than CO2 but where the mildest ones Isoflurane and Sevoflurane have global warming potentials of 210 and 510 respectively, Desflurane the most harmful will cause 1620 times as much global warming as an equal amount of CO2, explains the professor.

“This ought to make anaesthesiologists sit up and take notice. If all three compounds have equal therapeutic worth, there is every reason to choose the one with the lowest global warming potential”, says professor Ole John Nielsen.

Inspired by maternity ward

The three anaesthetic gasses isofluran, desflurane and sevoflurane were studied at the Ford atmospheric laboratories in Michigan. Mads Andersen of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories collaborated on the analyses with his former PhD supervisor Ole John Nielsen. He relates how he got the idea for the study while his wife was giving birth.

“The anaesthesiologist told me, that the gas used is what we chemist know as a halogenated compound. That’s the same family of compound as the Freon that was famously eating the ozone layer back in the eighties” says research scientist Mads Andersen.

On the map with  ozone eaters replacement

Freon is a compound that Andersen knows well. It got his supervisor Professor Nielsen on the scientific map. With a global warming potential of a whopping 11.000 the refrigerant Freon has been banned all over the world since 1992. When the search was on for an alternative to the harmful substance Nielsen analysed just how much heat was retained by new compounds, and how long they would stay in the atmosphere. His methods went to prove, that the refrigerant HFC134a had a global warming potential of 1.300 and left the atmosphere in just 14 years to freons 50 to 100 years.Det gode viger pladsen for det endnu bedre

HFC-134a has spared the atmosphere a considerable climate effect. But it too is being prohibited all across the European Union. And unless therapeutic arguments speak for using all three, sevoflurane should be the only legal anaesthetic gas as shown by the study done by NASA, Ford and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen.

The study was published in the renowned medical journal “British Journal of Anaestecia”.

PDF of original science paper here

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December 5, 2010 3:05 am

I use Argon, Acetylene, and Oxygen liquid gases in my trade.
Study THAT, r3tards.[d]

December 5, 2010 3:06 am

Bite on this stick while I saw your leg off — you’re saving the planet.

December 5, 2010 3:23 am

The ordinary Nobel prize usually goes to people like Pachauri and Gore. Nielsen’s important message for doctors deserves much higher recognition.
Quick! Somebody nominate Ole John Nielsen, Professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of Copenhagen, for an Ig-Nobel prize immediately!

December 5, 2010 3:29 am

Its all in the game, going back to the pre-industrial age also requires that the medical world has to bring offers.
Now for you anesthetic do you want a wooden mallet or a bottle of gin?
The gin is not optional if you are under 21, sorry but if have to be political correct 🙂

stephen parrish
December 5, 2010 3:37 am

More anti-human, anti-industrialist bent to the global warming cabal. Mr. Asher has it correct, there always seems to be a perverse inclination to roll back some aspect of the industrial revolution in each AGW missive.

December 5, 2010 3:47 am

This isn’t the stupidest AGW paper I’ve seen, but it’s certainly in the top 10.

December 5, 2010 3:53 am

“…banned in the EU. Yet there is no obligation to report anaesthetic gasses along with other greenhouse gasses such as CO2, refrigerants and laughing gas.”
We have no need for laughing gas in the EU, although we do use a lot of anaesthetics alleviating the pain of those that have split their sides laughing at the antics of the unelected clowns in charge of that particular circus.

amicus curiae
December 5, 2010 3:57 am

and which one? is better for the patients health and aftereffects?
I read theres a worldwide shortage of anaesthetics right now, many vets use them for euthansia and are having supply issues,
and as an aside Antibiotics also seem to be hard to get?
Read an american pharma report on hospitals having short supplies
yet the commercial feed producers seem to have plenty on hand?
as to the report above…someones been breathing in too much of something. idiots!
odd thing, in 92 I was working for BAero, we had litres of Freon in tubs for cleaning electronics components with, and it was allowed to dissipate into the workroom! sure did liven the atmosphere gloves no fume cabinet..occ health? ha ha.

December 5, 2010 4:02 am

When anasthetic gases are this dangerous to the climate, we should prohibition them… And if you want patients to be knocked out during surgery, use your fist… 😀

December 5, 2010 4:07 am

It’ll never end, they’ll keep finding new things to add a tax to in the name of saving the planet.

Dave the Engineer
December 5, 2010 4:10 am

It is not about saving the planet, it is about getting rid of those vermin, humans, from the planet, utilizing a whole lot of guilt and angst. However, since politics isn’t doing it I expect the next evolution to be “Rainbow 6”. We have already had the 10:10 global campaign ad exploding kids. Yeah, I’m paranoid, but am I paranoid enough?

Joel Heinrich
December 5, 2010 4:11 am

Peak wavelength at ~17.5 µm? I suppose it was just another “scientist” who doesn’t know that a fancy (modelling, graphics, math, …) computer program can’t replace thinking.

December 5, 2010 4:22 am

My proposal is to operate those lunatic greenies without anesthesia.
Btw, the whole concept of “radiative forcing” seems to be just a virtual theory coming from Trenberth art diagrams.
Where is that 1.7W/m2 in Antarctic?

December 5, 2010 4:31 am

A world-wide Jonestown. That’s what the elitists want, they’d like us to do them a favor. They want us all dead.

Grumpy old Man
December 5, 2010 4:32 am

Any info on how these gases degrade when released into the atmosphere, or is that impossible to deliniate because the compounds have not been observed in the free atmosphere? Is there an anasthetics expert reading the blog who can shed light on the problem?

