One of the major news items this week is Katie Holmes's impending divorce from that guy who is protecting all of humanity from the shennigans associated with the galactic dictator Xenu. I hope that guy isn't distracted too much by any custody battles, since, um, galactic dictators are, um, bad, and we should afterall, pay attention.
I wrote recently about another overwhelming threat to humanity, the the radioactive tuna fish from Fukushima, and yesterday, while eating a fruit salad containing radioactive bananas at a party near here, I heard people worrying about the tuna fish. They're not going to eat tuna. Whoopeeeeeeee.
The party was outdoors, and people remarked how hot it's been around here, where the temperatures were about 37oC (98oF). We all sat in the shade and I ate radioactive salad, and despite this, somewhat surprisingly, I'm still alive.
This diary is about far less important news than Suri, Tom, and Katie, and the radioactive tuna fish. Peripherally, it's about the fact that as of this writing, 72.1% of the United States is experiencing drought, according to the drought monitor tables with large areas of the United States grain belt experiencing severe drought.
Don't worry. Be happy. If things go well, you can buy a Tesla electric car someday.
The paper from the primary scientific literature that I will discuss today is found in the current issue of the scientific journal Environmental Science and Technology and is published by scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The paper is titled Review of Methane Mitigation Technologies with Application to Rapid Release of Methane from the Arctic
(Environ. Sci. Technol. 2012, 46, 6455−6469...). It's a fun paper and it is all about how the climate forcing gas methane - which is far more potent than carbon dioxide as a climate forcing gas, and is also the main constituent of "clean" natural gas - gets into your atmosphere and, um, changes the climate, not that the climate is anywhere as near as important as Suri's upbringing among the forces fighting Xenu.
Here's some hysterical remarks from the "science types" - many of whom are probably not concerned with Xenu - written in this paper about the problem with methane.
Methane is the most important greenhouse gas (GHG) after carbon dioxide (CO2). It contributes 14% of current GHG emissions by the most common measure, and 30% of current net climate forcing.1,2 Although emissions of methane are much smaller than those of CO2 by mass, methane is far more potent GHG, even as it is shorter-lived in the atmosphere. Averaged over the (most common) 100-year time scale, methane is 25times more potent than CO2 per unit mass. Over a 20-year timescale, which is relevant to the near-term threat of crossing acclimate tipping point, methane is 72 times more potent.2Recent research suggests that methane is more potent still when accounting for its indirect effect on aerosol formation.3In addition to the warming effect of current forcing and emissions, methane plays a role in climatic feedback mechanisms that can exacerbate warming and even lead to abrupt, catastrophic climate change in the future. This risk is primarily associated with the rapid release of carbon stores in the Arctic due to warming, leading to higher atmospheric methane levels, especially in the Arctic. Warming due to higher Arctic concentrations, in turn, leads to additional methane releases in a positive feedback cycle.4−7Whiners.
The authors - hysterics, all - give a break down carry on about other stuff that humanity doesn't care about considering the important fact that there was a radioactive tuna found recently somewhere off the coast of San Diego. (Everyone in San Diego will die.)
They say, as if we gave a rat's ass about what happened to leftover dinosaurs and primitive rats 55 million years ago:
A major release of Arctic methane would have a devastating impact on the global climate and air quality,8 and evidence indicates it has played a role in past warming events in the paleoclimate record.7,9−11 Although the major cause remainsdisputed, Arctic methane is proposed as a driver of the Paleocene−Eocene Thermal Maximum, when global temperaturesrose by about 6 °C, triggering mass extinctions.Contributing to the risk, the climatic response to methane release is superlinear: additional emissions deplete the abundance of the OH• radical in the atmosphere, the primary methane sink, and thereby increase the lifetime of atmospheric methane. Additionally, atmospheric feedbacks with ozone, water vapor, and clouds add to the forcing from methane emissions.12,13For the record, the OH• radical is formed by, um, radiation.
Bastards. They seem to think radiation is um, a good thing.
They whine on and on about where methane in our planetary waste dump comes from.
Most of it comes (26%) from farts, although they're the sort of whiners who can't call a fart a fart, instead referring to farts with the euphemism "enteric fermentation."
Then they have this kind of bullshit to hand out about "clean natural gas:"
The leakage of methane from natural gas systems has received attention lately, driven by the recent and projected massive growth in natural gas extraction from shale formations, or “shale gas”.29 Shale gas extraction tends to be leakier than conventional gas extraction. Based, in part, on a recent upward revision of estimated leakage rates by the U.S. EPA30 and by are cent higher estimate for the warming impact of methane,3Howarth et al.31 reached the provocative conclusion that shale gas can be more harmful to the climate than coal over its lifecycle. Wigley32 reaches the same conclusion, though largely bay different route, that is, by accounting for the cooling effect of aerosols associated with coal combustion that do not accompany natural gas combustion. The large magnitude of methane leaks from natural gas production has been disputed another studies,33−35 with Jiang et al., for example, finding that the life-cycle GHG impact of producing electricity from shale gas is20−50% lower than that from coal.33They then claim that 22% of the methane in the planetary atmosphere comes from oil and gas operations, 11% comes from landfills, 10% comes from rice cultivation - what do they want us to do, starve? - 8% from coal mining, 6% from landfills, and 6% from other agriculture and 3% from burning clean renewable biomass and similar amounts from other crap we don't care about.
Then they talk about all kinds of stuff - it all sounds expensive - that we could do about this if we gave a rat's ass about the climate, but we don't.
Mostly I'm worried about Xenu and Suri, and whether Suri will grow up to be a "Buffy the Xenu slayer."
If you care about methane mitigation schemes - and why should you? - you can read the paper yourself. I've got to go. The Fourth of July is coming up and I have another party to attend.
I sure hope they're not serving tuna fish sandwiches there.
Have a great weekend and a nice holiday.