A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

That Hardy Perennial: 'Fart from the Madding Crowd'.....

Great! Over the last couple of weeks there have been 'will-o'the wisps' flaring all over our media mire indicating that folk might at last be becoming a tad bored and bogged down with carbon dioxide. It's no longer the gas du jour. As good-old Private Eye would point out gleefully: 'Methane is the new carbon dioxide'.

Today, we have a classic piece (inevitably!) in The Observer (July 11): 'Prehistoric clues put greenhouse accomplices in dock'.

Next to some splendid pictures of a wide-eyed moo-cow, a soggy rice field, and terrible termites is the egregious caption: "Are these the real enemies of the earth?"

What a load of crap!

But methane is clearly 'in' (or, should we say 'out' for belching cattle and run-down paddy fields): [I have highlighted the mythical words of doom!]

"Molecule for molecule, these gases are much more effective at trapping solar heat than carbon dioxide. So even modest elevations will produce striking temperature hikes. At the time [a bit back in the Eocene] Earth was covered in wetlands, which produce high levels of methane. This was one of the major contributors to the runaway global warming that gripped the Earth ..... Today termites, cows and other animals are major sources of the gas.

.... But our obsession with it [CO2 - my emphasis] is making us overlook the dangers posed by methane, and the others.

Methane is being produced in increasing amounts thanks to the spread of agriculture in the tropics [I just love it! Blame the wretched poor farmer!]. Rice is a particularly intense source [Clearly goes against the grain]. Car exhaust gases and nitrogen fertilisers are also increasing the other gases.

So even if we control the problem of carbon dioxide, we could still be in dire straits [Notice that we all remain: "Doomed!"] thanks to these gases, which receive much less attention from politicians and campaigners. That is the real lesson of this research."

Of course methane isn't as popular as carbon dioxide with the Greenies. Attacking New Zealand cattle, hobbits and poor rice farmers in the developing world doesn't carry quite the same frisson as lambasting American corporations, Disney and SUV drivers, now does it?

But, as The Observer report demonstrates all too predictably, the essential nonsense in relation to climate change remains unchanged, come carbon dioxide, or methane, or whatever is the next gaseous fad:

"How Earth restored its atmosphere to a cooler level is not known. But it is clear that although the planet regained climatic equilibrium [my emphasis], it endured a dramatic interval of sustained warming - which shows that greenhouse gases, other than carbon dioxide, can have very powerful effects on the climate."

When will people learn that there never was, never will be, and never can be a "climatic equilibrium"! It's an oxymoron. This is the great, great 'global warming' myth of all time!

Until we drop this stupid notion of 'equilibrium', expect many more 'Farts from the Madding Crowd'.

Philip, worried about the methane from his bogged-up bird bath. "Now, all you obese folks, it's time for those anaerobic exercises!" Coffee first, mate!

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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