Fractions, Methane and Significance, It’s the Numbers Stupid

Owen Jennings

Grasping the relative size and importance of very small fractions can be challenging. Discussing parts per million or percentages with several zeros can become meaningless. Sometimes analogies are helpful.

An example is trying to gather the size of methane in the atmosphere or just the amount of ruminant methane that, latterly, has been receiving a bad press from green groups desperate for new villains.
All methane in the atmosphere is 0.00018% or less than two parts per million. What does that look like in terms that are relatable?

Imagine the whole of the atmosphere is a car trip from Los Angeles to New York or 2,778 miles. That is 4,471 kilometers if you prefer metrics. All the planet’s methane would be just the first 26 feet from the starting point. That is approximately 8.5 metres. It is a very minor amount by any reckoning.
A portion of these methane emissions is natural but a little over half is supposedly anthropogenic. There are several sources of the anthropogenic emissions including biogenic emissions from ruminants. They make up approximately 15% of all methane emissions. Some of these numbers have rather large variability with +/- factors of up to 50% so care should be taken quoting them.
Using the road trip analogy ruminants from around the planet relate to a mere 4 feet in the LA to NY journey or about 1.3 metres. With the USA home to 10% of the world’s ruminants they would constitute a miniscule 5 inches (13 centimetres) out of the 2,778 miles.

In my home country, New Zealand where agriculture is the major feature of the economy and is erroneously claimed to be producing 48% of the nation’s greenhouse gas our ruminant emissions would equate to half an inch on the LA to NY trip.

The simple point is that those opposing meat production, vegans, vegetarians, anti-farming voices along with climate catastrophists who are so vociferous about farming doing its bit for saving the planet need to apply some rational thinking to how 5/176,000,000 could impact anything no matter how much they want to try and magnify the methane molecule’s potency.

Even more telling is that methane is thoroughly overshadowed on the electromagnetic spectrum where water vapour, particularly and CO2 reduce its radiative forcing capacity dramatically. Methane absorbs on a narrow band in the 7 to 8 micron range at less than 50%.

By contrast water vapour absorbs over a very broad region of the spectrum.

There is one other important issue relevant to ruminant methane. The vegetation (mainly grass) eaten by ruminants relies on the natural carbon cycle where photosynthesis converts CO2 from the atmosphere into plant material. When eaten this green matter produces methane emitted into the atmosphere where it oxidises into CO2 and water vapour needed, in turn, to grow the grass.

With methane lasting less than 12 years in the atmosphere a stable ruminant population is not contributing any additional greenhouse gas or any additional warming. Ruminant numbers in the USA have been declining for over 20 years which means American farmers should be commended by the climate change extremists for actually contributing to slight cooling.

A similar situation is occurring in New Zealand where ruminant methane levels have stabilised and are trending downward. However the Government remains resolutely wedded to taxing farmers at levels that will impact farm decision making. Ideology and bloated pay checks rules.

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March 23, 2022 2:27 am

It has long intrigued me that humans get a free pass as we are part of the carbon cycle but ruminants that eat vegetation are not considered part of the carbon cycle.

Reply to  lee
March 23, 2022 4:18 am

And just see what a diet of legumes gets you. Our more immediate cause of concern are those people that would like to place 95% of humanity in a compost heap.

Reply to  lee
March 23, 2022 11:24 am

You are a starry eyed dreamer. Humans are high on the hit list of the anti-life crowd.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  AndyHce
March 23, 2022 6:42 pm

I think he meant regarding the co2 and/or methane we emit as living beings. And I agree, all living things are neutral in that respect.

Eric Vieira
March 23, 2022 2:32 am

Methane is produced by bacterial decomposition of plants. Whether this decomposition takes place in the soil or in the cow’s stomachs is moot. Methane is also produced by decaying tree leaves in forests. The whole issue is ridiculous. Bill Gates and other investors want to sell their lab produced syn-meat, so the narrative is adjusted accordingly.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Eric Vieira
March 23, 2022 3:30 am

“The whole issue is ridiculous.”


Reply to  Tom Abbott
March 23, 2022 5:55 am

But there are any number of griffs out there who fall for it.

Stuart Hamish
Reply to  DaveS
March 23, 2022 8:27 am

Yes the whole issue is ridiculous … Termites and the arthropod insects produce more methane than all the worlds cattle and ruminant livestock . Remember there are environmentalists and vegan radicals that want us to eat insects to replace meat and rely on vegetarian diets They are only to happy to promote climate change to this end Yet insects generate exceedingly more methane and rice cultivation even more methane again Owen Jennings should have highlighted this

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Stuart Hamish
March 24, 2022 12:53 am

I am pretty sure I read somewhere a while back, that for the World to feed 7-8 billion people on a vegetarian/vegan diet, all the rain-forests & woodlands would need to be cleared & the land turned over to the plow/plough to achieve that objective. As said before, my experience to date is that vegetarians/vegans always try to convert me to their way of thinking food wise, I have never tried to do likewise where meat is concerned. Also, what is it with these vegetarian burgers & the like that are supposed to taste meaty – petitio principii, what’s the point??? PS I had a gorgeous Sirloin steak last night cooked to perfection by the chef at my local gastro-pub, all meat locally produced in the West of England!!!

