A bunch of old Methane
I took a Digg break from analyzing SOM data this morning, and unfortunately I stumbled across a ridiculous article from the Daily Galaxy entitled, “Is Global Warming Part of Earth’s Natural Cycle: MIT Team says ‘Yes’“. This article is just dripping with ‘fail’ – it fails to honestly portray the story it represents, it fails at synthesizing that story with existing data, and it fails at communicating the implications of the story.
The short of it: last October, a team of researchers at MIT announced that global atmospheric methane levels appeared to be rising once more. This is a big deal; while methane is less abundant in the air than its GHG counterpart CO2, it is a much more effective warmer – nearly 25x more effective. Methane is a similar to CO2 in that we observe a rise in its atmospheric concentrations beggining around the time of the Industrial Revolution, which implicates it as a possible contibutor to AGW. The thing is that it appeared to be in a dynamic equilibrium within the atmosphere – it’s rate of creation by human and geological processes seemed to be about balanced with its natural rate of destruction. The researchers at MIT indicate that a tipping point may have been reached, and methane levels might be rising again.
Here’s where the Daily Galaxy jumps the shark: the MIT press release indiciates nothing more than that last sentence. Seriously. This was nothing more than an early announcement indiciating that observations had been noticed, and further research was to be investigated – particularly attribution experiments with high-resolution GCM’s to try to determine what the source of the methane was (although this isn’t explicitly stated in the press release).
What does Daily Galaxy do? They herald this as an MIT team refuting global warming. I’ll give you a moment to ROFLYAO… Got that out of your system? Good. Let’s see why this is so hilariously incorrect:
For starters, ‘global warming’ is mentioned a whopping two times in the press release – the first in an explanation of methane being a greenhouse gas and the second being an explanation that these results warrant immediate attention due to that first fact. So this really isn’t even a press release about global wamring. The bigger thing, though, is that this research says nothing about natural cycles. Those guys at MIT are really good; they are very accurate when describing what they have found. What they haven’t ascertained yet is a reason behind the rise in methane levels, let alone attributing it to ‘natural cycles’. The key ‘cycle’ isn’t even mentioned a single time in the press relase!
The Daily Galaxy severely twists this release out of context. It misinterprets the piece (it seems to think that methane levels have been stable for centuries are now auto-magically rising as a sign of some natural, geological phenomenon, when in reality they have indeed risen substantially), and then builds a flawed analysis reycling the standard fare of denialist talking points relating to natural cycles, global cooling, incomplete knowledge, yadda-yadda.
The article was Dugg, so it’ll probably be eviscerated in the comments section. But isn’t it unfortunate that we have to waste time refuting such garbage?