Re: warming from methane vs. CO2
- If you're comparing the impact of carbon going into the atmosphere as
methane AS OPPOSED TO carbon going into the atmosphere as CO2,
counting the warming effect of the CO2 breakdown product of CH4 makes
no sense. If you're regarding the methane breakdown CO2 as aberant,
the CO2 in cattle exhalations is also aberant and we should count that
also. Why don't we count the CO2 in bull's breath although we count
the methane coming from either end? Because it's two entirely
different questions. Cattle produce methane, a powerful greenhouse
gas, and humans husband lots and lots of cattle (some in cattle lots).
Living things emit CO2 -- at least those in the food chain rooted in
green plants. We don't generally count the CO2 emmissions of life as
worrisome because for living things to be emitting, plants had to have
first incorporated the CO2 into their bodies and plants continue to
grow at roughly the rate they get eaten. That isn't to deny that
humans are doing a number on the carbon stored in trees, to mention
just one bad effect of deforestation. However we don't generally feed
our hungry cattle tropical mahogany. If we did, we should ask, how
quickly do our cattle convert that mass of wood into CO2 (and CH4)
compared to other uses of the wood and how much carbon does that
I don't believe I said anything that a reasonable person should
interpret as an endorsement for transportation biofuels. Don't lump
me in with the booblers who think that because we can construe or
misconstrue biofuels to be 'carbon neutral' (and not imported) we
gotta love anything putting down the road burning canola oil.
--- In email@example.com, Jym Dyer <jym@...> wrote:
> > The CO2 from the breakdown of such methane shouldn't count
> > as an agravator of global warming (unlike the methane)
> > because it would have been released when the plants were
> > burned, metabolized, or decomposed -- something that
> > inevitably happens.
> =v= I addressed this point last Monday. The "inevitably" part
> is relevant. Industrializing the rate of processes that occur
> naturally changes the picture, specifically by keeping more CO2
> in the atmosphere for longer than it would be.
> =v= I strongly disagree with the "shouldn't count" mindset.
> People are far too willing to ignore variables that they should
> be paying attention to, side-effects, second-order costs, and
> long-term consequences. All of this is precisely why we are in
> the mess we are in, and we aren't going to get out of it without
> thinking more ecologically.
> =v= The "shouldn't count" argument is routinely advanced to
> support the use of biofuels to run cars. The notion is that all
> we need to do is swap a fuel source and society can continue to
> run the same fleet of cars the same distances they're run now.
> Nobody bothers to tally up all the "shouldn't count" variables,
> so they delude themselves that they're doing something that's
> better for the environment.