Where’s the methane?

One of the major greenhouse global warming gases is methane.  Scientists have discovered that there is not nearly as much methane in the atmosphere as their computer models predicted there should be. 

Scientists say that there has been a mysterious decline in the growth of methane in the atmosphere in the last decades of the 20th Century.

Researchers writing in the journal Nature have come up with two widely differing theories as to the cause.

One suggests the decline was caused by greater commercial use of natural gas, the other that increased use in Asia of artificial fertiliser was responsible.

Both studies agree that human activities are the key element.

And there are suggestions that methane levels are now on the rise again.

Methane is regarded as one of the most potent greenhouse gases, trapping over 20 times more atmospheric heat than carbon dioxide.

Since the start of the industrial revolution, levels of methane in the atmosphere have more than doubled from a wide variety of sources, including energy production, the burning of forests, and increased numbers of cattle and sheep.

But between 1980 and the turn of the millennium, the growth rate reduced substantially, leaving scientists puzzled as to the cause.

Now, two teams of researchers have arrived at two very different conclusions for the decline. The first study was led by Dr Murat Aydin from the University of California, Irvine.

“We went after ethane – it’s another hydrocarbon similar to methane, it has common sources, but is easier to trace. We determined what ethane did during the second half of the 20th century using ancient air that we collected at polar ice sheets.

“We think the trend we see in methane is best explained by dramatic changes in emissions linked to fossil fuel production and use which seem to have declined in the 1980s and 1990s.

via BBC News – New theories over methane puzzle.

The big question, then, is what this does to the global warming scare.

Pollution cures global warming

Climate scientists–the established ones, not the renegades–have found that global surface temperatures did not rise from 1998 to 2008, despite heightened carbon emissions, and they have been trying to figure out why.  Now they are saying the temperature drop is anthropogenic, the result (like they had been saying of global warming) of pollution, just a different kind:

Smoke belching from Asia’s rapidly growing economies is largely responsible for a halt in global warming in the decade after 1998 because of sulphur’s cooling effect, even though greenhouse gas emissions soared, a U.S. study said on Monday.

The paper raised the prospect of more rapid, pent-up climate change when emerging economies eventually crack down on pollution.

World temperatures did not rise from 1998 to 2008, while manmade emissions of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuel grew by nearly a third, various data show.

The researchers from Boston and Harvard Universities and Finland’s University of Turku said pollution, and specifically sulphur emissions, from coal-fueled growth in Asia was responsible for the cooling effect.

Sulphur allows water drops or aerosols to form, creating hazy clouds which reflect sunlight back into space.

“Anthropogenic activities that warm and cool the planet largely cancel after 1998, which allows natural variables to play a more significant role,” the paper said.

Natural cooling effects included a declining solar cycle after 2002, meaning the sun’s output fell.

The study said that the halt in warming had fueled doubts about anthropogenic climate change, where scientists say manmade greenhouse gas emissions are heating the Earth.

“It has been unclear why global surface temperatures did not rise between 1998 and 2008,” said the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.

via Asia pollution blamed for halt in warming: study | Reuters.

Good thing it exactly balanced out!  Otherwise we’d be causing a new ice age that would also destroy civilization as we know it.

Reversing global warming with a nuclear winter

National Geographic reports on a NASA study of the climate effect of a “regional” nuclear war:

The global cooling caused by these high carbon clouds wouldn’t be as catastrophic as a superpower-versus-superpower nuclear winter, but “the effects would still be regarded as leading to unprecedented climate change,” research physical scientist Luke Oman said during a press briefing Friday at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.

Earth is currently in a long-term warming trend. After a regional nuclear war, though, average global temperatures would drop by 2.25 degrees F (1.25 degrees C) for two to three years afterward, the models suggest.

At the extreme, the tropics, Europe, Asia, and Alaska would cool by 5.4 to 7.2 degrees F (3 to 4 degrees C), according to the models. Parts of the Arctic and Antarctic would actually warm a bit, due to shifted wind and ocean-circulation patterns, the researchers said.

After ten years, average global temperatures would still be 0.9 degree F (0.5 degree C) lower than before the nuclear war, the models predict.

via Small Nuclear War Could Reverse Global Warming for Years?.

