# Frozen CO2/Methane---does it take away all hope of stopping greenhouse

Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by LorencOfAlbania, Dec 18, 2005.

1. ### LorencOfAlbaniaRegistered Member

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Recently i have been reading alot of articles in new scientists and other magazines about how the rising temperature from the greenhouse effect is melting the siberian permafrost which will release billions of tons of methane that has been trapped inside the frozen peat bogs. How big is this? i mean how much will that methane increase global warming compared to what humans have done and does this mean that even if we stopped driving cars right now it wouldnt matter because the chain reaction has been started?

http://www.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/mg18725124.500

3. ### valichRegistered Senior Member

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3,501
I didn't know about the release of methane from permafrost melting, but permafrost melting is a big problem occurring all throughout the Arctic regions, destroying the boreal forests: Alaska, Canada, Norway, and Siberia.

"A tremendous release of methane gas frozen beneath the sea floor heated the Earth by up to 13 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius) 55 million years ago, a new NASA study confirms. NASA scientists used data from a computer simulation of the paleo-climate to better understand the role of methane in climate change. While most greenhouse gas studies focus on carbon dioxide, methane is 20 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere.

In the last 200 years, atmospheric methane has more than doubled due to decomposing organic materials in wetlands and swamps and human aided emissions from gas pipelines, coal mining, increases in irrigation and livestock flatulence.

A period of global warming, called the Late Paleocene Thermal Maximum (LPTM), occurred around 55 million years ago and lasted about 100,000 years. Current theory has linked this to a vast release of frozen methane from beneath the sea floor, which led to the earth warming as a result of increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

When methane (CH4) enters the atmosphere, it reacts with molecules of oxygen (O) and hydrogen (H), called OH radicals. The OH radicals combine with methane and break it up, creating carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O), both of which are greenhouse gases." http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/topstory/20011212methane.html

"The Alaskan North Slope, and the adjacent Beaufort Sea, a part of the Arctic Ocean, have been intensely studied because of the area's great oil wealth. Numerous drilling sites in the Alaskan North Slope permafrost have already recorded significant surface warming -- of 2 to 4°C (3.6 to 7.2°F) -- during the twentieth century (Lachenbruch and Marshall, 1986).

There are considerable quantities of methane hydrate found in permafrost. One estimate puts the total at about 10 Gt of methane (Kvenvolden, 1993), although there is wild disagreement in such estimates (Kvenvolden, 1988b). This total represents only about 1% of the amount in the ocean's continental margins. Nonetheless, permafrost hydrate methane may have been important in warming the planet"
http://www.killerinourmidst.com/methane and MHs2.html

"A second positive feedback was also left out of the Hadley model because too little is known about it. Huge quantities of methane - a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2 - are stored on the seabed and in permafrost, the permanently frozen earth which covers at least a fifth of the planet. The gas is combined with water or ice to form a solid called methane gas hydrate. 'Rising temperatures destabilise the hydrate and cause the emission of methane' Euan Nisbet of Royal Holloway College, University of London, writes in his book Leaving Eden. 4'One of the nightmares of climatologists is that the liberation of methane from permafrost will enhance the Arctic warming because of the greenhouse effect of the methane, and so induce further release of methane and thus increased warming, in a runaway feedback cycle.' He fears that warming will also release methane from hydrate in shallow Arctic seas. 'Any slight warming of the Arctic water will release hydrate from the sea floor sediments almost immediately' he writes 5. 'The danger of a thermal runaway caused by methane release from permafrost is minor but real?The social implications are profound.'

