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Methane Gases

Multimedia
  1. -The Methane Time Bomb (University of California TV)
      Discusses the danger of runaway temperatures because of runaway emissions of methane buried in the oceans and tundra permafrost melting. Dr. Natalie Shakhova, near the end of the video, states that we now have 5 gigatons of methane in the air. We are in significant danger, she claims, of the ice barrier protecting us from the methane just below one continental shelf to break down within decades and to stop protecting us from the release of the methane into the air. The shelf is estimated to have 1000 gigatons of methane and that is one percent of the methane buried in oceans. 03-14

Papers
  1. -01 Global Warming Causes Release of Ocean Methane (Mongabay.com)
      "Global warming will cause gasses trapped beneath the ocean floor to release into the atmosphere according to research [1] presented at the Annual Conference of the Royal Geographical Society [2]. The impact could initiate a catastrophic global greenhouse effect." 05-09

  2. -01 Global Warming Causes Release of Ocean Methane (Scientific American)
      "Since time immemorial, methane and oil have seeped from beds buried beneath the ocean sediment off the California coast. The methane bubbles up and out of the sea, adding to the store of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere. The oil floats up as well and, over time, breaks down into tar that settles back into the marine sediment layer. Now new research into that tar residue seems to show that such seeps are influenced by ocean temperatures, and therefore by the very global warming they help to engender." 11-08

  3. -01 The Methane Danger (Google.com)
      "If the methane release is in a positive feed back loop as described below, there are significant questions raised about how long we have before the relative methane ghg effects surpass those of carbon dioxide. Satellite based atmosphere analysis suggests that atmospheric methane concentration is growing at 7% per year (or doubling every ten years) while the CO2 concentration is growing at 0.7% per year. The major question posed here is: If the ghg effects of methane are rising very fast, once this crossover of relative effects occurs, what good will attempts at containment or reduction of carbon dioxide have? Is it possible that we have a very short period to get control of methane releases before whatever we do will no longer matter? This is a question we can only pose, but the past history of correct impressions does not bode well for the future." 10-10

  4. -Cattle Diet to Reduce Methane Emissions (Science Daily)
      "Beef farmers can breathe easier thanks to University of Alberta researchers who have developed a formula to reduce methane gas in cattle."

      "By developing equations that balance starch, sugar, cellulose, ash, fat and other elements of feed, a Canada-wide team of scientists has given beef producers the tools to lessen the methane gas their cattle produce by as much as 25 per cent." 05-11

  5. -Dietary Solutions to Methane from Cattle (Time.com)
      "Most dietary interventions work by checking methogens — microbes that thrive in oxygen-free environments such as cows' guts, where they convert the available hydrogen and carbon (byproducts of digestion) into methane, a colorless, odorless gas. 'We encourage well-to-do farmers to use oilseed cakes which provide unsaturated fatty acids that get rid of the hydrogen,' Dr. Singhal says. Another solution is herbal additives. Some commonly used Indian herbs such as shikakai and reetha, which go into making soap, and many kinds of oilseeds contain saponins and tannins, substances that make for lathery, bitter meals but block hydrogen availability for methogens. Dr Singhal says they are used in small quantities and the cows don't seem to mind the taste. 'Imagine how much potential they'd have in the international market,' he says." 04-09

  6. -Editorial: Domesticated Animals Should Be a Top Priority on Climate Change (WorldWatch.org)
      "Whenever the causes of climate change are discussed, fossil fuels top the list.Oil, natural gas, and especially coal are indeed major sources of human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs). But we believe that the life cycle and supply chain of domesticated animals raised for food have been vastly underestimated as a source of GHGs, and in fact account for at least half of all human-caused GHGs. If this argument is right, it implies that replacing livestock products with better alternatives would be the best strategy for reversing climate change. In fact, this approach would have far more rapid effects on GHG emissions and their atmospheric concentrations—and thus on the rate the climate is warming—than actions to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy."

      Editor's Note: The amount of GHGs is only a part of the issue. Methane from domesticated animals stays in the air for only a short time while CO2 can stay in the air for hundreds of years. 02-13

  7. -Vaccine to Reduce Methane Emissions (NewScientist.com)
      "You cannot stop a sheep belching or farting, but you can make sure its eructations are less damaging to the environment."

      "Belches and, to a far lesser degree, farts from sheep, cows and other farm animals account for around 20% of global methane emissions. The gas is a potent source of global warming because, volume for volume, it traps 23 times as much heat as the more plentiful carbon dioxide." 04-11

  8. -Vaccine to Reduce Methane Emissions (Science Daily)
      "A major vaccination programme designed to slash methane production by sheep and cattle is underway in Australia."

      Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas. Widespread vaccination could significantly reduce the animals' contributions to global warming, say the vaccine's developers at CSIRO, Australia's national science agency. Vaccination could also boost the animals' growth, they believe."

