[we received two articles on the same subject today from guest authors. each has its own merits-cr]
Guest Essay by Kip Hansen – 10 Feb 2022
I don’t want to alarm readers but the news is so shocking that I must. The concentration of atmospheric methane, a carbon-based molecule, is soaring; it is spiking; it is accelerating. Methane is a Greenhouse Gas! Well-mixed methane concentrations in the atmosphere have jumped from 1640 ppb to over 1900 ppb since the early 1980s.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) publishes the frightening graphic:
Luckily for us:
Our ever benevolent and protective scientist class has come to our rescue by raising the alarm – if they didn’t, we might not be adequately alarmed by this dangerous situation.
Seriously, the Nature punchline is, as you may have already guessed: “some researchers fear that global warming itself is behind the rapid rise.”
Yes, that’s right. Global Warming (itself!) may be behind the rapid rise.
The author of the Nature article, Jeff Tollefson, calls this a “grim milestone” (however, no reason for this being either grim or a milestone is given).
Those interested in this trivial issue should read the Nature article. There are some interesting points in it concerning suspected and hypothesized sources of the methane and the reason for the rather odd pattern of rise and fall seen in multi-year data.
However, here is:
The Bottom Line
1. Always look at the units attached to any numerical data.
1900 ppb (parts per billion) is 1.9 ppm (parts per million)
Or, in percentage of the atmosphere:
0.000 19 Percent [%]
2. What that means in the Real World™ is that the amount of methane in the atmosphere is so small — there is more neon and helium in the atmosphere than methane — that if you searched for a molecule of methane, and individually sorted through a
BILLION MILLION molecules, you might find one or two. You might find none in your first billion million, but if you sorted enough billions millions, your find would average out at just under 2 per billion million. (Good Luck!) (thanks to many sharp-eyed readers for pointing out my getting the b’s and m’s mixed up — kh)
3. As the Earth continues to warm and green as it comes out of the Little Ice Age, we see more life which means more methane. More life is a Good Thing.
4. Atmospheric Methane has spiked! — to almost zero.
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Almost Zero is an important issue. Many of the most popular dangers and harms touted in the popular press are about the crisis of “things” being discovered at levels which are best described as “Almost Zero”. This is the nutty misapplication of the precautionary principle, where the mere existence — the mere detection — of a thing is automatically equated with harm.
The more advanced technology becomes in detection, the more potentially harmful things are found and the more alarms are raised.
Give examples in the comments if you wish.
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