Several other potentially damaging feedbacks were also omitted from the Hadley study. One is that as oceans warm, they become less capable of absorbing carbon dioxide which therefore builds up in the air more rapidly. A second is that changes in the chemistry of the upper air will affect the rate at which methane - which is relatively short-lived in the atmosphere at present - gets broken down. Taken together, these four effects can only mean that there is a significant risk that warming will spiral out of control during the next half-century unless greenhouse emissions are drastically reduced before then."
http://www.feasta.org/documents/feastareview/climatechangepanel.htm

"Using a computer model to see how permafrost might react based on past and present changes, Scientists predicted that permafrost in the Interior of Alaska will probably begin to thaw over vast areas as early as 2015. Major thawing will most likely occur by 2040. The worldwide amounts of carbon bound in methane hydrates are conservatively estimated to total twice the amount of carbon to be found in all known fossil fuels on Earth. The energy locked up in methane hydrate deposits is more than twice the global reserves of all conventional gas, oil, and coal deposits combined. The amount of methane contained in the world's gas hydrate (i.e. methane hydrate) accumulations is enormous, but estimates of the amounts are speculative and range over three orders-of-magnitude from about 100,000 to 270,000,000 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Hydrates store immense amounts of methane, with major implications for global climate in which changes over a ten-year period could release vast amount of it, making human life untenable. However the natural controls on hydrates and their impacts on the environment are very poorly understood. But a key factor is temperature and if large amounts are just below only one or two degrees below freezing its only a question of time before methane gas is released into the atmosphere in one trillion cubic amounts. Here again computers can calculate the amount of methane needed to make us die out.

At some point in time a trigger temperature will release growing amounts of methane gas 1 litre of solid methane hydrate releases 160 litres of methane gas.2 Methane, a "greenhouse" gas, is 10 times more effective than carbon dioxide in causing climate warming. Because methane is also a greenhouse gas, release of even a small percentage of total deposits could have human terminal problems effect on us. It takes about 10 years for the methane to break down and leave behind carbon dioxide, both will interact with racing temperatures catastrophically for our children.

Gas hydrates associated with permafrost have been documented on the North Slope of Alaska and Canada and in northern Russia. Direct evidence for gas hydrates on the North Slope of Alaska comes from cores and petroleum industry well logs which suggest the presence of numerous gas hydrate layers in the area of the Prudhoe Bay and Kuparuk River oil fields. Combined information from Arctic gas-hydrate studies shows that, in permafrost regions, gas hydrates may exist at subsurface depths ranging from about 130 to 2,000 meters. The recession of glaciers, the disappearance of sea ice, the thawing of the permafrost, they all indicate major impacts.
http://www.russfound.org/Launch/krause.htm

"A third feedback loop involves melting permafrost releasing huge quantities of methane and carbon dioxide as the plant material in the soil decomposes. Methane is 23 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. As methane and carbon dioxide from the permafrost reach the atmosphere, they cause further temperature rises, which in turn cause more melting and more methane and carbon dioxide release, and so on. Melting permafrost has already forced the government of Alaska to cut from 200 to 100 days the annual period during which oil and gas equipment is permitted to travel on the tundra.

It's difficult to overstate the gravity of the situation. The lives of billions of people will be deeply changed. Hurricanes and other extreme weather events are increasing in both frequency and scale, while sea levels are rising as glaciers melt and warming ocean water expands. Moreover, since climate change is occurring quickly, it will soon outpace the ability of many species to adapt and evolve. The polar bear, which hunts on sea-ice, is probably destined for extinction."

5. ### AndreRegistered Senior Member

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889
Check the above post:

This is how the scaremongering slippery slope of the global warming hype works. Just exagarate a bit more than the others. In reality CO2 is about 3-4 times more effective as a greenhouse gas than CH4.

huh???????

I wonder what that statement will do for the nexts posts. perhaps we can make a bet.

7. ### guthrieparadox generatorRegistered Senior Member

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4,089
CO2 is more effective as a greenhouse gas? Last I read, since there is more of it it traps more heat overall, but methane itself is, weight for weight, better at trapping heat.

8. ### AndreRegistered Senior Member

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889
The effect of methane is negliglible to CO2. Let's see why. Let's go to this excellent play toy here, MODTRAN3.

