Cows Can Rest Easy: Study for EPA Finds Fears About Methane Increase “Are Not Justified By the Facts”
Spectroscopy Paper by Former Trump Science Adviser is First to Challenge the “Methane Scare”
Arlington, VA – The CO2 Coalition, a group of climate scientists, today released a study showing that the projected doubling of methane levels over the next 180 years would have a barely measurable effect on global temperature. The paper, Methane and Climate, 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 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.
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. 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 minimal effect of methane emissions is summarized by numbers and figures in the paper.
“Cows and oil drillers can rest easy,” said Dr. Caleb S. Rossiter, the executive director of the CO2 Coalition. “This report by respected physicists Drs. Happer and van Wijngaarden show that methane is irrelevant to global warming, and alarmist reactions to an increase are unjustified.”