      "If all cattle worldwide were vaccinated, global methane emissions would be cut by about five per cent, Newbold calculates. As a greenhouse gas, methane is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. 'A five per cent reduction would be considerable,' he says." 9-04

  9. Drive an Electric Car or Quit Eating Red Meat (Living on Earth)
      "One of the most interesting tidbits of knowledge that I learned in the past year is that if you take a cow and a calf in beef production in one of our intensive feedlot systems here in the U.S., that that pair of animals actually emits more in a year than a midsized car in terms of greenhouse gas emissions." 11-08

  10. Farm Methane Projects (NativeEnergy.com)
      "The project will use an anaerobic digester to capture methane gas from cow manure. By using methane to produce electricity with a 165 kW generator and recovering the waste heat to both heat the digester and reduce the use of oil-fired water heating required on the farm, the farm will consume less heating fuel and will displace electricity on the grid, keeping tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution out of the air right here in your region!" 06-06

  11. Food Supplement to Reduce Methane Emissions (NewScientist.com)
      "Adding a dash of fish oil to animal fodder could help farmers stifle the greenhouse gases wafting from their farmyards, new research shows. Switching animals from regular feed onto a diet of fishy fodder cut the amount of methane in their belches by nearly half."

      "According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, belches from farmyard animals account for around 22 per cent of global emissions of the greenhouse gas methane. Volume for volume, methane traps nearly 20 times as much heat as carbon dioxide, making it a potent contributor to global warming." 9-04

  12. Ice Core Extends Climate Record 650,000 Years (Scientific American)
      "Researchers have recovered a nearly two-mile-long cylinder of ice from eastern Antarctica that contains a record of atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane--two potent and ubiquitous greenhouse gases--spanning the last two glacial periods. Analysis of this core shows that current atmospheric concentrations of CO2--380 parts per million (ppm)--are 27 percent higher than the highest levels found in the last 650,000 years." 12-05

  13. Methane Hydrates (AlternateFuelsWorld.com)
      "We must also consider the possibility that a major new fossil fuel resource apart from unconventional oil will come into production over the course of the next two to three decades. Methane hydrates, discovered only in the 1980s, promise to provide a source of methane at least an order of magnitude greater than known natural gas reserves and that methane could easily be converted into liquid fuels by the Fischer-Tropsch. process." 02-08

  14. Methane-Caused Warming (ScienceDaily.com)
      "Methane is the greenhouse gas which has the second greatest effect on climate, after carbon dioxide. The concentration of methane in the atmosphere has almost tripled in the last 150 years. Methane is best known as natural gas, currently an important energy source. Nonetheless, only part of the methane uptake in the atmosphere is due to industrial activities connected to energy production and use. More important for the increase of methane in the atmosphere is the increase in so-called 'biogenic' sources, e.g., rice cultivation or domestic ruminants related to the rise in the world's population. Nowadays, methane in the atmosphere in fact is largely of biogenic origin."

      "The largest anoxic sources of methane are wetlands and rice fields, as well as the digestion of ruminants and termites, waste disposal sites, and the gas produced by sewage treatment plants."

  15. Siberian Peat and Global Warming (National Geographic)
      "Peatlands consist of layer upon layer of partially decomposed plant material. They play a crucial role in governing the atmospheric concentration of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane, Smith said. Increased concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases can accelerate global warming." 12-04

  16. Stop the Cows and Save the Planet (Time.com)
      "Though carbon dioxide is the first gas that comes to mind when we think of greenhouse emissions, pound for pound, methane is more than 20 times more powerful in terms of its global warming potential. Methane doesn't linger in the atmosphere quite as long as CO2, and it's not produced industrially in anywhere near the same quantity, but it does its damage all the same — and livestock toots out a surprisingly large share of it."

      "According to one Danish study, the average cow produces enough methane per year to do the same greenhouse damage as four tons of CO2. The average car, by contrast, produces just 2.7 tons. Multiply that by the planet's 1.5 billion cattle and buffalo and 1.8 billion smaller ruminants and you have the methane equivalent of two billion tons of CO2 per year. According to the U.K. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), livestock account for about 4.5% of all of the country's annual greenhouse gas emissions. Globally the figure is thought to be higher — about six percent."

      "If you change what goes in, you should be able to change what comes out."

      "That's the conclusion reached by a just-released DEFRA study, which not only argues that traditional animal feeds must be replaced, but suggests what the new mealtime fare should be. The big three additions to the livestock lunch-line, according to the DEFRA scientists, should be maize silage, naked oats and grasses higher in sugars."

      "Maize silage, which, as its name suggests, is produced by fermenting corn shuckings in a silo or in covered heaps, can reduce tailpipe emissions by as much as 6%. Higher-sugar grasses can mean a 20% reduction, and naked oats—or oats without husks—reduce methane by a whopping 33 percent." 04-11

  17. Study: Arctic Was Once Tropical (Washington Times)
      "First-of-its-kind core samples dug up from deep beneath the Arctic Ocean floor show that 55 million years ago an area near the North Pole was practically a subtropical paradise, three new studies show."

      "Millions of years ago the Earth experienced an extended period of natural global warming. But about 55 million years ago there was a sudden supercharged spike of carbon dioxide that accelerated the greenhouse effect."

      "Scientists already knew this 'thermal event' happened but are not sure what caused it. Perhaps massive releases of methane from the ocean, the continent-sized burning of trees, numerous volcanic eruptions." 05-06

  18. World's Largest Peat Bog Is Melting (Guardian Unlimited)
      "Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age."

      "The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere." 05-06


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