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Methane Emissions are Soaring, Report Finds, and Agriculture Is to Blame


#1

Methane Emissions are Soaring, Report Finds, and Agriculture Is to Blame

Nika Knight, staff writer

Mere months after atmospheric carbon dioxide permanently surpassed a symbolic threshold of 400 parts per million, scientists have more bad news: emissions of methane, a more potent greenhouse gas, have skyrocketed in the past 20 years—and show no sign of slowing.

That's according to a new analysis published Monday in the journal Environmental Research Letters.


#2

Thanks, President Obama! You were really on top of that climate change thing!


#3

Thanks CD for continuing to cover issues the MSM willfully ignores.

In keeping with methane emissions from agriculture I feel it is important to note:

James Kennett has been sounding the alarm on the dangers of destabilization of methane hydrates from the sea floor leading to rapid (as in a human lifetime if not shorter) extinction events for many years. He released this paper in 2003:

Methane Hydrates in Quaternary Climate Change: The Clathrate Gun Hypothesis. Washington DC: American Geophysical Union. ISBN 0-87590-296-0.

And this last year:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151202155724.htm

Consequences of human induced global warming: "ocean temperatures will destabilize methane hydrates located at relatively shallow depths on the ocean margin, in turn causing positive feedbacks that reinforce the global warming. In fact, this appears already to be occurring in the ocean.”

It is surprising to me that Kennett's research has not gotten more attention. We hear quite a bit from James Hansen and Jennifer Frances (and I am grateful we do) but what Kennett has been writing about since 2003 (at least) may be the final nail in the coffin of industrial civilization. I fear his words and research will prove to be prescient and dead (as in extinction) on.


#4

Unlike carbon dioxide levels the factors affecting methane levels is hard to determine. The graph indicates the steepest rise in methane levels occurred during the 1980s, a leveling off from about 2000 to 2010 and then another increase. Could methane emissions from thawing permafrost be playing a role in the recent rise? I think even in the short term carbon dioxide is playing a bigger role in warming because carbon dioxide emissions are so much greater than methane emissions. But if thawing permafrost gets going big time that could change. And methane hydrates could also become a major factor. This is one reason why staying well below 2C is so important. Nobody is sure where the tipping points are for these so-called "slow feedbacks" which could add perhaps 2C or more in the long run to global warming.


#5

And of course there is the huge methane bubble created by all of the fracking for natural gas.
This could be captured but it is so much cheaper and good for the bottom line to let it escape into the air.
The Tragedy of the Commons.


#7

From The Guardian:
Rapid rise in methane emissions in 10 years surprises scientists

The authors of the 2016 Global Methane Budget report found that in the early years of this century, concentrations of methane rose by only about 0.5ppb each year, compared with 10ppb in 2014 and 2015.

The scientists speculate that agriculture may be the main source of the additional methane that has been recorded. However, they cannot be sure of all the sources, owing to a lack of monitoring.

At least a third of methane comes from the exploitation of fossil fuels, including fracking and oil drilling and some coal mining, where methane is viewed as a waste gas and is frequently allowed to escape or, in some cases, flared off, which is less harmful.

Unlike carbon dioxide emissions, however, which have been tracked in various ways since the 1950s, emissions of methane are poorly understood and could represent a threat that scientists have still not accounted for.

For instance, the melting of the Arctic tundra releases methane as the vegetation underneath is gradually and sometimes suddenly exposed. This has been regarded by scientists as a potential “tipping point” whereby warming of the Arctic leads to greater releases of methane, therefore greater warming, in a runaway and uncontrollable cycle.

"[I]n the early years of this century, concentrations of methane rose by only about 0.5ppb each year, compared with 10ppb in 2014 and 2015"

I find it extremely difficult to believe that agricultural methane emissions could have increased twentyfold in less than 15 years. I could believe doubling, but that's about it.

Far more likely are the two sources the authors of the article dismiss - fracking and release of methane from permafrost and the ocean floor due to warming caused by high levels of carbon dioxide in the armosphere. Fracking and natural gas extraction have skyrocketed in the last 15 years, as have the number of months that have set records for highest global temperatures.


