It’s not enough to apply Chinese-style lockdowns in the name of “fighting climate change.” Now climatists want to stick forks in our food supply, thereby reducing populations to a more “sustainable” number. The attack on world food supply has four prongs to it, just like the forks in the image above.
1. Exaggerate the Minor Climate Impact of Methane (CH4)
2. Oppose Methane from Livestock as a Fossil Fuel, like Coal and Oil.
3. Freak Out over N2O as an Excuse to Ban Fertilizers
4. Meat Shame People’s Diets Because Vegans Love Animals
Background: The Carbon Cycle is Natural
This diagram of the fast carbon cycle shows the movement of carbon between land, atmosphere, and oceans in billions of tons per year. Yellow numbers are natural fluxes, red are human contributions, white indicate stored carbon.
Instead of delusions about CO2 as the planet’s climate “control knob”, Viv Forbes provides us a wise, sane view how the carbon cycle works, and what we know and don’t know about it. And rather than exaggerate the effects of humans recycling fossil fuels, he puts the carbon cycling sources and sinks into a sensible perspective. His recent article is entitled: Carbon Delusions and Limited Models
The IPCC models misread the positive and negative temperature feedbacks from water vapour (the main greenhouse gas) and their accounting for natural processes in the carbon cycle is based on very incomplete knowledge and numerous unproven assumptions.
The dreaded “greenhouse gases” (carbon dioxide and methane) are natural gases. Man did not create them — they occur naturally in comets and planets, and have been far more plentiful in previous atmospheres on Earth. They are abundant in the oceans and the atmosphere, and are buried in deposits of gas, oil, coal, shale, methane clathrates and vast beds of limestone. Land and sea plants absorb CO2 and micro-organisms absorb methane in the deep ocean.
Earth emits natural carbon-bearing gases in huge and largely unknown and unpredictable quantities. Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and various hydrocarbons such as ethane, methane and propane bubble out of the ocean floor, seep out of swamps, bubble naturally out of rivers, are released in oil seeps, water wells and bores, and are sometimes delivered via water pipes into drinking water. They are also released whenever carbon-bearing rocks such as coal and shale are eroded naturally, catch fire or are disturbed by earthquakes, construction activities or mining. The vast offshore deposits of frozen methane are released naturally when geothermal heat or volcanic intrusions melt the ice containing the methane.
The Minor Climate Impact of Methane (CH4)
Natural gas is 75% Methane (CH4) which burns cleanly to carbon dioxide and water. Methane is eagerly sought after as fuel for electric power plants because of its ease of transport and because it produces the least carbon dioxide for the most power. Also cars can be powered with compressed natural gas (CNG) for short distances.
In many countries CNG has been widely distributed as the main home heating fuel. As a consequence, in the past methane has leaked to the atmosphere in large quantities, now firmly controlled. Grazing animals also produce methane in their complicated stomachs and methane escapes from rice paddies and peat bogs like the Siberian permafrost.
It is thought that methane is a very potent greenhouse gas because it absorbs some infrared wavelengths 7 times more effectively than CO2, molecule for molecule, and by weight even 20 times. As we have seen previously, this also means that within a distance of metres, its effect has saturated, and further transmission of heat occurs by convection and conduction rather than by radiation.
Note that when H20 is present in the lower troposphere, there are few photons left for CH4 to absorb:
Even if the IPCC radiative greenhouse theory were true, methane occurs only in minute quantities in air, 1.8ppm versus CO2 of 390ppm. By weight, CH4 is only 5.24Gt versus CO2 3140Gt (on this assumption). If it truly were twenty times more potent, it would amount to an equivalent of 105Gt CO2 or one thirtieth that of CO2. A doubling in methane would thus have no noticeable effect on world temperature.
However, the factor of 20 is entirely misleading because absorption is proportional to the number of molecules (=volume), so the factor of 7 (7.3) is correct and 20 is wrong. With this in mind, the perceived threat from methane becomes even less.
Further still, methane has been rising from 1.6ppm to 1.8ppm in 30 years (1980-2010), assuming that it has not stopped rising, this amounts to a doubling in 2-3 centuries. In other words, methane can never have any measurable effect on temperature, even if the IPCC radiative cooling theory were right.