These computer models, though, were based on 100 Hiroshima-size nuclear bombs going off.  That doesn’t strike me as a small war!  What 100 cities would be vaporized, and what effect would that have on the world?

As Joe Carter notes (HT be to him), no one is actually proposing this as a solution to global warming, at least not yet.  But this environmentalist thinks it’s pretty much too late to reverse climate change, so he is heading for the hills, stocking up on survivalist supplies and buying guns.  So maybe there will be a movement to set off some nukes.  A commenter suggests just setting off some in a desert.

If we caused global warming, we can cool it down

The Washington Post reviews two  Books on geoengineering: ‘How to Cool the Planet’ and ‘Hacking the Planet’.  The idea is that since human beings have caused global warming, we can put other stuff into the environment to cool the planet down:

As the prospect of drastic warming evolves from worst-case scenario to virtual certainty, the notion of some kind of technological quick fix is more and more appealing. It’s still in the speculative stages, but it has already produced two highly unsettling books.

Among the ideas that have been broached is dumping various odd substances into the sea, such as iron filings (to promote growth of CO2-consuming plankton) and — no kidding — Special K cereal, which would supposedly increase the sea’s reflectivity, thus keeping it cooler. One of the least crazy possible methods is the Pinatubo Option, in which we would somehow cloak the Earth’s atmosphere in a layer of reflective particles, which would block the sun and cool the planet just enough to maintain some kind of climatic equilibrium. . . .

As the climate heats up, and if scientists’ predictions of scary, sudden changes come true, such options are going to look more attractive. Especially the Pinatubo Option: We could scatter particles into the stratosphere with a fleet of high-altitude planes, for the (relatively) low price of a few billion dollars. Or, as another scientist has suggested, we could seed the stratosphere via miles and miles of hoses, held aloft by blimps and spraying tiny particles into the upper reaches of the atmosphere. Other scientists have looked at methods of “cloud brightening,” with much the same goal.

The reviewer and these books, while raising the possibility of creating even greater climactic disasters, are taking this prospect in dead earnest.  They apparently do not consider their solutions ludicrous.  (Putting Special K cereal into the ocean?  We’re having enough problems with British Petroleum, but we want Kellogg’s to do the same thing?)

I guess those who think human beings are so powerful with all of their technology that they can destroy the world also assume human beings are powerful enough with all of their technology to  fix the world.  Some of us, though, believe human beings are far more limited in their power, both for worse and for better.

Global warming & Africa revisited

Thanks to tODD for actually doing research on that piece I blogged about by Civil Rights activist turned conservative Roy Innis, accusing the Obama administration of devastating Ghana because of its global warming mandates:

This article appears to be less than truthful.

I searched on Google News for any mention of articles that discussed
[Ghana OPIC]. And here’s the weird thing. With the exception of this
Washington Times article, most of the news all stemmed from
Forbes[1][2][3]. I found that odd. There are basically two
sources on this story, and they both have conservative biases. That
doesn’t smell right.

Then I did a search on OPIC.gov for news of this story. Nothing I
could find, though I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to say anything
about it.

So I started searching on Google News for [ghana 130-megawatt,
gas-fired power plant], just to find discussion of this plant. And I
found all of two articles. The Washington Times article that
Veith posted, and a story from Ghana Business News.

And the latter had an interesting story[4]:

In recent times some publications in the Wall Street Journal and
particularly Forbes.com have [sought] to impugn the integrity of Ghana
and to question the country’s sovereignty. One of the articles on
Forbes actually went to the extent of accusing President Obama of
being responsible for an American power company losing an energy
contract to build 130-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant at
Aboadze in the Western region. Meanwhile, a ghanabusinessnews.com
investigation of this power project contract revealed that there was
no contract at all that has been awarded to HPI. Indeed,
ghanabusinessnews.com communicated with officials of HPI by telephone
and by email and their responses were included in the report that was
published on April 16, 2009. It is curious therefore, that the Forbes
article will seek to link the failure to award a contract that never
was to Obama’s doing.

If you go to the Ghana Business News link below[4], you can
follow the link they have to a story from last year[5] investigating
this power-plant-contract that didn’t exist.