December 5, 2010 4:36 am

Mads Anderson should put his statistical techniques to real medico-legal issues and assist the US economy. The tip of the iceberg I imagine….
“OIG Reports Medicare Contractor Overpaid for Diabetic Supplies – On September 3, 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report (A-09-08-00043) estimating that NHIC Corp., the Durable Medical Equipment Medicare Administrative Contractor (DMEMAC) for Jurisdiction A, inappropriately paid approximately $39.2 million in claims for home blood-glucose testing strips and/or lancet supplies in calendar year 2007. …………
As a result, the OIG recommended that NHIC take the following actions with respect to test strips and/or lancets: (1) implement system edits to identify high utilization claims and work with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to develop cost-effective methods of compliance review; (2) implement system edits to identify claims with overlapping service dates; and (3) enforce Medicare documentation requirements by identifying DME suppliers with a high volume of high utilization claims, performing prepayment reviews of those DME suppliers, and referring them to the OIG or CMS for further review or investigation. ”

Frank K.
December 5, 2010 4:38 am

In other news…the EU will soon be signing off on new regulations to control breathing. “Climate scientists have shown us that breathing is a dirty but necessary practice. Accordingly, citizens will be permitted a maximum of 14400 breaths per day.” said Sir Sydney Schneeb, of the EU Global Warming Regulatory Committee. Special waivers will be required for sports events, where the number of the breaths will likely be higher.

December 5, 2010 4:40 am

Oh no! like CFCs, is this gases loosing your patents too ? And, now, they must be replaced with new gases with protected patents by some country in north EU ? So, follow the money again… Ever you follow the money you go to EU… this guys dont give up.

Vince Causey
December 5, 2010 4:54 am

Can anyone explain how one type of molecule can exhibit thousands of times as much greenhouse gas absorption than co2? Surely, a photon will either be absorbed by a molecule or not. Is it because these molecules absorb at a broad spectrum of wavenlengths?

December 5, 2010 4:55 am

Neal Asher says:
December 5, 2010 at 3:06 am
“Bite on this stick while I saw your leg off — you’re saving the planet.”
Don’t give the EU commissars ideas.

December 5, 2010 4:55 am

I swear more and more they are sounding like the “gives rats cancer” people. Turns out that everything gives rats cancer at the right doses.. thus everything causes climate change. Science has lost so much respect.

December 5, 2010 5:07 am

Well … with the economy still in trouble and the earth refusing to cooperate with AGW claims, it won’t be long before the free ride is over. Get all the easy funding you can before it is taken away and you’ll have to *gasp* be a real scientist. To me, this is further proof that AGW is about padding wallets and not about science.

Third Party
December 5, 2010 5:14 am

China is the larges coal producer (and consumer) world wide: It produces about 1.8 billion tons in 2006. As a result coal fires are a severe problem in China. It is estimated that 10-20 million tons are directly burned by coal seam fires and 100-200 million tons of coal are lost for the mining industry.

richard verney
December 5, 2010 5:14 am

Since it is unlikely that a trace gas such as CO2 has any significant warming effect, these people have lost their marbles (or have been inhaling too much laughing gas) if they consider that gases with merely parts per trillion have any role to play. The role of all of these gases (including CO2) is dwarfed by water vapour.
Slightly O/T but in the UK the Daily Mail is carrying a large editorial/comment “The Truth is Global Warming has Halted (Even if the Climate Change Bandwagon Rolls On…)” It notes that global warming has now halted for the past 15 years and poses the question “Just how long does a pause have to be before the thesis that the world is getting hotter because of human activity starts to collapse?”
Nice to see such an article prominantly placed.

Dave N
December 5, 2010 5:15 am

Has anyone seen Bob on Earth in the past few weeks? – Albert Rosenfield

P Wilson
December 5, 2010 5:17 am
In that case, in operating theatres, the temperature must shoot up dramatically by at least 40C, if its millions of times more potent than c02

Alex the skeptic
December 5, 2010 5:19 am

Should we laugh or what? Thank God I have not yet had the necessity of being anesthetised . But I just hope that the anesthetist who would perform my first surgical op will not be a warmist or James Hansen’s cloned twin.
Bring on the next one for Cancun.

P Wilson
December 5, 2010 5:29 am

The obvious inference is that if a gas had 10 billion the power of c02, it wouldn’t make the slightest difference to the atmosphere, except if there was so much of it that it increased th eatmospheric density, like on Venus

P Wilson
December 5, 2010 5:30 am

typo: slightest difference to the *temperature*,

Methow Ken
December 5, 2010 5:31 am

Let me get this straight: These gases have NOT been observed in the atmosphere; and even if they ever are expected concentration is parts per TRILLION. BUT: The CAGW loonies want medical estabilishments to start restricting use of same. IMO Neal Asher had a great answer above; to those who want us to ”save the planet” in this area: YOU FIRST !!

R. de Haan
December 5, 2010 5:36 am

That’s it, no more anesthetics for warmists.
No more heating, no more car driving, no more commuter flying, no more meat, no more
coastal condo’s, no more kids, dogs and cats.
Just shoot yourselves.

December 5, 2010 5:52 am

Paid for by the makers of isoflurane.;-)

Atomic Hairdryer
December 5, 2010 5:55 am

Re Neal Asher
The Neal Asher? If so, thanks for the books! Sniper would make a great anaesthesiologist 🙂

December 5, 2010 6:16 am

Just came across this, some may find it interesting, others may think is hilarious.
These results provide evidence that relatively small solar forcing may play a significant role in century-scale NH winter climate change. This suggests that colder winter temperatures over the NH continents during portions of the 15th through the 17th centuries (sometimes called the Little Ice Age) and warmer temperatures during the 12th through 14th centuries (the putative Medieval Warm Period) may have been influenced by longterm solar variations.
Authors: Gavin A. Schmidt, Michael E. Mann SCIENCE VOL 294 7 DECEMBER 2001

December 5, 2010 6:23 am

Actually, there’s an error in the post reversing the GWP’s of isoflurane and sevoflurane. After reading the study , it is apparent that sevo is the “safest” for our precious planet. So… paid for by the makers of sevoflurane. 😉

December 5, 2010 6:40 am

Why don’t they just come out and say “the western style of living is under fire for global warming potential?”