Because only a small fraction in the rise of methane in air can be attributed to farm animals, it is ludicrous to worry about this aspect or to try to farm with smaller emissions of methane, or to tax it or to trade credits.
The fact that methane in air has been leveling off in the past two decades, even though we do not know why, implies that it plays absolutely no role as a greenhouse gas. (From Sea Friends (here):
More information at The Methane Misconceptions by Dr. Wilson Flood (UK) here.
Give Daisy a Break!
Methane Risk from Livestock is Overstated
Frank M. Mitloehner is Professor of Animal Science and Air Quality Extension Specialist, University of California, Davis. He writes at the Conversation Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the climate. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.
A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.
My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences.
Many people continue to think avoiding meat as infrequently as once a week will make a significant difference to the climate. But according to one recent study, even if Americans eliminated all animal protein from their diets, they would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by only 2.6 percent. According to our research at the University of California, Davis, if the practice of Meatless Monday were to be adopted by all Americans, we’d see a reduction of only 0.5 percent.
Moreover, technological, genetic and management changes that have taken place in U.S. agriculture over the past 70 years have made livestock production more efficient and less greenhouse gas-intensive. According to the FAO’s statistical database, total direct greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. livestock have declined 11.3 percent since 1961, while production of livestock meat has more than doubled.
Removing animals from U.S. agriculture would lower national greenhouse gas emissions to a small degree, but it would also make it harder to meet nutritional requirements. Many critics of animal agriculture are quick to point out that if farmers raised only plants, they could produce more pounds of food and more calories per person. But humans also need many essential micro- and macronutrients for good health.
The world population is currently projected to reach 9.8 billion people by 2050. Feeding this many people will raise immense challenges. Meat is more nutrient-dense per serving than vegetarian options, and ruminant animals largely thrive on feed that is not suitable for humans. Raising livestock also offers much-needed income for small-scale farmers in developing nations. Worldwide, livestock provides a livelihood for 1 billion people.
Climate change demands urgent attention, and the livestock industry has a large overall environmental footprint that affects air, water and land. These, combined with a rapidly rising world population, give us plenty of compelling reasons to continue to work for greater efficiencies in animal agriculture. I believe the place to start is with science-based facts.
N2O is No Excuse to Ban Fertilizers
Methane and Climate is a paper by W. A. van Wijngaarden (Department of Physics and Astronomy, York University, Canada) and W. Happer (Department of Physics, Princeton University, USA) published at CO2 Coalition November 22, 2019. It is a summary in advance of a more detailed publication to come. Excerpts in italics with my bolds. [Note the paper is a thorough and deep expert analysis of atmospheric radiation physics which I do not fully comprehend. So the excerpts below are necessarily superficial, but intend to provide the core findings from these scientists.]
Figure 2: Left. A standard atmospheric temperature profile , T = T(z). The surface temperature is T(0)= 288.7 K. Right. Standard concentrations , Csd = Nsd /N for greenhouse molecules versus altitude z. The total number density of atmospheric molecules is N and the number density of molecules of type i is Nsd. At sea level the concentrations are 7750 ppm of H2O, 1.8 ppm of CH4 and 0.32 ppm of N2O. The O3 concentration peaks at 7.8 ppm at an altitude of 35 km, and the CO2 concentration was approximated by 400 ppm at all altitudes. The data is based on experimental observations.
As shown in Fig. 2, the most abundant greenhouse gas at the surface is water vapor (H2O). However, the concentration of water vapor drops by a factor of a thousand or more between the surface and the tropopause. This is because of condensation of water vapor into clouds and eventual removal by precipitation. Carbon dioxide CO2, the most abundant greenhouse gas after water vapor, is also the most uniformly mixed because of its chemical stability. Methane, the main topic of this discussion is much less abundant than CO2 and it has somewhat higher concentrations in the troposphere than in the stratosphere where it is oxidized by OH radicals and ozone, O3. The oxydation of methane  is the main source of the stratospheric water vapor shown in Fig. 2.
Figure 9: Projected midlatitude forcing increments at the tropopause from continued increases of CO2 and CH4 at the rates of Fig. 7 and Fig. 8 for the next 50 years. The projected forcings are very small, especially for methane, compared to the current tropospheric forcing of 137 W m−2.