Feel free to prove me wrong, but I call “bull” on this story. It
appears to be nothing more than another right-wing potshot at Obama
and against anti-global-warming measures. I expect conservatives like
Mr. Innis (and son) to make arguments like that, but I also expect
them to tell the truth in so doing.

[1]mobile.ghanaweb.com/wap/article.php?ID=177408
[2]theghanaianjournal.com/2010/02/25/a-presidential-doublespeak-on-investing-in-ghana/
[3]forbes.com/global/2010/0315/companies-obama-ghana-hpi-energy-dont-read-my-lips.html
[4]ghanabusinessnews.com/2010/03/01/is-the-us-after-ghana’s-oil-at-all-cost/
[5]ghanabusinessnews.com/2009/04/16/us-company-to-build-another-power-plant-for-ghana/

OK, the Power Plant story sounds bogus.

The other part of the article says that new OPIC rules prevent help for projects that might contribute to global warming. Is that part true? I found this: http://www.opic.gov/news/press-releases/2007/pr061407
That, however, is from 2007, which would be from the Bush administration.

tODD also dug up President Obama’s executive order that the article referenced, which isn’t as specific as Innis made it sound:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/2009fedleader_eo_rel.pdf

tODD also found an article about OPIC and global warming:

http://www.climatechangeinsights.com/2009/11/articles/us-policy/opic-and-the-exportimport-bank-after-the-nepa-settlement-a-tale-of-two-agencies/

So, have these rules prevented investment in needed projects in Africa? We don’t really know. Maybe, and maybe they will in the future, but Innis’s column has not demonstrated what he claims.

Also, who knew that Roy Innis, black nationalist that he used to be, is now considered a conservative? I didn’t.

I know that I should be doing all of this research, but I just don’t have time. I depend on you to keep me honest. So thanks to Todd for all of this digging.

Global warming policies vs. Africa

The veteran civil rights activist Roy Innis is blasting the administration for the way its policies to combat the alleged global warming are devastating Africa:

The president signed an executive order requiring that the Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC) and other federal agencies reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with their projects by 30 percent over the next 10 years. The order undermines the ability of sub-Saharan African nations to achieve progress in energy and economic and human rights.

Ghana is trying to build a 130-megawatt, gas-fired power plant to bring electricity’s blessings to more of its people, schools, hospitals and businesses. Today, almost half of Ghanaians never have access to electricity, or they get it only a few hours a week, leaving their futures bleak.

Most people in Ghana are forced to cook and heat with wood, crop wastes or dung, says Franklin Cudjoe, director of the Imani (Hope) Center for Policy and Education, in Accra. The indoor air pollution from these fires causes blindness, asthma and severe lung infections that kill a million women and young children every year. Countless more Africans die from intestinal diseases caused by eating unrefrigerated, spoiled food.

But when Ghana turned to its U.S. “partner” and asked OPIC to support the $185 million project, OPIC refused to finance even part of it – thus adding as much as 20 percent to its financing cost. Repeated across Africa, these extra costs for meeting “climate change prevention” policies will threaten numerous projects and prolong poverty and disease for millions.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 800 million people, 80 percent of whom live on less than $2.50 per day. More than 700 million people – twice the population of the United States and Canada combined – rarely or never have access to the lifesaving, prosperity-creating benefits of electricity, Mr. Cudjoe notes.

Even in South Africa, the most advanced nation in the region, 25 percent of the populace still has no electricity. Pervasively insufficient electrical power has meant frequent brownouts that have hampered factory output and forced gold and diamond mines to shut down because of risks that miners would suffocate in darkness deep underground. The country also suffers from maternal mortality rates 36 times higher than in the United States and tuberculosis rates 237 times higher.

And yet Mr. Obama told his Ghanaian audience last July that Africa is gravely “threatened” by global warming, which he argues “will spread disease, shrink water resources and deplete crops,” leading to more famine and conflict. Africa, he says, can “increase access to power while skipping – leapfrogging – the dirtier phase of development,” by using its “bountiful” wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels energy.

via INNIS: Obama keeps Africa in the dark – Washington Times.

Mr. Innis and his co-author (I believe his son) go on to explain why that just doesn’t work. Africa just needs electricity, like the rest of us. Meanwhile, those of us who have electricity, along with virtually everything else we need, have the luxury of ideological purity applied to others, though not ourselves.


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