Quite a lot to report on with Dr Wilson Flood throwing a spanner in the works. He is a Doctor of Chemistry from the UK. I will report more on this later. A quick précis is that the premise that methane is a greenhouse gas 21 times more effective than CO2 is not right. Fonterra and Dairy NZ and MAF and all the other defenders of the crooked science of livestock emissions tell us that livestock convert CO2 to CH4 (methane) “a gas which is 21 times more effective than CO2 as a greenhouse gas.” (they say)
They are wrong; the gas is not 21 times more effective at all. Their confusion stems from the fact that it is 1 tonne of CH4 which is 21 times more effective than 1 tonne of CO2, but as Dr Flood points out there are a lot more CH4 molecules in a tonne than there are CO2 molecules in a tonne.
(This is because CO2 has a molecular weight of 44 while CH4 is only 16. There are 2.75 times more CH4 molecules in a tonne than there are CO 2 molecules in a tonne.)
If livestock take 1 tonne of CO2 and convert it to CH4 they will only produce 363kg of CH4
363kg CH4 is 21 times more effective as a GHG than 363kg CO2 (over 100 years) so;
363kg CH4 multiplied by 21 equals 7623 kg which would be the CO2 equivalent value of this methane. So while a tonne of methane might be 21 times more effective than a tonne of CO2 the gas itself when a molecule of CH4 is compared to a molecule of CO2 is only 7.6 times more effective than CO2 as a GHG.
The implications of this are huge, notwithstanding that livestock in a steady state converting CO2 to CH4 does not alter the concentration of either gas because it is part of a cycle and therefore does not cause global warming; all the calculations and all the arguments put forward by the Govt work on the basis that for every tonne of CO2 removed from the atmosphere and converted to methane, 21 tonnes of CO2equivalents are returned adding an extra 20 tonnes of these mythical CO2e’s to the mythical atmosphere.
But now it turns out for every tonne of CO2 removed only 7.6 of these mythical CO2equivalents are returned adding 6.6 tonnes of mythical CO2e. A long way short of 20, which throws everything they say and have calculated out the window.
The world seems to be crumbling a bit for the likes of Fonterra and the politicians who argue that methane needs mitigating. It needs to crumble a lot faster and I am working on the implications of this information to see what we can use to help this process.
Watch this space.
Also the Executive of Pastural Farming met on the 30th May to pass the annual accounts. You will receive these shortly and a review of things discussed. I have had a set back in that the website has had some issues, a number of newsletters have not gone out so it is being repaired and some new features put in. This is an expense we did not need but we now have a new look website, check it out.
A member sent me this, apparently there is confusion about livestock emissions which is causing lack of buy-in by the public and primary industries to the intentions of an emission trading scheme (ETS). I don’t know whether we are to blame for any of the confusion and lack of ‘buy in’ I certainly hope so.
I am not sure what the motivation of Massey University in putting this on, they talk about carbon which in scientific terms is an atom but by the way they talk about it maybe they are not talking about the scientific carbon but the political one. If anyone goes to this I would appreciate knowing how it went.
Carbon – the science and the sense
Tuesday, 28th June, Palmerston North
AgHort Lecture Block, Riddet Road, Turitea Campus, Massey University
A one-day Forum aimed at clarifying some issues regarding ‘carbon’, carbon cycling, stocks and flows, and carbon equivalence (for example in greenhouse gas, soil organic matter or trees) that have led to confusion and lack of buy-in by the public and primary industries to the intentions of an emission trading scheme (ETS).
The goal of the carbon day will be to build on the basis of better public understanding of the carbon cycle (and carbon equivalence) to identify how New Zealand can advocate a strategy to manage ‘carbon’, to assist in sectors’ decision-making around the effective management of carbon and all its implications to encourage NZ industry and public to ensure that resources
are used more efficiently.