Don Nicolson
Reply to  Stuart Hamish
March 25, 2022 12:12 pm

And even more. Aside from as Owen writes its a near physical impossibility for methane to have any affect on temperature, what about all the methane bursting out of fissures on the sea floor. Nope, its only methane from ruminants that’s a problem! its a special type of methane. Duh!

Komerade Cube
Reply to  DaveS
March 23, 2022 8:49 pm

Griff is not an idiot who falls for nonsense, he is a paid troll who purposely makes disruptive posts for a fee.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  DaveS
March 24, 2022 12:47 am

Yes, and they fall for it because they want to, they haven’t grown up yet & still want to change the world to their child-like views, in utter ignorance that there are other people out there who disagree with them, certain categories might violently do so!!! The likes of Griff et al are sadly naive by listening to people who simply tell them what they want to hear!!!

Steve Case
March 23, 2022 2:38 am

Methane is increasing about 6 or 7 ppb every year. by 2100 that will come to an increase of 500 ppb or 0.5 ppm. The Global Warming Potential numbers tell us that methane by mass is 86 times more powerful at trapping heat than CO2. Let’s say that by 2100 CO2 increases to 450 ppm and increased global temperature by x number of degrees. Now figure out how much CO2 will increase the temperature by 2100 if the increase is to 450.5 ppm. But before you do that, remember that the comparison is by mass. So your 11th grade chemistry tells you that an equal mass of CO2 would only be only 0.18 ppm. So it’s really 450.18 ppm. If you’ve followed that convoluted reasoning then it’s the temperature rise produced by 450.00 ppm compared to 450.18 ppm. CO2 What ever that difference in temperature is, you multiply that by 86. It comes ~0.04°C.

That’s a whole lot of convoluted non-sense.

If you’ve ever noticed, we are never told how much methane will actually run up global temperatures. That’s because it’s so little that no policy maker would ever want to write regulations over such a trifling amount. But “86 times more powerful” gets their attention.

Last edited 10 months ago by Steve Case
Reply to  Steve Case
March 23, 2022 3:14 am

“If you’ve ever noticed, we are never told how much methane will actually run up global temperatures.”

Yes, a very good point…none of them ever think it through. Maybe that’s a bit hard for them and actually requires thinking about the issue instead of knee jerking a reaction.

Reply to  Alastair Brickell
March 23, 2022 4:07 am

Alastair B: Yes, a very good point…none of them ever think it through. Maybe that’s a bit hard for them and actually requires thinking about the issue instead of knee jerking a reaction.”

If they do what their masters pay them to do, then none of our legislators ever have to think.

It’s obvious our legislators don’t think, or they’d do things that actually make sense every once in a while, if only by accident. But they don’t. So, I’d conclude that they are doing their paymasters’ bidding.

Here in the U.S., we have the finest Congress money can buy. Once you see the strings on the puppets, you can never unsee them. What an effen swamp!

Wait up… they do have to think how to get more of the money that pours through D.C. to stick to their fingers…

Oh… but they have ‘people’ for that, so I guess we’re back to them never having to think.

Reply to  H.R.
March 23, 2022 4:18 am

“I always voted at my party’s call,
I never thought of thinking for myself at all.
I thought so little, they rewarded me,
by making me the ruler…”

Reply to  Alastair Brickell
March 23, 2022 2:33 pm

Hello Alastair,
Methane from livestock was dreamed up by activists at the Kyoto Accord and it had been scientifically examined at that time it would never have been included in any countries emissions profile .
This artical written by Owen Jennings sums up the absolute stupidity of including methane emissions from livestock and how politicians have been duped.
As I have written before methane emissions from livestock have been falling around the world due to lower stock numbers .
For ten years from 1999 until 2008 methane levels in the atmosphere flatlined .
Where was the problem ?
World coal was also level at 4.7 billion tonnes .Since then Asia has ramped up coal production and in 2018 coal production exceeded 8 billion tonnes which corresponds with the rise in methane levels .
Saying all this , under two parts per million of methane in the atmosphere will never increase any warming that could be measured
I am also a New Zealand farmer and I was involved in Federated Farmers back in the 1980s and was at the conference when Owen Jennings was elected President of NZ Federated Farmers .
He has been fighting this gross stupidity of including livestock methane emissions in New Zealands emissions profile as they are calculated to exceed 48% of our total emissions .
Owen was an MP for the Act party for a number of years .
Unfortunately the Green party are in our government with Labour and their policies will severely damage our country unless the electorate wakes up and removes them from power .

Reply to  Graham
March 23, 2022 6:21 pm

I was wondering just where I had heard of Owen Jennings before…there’s a lot of common sense in Federated Farmers but they need to do more effective lobbying the idiots in Wellington. Not sure how to do that though…

As Tom Abbott says in a comment below:

“Yes, leave the cows alone. They aren’t hurting anything.”

I’m just so glad I’m not a cow in NZ these days…all the experimentaion going on with my feed and genes…all for nothing except to keep the townies (and the Prime Minister) happy and self righteous.

Reply to  Steve Case
March 23, 2022 5:10 am

Happier and Wjingaarten have quite conclusively shown that the warming effect of doubling the air’s methane concentration would be a calculated .001C, far too small to measure. This is because the infrared radiation bands where methane operates are nearly saturated by water vapor and carbon dioxide so that any added methane has almost no infrared left on which to operate. And the per molecule warming “power” of methane is 30 times that of carbon dioxide, not 86.