Henry chance
December 5, 2010 6:49 am

Nitrous oxide, cyclopropane, ether, fluothane etc. are used in small doasges. Actually the breath of air from a patient is recycled. The Soda lime is used to remove CO2. It appears the greenie weenies are desparate and chase around making obscure claims assuming they are correct and won’t get refuted. Many machines also have a cannister of CO2. Giving a patient CO2 is to keep the heart rate going.

December 5, 2010 7:04 am

Antony, could you please explain to me (in simple terms as I am a simple man) how it is possible for a gas to warm the rest of the atmosphere (and thus the whole planet). Any gas which has a place in the atmospheric composition of gases will do but of course CO2 is of particular interest. Those other anesthetic gases which you have just mentioned seem to me to have just as much chance to warm the planet as CO2 has as in all cases the chance must be 0.

December 5, 2010 7:12 am

Its worse…than……..we………… ZZZZZZZZZ.

December 5, 2010 7:14 am

If you want to use gin (or whisky) as an anasthetic, and you are over 18 but under 21, you can always come to GB.

December 5, 2010 7:27 am

“Somebody tell China immediately so they can stop building two a week.”
China’s current target is 1600 GW of generating capacity by 2020. 60% of it fossil based.
In September 2010 China Generating capacity stood at 680GW coal and 220 GW Wind/Hydro/Nuclear.
The 2020 Goal is 900 GW fossil and 700 GW Wind/Hydro/Nuclear/Solar.
The Chinese could coal get coal for $50/tonne in 2006.
They can’t get coal for less then $110/tonne now.
Chinese coal fired construction peaked in 2006.
Funny how economics works. The price of something goes up and various ‘substitute products’ once considered prohibitively expensive all of a sudden appear to be bargains.

DJ Meredith
December 5, 2010 7:30 am

Neal says: “Bite on this stick while I saw your leg off — you’re saving the planet.”
That pretty much sums it up.
The other not-so-obvious is a golden opportunity for ADM to get even more subsidies for ethanol to replace Evil Greenhouse Anesthetics for all medical procedures.
Alcohol….the GREEN pain killer.

December 5, 2010 7:32 am

Medical and veterinary gas anaesthesia systems include “scavenging” of used isofluorane gas and absorption in a charcoal filter. Care is taken not to allow the gas to vent to the atmosphere and to anaesthetise the doctors, nurses or veterinarians.

December 5, 2010 7:34 am

1) CFCs did not destroy the ozone layer
— Current replacement refrigerants are less efficient and more toxic
2) DDT did not kill animals
— Current replacement pesticides are nerve gases, thousands of times more toxic than chlorinated pesticides, or “natural” insecticides like pyrethrins, that are potent contact allergens probably culpable for the resurgence in allergies and asthma.
3) CO2 does not contribute significantly to warming, even at three times current levels, levels that should be embraced
—Current replacements for hydrocarbon fuels are dangerous and inefficient
Everything we learned in the state controlled classrooms is bogus, man.

December 5, 2010 7:40 am

They must be inhaling a good amount of the gas to produce such “research.”
“Yo dude pass me a toke….I gotta get blitzed enough to tell a lie and put in my global warming plug…otherwise my funding dries up, dude.”
(in Danish, obviously)

Laura Hills
December 5, 2010 7:41 am

This is a wonderful way to test the commitment of AGWers facing surgery : do they want their operation with or without anaesthetics?

Pamela Gray
December 5, 2010 7:42 am

I’ll trade you all the gas induced sleeping surgery patients for one Mexican food fed boyfriend!

Pamela Gray
December 5, 2010 7:45 am

If your job is to study the gas you use to put people to sleep, and all the grants have dried up for such studies, you go to the only source of grants there are, thus forced to turn your job into greenhouse gas studies just to keep your lab going. That must be a bitter pill to swallow.

Pamela Gray
December 5, 2010 7:47 am

One of these days, studies like this one will be used in place of laughing gas. Works just as well.

Pamela Gray
December 5, 2010 7:51 am

Well by golly, “Det gode viger pladsen for det endnu bedre…” says it ALL!

December 5, 2010 7:52 am

the preceding public service announcement was brought to you by…
…your local liquor lobby
Someone shut these idiots up….

Pamela Gray
December 5, 2010 7:53 am

And THIS, just IN! Genric havnisin der plidnude goder dnet!

December 5, 2010 7:53 am

They suggest cutting back to one type of anesthetic to save the equivalent of one coal fired plant’s global warming potential?
And what about the patients who can’t tolerate specific meds, or in cases where one might be contraindicated?
Hey, while we’re at it, those CT and MRI machines suck up a TON of electricity… why don’t we just, y’know, shut ’em off. You can get by with X-rays.

December 5, 2010 7:57 am

If no one is going to say it i will, BULLSH!T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

December 5, 2010 7:59 am

What is it with this radiative myopia? Why is it we never hear anything about energy transfer between molecules of different but well mixed gases, especially from those in smaller to those in higher concentration that have more than one state in the atmosphere? I’m no physicist but surely there is something missing here.

December 5, 2010 8:00 am

Everything good for us = bad for climate
Climate = bad for us.