Just put CO2 and CH4 to 0 and hit "submit the calculation" below or hit enter (don't change other settings to match mine). To the right you see the output after a while, a returned longwave ratiation of 250.352 Watt per square meter. Now you can make all calculations you want for different CO2 and CH4 settings individually, like this:

See that CO2 beats CH4 with a factor 3.8 at the unity level (1 ppm). See also in the higher values that the long wave radiation does react very little on large changes. This is saturation.

The values 280 ppm and 380 have been added to reflect the pre-industrial value and almost the current value for CO2 (Note: CH4 is around 1 ppm). Those two dots are visible here between 100 and 500 ppm.

showing the near logaritmic relation between concentration and radiation effect. Perhaps it does show a bit scary but then again how realistic are 1000 and 5000 ppm. But the real effect can be seen here: no logaritmic distortion or scale distortion. See the bundle of marks in the lower left corner? That's what the unbelievably big fuzz is about, the global warming hype:

Last edited: Dec 28, 2005
9. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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23,198
Went to ref, but did not learn anything about the model assumptions. I assume "returned watts" are the power coming to the surface of Earth from only the radiation of the air (clouds and dust particles included) above. Is this correct? Or is it the net atmospheric radiation that is absorvbed by earth (For example, say 50 of thermal out bound is returned to surface with an absorption coefficient of 0.5, then half of the first returned will reflect and try again to escape earth, but some will fail and come back to earth thus incresing the net absorption above the 50% absorbed on first return.) Nothing is very clearly stated.

What is the nature of the surface assumed, i.e. ocean, desert, IR smooth asphalt, forest, etc and its temperature variation (the T^4 makes averages useless) - surely the nature it and the temperature control the out bound radiation, which has potential to "return." I.e. What emissivity as function of wavelength was assumed in the calculations? Was the outbound radiation assumed to be "gray body" (black body at the assumed temperature times this coefficient of emission)? I fear this MAY BE more "garbage in" "garbage out," but the university connection makes me want to know what type model was used. Do you have any information?

PS I would think anyone capable of making this program (I could not) would have enough sense to never let it show 6 significant figures in results when there is probably considerable uncertainity about even one! Things like that are not great confidence builders.

Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2005
10. ### AndreRegistered Senior Member

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889
1. If you look around in the model you will see that you can select a great deal of situations. I did not cover that for simplicity.

A. There is little uncertainty about the absorption spectra of the gasses in question. We're not looking at a prediction / emulation model. Just plain simple basic math for a hypothetical setting that shows how the mechanism works.

That's a fallacy, but it doesn't work here. The guy you are attacking happens to be David Archer:

http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~archer/

who happens to be a global warmer himself and a big friend with the realclimate guys.

Bottom line is that the greenhouse numbers are not debated on either side of the camp. Both know that it's very low.

11. ### valichRegistered Senior Member

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3,501
Andre: You keep posting these graphs about absorption and deny all other scientific evidence and studies that show that the Earth is undergoing a Global Warming trend due to Greenhouse Gases. What is your motivation behind doing this?

The Earth absorbs gases: no one denies this. So what are you trying to prove by posting these graphs? The Earth can only absorb so much: and your graphs show this. We are not concerned about absorption, we are concerned about the increased emission that has been scientificaly proven to add to the current Global Warming trend.

12. ### AndreRegistered Senior Member

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889
That's how science works, isn't it. Ever heart of Aristoteles, Carl Popper, Thomas Kuhn? No, that's waisted here. Science is about finding out reality and scrutinizing again about that finding-out. Falsification and Reproduceability that are the key words. If a hypothesis can be falsified it's wrong. Period. If the Global Warming science was to be true (against the basic physical -saturation- of the Greenhouse gas forcing mechanism) then the consequences would be disasterous. Therefore we must be very very sure that it is true before we do anything that could be very harmful for mankind.

But when we seriously scrutinize the physics of climatology and the geology of palaeo climatology three things seem significant. There are far too many inconsistencies and counterdictions in the science and the incredible aversion against such a scrutiny and the enormous number of fallacies that the global warming hinges on, the role of prediction models for instance has nothing to do with sciencific methods as Michel Crighton explains:

http://www.crichton-official.com/speeches/speeches_quote04.html

Secondly I have explicite positive proof from paleo climaotlogic evidence that it's not true, but it's hard to get people to listen.

