Irreparable harm? Climate advocates respond with the humanistic sloganeering of we must save humanity, that we must save the planet, that we must have the insurance policy of reducing global CO2 and methane at all costs! What does “at all costs” mean?
The best answer to this question was stated in an article titled “A Volcano Eruption Can Emit More CO2 Than All Humanity. Why Worry?” Published on February 12, 2020, Written by John Walker.i Quote:
“Such actions would be irresponsible, illogical, socialistic, cruel, and lead to massive morbidity and mortality!
“The trillions of dollars of scarce global resources wasted on global warming hysteria, anti-fossil fuel fanaticism, and green energy schemes, properly deployed, could have improved and saved many lives.
“About two million children below the age of five die from contaminated water every year – about 70 million dead kids since the advent of global warming alarmism. Bjørn Lomborg estimates that a fraction of these squandered green energy funds could have put clean water and sanitation systems into every community in the world.
“Waste of funds and loss of opportunity due to global warming alarmism and green energy nonsense have harmed people around the world. In North America and Europe, trillions of dollars have been wasted on grid-connected green energy schemes that have increased energy costs, increased winter mortality, and reduced the stability of vital electrical grids.”
In this article, we attempt to put to rest all concerns about the negative impacts of methane emissions into our atmosphere.
At the outset, let us apologize for our length while assuring you that you will never need to read more about methane.
Methane is a simple hydrocarbon molecule, having one carbon (C) bonded to four hydrogens (H) atoms. It is mainly found as the main component of natural gas. It is located in coal seams, hence the “canary cage” test used in old coal mines. Methane is also naturally produced by the decomposition of organic matter like marsh gas. It is produced by nature in seafloor sediments, stored in Arctic tundra, and locations worldwide. Methane is also produced by the digestive process of sheep, cattle, termite, etc., as they convert plant cellulose into fatty acids. Methane has a half-life of about ten years in the atmosphere before oxidizing to carbon dioxide gas and water.ii This article closely parallels the increased methane and CO2 as both gasses have been accused of human-caused GHE (greenhouse effect) driving global warming.
There is one exoplanet factor that affects atmospheric heating and three earth-originated factors. The dominant external factor is, of course, the Sun. The Earth originated factors are:
- The albedo, composed of water vapor/cloud cover and atmospheric particulates, both nature-made and human-made, and
- Atmospheric chemistry as in which gasses make it up and in what proportional amounts, and
- Earth’s own heat sources, like its nuclear furnace as uranium, thorium, and other radioactive materials, fission like a human-made nuclear reactor.
The only factor that has changed significantly over the years since the onset of the industrial revolution 1755 is the atmospheric chemistry, specifically what gases and in what amounts make it up. In Table 1,iii we see the atmospheric composition of the greenhouse gasses, excluding water vapor which will be discussed later. We see that total methane has increased from 0.848 ppm (parts per million) to 1.745 ppmiv , a rise of 28%. We also note that the human-made portion of the increase is 36% (0.320/0.897), and nature accounts for the remaining 64%. By comparison, the human-made part of the increased CO2 is at most 15%, and nature made is 85%. See side note.
Many scary claims are made that methane is even more potent than CO2 and thus should be controlled as much as CO2. But here is a simple fact. Yes, methane is about 85 times more powerful than CO2 on a molecule-by-molecule basis. Still, methane’s importance is greatly diminished because there is so little CO2 and methane in the atmosphere is even less. Look at how little CO2 and methane are actually in the atmosphere: Nitrogen, Oxygen, and other gases make up 99.96%. CO2 comes in at a puny 0.04% and methane at 0.0002%, practically zero. So now the question is, how does that contextually compare to the Earth’s total radiative forcing effect?
From Figure 1v, we see 1.8 Watts/m2 for CO2 and methane by 0.6 w/m2. For a benchmark contextual comparison, the combined radiative forcing of CO2 and methane is barely 0.5% of the Earth’s solar energy budget of 340 W/m2. And of which the human-made portion of this CO2 radiative forcing increase is a miserly 0.008% and methane a laughable 0.005% of the Sun’s total radiative forcing budget.
In Figure 1,vi we saw that both methane and CO2 are logarithmic functions, meaning as the volumes keep increasing, the incrementally added energy diminishes, eventually reaching their asymptotic limits.
This declining relationship is best illustrated in Figure 2iv in greater detail and is based on the ideal condition of a transparent atmosphere. For example, here we see the first 100 PPM of CO2 generates 22 Watts/m2, but the next 100 PPM, going from 100 to 200 PPM, generates only 6 Watts/m2 (28-22), and going from 200 to 300 PPM generates only 2 Watts/m2. (30-28). By the time we reach about 1,000 PPM, the energy tops out at about 37-38 Watts/m2. Thus, at about 1,000 PPM, adding more CO2 essentially generates no additional energy.
But recent developments indicate that in our real atmosphere, all of the existing CO2 is already enough to absorb all the bounce back radiant energy from the world. Thus, adding additional CO2 in the atmosphere essentially adds no additional radiative forcing. For example, this articlevii estimates that in our actual atmosphere, the saturation level was reached at about 380 ppm. However, other reports suggest that it may have saturated at a low of 280 ppm.
