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March 02, 2017

Probes of Deep Sea Floor Reveals "Strong" Sources of Methane, a Powerful Greenhouse Gas

To understand why this is important, you need to know what the "Science Media" refuses to tell you: While carbon dioxide is classified as a greenhouse gas, it is barely classified as one: It is one of the very weakest to have such a designation.

By the way, carbon dioxide is an even weaker greenhouse agent than understood even by climate skeptics: It begins as a weak greenhouse gas, and then becomes even more weak at higher concentrations. That is, units of carbon dioxide do not "stack" upon themselves as simple as 1 + 1 = 2. It's more like 1 + 1 = 1.4. And the 1 + 1 + 1 = 1.65.

As carbon dioxide concentration increases, the addition of any more carbon dioxide contributes less to the greenhouse effect than the last. The "marginal" impact of every new dose of carbon dioxide is always less than the last dose administered.

Methane, on the other hand, is a powerful greenhouse gas.

How much more powerful is methane than carbon dioxide in terms of greenhouse impact? Try thirty times more powerful, Jack.

The Warming Mongers have occasionally sort of owned up to this Inconvenient Truth. When they talk about cattle farming as being a Danger to Our Very Earth, they're talking about the methane produced by cows' digestion of grass and feed. Their farts, I mean. More cows, more methane, more greenhouse effect.

But of course their central preoccupation is carbon dioxide, which I have a habit of mocking as The Invisible Killer. In fact, it's not so much a killer as a minor bother.

Now scientists have probed the tropical Pacific floor, and have found a great big swath of microbes pumping out a gas that actually has a greenhouse impact beyond the trivial.

Writing in the journal for the International Society for Microbial Ecology, (Friday 24 February 2017) the team describe for the first time how microbial methane production in parts of the seafloor, where the water is very low in oxygen, feeds a vast methane pool which extends from Panama, up to Mexico and as far out as the Hawaiian archipelago.

Joint lead author Felicity Shelley, from QMUL's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, said: "The research is novel because it's the first time anyone has successfully retrieved sediment from this part of the ocean and directly measured methane production using specialised equipment on board the research ship."

"It is important that we understand how microbes produce and consume this powerful greenhouse gas, especially in the oceans where we currently understand very little."

Hack Scientists Who Didn't Really Major in a Real Science: "The science is settled."

Actual Science: "Yes, lads, you've fathomed all of my mysteries in the thirty years since you've created and then 'pefected' this infant grab-bag science of yours. You've got me all figured out, and there's nothing left to learn. Well done, boys. Very well done. By the way, I'm being very sarcastic. Like Spock with an arched eyebrow. That's how Science rolls."

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