December 5, 2010 8:06 am

Pamela Gray says:
December 5, 2010 at 7:51 am
“Well by golly, “Det gode viger pladsen for det endnu bedre…” says it ALL!”
Google says: “The beauty give way to even better…” (Danish to English)

Chris H
December 5, 2010 8:07 am

As a retired anaesthetist (anaesthesiologist), I can assure you that this is not news. It has been known for years that, being fluorocarbons, they have this potential. In truth, the quantities used are tiny. Because of the expense, they are generally used in rebreathing systems with CO2 absorption with soda lime. Increasingly, total intravenous anaesthesia is being implemented for a number of reasons including the elimination of pollution of the operating theatre environment.
Usage is unlikely to change much in the future as there are few alternatives, unless we go back to opium and alcohol!

Pamela Gray
December 5, 2010 8:12 am

Okay. Let’s plug that into the sentence:
“His methods went to prove, that the refrigerant HFC134a had a global warming potential of 1.300 and left the atmosphere in just 14 years to freons 50 to 100 years. [The beauty give way to even better.] Det gode viger pladsen for det endnu bedre.”
Ya know, that makes perfect sense given the overall tenor of this article (sounds of splattered Irish Coffee on puter screen).

December 5, 2010 8:17 am

Wow! Never thought i’d see the day when climate science went all homeopathy on us!… Then again… maybe it did many years ago.

Tom in Florida
December 5, 2010 8:35 am

I suppose they though this would be the knock out blow for skeptics.

December 5, 2010 8:37 am

It seems to be the norm with these Malthusian, misanthropic sociopaths to pick an aspect of modern living that benefits humanity, be it the Green Revolution, ease of travel, pain free surgery, comfortable living and food safety via refrigeration, whatever. Pick something, anything, of benefit to man that technology provides, and demonize it, turn it around so that it is killing Gaia or harming people (we’re just too stupid and unenlightened to realize it). This seems to represent a self loathing of your own kind that is just madness, and it appears the disease is spreading.
Just because we have never seen these gases in the atmosphere is no reason not to invoke the Precautionary Principal and ban them now! Except for special cases of course, like if our leaders or betters need surgery.
Sometimes I feel like Orwell was a raging optimist.

Larry Barnes
December 5, 2010 8:39 am

Has no one noticed that the graph at the beginning of the article is incorrect?? The peak spectral emission from the earth occurs at about 10 microns not 17-18 as shown. Also, the slope of the curve is backward. Emission spectral curves plotted against wave number should rise slowly and then fall quickly as the wavenumber increases drastically. The proper way to plot emissive power v wavelenth gives a classic shape rising at the left quickly and then falling away slowly after the peak which occurs at 2900microns per degree kelvin divided by the absolute temperature in degrees kelvin.

December 5, 2010 8:43 am

How many elements, compounds and mixtures are there? They have a lot to draw from to promote AGW. A lot to throw at the wall to see what sticks.

DD More
December 5, 2010 8:50 am

Was the study done on the gases going into the patient or coming out of the patient? Since they are Anaesthetic gases, they must chemically react to get a result. I doubt there is much wasted directly into the air.

December 5, 2010 9:06 am

the best gas to use on the greenies is CO2, they will not remember a thing

December 5, 2010 9:06 am

Henry chance says:
December 5, 2010 at 6:49 am
Nitrous oxide, cyclopropane, ether, fluothane etc. are used in small doasges. Actually the breath of air from a patient is recycled. The Soda lime is used to remove CO2. It appears the greenie weenies are desparate and chase around making obscure claims assuming they are correct and won’t get refuted. Many machines also have a cannister of CO2. Giving a patient CO2 is to keep the heart rate going.
And that’s that. A simple observation, really: patients wear masks that the gasses are delivered through from a closed system. Thanks, Henry. Nothing to see here, unless there are “free range” dental clinics somewhere we aren’t aware of…

December 5, 2010 9:10 am

So essentially they want people to buy the crap with the longest patent time left. Oh, and they need more money to really get to the bottom of this new doom and gloom problem before the earth burns to cinders.
I’m still thinking that as their revenue streams starts to run dry they get ever lauder still and plotted it looks exactly like the hookeyschtick.

December 5, 2010 9:20 am

I wonder who that man can be
Now coming near! He seems to me
Like one who holds within his hand
The sun, the moon, the planets, and
Maintains this little world of ours
Obedient to his sovereign powers.
What stately mien and look has he,
Compared with men of less degree!
That must be “Prex,” or some great Prof.-
I think I’ll take my hat quite off.
A Voice.
Oh, no, young sir,
You greatly err!
It is the college carpenter.
Ozora Stearns Davis

Dr. Dave
December 5, 2010 9:20 am

Ahhh…halogenated hydrocarbons. What atmospheric chemists refer to as the “Nobel gases” (as in Prize and recognition). What a fine piece of work from the University of Copenhagen’s famous Department of Specious Science. These three gases (i.e. drugs) all have varying pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties and are not clinically interchangeable.
Some may recall that metered dose inhalers for asthmatics were given a pass on the CFC ban until 2007. At the time CDCs were vilified due to the bogus claim of ozone depletion. Nobody was terribly upset about their GHG potential. They were replaced as propellant in MDIs with hydrofluoroalkanes which I’m sure have just as much GHG potential as the CFCs they replaced. The result was predictable enough. MDIs of albuterol with CFCs were abundantly available as inexpensive generics. The new HFA products use the same, old generic drug but the delivery system is now proprietary so every dose costs the asthmatic (and the healthcare system) four times as much.