The paper is focused on the greenhouse effects of atmospheric methane, since there have recently been proposals to put harsh restrictions on any human activities that release methane. The basic radiation-transfer physics outlined in this paper gives no support to the idea that greenhouse gases like methane (CH4), carbon dioxide (CO2) or nitrous oxide (N2O) are contributing to a climate crisis. Given the huge benefits of more CO2 to agriculture, to forestry, and to primary photosynthetic productivity in general, more CO2 is almost certainly benefitting the world. Radiative effects of CH4 and N2O are so small that they are irrelevant to climate.
The chart above informs on the scale of N2O concentrations. At first glance, it appears comparable to CO2, but on closer inspection the amounts are in ppb (parts per billion), not ppm (parts per million) as with CO2. To get comparable amounts requires dividing by 1000, thus the vertical axis goes from 0.315 ppm to 0.340 ppm. Yes, the dramatic rise over the last 22 years is 0.025ppm.
Then we have the annual global increase of N2O from all sources ranging from about 0.5 to 1.3 ppb. Does anyone believe they can measure N2O down to 0.0005 ppm?
Vegans Pushing Their Anti-Meat Agenda
The origin of these alarms are studies published in Lancet, once highly reputed but recently given over to climate ideology rather than objective science. Most recently is Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems The preceding Lancet study stated this main finding:
Following environmental objectives by replacing animal-source foods with plant-based ones was particularly effective in high-income countries for improving nutrient levels, lowering premature mortality (reduction of up to 12% [95% CI 10–13] with complete replacement), and reducing some environmental impacts, in particular greenhouse gas emissions (reductions of up to 84%). However, it also increased freshwater use (increases of up to 16%) and had little effectiveness in countries with low or moderate consumption of animal-source foods. (here).
Georgia Ede MD writes in Psychology Today EAT-Lancet’s Plant-based Planet: 10 Things You Need to Know. Excerpts in italics below with my bolds. Title is link to full text which is recommended reading. Georgia Ede, MD, is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and nutrition consultant practicing at Smith College. She writes about food and health on her website DiagnosisDiet.com.
We all want to be healthy, and we need a sustainable way to feed ourselves without destroying our environment. The well-being of our planet and its people are clearly in jeopardy, therefore clear, science-based, responsible guidance about how we should move forward together is most welcome.
Unfortunately, we are going to have to look elsewhere for solutions, because the EAT-Lancet Commission report fails to provide us with the clarity, transparency and responsible representation of the facts we need to place our trust in its authors. Instead, the Commission’s arguments are vague, inconsistent, unscientific, and downplay the serious risks to life and health posed by vegan diets.
To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a human clinical trial designed to test the health effects of simply removing animal foods from the diet, without making any other diet or lifestyle changes such as eliminating refined carbohydrates and other processed foods. Unless and until such research is conducted demonstrating clear benefits to this strategy, the assertion that human beings would be healthier without animal foods remains an untested hypothesis with clear risks to human life and health. Prescribing plant-based diets to the planet without including straightforward warnings of these risks and offering clear guidance as to how to minimize them is scientifically irresponsible and medically unethical, and therefore should not form the basis of public health recommendations.
Natural Gas (75% methane) burns the cleanest with the least CO2 for the energy produced.
Leakage of methane is already addressed by efficiency improvements for its economic recovery, and will apparently be subject to even more regulations.
The atmosphere is a methane sink where the compound is oxidized through a series of reactions producing 1 CO2 and 2H20 after a few years.
GWP (Global Warming Potential) is CO2 equivalent heat trapping based on laboratory, not real world effects.
Any IR absorption by methane is limited by H2O absorbing in the same low energy LW bands.
There is no danger this century from natural or man-made methane emissions.
This is a bogus war on fertilizers, farmers and food. Everything is exaggerated for the sake of an extreme agenda to impose controls on free enterprise developed societies. It is true that use of fertilizers results in some release of N2O into the air, but even this has been overstated. And as the video demonstrates, farmers have a vested interest in using fertilizers wisely and are applying techniques that improve efficiency. As well, there is evidence of efficiency gains in the process of producing ammonia and then urea from air and natural gas. The attack on food supply is in effect an effort to reduce the population.
Much Ado About Methane
More Methane Madness
Washing Methane Away: Atmospheric Chemistry
Mastering Methane Mania
Let Them Eat Steak!
Climate Ideology = Bad Nutritional Advice
Carbon Sense and Nonsense