Steve Case
Reply to  DHR
March 23, 2022 8:47 am

 And the per molecule warming “power” of methane is 30 times that of carbon dioxide, not 86.

Very true, but that’s not how the IPCC’s Global Warming Potential numbers are defined, let’s see if I can find the exact wording:

The Global Warming Potential (GWP) is defined as the time-integrated RF due to a pulse emission of a given component, relative to a pulse emission of an equal mass of CO2
Source: IPCC AR5 Chapter 8 page 710

As you can see, it’s relative to an equal mass of CO2 and not per molecule ie, ppm.

I’m rather sure that the IPCC came up with this bit of bullshit just to get a bigger scarier number. The gram formula weight of CO2 is 44 and for CH4 it is 16 and it follows that 44/16 = 2.75 and from your post, it follows that 86/30 = 2.86. The difference (2.75 vs 2.86) comes from the fact that the IPCC bumps up the number in succeeding assessment reports. Which is another indicator of bullshit because the Global Warming Potential numbers are based on the concentration of CO2 which is constantly changing. Who ever heard of metric standard that doesn’t remain constant?

Reply to  Steve Case
March 23, 2022 9:09 am

So it seems that Bullsh!t is both the cause and effect of the problem, or the effect and cause – either way I guess that at least the IPCC can claim that they are recycling 😀

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Shytot
March 24, 2022 1:10 am

I think there shouldn’t be a problem from what you say, if all of our politicians are shovelling all that “bull”, it must easily be detected & dealt with accordingly, I know what I’d do with it!!!

Reply to  Steve Case
March 23, 2022 8:12 pm

Houghton, in the 1980’s, came up with a sciency name, GWP, and a calculation methodology that defies explanation and has no example calcs that can be followed by a physics grad. It assumes that CH4 molecules will somehow absorb photons that have been re-radiated by CO2 and H2O (except they absorb, not reradiate, 99.998% of the IR photons that strike them and thermalize the energy to surrounding air molecules. Not to mention that 40% of Earthly IR escapes to space through the atmospheric window at 8-14microns).
The methodology certainly doesn’t seem to follow normal physics of different gases having absorption bands, molecular cross sections, calculating how many photons are absorbed, and Voila!, results in calculating their different gas specific heats the hard way…..Which are 37 Joules/mole for CO2, 35.5 for CH4, lets say equal as a first approximation.
So as Steve has pointed out, because of their M.WT., for a given amount of heat, a given mass methane will “heat up” 44/16=2.75 times as much as the same mass of CO2. Of course integrating it over a century, and allowing for various other factors, you can get any scary sounding number you want. And the smaller the ppb, the bigger the GWP is going to be. GWP is super contrived.
Anyone with an example of where the “28 or 30 times as bad” comes from, feel free to post a link here. But generally if it isn’t in the gospel Modest’s “Radiative Heat Transfer” it’s not valid science.

Last edited 10 months ago by DMacKenzie
Steve Case
Reply to  DMacKenzie
March 24, 2022 2:51 am

Thank you for posting the Houghton reference. I’ll looking that one up (-:

Reply to  Steve Case
March 24, 2022 3:49 pm

I have his book “Global Warming- The Complete Briefing”, which is about 1/2 decent undergraduate textbook, and the other half written to convert gullible undergraduates to anti-fossil-fuel sleeper cells.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
March 24, 2022 5:01 pm

Although not for CH4, I found the following paper on GWP of halo- and fluoro- carbons to be helpful in regards to the methodology of calculating “radiative efficiency”, the key parameter in calculating the GWP of any given gas.

It doesn't add up...
Reply to  Steve Case
March 23, 2022 7:05 am

See Wijngaarden and Happer’s estimates of the consequences of methane emissions. They’re much smaller than yours.

Steve Case
Reply to  It doesn't add up...
March 23, 2022 11:33 am

W. A. van Wijngaarden & W. Happer (2019)
Methane and Climate PDF 

The abstract says:

 So the contribution of methane to the annual increase in forcing is one tenth (30/300) that of carbon dioxide.

So if the climate sensitivity of CO2 is 1.2K then the climate sensitivity of CH4 is 0.12K and an increase of ~500 ppb by 2100 would be about

(500 ppb / 1800 ppb) x 0.12 K = 0.033 K

which is close to the ~0.04K in my initial post above. That’s some pretty crude arithmetic, but crude arithmetic is all that’s really needed to shred the usual climate crusader’s claims.

Thanks for your post. I’ve added WAW & WH to my collection of methane bookmarks.   

Reply to  Steve Case
March 23, 2022 7:34 pm

I note that WAW & WH say that:

“For current
concentrations, the per-molecule forcings are two to four orders of magnitude greater for O3,
N2O, CH4, CF4 and SF6 than those of H2O or CO2. Doubling the current concentrations of
CO2, N2O or CH4 increases the forcings by a few per cent.”

So I’m confused…is CH4 more or less potent as a GHG than CO2 on a per molecule basis?

Steve Case
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
March 24, 2022 3:13 am

On a per molecule basis CH4 is around 30 times more potent than CO2 but when compared by mass it’s around 85 times more powerful. It’s just a dumb numbers game of finding a way to get a bigger number. In either case, the associated global temperature rise whether the comparison is by mass or by molecule is the same. BUT the associated global temperature rise is NEVER mentioned. It’s a classic example of misdirection:

Misdirection [mis·di·rec·tion] noun:
The action or process of directing someone’s
attention away from certain facts so that they
arrive at the wrong conclusion.