December 5, 2010 9:20 am

These same people look the other way as the Gulf of Mexico dies, the Middle East is swamped with radiation and birth defects, and our land and water is poisoned, and various other very real environmental disasters occur, but where’s THEIR movement? Oh, yeah, these things require actual clean-up and they COST money, whereas the carbon-trading scheme and various taxation benefits will generate them money. These so-called “champions of the earth” seem awfully eager to carve the planet up and collect taxes while not actually reducing any of the pollution they’re screaming is going to cause widespread heat waves and catastrophic weather, unless it causes widespread snowstorms and cold weather, or no storms and mild weather, in the which case, conveniently, it is also the cause of that. The only thing, so far, I’ve not seen attributed to global warming is the tendency for so-called “experts” to continue to spout off nonsense and religious fervor disguised as science and continue to receive massive entitlements and grants for doing so. With how much is happening, perhaps that will be the next thing AGW “causes.”

Douglas DC
December 5, 2010 9:40 am

Well gives meaning to “Bite the Bullet “These fools want the 1800’s all over again.
-At Best….

Richard deSousa
December 5, 2010 9:47 am

Another stupid scaremongering story. When one of these clowns has to go to the dentist for a root canal they should be denied the anesthetic.

Dennis Wingo
December 5, 2010 9:48 am

My question is why does the blackbody graph not show the other side of the Gaussian curve? Might it be because that H2O is the primary absorber?

December 5, 2010 9:52 am

Why do I find myself wondering who’s got a nice shiny new patent on a new anesthetic gas that isn’t selling as well as they would like…
I also find it funny that they are still harping on the Ozone Hole issue. Last I looked, the time lag of 50 years had suddenly evaporated when it was banned, as the ‘result’ showed up almost immediately. And how we end up with a gas largely emitted in the N. Hemisphere that doesn’t make a hole there, only in the S. Hemisphere is, er, not to be discussed…
I’m reluctantly coming to embrace the notion that any time “safety” and “environment” are bandied about it’s because someone has a new product to sell and is buying politicians. Never had wanted to think that. Always tossed mud at “conspiracy theories”. But it’s not a conspiracy theory when we have the conspirators colluding in their own “diplomatic” communications and swapping bribes.
For my part: Give me the best anesthetic that works for the job. Everything else can go bugger off…

Dr. Dave
December 5, 2010 10:11 am

Ever wonder why we don’t use ether anymore? First off, it’s highly flammable and it’s also very unpleasant for patients who would wretch and vomit for hours after surgery. They don’t use cyclopropane anymore because it is explosive (but a very good anesthetic). Nitrous oxide isn’t potent enough to put a patient completely out (i.e. you have to dilute it with too much O2). These halogenated hydrocarbons were not laboratory accidents. They have to be very potent to allow them to be mixed with sufficient O2. They can’t be flammable. They can’t cause liver or brain damage. They need to be associated with the least possible degree of nausea. They have to have very specific vapor pressures and characteristics. Many years of research and development went into these drugs. It’s also amazing how little is actually needed. I’ve seen 2 hour long surgeries that that required much less than 100 mL of Forane.
Any anesthesiologist can rattle off a specific list of reasons for using any one particular drug. They have dozens of patient variables to consider. They even have to consider elevation and atmospheric pressure (the local hospital is at 7,000 ft above sea level). I’d be willing to bet the LAST thing they would ever consider is reactivity with stratospheric ozone or GHG potential.

December 5, 2010 10:35 am

Its 18 in the Netherlands as well (16 for beer), but to honour our Japanese friends who kindly declined to participate any longer in the Kyoto protocol i say we raise that age to 21. Afteral in Japan you are not allowed to drink, smoke or vote until you are 21 years old.
Is me or should this study (like so many others related to climate) be presented as IG-Nobel candidate?

December 5, 2010 10:50 am

the sun creates ozone, the sun destroys ozone. what hoax is next?

December 5, 2010 11:10 am

“… the current forcing of 1.7 Watts/sq meter due to CO2.”
Ok, how does something, CO2, that is ~391 ppm in the atmosphere contribute 1.7 Watts/sq meter considering the total solar watts per square meter various parts of the Earth receive. (It’s a lot less in Vancouver than in California for example).
It sure would be really nice if every “number” with units had it’s derivation explained.
Maybe Watts, [:)], could explain watts per square meter of CO2 to those of us scratching our heads over the whole greenhouse gas kerfuffle which I still don’t get (either it’s me or it’s their silly greenhouse theory) and put all the various sources of energy and power into perspective? Somehow it’s all very confusing that a trace gas that has a specific heat that it has can magically warm the atmosphere as much as it is alleged to. It seems to defy the notion of specific heat capacity.
When you take the specific heat of the atmosphere as it currently is (~391 ppm) and compute what the specific heat of the atmosphere would be with a 1000ppm of CO2 the amount of “warming” from that adjusted atmospheric mix specific heat capacity is a negligible rise, almost not worth mentioning at all. Basically when you rise the ratio of CO2 from 391 to 1000 ppm the specific heat capacity of the mixed atmosphere changes so that it can warm a wee tiny bit more than with the lower amount of CO2 in the mix, but it’s so tiny that counting angels on the head of a pin would be a more interesting exercise (which is to say it’s pointless to be concerned about at all).
Thanks in advance for the explaination of specific heat capacity and watts per square meter Watts!

Colin from Mission B.C.
December 5, 2010 11:14 am

Dave the Engineer says:
December 5, 2010 at 4:10 am
Yeah, I’m paranoid, but am I paranoid enough?
Dave, it’s not paranoia if they really ARE out to get you. 😉

December 5, 2010 11:20 am

How many kilos of those gasses are used per year? This is like that ridiculous faux report that predicted AGW would cause kidney stones. Or the one that claimed tropical constrictors would be living wild in Kansas thanks to CO2 in the atmosphere.
It would be nice to know the half-life of those gasses in the atmosphere- how long it takes for them to degrade in the rough and tumble of the atmosphere?

