January 17, 2006


Plants revealed as methane source (Tim Hirsch, 1/11/06, BBC News)

Scientists in Germany have discovered that ordinary plants produce significant amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas which helps trap the sun's energy in the atmosphere.

The findings, reported in the journal Nature, have been described as "startling", and may force a rethink of the role played by forests in holding back the pace of global warming.

And the BBC News Website has learned that the research, based on observations in the laboratory, appears to be corroborated by unpublished observations of methane levels in the Brazilian Amazon.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 17, 2006 3:26 PM

Isn't this the same theory that Ronald Reagan got into a heap of trouble for a few years back? (I seem to recall the MSM snickering when Reagan repeated claims that trees were a significant source of pollution.)

Posted by: Brian McKim at January 17, 2006 3:57 PM

Trees do indeed cause the "smoke" in the Great Smokies.

Posted by: ghostcat at January 17, 2006 4:15 PM

"Until we know how this process works it is really unwise to come to any conclusions."

Funny. That's what conservatives have been saying about Global Warming for about a decade. Now that they've discovered trees may be a natural source of greenhouse gases, the so-called scientific community is suddenly stricken with a serious case of humility.

That quote should be a required element for every story about Kyoto and Global Warming, particularly those that recommend global Socialism as the only logical response. After reading this story, I guess the Sierra Club owes some big time apologies to the loggers of the Pacific Northwest. But I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: JonK at January 17, 2006 4:34 PM

We're signing up loggers to do a cut on our timber before things get too bad environmentally. Time to start filling in those boggs too. Although you know, I personally wouldn't mind a little warming about now.

Posted by: Genecis at January 17, 2006 4:44 PM

Have you guys noticed these stories are starting to come closer together?

Now that Kyoto is essentially dead?

What happened?

Posted by: Sandy P at January 17, 2006 4:49 PM


Let's see. You cannot possibly support paving for autos. Aha! You're a cyclist or perhaps a Segwayist, -ite or -arian. Or a scooterphile.

Posted by: Ed Bush at January 17, 2006 4:50 PM

Trees also contribute to urban smog.

Smog is produced by a reaction between ozone and hydrocarbons. You may remember, a few years ago, gas stations were required to install equipment to capture the gasoline fumes forced out of your gas tank as it fills with liquid gasoline. This was to prevent the fumes from reacting with ozone to produce smog.

So the new equipment was installed at great expense, and there was no reduction in smog. Further investigation showed that urban vegetation, trees being prominent, produced enough hydrocarbon vapors to react with all the available ozone. So regulations aimed at reducing the production of ozone were pursued.

Needless to say, the failed regulations on gas fumes stay on the books.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at January 17, 2006 7:06 PM

They're called "greenhouse" gases, yet no one thought that plants might contribute?

What do they think is grown in greenhouses?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at January 17, 2006 7:17 PM

The Brazillian Amazon was less jungley in the past when lots of people lived there and farmed the land, just ask Francisco de Orellana.

Posted by: Carter at January 17, 2006 10:19 PM

"And the BBC News Website has learned that the research, based on observations in the laboratory, appears to be corroborated by unpublished observations of methane levels in the Brazilian Amazon."

They reference a US study that will be published, but somehow I think this might not be that uncommon an observation. Just not one that's worth looking into because it's just not the right answer.

Posted by: RC at January 18, 2006 12:44 AM