Reply to  Steve Case
March 24, 2022 5:16 am

Thanks Steve, I totally get that. However WAW & WH say it is “ two to four orders of magnitude greater for O3,
N2O, CH4, CF4 “. than CO2.

Surely that means CH4 is 100 to 10000 times more ‘potent’. Or am I still missing something?

Steve Case
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
March 24, 2022 10:48 am

I pulled up WAW & WH Methane and Climate paper and did a [Ctrl F] search on “magnitude” and it came up [magnitude 0/0 ] so I don’t know what you are referencing and moreover, I don’t understand your question.

All I can say is the smaller the concentration of the greenhouse gas, the bigger the GWP number. The GWP number has nearly every thing to do with concentration and nearly nothing to do the IFR absorption spectrum.

Reply to  Steve Case
March 26, 2022 3:23 pm

Hi Steve,

It’s from this abstract:

Dependence of Earth’s Thermal Radiation on Five Most Abundant Greenhouse Gases PDF

W. A. van Wijngaarden & W. Happer Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics arXiv: 2006.03098 (2020)

  • In particluar:

“For current concentrations, the per-molecule forcings are two to three orders of magnitude greater for O3, N2O and CH4, than those of H2O or CO2.”

Reply to  Steve Case
March 23, 2022 8:13 am

1/86 * 0.04 C * 1/(5.35 * ln(450.18/450.00) W/m2) = 0.2 C per W/m2. That is a pretty low climate sensitivity.

Steve Case
Reply to  bdgwx
March 23, 2022 9:18 am

I’m sure you mean well, but I don’t know what 0.2C per W/m² means. I do know that various estimates of methane’s climate sensitivity hovers around ~0.1K depending on who you ask. The 0.04K from my post is in line with that. Here’s a favorite WUWT post on the topic:
Methane the irrelevant Greenhouse Gas

Ordinary people, and this topic aside I’m all of that, understand temperature, W/m² not so much.

Reply to  Steve Case
March 23, 2022 11:01 am

C per W/m2 is a measure of climate sensitivity. If the climate sensitivity is 0.2 C per W/m2 then to warm the near surface atmosphere by 1 C waiting for all fast equilibrium processes (~100 years or so) would require an initial planetary energy imbalance of +5 W/m2.

Steve Case
Reply to  bdgwx
March 23, 2022 12:20 pm

I have no idea what it is that you are trying to say.

Reply to  Steve Case
March 23, 2022 1:21 pm

I’m just saying that 0.2 C per W/m2 is pretty low. A low climate sensitivity means that the radiative forcing has to be high to induce changes. At only 0.2 C per W/m2 and assuming a 6 C rise there would need to be a planetary energy imbalance of 30 W/m2 to pull us out of the last glacial maximum.

Reply to  bdgwx
March 23, 2022 5:04 pm

Once again, badwaxjob, you’ve exposed yourself as knowing nothing about thermodynamics. There’s no such thing as a “fast equilibrium” process. There are processes that reach equilibrium fast and processes that reach equilibrium slowly.

Heating the deep ocean takes many thousands of years, for example. The temperature profile measured today down a deep borehole in ice can show the Eemian warming 130,000 years ago. Heat tranfer through water or ice is slow. On the other hand, the troposphere can cool off tens of degrees overnight. That’s fast. There’s nothing special about 100 years. It’s neither the time frame for the Transient Climate Response nor the time frame for Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity.

Please give up trying to pretend that you’re an expert. You’re just making a fool out of yourself.

Reply to  meab
March 23, 2022 6:40 pm

Hi Meab,

I’ve heard these sort of claims before:

“The temperature profile measured today down a deep borehole in ice can show the Eemian warming 130,000 years ago.”

Ian Plimer also mentions this in his books.

Would have a reference for this as I’d like to learn more about it as it’s quite counterintuitive (to me at least).

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Alastair Brickell
March 23, 2022 7:05 pm

Reddy Kilowatt and your online search engine are your friends.

Last edited 10 months ago by Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 23, 2022 10:53 pm

Hi Clyde,

I’m sorry but then I see the following statement in this reference :

“In the absence of warming at the surface due to climate change…”

I’m afraid the whole piece becomes suspect. Anyway,this is talking about boreholes in the ground, not ice so I remain skeptical.

Reply to  Alastair Brickell
March 23, 2022 9:11 pm

It’s bu11sh1t. The continuous geothermal heat output of the planet, about 1/4 of a watt per square meter outward, will obscure a summer’s temperature pulse downward within about 3 years in the unhomogenic soils of planet Earth. After that, with instruments accurate to say a thousandth of a degree, you just see noise caused by different thermal conductivities of rocks, soil, groundwater, residual heat from drilling friction, and lapse rate heating of the air in your casing like in a mineshaft.

Reply to  meab
March 24, 2022 7:19 am

The value for ECS is different depending on which equilibrium processes you want to include. Most literature only includes the fast (100 years or less) processes. An example of a slow process is ice sheet melting which can take thousands of years. Due to the enthalpy of fusion there is a clamp on temperatures until all of the ice melts at which time there is a big jump. The fast ECS does not consider this additional temperature increase. And I never said there was anything special about 100 years. In fact, I used the tilde ~ character specifically so that no one would think it was special.