JFA in Montreal
December 5, 2010 11:23 am

The main reason for banning refrigerants has been explained to me by my car mechanic… He said it is funny to see how refrigerants, since the first ban on the first version of freon, have been deemed “dangerous” for some reason or another, but never before the patent on them expired. Every time, they come up with a new one, and phase out the old one for which the patent was expired. Every time, you need new equipment in garages that can handle the new gas, new replacement parts, conversion kits on cars for air conditioning units. A whole industry flourishes. And every time a new refrigerant is phased out and a new one comes up, the new equipment comes at a premium, under the premise that this new gas requires more sacrifices, being not as easy to use as the former, but “really worth it for the environment…”. So they charge more and more.
They are in their third of such cycle at the moment, and another one is coming up.
This is nothing more than a refrigeration cycle, pumping energy out of our pockets, and into theirs…

Rich Lambert
December 5, 2010 11:33 am

Greenhouse gases trap light and cause the earth to warm. Thus , it follows that we should immediately ban all artifical light since it contributes to global warming. I need a grant to study how large a problem artifical light is and how best to ban it. s/o

Roger Knights
December 5, 2010 11:36 am

It’s the crock of doom!

December 5, 2010 11:49 am

Hey, if you can’t “purify the race” without starting a World War, why not try purifying the environment?
“Obsessive-compulsive controllists of the World, unite!”

December 5, 2010 11:52 am

Nothing is safe from these folks. Nothing. I’ve heard it said there are people who want us living in mud huts and dying at 30. I thought it was an exaggeration. Now I’m not so sure.

December 5, 2010 11:54 am

“Think before you gas them”, indeed. Some of them might be useful as Slaves.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
December 5, 2010 11:59 am

From the Wikipedia Desflurane entry, first paragraph:

Desflurane (2,2,2-trifluoro-1-fluoroethyl-difluoromethyl ether) is a highly fluorinated methyl ethyl ether used for maintenance of general anesthesia. Like halothane, enflurane and isoflurane it is a racemic mixture of (R) and (S) optical isomers (enantiomers). Together with sevoflurane, it is gradually replacing isoflurane for human use, except in the third world where its high cost precludes its use. It has the most rapid onset and offset of the volatile anesthetic drugs used for general anesthesia due to its low solubility in blood.

Works good and fast, seeing more use, but not good for the third world as it costs more so they’ll be staying with the isoflurane. As the study reveals, desflurane is the absolute worst for the planet, sevoflurane is also very bad, isoflurane is the least worst so I guess we can call it the best choice of the bunch.
So once again, what’s good for the third world is best for the planet, is best for everyone!
Strange how this (C)AGW research keeps showing that, eh? ☺

Peter Pearson
December 5, 2010 12:02 pm

“With a global warming potential of a whopping 11.000 the refrigerant Freon has been banned all over the world since 1992.”
My recollection is that Freon was banned to protect the ozone layer, not because of any greenhouse concerns. Not that many journalists would notice the difference.

December 5, 2010 12:15 pm

I’m telling you all right now, the CO2 in beer and soda pop are in the warmers sight as the next threat to the Earth.

December 5, 2010 1:21 pm

The ozone layer rebuilds itself every time it gets hit by a solar flare.
The CFC scam was the first of many.

December 5, 2010 2:19 pm

I’m telling you all right now, the CO2 in beer and soda pop are in the warmers sight as the next threat to the Earth.
And that’s a doubleplusgood message!

Tim Clark
December 5, 2010 2:48 pm

Pamela Gray says: December 5, 2010 at 7:47 am
One of these days, studies like this one will be used in place of laughing gas. Works just as well.

I believe the investigators in this experiment are addicted to laughing gas, and consumed it while writing this paper.

December 5, 2010 3:01 pm

A quote from the study:

Although our understanding of the atmospheric chemistry of isoflurane is reasonably mature, the atmospheric fate and radiative properties of desflurane and sevoflurane are not well defined.

As a provider of anesthesia on a daily basis, I can assure you the chance of these agents being withdrawn from use is ZERO.

December 5, 2010 3:07 pm

Wien’s displacement law states that at 290K a blackbody has its peak at 9.99 micrometers, which is not the case in the figure.

December 5, 2010 3:12 pm

vukcevic (December 5, 2010 at 6:16 am) :”Just came across this, some may find it interesting, others may think is hilarious … relatively small solar forcing may play a significant role in century-scale NH winter climate change … Authors: Gavin A. Schmidt, Michael E. Mann… SCIENCE VOL 294 7 DECEMBER 2001
I had a look at the paper. Seems its purpose was to say the Maunder Minimum (which we all know was a solar effect) was only local, and that global temperatures were unaffected.
Not hilarious, sinister.

December 5, 2010 3:48 pm

Further proof that there are way too many scientists in the world asking way too many stupid questions.

December 5, 2010 4:00 pm

Inhale the smoke from burning marijuana and take some pharmaceutical grade heroin, and the patient will not feel a thing. The stoners and drug dealers are lining this report up for their next run at Proposition 19 in California.
It is unknown how much isofluran, desflurane and sevoflurane have been produced. There are not enough of these three compounds to be detectable in the atmosphere, but the environmentalists are calling for them to be banned anyway on the premise of possible future warming.
I contemplate the stereotype drawn between the lifestyle of some individuals and the political values they espouse.

December 5, 2010 4:10 pm

Where to begin with this? So now climate ‘scientists’ are to advise doctors? Cool. Perhaps they could advise marriage counselors too. I have a little bit of a personal take in all of this since I have a prescription for albuterol sulfate. This was a generic medication that cost about $22. It’s a bronchodilator that opens the thousands of air passages in the lungs. The propellant was freon. The canisters which fit into the mouthpiece were about the size of a thumb and would last about a month if used 3 times a day. But this vital medicine with it’s thumb sized canister of freon was going to destroy the planet. So this long used, safe propellant was switched over to an alcohol based propellant and that meant the medication switched from being a generic to a non-generic. That means those uninsured asthmatic patients in the inner city can now spend $40 a month for what is referred to as a ‘rescue’ medication compared to the $20 they spent before. But, heh, those climate scientists are saving our lives.