After finding out all of that I keep gazing bewilderedly at the passionate attempts of mankind to make anthropogenic global warming true, no matter what.

Why I do it? What do you think: The limelight? Nobel price? To get rich & famous? To sell my climate book as the bestseller of the year?

Forget it, the bringer of bad news (Global warming wrong) would risk lynching much earlier. And there are a few who would be happy to drink my blood (that the Kuhn mechanism of the "Structure of Revolution in Science").

I do it because I love solving riddles. And I think I did.

We are talking about atmospheric absorption of radiation energy, which is the greenhouse effect. The graphs show that changes in amounts of greenhouse gasses have very very little effect on the greenhouse effect.

13. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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23,198
I agree that there is no scientific basis for stating that mankind is responsible for the fact that, at least recently, there seems to be an increase in global warming, at least in parts of the world where ice is stored on land. (Sea levels are rising in part because of this and in part because of thermal expansion.) All of the models used to support this conclusion are too flawed to have any creditability. To site just two simple reasons: (1) CO2 is absorbed by water, mainly the oceans. The amount is linearly related to the air/water interface, but this is uncertain by approximately a factor of two. (Yes the total ocean surface is known to a few percent, but no one knows the air/water interface area associated with the small bubbles contained in the "mixing layer") Furthermore, once absorbed, what fraction and how rapidly is it transported to the ocean depths by dying and falling photo plankton? (2)If evaporation of the oceans is increasing, (Seems reasonable to think it is, as ocean surface temp is rising.) does this increased input into the atmosphere of the most important green house gas (H2O) increase or decrease the global warming? (We do not even know the sign of the effect, much less the quantitive value to put into the equations.) Without doubt, more water vapor will return to Earth more IR trying to leave, but it will also form more often those white things in the sky, called clouds, which reflect sunlight back into space. Which effect is more important? - No one knows.

That said (in agreement with you) I want to ask why not take some of the Koyoto steps? I suspect that you fear dire economic consequences. I respectfully submit that this belief is more of the "consequence thinking" and equally without scientific basis. Admitted "economic science" is less certain than physics. But not without an empirical and theoretical basis.

For example, what would be wrong with requiring almost all new electric motors to use more copper to reduce the I^2R loses to half the current levels? (And many other "end use efficiency" improvements?) If these savings are backed up to the coal saved in generation, they grow about 10 fold. See Amory Loving's article in Sept 05 Scientific American for more details. For example, see specific example of companies that have save millions of dollars, retained their competitive positions only by improved end use efficiency - some investments with one-year pay-back periods. (That whole issue would be good for you to read.)

I think oil is in limited supply, and much too valuable as a chemical, to be burnt for its heat content. Why not convert all mobile use of oil (cars/ trucks /trains /airplanes /etc.) to alcohol produced from tropical grown sugar cane? Replace coal fired plants (and the radioactivity they discharge) with well-regulated nuclear ones, (Not ones like US installed 30 years ago, but "safety first" ones, like the French get 80+ percentage of their electricity from.) It is ridiculous to let power company CEOs specify unique control rooms, unique designs etc. Designs should be limited to a few, all developed by government agency concerned with safety, as in France, not profit motivated CEOs, who for example, put three mile island “on line” 31 December to make sure it was in the base the PSC used to calculate their rate of return for the next year, even though some of the safety pumps were not yet installed, etc.)

SUMMARY:
(1)Predicting a man made disaster by global warming has no scientific basis.
(2)Predicting a man made disaster by adopting Koyoto has no scientific basis.

Both are example of Crichton's "consensus thinking" and fostered on the general population by a relative few who are considering their own self-interests (money & power). Get the facts; do not just repeat the views of a minority trying to protect their interests in the current oil-energy economic base of the global economy. I think you are guilty of only (2) but those you are attacking are guilty of only (1) - Looks like a toss up to me.