Ice cores do not show warm or cool periods because the core has warmer or cooler layers. They show temperature changes based on δD, δ18O, the thickness of the layer, and the presence of melt indicators. Ice core do not tell you either way how quickly heat is transferring up or down the layers. That’s not how it works.

Reply to  bdgwx
March 24, 2022 10:00 am

You exposed yourself as a pretender again. Not only do they measure the changes in Deuterium and various isotope fractions, they invert temperature profiles from boreholes, both in ice and in the crust, all the time. Look it up. The change in climate shows up as inflections in the temperature vs. depth profiles and is especially easy in uniform materials.

Pay attention, badwaxjob, well before all the ice can melt (hundreds of thousands of years), we’ll be back in an ice age from Milankovitch cycles. Stop spreading alarm falsely.

Reply to  meab
March 24, 2022 12:08 pm

I did look it up. That’s how know that ice core derived temperatures are based on δD, δ18O, thickness of the layer, and the presence of melt indicators and not on the actual temperature of the ice core itself.

I’m having a hard time following your point. In one sentence you say There’s no such thing as a “fast equilibrium” process.” and then in the next you say “There are processes that reach equilibrium fast and processes that reach equilibrium slowly.” You describe something happening overnight as “fast” even though in the same post you said there is no such thing. And what about the hundreds of thousands of years to melt ice? Is that fast or slow? Is a slow process as equally as impossible as a fast process?

And why is 0.2 C per W/m2 alarming to you?

Reply to  Steve Case
March 23, 2022 11:27 am

Many policy makers are overjoyed by any excuse to write more regulations. The irrelevancy of the issue is irrelevant.

Steve Case
Reply to  AndyHce
March 23, 2022 12:25 pm

That’s why I only go to a doctor if I need to get some doctoring.

Same with politicians/policy makers/lawmakers is there a difference? Anyway, doctors want to doctor and lawmakers want to make laws.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Steve Case
March 24, 2022 1:03 am

All natural fuel gases are around 85% methane, the rest being about 10% ethane, the remaining 5% made up from varying 2-3% butane & propane. There is enough of the stuff in this world to power it for hundreds of years, giving mankind plenty of time to source new energies, assuming ET & his buddies don’t step in & give us a jolly good telling off!!! 😉

Steve Case
Reply to  Alan the Brit
March 24, 2022 3:19 am

Who is ET & his buddies?

Tom Abbott
March 23, 2022 3:23 am

From the article: “With methane lasting less than 12 years in the atmosphere a stable ruminant population is not contributing any additional greenhouse gas or any additional warming.”

Yes, leave the cows alone. They aren’t hurting anything.

Methane has so little effect it is hardly worth talking about. But alarmists need scary climate change stories to keep the narrative going so they include methane in the meme along with ocean acidification and coral reefs, and sea level rise, and seeing human fingerprints in every thunderstorm.

Methane is not a problem. Neither is ocean acidification or coral reefs or sea level rise. Alarmists are lying to us about all of these. If they didn’t have lies, they would have nothing at all.

Last edited 10 months ago by Tom Abbott
Ron Long
March 23, 2022 3:24 am

It’s a good thing we hunted those farting buffalo nearly to extinction or we would be doubling down on this non-problem. What I wrote makes no sense, which makes it woke.

Reply to  Ron Long
March 23, 2022 4:21 am

“…farting buffalo…”

No ruminant farts, they belch.

Reply to  Disputin
March 23, 2022 7:35 pm

I’m sure I’ve smelt farts from my cows but I believe that most of the CH4 is from belches.

March 23, 2022 3:53 am


  1. without a basic knowledge of mathematics and arithmetic.
  2. “to this day I am practically innumerate”


  1. a person lacking basic knowledge of mathematics and arithmetic.

There was a promotional campaign several years ago suggesting that we all, “Thank a teacher.” I am especially grateful for math teachers. My favorite number is 6.02 x 10^23.

Reply to  Speed
March 23, 2022 6:07 am

Avogadro’s Constant 😀

Ken Irwin
Reply to  Speed
March 23, 2022 8:11 am

Avogadro’s number – I know what it is but I had to look it up.

Rod Evans
March 23, 2022 3:58 am

Now come along, give the Green fixated alarmists a break. They have only recently stopped talking about plastic straws being the destroyer of the planet. As I recall that was just before we Covid inspired and mandated the mass single use of, plastic gowns, plastic gloves, plastic visors and plastic woven face masks to hide the embarrassment of the wearers, well I think that is what they were for? Sorry I digress.
Anyway the plastic scare was quickly dropped from the alarmists armoury. So items to stress about part two is needed. Now they are back to meat eaters and cow farts, or burps or whatever the mechanism is, they feel they need to stress about.
I have noticed they seem to have dropped off talking about Polar Bears decline, this past year, I wonder why that is?

Steve Case
Reply to  Rod Evans
March 23, 2022 4:19 am

I have noticed they seem to have dropped off talking about Polar Bears decline, this past year, I wonder why that is?

Depending on who you ask, the polar bear population has increased over the last ten years. And hurricanes and extreme tornados haven’t.

March 23, 2022 4:19 am

We could cut methane emissions by 97% if we pared down all of our governments to the size needed to fix the potholes and collect the garbage, which is all we ever wanted from government anyhow.

All that farting that passes for debate would never be missed.

