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Methane: Greenhouse Gas Enemy Number Two Last Updated on 2010-12-16 00:00:00 Methane (CH4) is second only to carbon dioxide (CO2) in its contribution to the greenhouse effect and accounts for about 15% of anthropogenic warming. [1] Moreover, sudden release of CH4 from the melting of seabed methane hydrate is implicated in such cataclysmic events as the Great Dying and the Late Paleocene Thermal Maximum. Once in the atmosphere, CH4 oxidizes to CO2 in about a dozen years. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of humans do not release CH4 when they pass flatus gas [2] — this provides yet another reason why attempts to ignite these emissions are seldom worthwhile. Other human activities, however, do emit large amounts of CH4. Over 75% of the world’s rice is grown in flooded paddies. Soils during flooding soon become anaerobic, and soil microbes generate CH4, or “marsh gas,” through anaerobic respiration. Clearing of agricultural... More »
Climate Literacy Handbook: Principle 5 Last Updated on 2009-07-09 13:35:54   This is a chapter from Climate Literacy Handbook. Previous: Principle 4  |  Table of Contents  |  Next: Principle 6   Principle 5. Our understanding of the climate system is improved through observations, theoretical studies, and modeling   When it comes to climate, how do scientists know what they know? While studies indicate that actively publishing climate researchers virtually all agree that human activities are altering the climate system, the general public is under the impression that scientists are still debating whether or not humans are through their activities changing climate. Essential Principle 5 concerns key elements of climate studies and the "self-correcting" peer review process. Concept 5a. The components and processes of Earth’s... More »