Last edited by a moderator: Jan 3, 2006
14. ### AndreRegistered Senior Member

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889
Fair enough, but not quite.

Kyoto is based on flawed science but it forces the nations to take drastic measures that have the wrong objective of reducing CO2 emission.

Reducing the dependence on mineral/fosil fuels, to avoid something like peak oil, is a completely different objective and should be addressed seperately.

For instance, the search for renewables in areas where there is almost nothing to renew, is more or less mandatory for Kyoto but could (will) be highly counter productive. But this can be totally different in other areas. Avoiding peak oil could also include considering oceanic/permafrost clathrate as (interim) fuel source which would be near useless for Kyoto. Moreover, the same fear - scaremongering positive feedback loop, which resulted in kyoto also prevents nuclear solutions.

Fear is a bad advisor. The point is that clear and concise objective gives the chance to head for the most optimal solution for a sustained human society in harmony with nature.

Until the next 100,000 years spike, that is, in about 80,000 years.

15. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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Probably true. I have not read the requirements, but have the impression they are much better than most legal requirements, like building codes, where adjacent counties may each require the type of water pipes the other prohibits (copper vs. plastic).

That is, I understand that there are not even suggestions as to how CO2 and several other "pollution" emissions must be reduced, only that they must be on a nation by nation basis, with some excepted. I think you can even continue to pollute at the old rate and do off-setting things like planting trees, or buying "carbon credits" from some other nation that can cut emission more than required. I.e. Kyoto makes quite flexible implementation requirements, if any.

I agree the Reduction of CO2, MAY be a stupid goal, but as most of it comes from oil and coal, which are non renewable "capital of the Earth," and they have much better uses for chemical, rather than thermal, content, I have no real problem with this stupid goal, if it is one.

To flip a well know phrase: - The road to heaven may be paved with stupid goals.

I think sending men to the moon was a stupid, politically motivated goal, but some good came out of it that the US would not have achieved so soon. If Kyoto can cut oil consumption, cause a rebirth in well done nuclear power, get alcohol as a mobile fuel, improved end-use efficiency*, make better insulated houses with heat recovery in the ventilation air, etc. then stupid or not, I am all for it. It appears clear that it will cause increased economic activity, not a depression, as the oil industry fear mongers would have you believe. It never ceases to amaze me how well they have kept the US voter in the dark about fact alcohol is cheaper, renewable, clean burning, and that the voters pay extra taxes to make them selves pay more of food stuff they could import cheaper! For example, Brazil’s orange growers could cut the cost of your glass of OJ by 40% but GWB’s brother, governor of Florida, would lose his campaign funds.
_____________________________________________
*A "New Years / times square" example of what is possible:
"For the New Year Eve 2006/07 celebration, lighting giant Philips Electronics will outfit the ball with an interior of more efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs). By 2007/08, the entire sphere will be redesigned and completely illuminated by LEDs ...LEDs produce brighter light with virtually no heat and consume 50% to 70% less energy than conventional lighting. Best of all, they can last between 50,000 and 100,000 hours, whereas conventional incandescent light bulbs have a lifespan of around 1,500 hours."

If 60% more efficient lighting is backed up to "coal saved," this is 500% reduction in coal burnt for lighting. That means that when 62.5% of lighting is by LEDs the electricity required for lighting is cut in half. (For many homes, without a lot of airconditioning loads, this means your electric bill would be cut in half.)
The cost of the electricity (at $0.10/kWH) used during the 1500 hours life of a 100W incandescent bulb is$15, much more than the price of the bulb, which I neglect. Assume 75,000-hour life for the LED light. Thus, one LED light equals 50 incandescent ones in light provided. No cost data yet known, even if the LED cost 25 times more than the incandescent one, (Surely LED cost will not be the \$375 each assumed here - the materials used are very cheap compared to tungsten.) you still cut the cost of providing light in half. This is but one example, of how a whole new industry can be created by Kyoto, cutting the cost of lighting in half, cutting the use of oil for lighting in half, and also lessening US dependence on China, the world's only economic source of tungsten. Kyoto MAY be for the wrong reasons, but meeting its requirements will help US avoid the depression the "twin deficits" are bringing when the dollar collapses.

Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2006
16. ### MarsoupsRegistered Senior Member

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I don't see a reason why it has to be addressed seperately. I would say that because the issues have a crossover that it is even more reason to make changes...

17. ### MarsoupsRegistered Senior Member

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I haven't read it yet, but I am quite happy to believe in the work of the UN scientists and their readings on global climate change, as I have seen some of the extreme weather happening around the world.. This confirms for me that the weather is not what it used to be. As far as I am aware, the consensus population actually agrees with what's going on there.....

I really don't understand your thinking --- to say that we humans have left very little imprint on the earths climate at all is to have your head in the sand. Sorry.

18. ### AndreRegistered Senior Member

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889
Now there is a good demonstration of fallacies.

The band wagon fallacy, or consensus science. So many smart people can't be wrong. There are so many examples nowadays that consensus is wrong that another anti fallacy would be: everybody believes it so it's wrong.

Check for instance lasts years Nobel Price for medicin for discovering helicobacter as the cause of peptic ulcers:

http://nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/2005/press.html

The reason for that boldface is that once more it took more than a decade before the resistance of the consensus started to wane, at the cost of many lifes, should the new discovery had been endorsed at the first demonstration. Science record of listening to alternative ideas thus is getting progressively worse.

exactly the name of the fallacy:

http://www.music-cog.ohio-state.edu/Music829C/potholes.html

Now let's take that advice, perhaps you go and check the "Younger Dryas busted" thread on a regular basis and you will find step for step proof for every inch of progress that the current global warming hype -as based on the ice age idea- is completely wrong.

19. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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23,198
Did anyone else see the under-water video of what was reported to be methane bubbling up (on either CNN or BBC)? It was, to me, scary with thousand of bubbles in the field of view. No information about where or how large an area given and I would like to know, so I dug up his old thread instead of star new one.

20. ### valichRegistered Senior Member

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3,501
Go see Al Gore's movie. Nothing more be said. It is well researched, highly acclaimed for its scientific accuracy by almost all world scientists, and puts across the point in succulently yet concise terms.

I lived in China for almost 15 years and never saw a living river there that contained fish -ever! But I did see a lot of protests against chemically polluting factories that killed or greatly affected the health of many a son and daughter of the protestors. So who the hell are you to tell me that there is no evidence that we are not causing pollution that harms our environment and that is causing global warming? Been there, seen that, and go to hell and burn in the inferno if you think otherwise. This is just ridiculous to even debate anymore because anyone who thinks otherwise wears mioptic blinders. Been for a drive through central L.A. or Mexico City lately? Like what you see? If not, then doing something about it!

21. ### doodahRegistered Senior Member

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Wow! Al Gore made a succulent point? That must have been a prickly position

Saw the movie- fast and loose with scientific "facts" and extrapolations. What a bunch of tripe.

22. ### Billy TUse Sugar Cane Alcohol car FuelValued Senior Member

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23,198
I have not seen the movie. Could you be more specific, please? What errors are in it?

23. ### W.DavidsonRegistered Member

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Molecule for molecule, methane is about 20 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2. However, its residence time in the atmosphere is much shorter. Approximate figures are believed to be 12 years for methane and 100 years for CO2, so it's a bit more complicated than it at first appears.

Greenhouse theory predicts that as the lower atmosphere (troposphere) warms due to the heat trapping effect of more greenhouse gases, the upper atmosphere (stratosphere) cools as there is less outgoing infrared radiation to warm it. If the warming was due to solar influence, the whole atmosphere would warm up equally, but that's not what's happening. The stratosphere has cooled by a few degrees as the troposphere has warmed. That looks to me like a smoking gun, but some people have sought to invoke ozone depletion as an explanation for stratospheric cooling.