Thomas Gasloli
Reply to  H.R.
March 23, 2022 7:16 am

But that would significantly reduce the hot air produced by politicians & the media risking a return to a glacial phase.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  H.R.
March 24, 2022 1:28 am

All that farting is probably as a result of the membership of the Houses of Parliament indulging in the consumption of liquids from one of the finest stocked wine cellars in the World, at taxpayers expense of course!!! The methane they produce is a constant output!!!

D Boss
March 23, 2022 4:51 am

There are 94 million cattle in the US. However up until the late 1800’s, there were 100 million bison, or buffalo roaming the US and Canada. So when CO2 was low, these bovines didn’t cause global warming, but now they do?

Reply to  D Boss
March 23, 2022 10:43 am

You can add to that the immense herds on the African plains. I believe they were more numerous than Bison.

Last edited 10 months ago by Greytide
Jim Gorman
Reply to  D Boss
March 23, 2022 5:56 pm

What I want to know is what we do with all these animals. Do we let them go feral like hogs and cats? Do we truck all the cows, buffalo, sheep, goats, etc. to the nearest Federal Park land and just let them loose?

Peta of Newark
March 23, 2022 4:52 am

If you/we/I let the ruminates eat what they want to eat (sugar contained only in the leaves of grasses) there wouldn’t be any ‘ruminant methane problem

Similar to ourselves, if when we eat (forced to eat) A Shyte Diet, then we burp & fart.
Except that cows don’t fart. Horses maybe. not cows.

A Shyte Diet being one containing lots of ‘Fibre’
Fibre works to pull nutrients out of us, also vast amounts of water.
But on its way out and still in our nether regions, it and the nutrient load its carrying ‘go anaerobically rotten’
Thereafter farting will start but, is the very least of your woes.
Enter Cancer, Crohn’s, Irritated Bowel Syndrome, liver/kidney disease, leaky guts etc

The Great Thing about cows is that they can eat sugar, in fact they can eat raw unprocessed starch and turn it into something that we can eat = saturated fat.
NOT the meat/flesh – just like the big cats, we are Fat Eaters and not Carnivores

That is how we signed our own warrants by becoming sugar eaters, in a roundabout way.
We discovered that by harvesting (gathering) the grains of grasses and crunching them up a bit, the resultant ‘flour‘ made fantastic bait for traps we could set for ‘the cows’
(Using ‘cows’ to describe large fat-bearing herbivores)

Because once the husk on the grain is cracked/broken, the digestive system of the cows can turn the starch into sugar (we need to cook the stuff less we perish from hideous constipation)
And just like us when we eat sugar, sugar makes the cows happy. and they want more.
After all, it is their evolved diet.
So, by harvesting grain, crunching it up a bit and then hollering at the tops of our voices, the cows would come to us. Instead of us having to go chase them. And they run faster too.
Another ‘trap’ would have been to throw some of the grain onto a fire, The smell would attract the cows

Neat huh
It was all so sweet and lovely until we caught and ate all the cows.
And all we were left with was piles of burnt grain – so and in desperation – we ate that instead of cow.
Once Vladimir The Invader gets properly into his stride, we ain’t even gonna have that luxury any more

Which is a very successful, usually, survival strategy.
i.e. Hunger concentrates the mind
Unfortunately muppets like BoJo, Dessler, Hayhoe and Antonio are a trillion miles away from working that out because after a lifetime of eating sugar, you can change your name to Brandon

Last edited 10 months ago by Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 23, 2022 10:27 am

Good piece Peta.

You forgot to mention Ansell Keys.

A “scientist” almost as competent
and honest as Michael Mann.

March 23, 2022 4:58 am

“if you prefer metric”

As it happens I do. I’m puzzled as to why the US hangs on to Fahrenheit.

Leonard Weinstein
Reply to  fretslider
March 23, 2022 5:45 am


The Dark Lord
Reply to  Leonard Weinstein
March 23, 2022 6:08 am

tradition and historic systems in place … America is one of the least lazy countries in the world …

Ken Irwin
Reply to  fretslider
March 23, 2022 8:16 am

Me I prefer Kelvin.

What’s twice the boiling point of water ?
2 x 100°C ? or 2 x 212°F

Last edited 10 months ago by Ken Irwin
Mike McHenry
Reply to  fretslider
March 23, 2022 8:51 am

There is no benefit to the average non technical person to make the switch

Last edited 10 months ago by MIke McHenry
Reply to  fretslider
March 23, 2022 9:37 am

Higher precision, same accuracy, but at -40 the difference doesn’t matter.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Scissor
March 23, 2022 7:14 pm

And all you really need to know is that 20 deg C is a comfortable temperature of 68 deg F.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  fretslider
March 23, 2022 7:11 pm

It serves its purpose, and many of us abide by the rule, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” One small advantage is that it has a resolution 1.9 times that of Celsius.

Steve Case
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
March 24, 2022 3:42 am

And at around the important temperature of freezing, you don’t have to deal with negative numbers.

Steve Case
Reply to  fretslider
March 24, 2022 3:37 am

Compared the Celsius, there’s nothing wrong with Fahrenheit. However, it’s annoying that science doesn’t use Kelvin for everything.

Reply to  fretslider
March 24, 2022 4:20 am

Because it’s racist. (Ask any liberal politician.)