#8

The cosmic reach and overlaps of Ag subsides are so vast it will take a serious economic meltdown to bring any change.


#9

Hmmmm, pay no attention to Arctic thawing and methane release, pay no attention to methane from fracking, apparently the rise is to be blamed on cow farts, so I suppose bovine genocide will be next, to save the planet.
* When that is done, (Horrors!) perhaps the next target will be those of us in our sixties, seventies and eighties. They don't call us "old farts" for nothing.
;-})


#10

From the article:

'Mere months after atmospheric carbon dioxide permanently surpassed a symbolic threshold of 400 parts per million, scientists have more bad news: emissions of methane, a more potent greenhouse gas, have skyrocketed in the past 20 years—and show no sign of slowing.

'That's according to a new analysis published Monday in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

'The report, The Growing Role of Methane in Anthropogenic Climate Change, finds that "methane concentrations in the air began to surge around 2007 and grew precipitously in 2014 and 2015," observes Phys.org....'

It bears mentioning that increased methane levels in the atmosphere do not translate to increased emission rate.

'...Methane is 28 times more efficient than carbon dioxide at trapping heat from the sun, making its short-term effects on global warming far more severe.'

Neither methane nor carbon dioxide traps heat from the Sun, they are heated by infra-red from the Earth's surface, thereby warming the planet. Methane is much less effective than carbon dioxide for that purpose by more than an order of magnitude, and there is much less methane in the atmosphere (according to the graph, 1.8 ppmv compared to 400 ppmv for carbon dioxide).

But unfortunately, the carbon dioxide level is so high that "band saturation" has occurred; the carbon dioxide is absorbing almost all of the infra-red hitting it and further level increases would have negligible effects.


#11

Corporate ag. is a scourge on the planet in so many ways that it would be difficult to list them all.


#12

I find the title of this article deceptive. I think it should be modified. Shouldn't it read "livestock operations" is the cause of the soaring methane emissions rather than "agriculture" ? We have to drastically reduce the consumption of animal products for our personal health and the health of the planet.


#13

They still can't be sure why methane levels flattened for about 10 or 15 years after rising steadily for about 100 years. Wetlands are a major contributor to methane emissions. I believe one hypothesis is that during 10-15 year hiatus there may have been a large areas of wetlands filled in for development. Any change in the amount of wetlands in the world will affect emissions. Right now I think determining the cause of global changes in methane emissions is more speculation than anything else.


#14

It is tricky to say that methane emissions are "28 time more powerful than CO2". Methane has a global warming potential of 34 compared to CO2 over a 100-year period, and 72 over a 20-year period. So it is almost 100 times worst than CO2 initially but becomes less harmful more quickly however in human time scales you might as well say that it is 50+ times worse.


#16

Literal bullshit aligning with the metaphorical


#17

So an increase of 13% in cattle causes a 20-fold (2000%) increase in methane output? Just what are we feeding these cows? Baked beans in 57 varieties?

My suspicions were alerted when I read that the idea was being put out by an earth-scientist. That is one group of professionals whom I do not trust when it comes to statements about Anthropogenic Global Heating. Too many depend on industry for work.


#18

The "band saturation" idea is notion that I first read about in a paper by someone whom I believe is a neuro-surgeon. I recall it depends on a rather twisted logic that ignores the fact that the sun's radiation falls on the planet 24 hours a day, every day. I would like it to be correct but sadly, it seems that it is not.


#19

Don't worry. Some good people in Japan see methane hydrates as a mineable source of energy.


#20

Typical Pogo! We have met the enemy and he is us.


#21

I once raise hay, grain and cattle. Now I almost never eat beef and will only eat pork if I am served it as a guest.


#22

The basic truth of this article has been proven by hundreds of scientists.

Agriculture also means the trucking indiustry infrastructure and massive quanity of "food" that is needed for the "cattle".

Time and again industrail agriculture specifically cattle production is sited by the UNEP as the largest sources or GHG emmisions. They have issed multiple reports stating the people of the Earth need to switch to a vegan diet and or a insect diet to avoid mass starvation in the not so distant future.