Water vapor. Now the UN/IPCC and their acolytes, most notably NASA and NOAA, make the deceptive claim that CO2 is the most dominant greenhouse gas and methane is right behind it. They boldly make that claim because they chose not to include water vapor, as shown in Table 2. They assert that CO2 accounts for more than 72% of the greenhouse effect and methane at 7.2%. However, as Dr. F Singer demonstrates,viii this is grossly deceptive on two fronts.
First, it ignores each greenhouse gas’s relative strength, and secondly ignores water vapor. Thus, we get a very different picture when adjusted for these crucial factors, as demonstrated in Table 4.ix Here, Dr. Singer tells us that water vapor’s GHE (greenhouse effect) accounts for about 95% of the total GHE.
dOn the other hand, total carbon dioxide accounts for about 3.6%, and total methane a puny 0.36%. Then we are astounded to see that the human-made CO2 accounts for a microscopic 0.117% and human-made methane a diminutive 0.066% compared to water vapor at an astounding 95%.
Radiative Forcing. Furthering our explanation of Radiative Forcing, we said this measure of energy is stated in watts per square meter. It is not measured in degrees Centigrade or Fahrenheit of Kelvin! So how does this electromagnetic disturbance energy, measured in W/m2, becomes heat, as in the heat that’s allegedly causing global warming? The simple answer is that it does not! There has never been any laboratory test that demonstrates that this radiative forcing ever becomes heat. There are two stories on the greenhouse effect, the politicized UN/IPCC story and the scientific story. Let us take a look at both.
The UN/IPCC story goes like this. First, most notably from the visible light and infrared radiation, a portion of the Sun’s energy heats the Earth. Then, as the Earth cools, it emits long and short wave IR radiation to the atmosphere. The long-wave IR radiation goes through the atmosphere directly to space, thus cooling the Earth. But the shortwave IR radiation is supposedly absorbed by the GHGs (Green House Gases) and, most notably, CO2 and methane. Then by one remote interpretation of the Stephan-Boltzmann equation, this absorbed shortwave IR energy somehow becomes thermal energy as it first warms the GHGs (CO2), which then go on to also heats the other atmospheric gasses.
Swedish physicist Svante Arrhenius first proposed the theory in 1896. Then starting in the late 1970s, a consensus began to form that this is indeed the case based on outputs of computer models and computer simulations. But as of today, August 6, 2021, and after 125 years of trying and hundreds of $billions spent on research, no laboratory test has ever demonstrated and yielded data that proves this CO2-radiative forcing theory. Dr. Richard Lindzen, MIT atmospheric physicist and former member of the UN/IPCC and Lead Author of their Third Assessment Report (AR3), says no coherent scientific theory explaining how this shortwave-IR energy ever becomes thermal energy. But it provides a simple story, easily understood by children like Greta, Al Gore, the media/press reporters, and politicians.
The untold story is not as dramatic and relies on well-understood laws of thermodynamics, physics, and atmospheric dynamics of how the atmosphere gains, retains and loses heat. I say principles because, in practice, the number of variables is so many and their interdependencies so complex that it is impossible to calculate or even adequately estimate.
If we look at figure 3, a typical NASA/NOAA Earth Energy Budget, we see purported heating of the atmosphere. First, we see that about 77 W/M2 of the Sun’s energy is absorbed by the atmosphere and nearly all from the UV (Ultra Violet) spectrum, accounting for about 22.6% of the Sun’s total 340 W/M2 energy arriving at Earth. Secondly, we see it is also heated by about 86 Watts of latent heat (about 25% of the Sun’s energy) and18 Watts of thermals (5.4%). So, by this basic arithmetic, we have the equivalent of 182 W/m2, more than 53% of the Sun’s energy warming the atmosphere. By warming, we mean imparting well-known kinetic/motion energy on all the atmospheric gasses, most notably nitrogen and oxygen, resulting in increased molecular speeds (Brownian Motion) and the collisions and their collision force which we measure as heat. So yes, something could be called a greenhouse effect, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the UP/IPCC radiative forcing of atmospheric CO2 or methane.
The Earth’s Nuclear Furnace. One last comment or question on the thermals and latent heat portion, how much of this heat originates from the Sun versus how much is supplied by the Earth’s heat sources like its internal nuclear furnace, fermentation, and bio decomposition? We do not know, but one thing we do know is that NOAA gave us a hint.
On July 18, 2011, NOAA declared, in Scientific American and Nature Geoscience on July 17, 2011, that more than half of all the heat that keeps planet Earth from freezing in the cosmos comes from the fission reactor at the Earth’s core. Look at Figure 4; the Earth’s nuclear outer core, equal to 1/3rd of the Earth’s entire mass, is molten iron. And due to the Coriolis effect, these wild and chaotically spinning liquid iron currents push and shove the Earth’s continental plates around, opening vast fissures in the Earth’s mantle, blowing up volcanic mountains, and heating the Earth’s soil, mountains, and oceans alike.
This Earth nuclear furnace is almost 10,000 F, nearly as hot as the temperature of the surface of the Sun. So, the big picture question is, why is this vital fact hidden from the public by a servile press and docile university professors? These non-radiative forces and heat dominate climate change on Earth, not by a few silly molecules of human-made CO2 or methane
iv The figure in this article are based on a 2001 paper first published by Dr. F Singer in the Wall Street Journal, and while the absolute values have changed in the last 20 years, their relative values and effects remain valid for this illustration. The article is found at https://climatecite.com/water-vapor-rules-the-greenhouse-system/#:~:text=Water%20vapor%2C%20responsible%20for%2095,This%20is%20insignificant!