Filbert Cobb
March 23, 2022 6:17 am

iirc ~40% of the 7.8BN human anaerobic digesters produce some flatulence methane every day but I never see this as an argument for reducing carbohydrate feedstocks in such digesters

March 23, 2022 6:26 am

Even if cattle herds produced a significant contribution to so-called “greenhouse gases”, it is not as if they exist as something “man made”, but rather, are simply a more efficient means of producing food for humans.

The estimated US cattle herd today is somewhere in the low 90s million animals. Estimates of the size of the pre-conquest herd of buffalo or bison in the US great plains ranged up to 75 million or so animals. Bison are significantly bigger than market cattle, with adult weights ranging up to 2,600 pounds, while market cattle today average only 1,340 pounds … meaning that buffalo likely emitted more methane per animal than today’s range cattle. And there are also native ruminants other than buffalo, including elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and so forth, and they all emitted methane gas. Pretty much all over the world these native ruminants exist today, and did in much larger numbers in pre-industrial times.

Add it all up and it is not clear that so-called “anthropogenic” methane emissions from cattle generate any more methane than did the natural emissions of wild fauna.

March 23, 2022 6:31 am

Math and common sense have definitely been brushed aside in the rush to embrace climate catastrophism.

Ben Vorlich
March 23, 2022 7:06 am

I like to think of these things in terms of capacity crowds at football (soccer to those who play an inferior football in which the ball and feet rarely come into contact with each other). Taking for example Old Trafford home of Manchester United FC which holds 74,140 spectators, 22 players and 4 officials plus managers and substitutes, with stewards say 75,000 people. So 2 parts per million represents 0.15 people which doesn’t help. So the population the population of the UK is 68 million so that’s about 122 UK residents .

Organic Chemistry = the branch of chemistry that deals with carbon compounds (other than simple salts such as carbonates, oxides, and carbides).

Dave Miller
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
March 23, 2022 8:06 am

I’m burdened by two Engineering degrees, so maybe I’m different from most. I just don’t get folk’s need to try to put everything into “Olympic swimming pools” units.

It just doesn’t make sense to become innumerate to combat innumeracy.

If somebody does not understand proportionality (what’s the fundamental relationship between 1 and 1/1000 for example) switching to a distance analogy does not help.

I don’t really expect you to care, though I have always wanted to get that off my chest 😉

Reply to  Dave Miller
March 23, 2022 5:50 pm

How may Olympic swimming pools equal one Hiroshima? That’s what people need to know.

Reply to  Doonman
March 23, 2022 8:38 pm

And more importantly how many swimming pools make up one Sydney Harbour? Not sure if this a metric or imperial measure.

Hiroshimas are not discussed in Sydney (in polite company) as it’s a ‘nuclear free city’. This madness continues despite having the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor just beyond its southern suburbs.

Komerade Cube
Reply to  Doonman
March 23, 2022 9:12 pm

How many olympic swimming pools does it take to walk from NY to LA?

Last edited 10 months ago by Komerade Cube
Reply to  Komerade Cube
March 24, 2022 5:20 am


Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Dave Miller
March 23, 2022 7:19 pm

“Olympic Swimming Pools” equivalence came into vogue because the professional know-nothing word-smiths known as journalists think that everyone is as innumerate as they are.

March 23, 2022 9:09 am

Putting things in perspective or relative proportion is very effective for the ‘not so math inclined’. Like having 10,000 BBs in the back of a pick-up truck and 3 are rusty and you toss in 1 more to show the increase in CO2 over the last 200 years. Another is having a big bonfire burning and tossing in a toothpick! Even that can confuse the dedicated “believers”!

Reply to  eyesonu
March 23, 2022 9:39 am

That’s an accident waiting to happen.

Reply to  eyesonu
March 23, 2022 9:46 am

If that one BB was fentanyl rather than steel, it would be enough to kill 110 people. Funny how the very same people who worry endlessly about adding a ppb of methane to the atmosphere don’t seem to care at all about fentanyl coming across the southern border by the kg.

Reply to  Craig
March 23, 2022 1:19 pm

Yes and no.

A BB weighs about .35 grams and the lethal dose of fentanyl is approximately 2 mg. .35 grams of fentanyl could kill somewhere around 120 to 160 people. So yes.

But a BB of fentanyl wouldn’t weight the same as a regular BB so it wouldn’t be .35 grams of fentanyl. It would be a lot less. So no.

But your point’s well made.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Craig
March 23, 2022 7:23 pm

And, recreational drug users are in denial about any culpability for the violence resulting from the supply line to provide their ‘entertainment.’

Dave Miller
Reply to  eyesonu
March 23, 2022 12:22 pm

I don’t agree.

It’s talking down, first of all.

There is no better analogy than a numerical ratio.

When you use other analogies, you conjure up whatever the innumerate imagines is the relationship between the analogous entities. It has no more info than saying “really bleeping big” (or small).

When execs in my company present data using circles, they can never tell me whether the variable is proportional to the circle’s radius or area. Perhaps a bit of a non sequitur.

BTW, I think 10000 bbs would fit in a bucket, which I think proves my point.

Last edited 10 months ago by I'm not a robot
Reply to  Dave Miller
March 23, 2022 4:42 pm

Dave, you are right that 10,000 bbs would probably fit into a 5 gal bucket but only the surface could be observed. Dumped into the bed of the truck with 3 rusty ones representing 300 PPM from 200 years ago and the addition of 1 more rusty one representing the increase in CO2 would make a strong visual as to how little CO2 exists.

