Save the planet: Plant a billion methane producers. Oops!

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive! Just think of all those smug greenies who justify their air-mile carbon footprints by buying carbon offsets to plant pine trees. Oh, the irony!

A recent article in National Geographic, that go-to source for man-made climate change alarmism, has admitted that trees produce methane – a greenhouse gas!

Although this was first reported way back in 1907 when Francis W. Bushong, a chemistry professor at the University of Kansas published it in the journal Chemical and Physical Papers, it seems to have been forgotten in the rush to blame mankind.

Another large source of methane is wetlands, where plants break down and rot away. Humans have been great at draining wetlands and turning them into productive farmland in the past, but the current thinking is to restore the wetlands to improve water quality and provide natural habitats – an excellent goal. Quote.

Since 1750, the atmospheric concentration [of methane] has surged more than 250 percent (from around 700 parts per billion to more than 1,800 parts per billion). The main human sources linked to the rise are global agriculture—particularly livestock and rice paddies—landfills and emissions from oil and gas operations and coal mines.

Natural sources have always produced large amounts of the gas—currently on a par with those from agriculture. The main source is microbial activity in oxygen-deprived soggy soils and wetlands. […]

The full climate impact of methane from trees is nowhere near that of the tens of billions of tons of carbon dioxide released annually from smokestacks and tailpipes, or the methane from, say, humanity’s vast cattle herds or gas fields. But there is sufficient uncertainty in the estimates setting the “global methane budget” that trees could turn out to be a substantial source. […] End quote.

Whaleoil translation: We don’t have a clue how much this affects the climate (if at all). Quote.

“The emissions from an individual tree are small,” [scientist Kristofer] Covey said. “But there are several trillion trees. At the global scale this could be huge.” […]

The findings are already challenging old norms. Dry upland forests were long assumed to be removing methane from the air through the action of a class of soil microbes called methanotrophs. But work by Megonigal and others is showing tree emissions can diminish or possibly exceed that methane-scrubbing capacity. […]

At every scale, from whole forests to clusters of similar trees in a forest to the dynamics in individual trees, the one constant is variation, said Megonigal, at the Smithsonian research center in Maryland.

Covey described forests where similar trees in similar soils have been measured with a fiftyfold difference in methane emissions.

Some trees have been measured to be emitting methane near the base and absorbing it higher up the trunk.

But that’s not the least of it. Closer analysis has found that a single tree can be absorbing methane near the base through microbial processes and emitting it higher up the trunk. […]

The emerging findings on methane and forests are likely to stir discussions about next steps for climate policy related to forests, which has long focused on trees’ capacity to absorb and store carbon dioxide, with little attention to other properties.

“The thing we know about forests is that they sequester carbon,” Covey said. “That’s what you learn, what’s in a third grader’s cartoon drawing of a forest.”

The reality for climate is more complicated. “There is global warming but there’s no global forest,” he said.

The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change supports forest projects as a way to draw down carbon dioxide emissions that countries have so far failed to constrain at the source. The United Nations has launched a Trillion Tree Campaign. There are a host of ways for companies and consumers to spend money on forest projects through “carbon offsets” to compensate for emissions from travel and the like. End quote.

National Geographic


The Minister for Trees better get the nephs back on the couch while he and Shaw sort out whether the billion trees project is going to save the planet or doom us all. I hope the million or so they mulched are not breaking down and releasing methane.

Remember folks – the science is settled.

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