Methane and Climate

The CO2 Coalition is pleased to present a new paper in our Climate Issues in Depth series, titled Methane and Climate.   The paper was written by CO2 Coalition founder and board member Will Happer, a Princeton physics professor, and W. A. van Wijngaarden, of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at York University, Canada. Happer recently served as director of emerging technologies at the National Security Council, where he was President Trump’s top adviser on climate science.

The paper’s Abstract explains that while the “radiative forcing” of each methane molecule is indeed 30 times larger than that of a carbon dioxide molecule, the increase in global methane is 300 times less than that of carbon dioxide. As a result, methane is only one tenth (30/300) as powerful in forcing as carbon dioxide, which adds about a degree Celsius to global warming as it doubles in the atmosphere. A methane doubling would provide only a tiny fraction of total greenhouse forcing, the paper says.

The paper uses spectroscopic measurements from the HITRAN data base of the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories.  The minute effect of methane emissions is summarized by numbers and figures in the paper.

The press release for this paper is available for download.

The paper is available for free download at Methane and Climate

The Life:Powered Initiative of the Texas Public Policy Foundation included the  paper as the scientific basis for a letter submitted today to the Environmental Protection Agency opposing the regulation of methane during oil and gas extraction and pipeline transportation. Some states and countries have been imposing restrictions on extraction, pipelines, and animal husbandry because of fears of methane’s warming potential. Even “cow farts” have been cited as a concern for Green New Deal legislation, which calls for the end of fossil-fueled energy. Over 80 percent of U.S. and world energy comes from fossil fuels.