As far as talking down to the true “believers” and the public in general …. well math is not a strong suit. Try tossing a couple of pennies along with paper cash to round out your payment to just about any cashier under age 40. They will give you 98 cents change every time. So my “talking down” is actually trying to simplify something to the lowest common denominator that maybe they can understand. I’m not personally responsible for the complete failure of the educational system. Make it really simple and ask a teacher.

Dave Miller
Reply to  eyesonu
March 24, 2022 8:00 am

I’m married to a teacher (retired), so imagine the travails of our communication over the last 35 years!

March 23, 2022 9:15 am

Eat them cows before they f**t too much.

Michael in Dublin
March 23, 2022 9:44 am

Sky News Australia, 23 March 2022

‘Facts don’t matter’ to climate change activists

Reply to  Michael in Dublin
March 23, 2022 5:57 pm

FACT: If you stand in a bucket of liquid nitrogen (-320 F) while putting your head in a pizza oven (450F), your average body temperature will be a balmy 65 degrees F.

That’s exactly the same temperature the government wants you to set your thermostat at.

Coincidence? I think not.

Reply to  Doonman
March 24, 2022 4:24 am

Exactly what I have concluded about the “temperature of the planet.” It always sucks somewhere.

Michael in Dublin
March 23, 2022 9:59 am

Owen, thanks for your analogy.

For European readers the distance between Lisbon, Portugal and Moscow, Russia, is approximately the same by road as from LA to NY.

March 23, 2022 10:12 am

I rather like the analogy of relating methane levels to population numbers.
The UK has approx 65 million inhabitants. So, at roughly 2 ppm, methane would be represented by 130 people.
In contrast water vapour would be represented by 1,300,000 – 2,600,000 folk.
Now, if a small amount of £20 notes was distributed across the country to represent IR photons which can be trapped by methane or water vapour, what chance of the methanes picking up any?

Bill Everett
Reply to  Mikehig
March 23, 2022 11:02 am

The travel analogy is excellent as are the others. If only they were repeated enough to gain the attention of the public. They will never hear anything like that from the political leaders, movie actors or most of the media. Of course, analogies are just as effective for clarifying the diminutive atmospheric presence of CO2.

March 23, 2022 12:31 pm

According to Wiki, there were 60,000,000 bison in N. America in the good old days. Now 30,000. There are 90,000,000 cattle now. But bison can be over 2000 lbs while cattle rarely reach anywhere near that weight. Not much difference, and this isn’t considering other ruminants such as elk or moose, much reduced in numbers.

Doesn’t look to me that there should be much difference in methane produced.

March 23, 2022 12:41 pm

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

Last edited 10 months ago by Maxbert
Jeff Reppun
March 23, 2022 3:00 pm

Prime rib produced from air will save our planet.

Gregory Brou
March 23, 2022 4:20 pm

the atom bomb was designed from scratch in less than a year using basic math science and slide rules that made the creators keep track of significant digits.

analogies are wasted discussion
assumptions must be tested for accuracy.
correct scientific notation is required

in 20 years I have yet to see an intellectually correct energy and mass balance on global warming

Bill Everett
Reply to  Gregory Brou
March 24, 2022 6:22 am

Analogies are not wasted discussion if they are used to inform the general public who vote. Not everyone is a scientist. There are not enough voting scientists to effect policy.

Gregory Brou
Reply to  Bill Everett
March 24, 2022 6:43 am

when every thing is an analogy, there is no science basis

Jeff Alberts
March 23, 2022 6:40 pm

The author could really use a lesson in commas.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
March 24, 2022 6:00 am

As an international oil worker, I learned long ago that lots of wisdom gets passed along by EASL’s along with the fractured syntax and grammatical errors. That’s why I don’t Cliffie Clavin them in my comments.

Gregory Brou
Reply to  bigoilbob
March 24, 2022 6:47 am

I worked in the Middle East and Far East for 20 years. Comprehension was valued more than grammatical errors with English as a second language for 15 different nationalities

March 23, 2022 7:33 pm

Very enlightening.

March 24, 2022 6:43 pm

Here’s a real question if anyone can figure it out. How much methane did the dinosaurs produce?
I would think that would make cows insignificant.
Another question: Shouldn’t we subtract the amount of methane that species that man has wiped out from the earth used to produce. Logically, then we should go on a mission of wiping out all animal life on earth. After all, we won’t need them anymore for food and in the warmists minds wiping out animals will save humanity.
Of course, methane will still come from vegetation, so we must wipe out all plant life also to save the world.

March 25, 2022 5:19 pm

Not a good argument. I don’t want 2 ppm mercury in my blood.

March 28, 2022 5:49 am

I am fond of doing mathematical comparisons.

If worried about ruminants, you should consider the millions of horses used for transport in the 1800’s that have been replaced by cars, and the millions of american bisons (100-200 Million, according to some estimations) that were made practically extinct by Buffalo Bill and co. at the advent of rifles. Given the size of the animals and the numbers, that Methane non-emitted would be in the order of magnitude of the whole car CO2 emissions of today’s.

The reliability of the sources is unclear, so I would be keen to see a real study into the issue, so an appropiate consideration could be made of how much carbon are humans actually putting into the atmosphere, after all relevant deductions correctly considered. I only see simplistic calculations designed to find mankind guilty of everything and anything.

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