Jan 15 2006

Global Warming Snake Oil

Published by at 11:33 am under All General Discussions,Global Warming

As long time readers know I am not one of those who has ever bought into the Kyoto version of Global Warming ‘science’. Having a science background and working on NASA programs that study the earth and the universe, I appreciate the line between what we know and what is speculation. Sometimes wild speculation.

In Global Warming what we know is the earth has been warming since the Little Ice Age that lasted some 500 years from the 1300’s to the 1800’s. What we do not know is what are the forces causing the warming.

Too many reactionary scientists and their groupies on the left think the major force behing the warming is mankind and its pollution (or byproducts). They have no proof of this whatsoever, but they act as if they do.

The real source appears to be more complicated and driven by something global, possibly even by factors effecting our solar system. There have been recent articles on variations on solar output having a driving effect, plus there is the possibility we are going through a region the galaxy with higher gravitational tidal forces that are heating up our core and causing increases in plate tectonic motions (experienced by earthquakes and vocanic action).

But today another veil has been lifted on the Kyoto canard as scientists learn something they did not know . Something which seriously impacts the current, error prone Global Warming models predicting humanity’s doom at our own hand.

German scientists have discovered a new source of methane, a greenhouse gas that is second only to carbon dioxide in its impact on climate change.

The culprits are plants.

They produce about 10 to 30 percent of the annual methane found in the atmosphere, according to researchers at the Max-Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany.

The scientists measured the amount of methane released by plants in controlled experiments. They found it increases with rising temperatures and exposure to sunlight.

“Significant methane emissions from both intact plants and detached leaves were observed … in the laboratory and in the field,” Dr Frank Keppler and his team said in a report in the journal Nature.

Methane, which is produced by city rubbish dumps, coal mining, flatulent animals, rice cultivation and peat bogs, is one of the most potent greenhouse gases in terms of its ability to trap heat.

Yep, those pesky plants are a major source of green house gases. But how could this be new information?

Keppler and his colleagues discovered that living plants emit 10 to 100 times more methane than dead plants.

Scientists had previously thought that plants could only emit methane in the absence of oxygen.

David Lowe, of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand, said the findings are startling and controversial.

“Keppler and colleagues’ finding helps to account for observations from space of incredibly large plumes of methane above tropical forests,” he said in a commentary on the research.

This is how: we still know so little about our world. This is a great breakthrough, and a lesson for all who think we have mastered our environment. For those pretending to everyone they know what is going on – get down off your high horses and get some humility. For the rest of us, until the can prove they have unlocked the secrets with a repeatable process anyone can perform – it is all conjecture and open for misused.

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Global Warming Snake Oil”

  1. antimedia says:

    What amazes me is the hubris that thinks mankind can actually influence the forces of nature in any meaningful way. If if man is contributing to global warming, and even if we could cease – not reduce – cease emitting, it wouldn’t have near the impact of one volcanic eruption or one tsunami or one hurricane.

  2. clintsf says:

    I’m as skeptical as you are about human-caused Climate Change (particularly the assertion that it can be reduced to the emission of one gas). Having spent time writing computer simulations for extremely simple systems, I’m very skeptical of our ability to simulate something this complicated — particularly when we’re still figuring out what the relevant factors are.

    The fact that we’re still discovering factors that relate to “10 to 30 percent of the annual methane found in the atmosphere” — which makes it about 5 percent of the total radiative forcing — should give any serious scientists serious reservations about theories based on our computer models.

    That said… some “alternate” explanations, like galactic tides, seem fairly implausible. Others like the albedo and heat retention of asphalt (most cities are several degrees warmer than equivalent deserted areas, and have been warming measurably over the last century) seem more plausible to my inexpert ear.

  3. granitroc says:

    Like you, I was flabbergasted over the revelation that a major source for the greenhouse gas, methane, was being observed as plumes over tropical forests. I’m sure this little tidbit of information would have been conveniently dog housed, had it not been for the internet. I guess old Ronald Reagan wasn’t wrong after all that trees are a leading cause for pollution!

    Modeling of global atmospheric trends is a joke. When meteorologists can’t even get a 3 day forecast right, how are we to believe forecasts that go out decades? As a geologist having reviewed many groundwater flow models, I can tell you the results are unreliable. The reason is a lack of data, innumerable variables, a plethora of assumptions, and unreliable data.

    An atmospheric model is many times more complex than a subsurface construct. Even if we continue to build more powerful computers, we have to rely upon data that is suspect. Worse, if the investigator has an agenda, how can we believe the results? As a scientist, I am greatly disturbed by the amount of junk science being put across the table.

    I wish I could suggest a solution to this ongoing pattern of researchers proposing doomsday scenarios to the press. The motivation is simple. Scream loud enough and often enough and Congress will offer funds for new research. The universities are happy, the public thinks something is getting done, and researchers have a job.

    In my own field, I have seen geophysicists feather their own nest by “predicting” a major earthquake in California in the next hundred years (boy what a great surprise) They claim there is an immediate need to get more monies to predict when the next big one will come. Not surprisingly, they got their money. I haven’t seen any benefits, however, and practically speaking, I don’t expect one. I think the meteorologists saw the “benefits” of screaming the sky is falling (I mean heating up) and hope the monies will soon follow.

    The idea of global warming is not new. As a young geology student in the late ‘60’s, it was discussed. The feeling then was that high levels of carbon dioxide would be sequestered (removed from the atmosphere) by oceanic biota, principally corals. The geologic record is replete with periods of extensive limestone formation. These limestones are the physical remnants of living reefs. For example when a coral reef forms, vast amounts of carbon (derived from carbon dioxide) are converted to carbonates, which later form carbonate rocks. It was believed that when temperature and carbon dioxide levels reached critical levels, oceanic reef building would begin in earnest, essentially scrubbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. I haven’t seen a refutation of this concept, but it is an inconvenient theory for those worshiping at the global warming altar.

  4. MerryJ1 says:

    Whoops! Now when the loonies find out that healthy plants contribute more to global warning than SUVs do, what do you want to bet the dynamic duo of Reid and Pelosi introduce legislation to criminalize horticulture — or, at least, to tax it heavily?

  5. patch says:

    In the words of James Brady:

    “Killer trees! Killer trees!


    Okay…So? I’m late with the Carnival this week. Sue and I have the Iranian Flu – it’s led by an irrational cough, fed by a religious fever, and it feels like I have a nuke hidden in my brain. It also wants to “wipe me off …

  7. […] We have a NASA scientist doing his Chicken Little shtick in Global Warming. This guy is correct on the warming (we have hard evidence, how could he not be) and is wildly speculating on the solution without any scientific basis whatsoever (which makes him one of those scientists who can measure, but is not good at developing a thesis on what the measurements mean). I have written a lot on the subject of what we know and don’t know (here, here and here). My speculations on the causes are as probable as the Kyoto crowd – except mine have not been disproved by the Kyoto crowds lousy computer models which can’t predict when tomorrow will arrive it seems. […]