Dr. Dave
December 5, 2010 5:14 pm

CO2 is a GHG. H2O is a GHG. CH4 is a GHG. I’ll have to wait and see if I get the Gilbert Atmospheric Chemistry set for Christmas but I would venture to guess that virtually any volatile hydrocarbon acts like a GHG. You know…propane, butane, pentane, methanol, diethyl ether and even…ethanol. Gee…I wonder how many tons of ethanol vapor are released into the atmosphere each year just from fermentation, distillation and spilled or unburnt motor fuel. In terms of sheer volume it seems like this would be a more sensible thing to study rather than a few volatile anesthetic agents.

Gary Pearse
December 5, 2010 5:22 pm

This makes an engineer’s blood boil. You mean to say you do study like this and don’t even have an educated guess about how much of this stuff is used – heck they are chemists and there are sources of this info for them. Hell count the number of operations taking place in Denmark, divide the western world population by D’s population and multiply by the No of ops in D. then add 50% for the rest of the world. Maybe when they get the coal fired plants shut off we’ll be so cold we won’t need freezing for our teeth, appendices, etc. Hey it would boost the alcohol and cocaine demand but that would likely generate more CO2.

December 5, 2010 5:35 pm

It is pretty obvious to me that *anything* that results in an improvement in the human condition, particularly in the Western hemisphere, is under direct attack by these people. They must destroy families economically, then destroy their health care. These are truly despicable people.

December 5, 2010 5:55 pm

Yes, they were right when they warned that it would soon get “much worse than we thought”.
The idea seems to be, to keep ratching up the nonesense until even politicans cannot keep a stright face.
Unfortunately, that may take some time yet.

December 5, 2010 6:30 pm

Judd says:
December 5, 2010 at 4:10 pm
“Where to begin with this? So now climate ‘scientists’ are to advise doctors? Cool. Perhaps they could advise marriage counselors too. […]”
LOL! Wouldn’t surprise me at all if that’s next. After that, perhaps they’ll advise podiatrists or sex therapists?

December 6, 2010 12:20 am

H.R. says: December 5, 2010 at 6:30 pm
But HR that is exactly what is being done. The author of the paper had a ‘light bulb’ thought
while his wife was in labour. I wasn’t clear whether this was a vaginal delivery (presumably hard work) or a caesarean section that e(a)ffected his consciousness? Guess he had to convert one of two options:- enormous pressure and effort per square cm of human orifice or a dissection of the female lower abdominal musculature structure to something ‘useful’ …. ahhh ……the next grant?
God help us all if he gets into breast ……milk.
Gary Pearse says: December 5, 2010 at 5:22 pm
Many women do not have operations for child birth. Queen Victoria did not, the apparent first candiate for gas in labour.
Hence the insidiousness of the paper – an attack on obstetricians (mostly male) who have had to take extraordinary insurance. And the fascist feminists who want to return to tribal birthing practices.
Shheesh ….in Australia they had an anthropologist that made the women rebury their placentas pretending some b***sh**t early day practice of connection to mother earth. Google placentas and see the recipes for cooking and eating them in the ‘modern society’.
The posts on bronchodilators etc were informative, thank you. It is instructive that asthma has been presented as one of the foremost respiratory diseases in the developed world (and a horrifying issue for the child and parent(s) in an emergency ward) rather than the wood fuelled/dreid animal crap ‘kitchen’ environments for the billions of women and children.
Do Danish peoples need an new economy outside of Neils Bohr and their expertise in dairy products and excellent furniture now that windpower has been discredited? Stick with cartoons I say.

Jack Simmons
December 6, 2010 1:18 am

Very simple solution to all of these draconian measures to save the planet: you first.
Some want to see suicides or doing without light bulbs or whatever.
The person advocating the steps involved should be the first to go.
On the subject of light bulbs, look at what is going on in Europe:
First, the ban:
Then, the consequences:
It gets worse. Now the impact on beer:
My solution? Stock up on incandescent light bulbs and beer. That way you can weather the environmental hysteria we’re going through with safe lights and beer.

December 6, 2010 2:24 am

Anthony, important point:
The entire figure at the top of the post is from a computer model, not from observations!

Malaga View
December 6, 2010 7:10 am

Ralph says:
December 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm
I’m telling you all right now, the CO2 in beer and soda pop are in the warmers sight as the next threat to the Earth.

Only if a BIG company has a new patent on a replacement gas…..

Jeff Alberts
December 6, 2010 7:27 am

What’s YOUR Isofluran footprint??

Dave Springer
December 6, 2010 7:47 am

The first graph in the OP might be misleading as it makes it appear that CO2 is playing a dominant role. For one thing in the bit absorption region at 15um where the label shows only CO2, H2O is also a significant absorber over half that range. A less misleading label would have CO2/H2O around 15um. The other misleading factor is that the spectrum is cut off on the left at 20um which excludes nearly half the total radiative power. H2O dominates in the excluded portion of the spectrum.

George E. Smith
December 6, 2010 11:41 am

Well I hate to be nit picky. But first of all could I ask a question. Is that Top Graph a COMPUTER CALCULATION or is it an ACTUAL MEASUREMENT FROM A SATELLITE ???
But back to picking the nits.
Read that graph again very closely. The vertical axis, is SPECTRAL RADIANCE !! mWm^^
It is NOT SPECTRAL RADIANT EMITTANCE !! W.m^-2/micron (or um^-1)
So why do they have the wavelength increment on the top (m) rather than as a divisor (m^-1); well I guess they are plotting versus wave numbers.; but is their final unit (m) the inverse wave number, or is it the wavelength (microns or um).
If you plot the standard spectral curves versus WAVELENGTH then you find a totally different curve (for spectral radiant emitance) and the peak of that is at about 10.1 microns (288 K) and it is the narrow ozo0ne dip that sits on the peak, rather than the wider CO2 dip. There are dozens of graphs of that in the Infra-Red Handbook.
True or false, this is a graph deliberately chosen to grossly exaggerate the effect of CO2.
Note that the definition of Radiance basically applies to a NEAR POINT SOURCE; that’s that per steradian part of the units.
But you see there is absolutely no angular distribution pattern to go along with this phony Radiance plot; so iy is impossible from that graph to figure out what total energy is being emitted from any area of the earth.
Years a go; the whole LED industry used to specify LED “brightness” in terms of “Luminance”, and each manufacturer used microphotometers to focus in on a very “hot spot” immediately adjacent to the bonding pad metal, where the “brightness” was always maximum. That was almost impossible for customers to verify; then we got sane, and all agreed that Luminous Intensity in Candelas was a better merit factor, and easy for customers to verify.
Without an angular distribution plot, a spectral radiance graph is somewhat worthless for energy calculations.
To measure Spectral Radiant Emittance; you have to collect the radiation over a complete hemisphere of solid angle from a fixed surface area; so that takes an integrating sphere big enough to contain the whole surface element area within the entrance aperture of the integrating sphere.
Good luck on doing that from a satellite.

December 6, 2010 11:49 am
Just a note to some of the posts above, Antarctic Ozone Hole, smallest in 5 years.

George E. Smith
December 6, 2010 1:08 pm

Well I see the problem with that graph; the “spectral” part of the units, instead of bing per micron (of wavelength) is per wave number; so at 14.7 microns you have smaller counts of wave numbers, than at 4 microns wavelength.
Sneaky way to distort the impression.
I have never seen a solar spectrum graph plotted on a wave number scale. Presumably the peak of that graph no longer falls at 500 nm wavelength.

George E. Smith
December 6, 2010 1:15 pm

“”””” PaulM says:
December 6, 2010 at 2:24 am
Anthony, important point:
The entire figure at the top of the post is from a computer model, not from observations! “””””
Well thanks for that information Paul, and I agree with your sense of disgust; well at least I feel a sense of disgust.
I was almost ready to declare it to be computer generated; and the tip off was that little up spike in the middle of both the CO2 and Ozone dips, as that seems to be a product of the computer calculations; something related to the vibration mode frequencies.
I wish we could cut and paste graphs here, because I could post tome of the ones fromt eh IR Handbook, showing how totally differnet it looks on a wavelength scale, and a Radiant Emittance rather than Radiance basis.

George E. Smith
December 6, 2010 1:35 pm

“”””” DocMartyn says:
December 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm
Wien’s displacement law states that at 290K a blackbody has its peak at 9.99 micrometers, which is not the case in the figure. “””””
Well that is true for a graph plotted on a wave number scale, and calibrated in radiance per wave number rather than Radiant emitteance per wavelength.
You should also note that on a the photon count goes as T^3 rather than T^4

December 6, 2010 4:18 pm

Jack Simmons says: December 6, 2010 at 1:18 am
I don’t think there’ll be beer for you my friend………………………………………………….
“While much of this effort has gone under the radar of the Cancan’t commentariat, it is a vital element of the global response to climate change.
States, regions and cities are where the rubber hits the road in terms of practical action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The UN Development Program estimates that 50 per cent to 80 per cent of the emissions cuts needed to keep climate change below 2C will need to be delivered at state, regional and city levels.”
Maurice Strong has been busy at the global local level, where the easiest access to human data concentration is – our cities.
Along with the carbon reducing projects you’ll probably be walking to your local liquor outlet, if there is an outlet left after calculations on p/head population, unless you can afford a taxi or home brew kit
The NGOs support this also -they have put a price on alcohol-related harm with this new approach to [urban planning] policy
(properties:- 1.7megs, titled 2003) Sourced from reference 7, Medical Journal of Aus-
It seems that the government funding and the re-education programs over the past 20 years haven’t worked. Time for another approach?

December 6, 2010 5:07 pm

Just like the CFC hoax (DuPont patents to control Freon had run out;not a threat to ozone) are we gonna just let them get away with this too?! & as with the running pattern of this eco madness, they’ll replace the anaesthetics with more toxic & expensive stuff, so they have to restrict numbers of operations to bear minimum…doh! ‘fraid little Jimmy died. Ah, well …one less mouth to feed. Oh, i spose that means the hospital/council will get more funding then!

December 7, 2010 7:18 am

Joel Heinrich says:
December 5, 2010 at 4:11 am
Peak wavelength at ~17.5 µm? I suppose it was just another “scientist” who doesn’t know that a fancy (modelling, graphics, math, …) computer program can’t replace thinking.

Check the units.

George E. Smith
December 7, 2010 5:09 pm

“”””” Phil. says:
December 7, 2010 at 7:18 am
Joel Heinrich says:
December 5, 2010 at 4:11 am
Peak wavelength at ~17.5 µm? I suppose it was just another “scientist” who doesn’t know that a fancy (modelling, graphics, math, …) computer program can’t replace thinking.
Check the units. “””””
Say Phil,
I guess I should have more quickly twigged to the fact that their spectral plot was per wave number increment rather than than per wavelength increment; hence the final (m) on top of the units.
So question ?? Which of the two plots is really the most realistic; the per wave number or per wavelength, in terms of grasping the energy consequences . Something suggests that since E = that the wave number scale is actually more pictorially descriptive of the real situation. You opinion ??

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