"Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts."

Richard Feynman, no slouch himself when it came to science, said that.

The Babster's been to the left coast and the results aren't pretty.  In today's Ithaca Journal (h/t South of 5 and 20):

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, D-Ithaca, visited the West Coast earlier this week to tour renewable energy sites in central California and meet with leaders in the green energy field...

[....] "My work on gas drilling has heightened my great concern about climate change, and the role that fossil fuels are playing, according to an overwhelming consensus of our nation's and world's climate scientists," Lifton said. "Peer-reviewed studies are showing that the huge release of methane gas in the drilling and transportation of natural gas, which is mostly methane gas, is likely to significantly add to the amount of greenhouse gas we are releasing into the atmosphere. Since methane gas is anywhere from 72-100 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, such release of methane would add considerably to the already destructive effects we are seeing from climate change."

Lifton said the trip was mostly educational, but may factor into legislation she plans to draft in the next session of the state Legislature...

Remember when the Climategate story broke in November 2009? You remember—the hockey stick? "Hide the Decline"?  Oh, you don't remember? That's because it didn't get muchany play in the lamestream media.  Well, some people noticed anyway and produced a series of videos on the Church of Global Warming at which Babs is a regular worshipper:

Notice the not-very-subtle shift in emphasis in Lifton's remarks above from CO2, the original focus of all the hysteria, to methane, a bugaboo related to our regional environmental cause du jour—fracking.

We here at Redneck Mansion have gone hoarse—in a manner of speaking—on the subjects of our moral and intellectual superiors, global warming (or "climate change" as they now like to call it since "global warming" has become a discredited shibboleth), sustainability, energy development (or the lack of it, more to the point) and the like.  Lifton's brief remarks read like a compendium of logical fallacies, and she makes claims that if not demonstrably false, are at the very least questionable:

...Professor Robert Howarth, a biologist at Cornell University, argues that the gas industry generates as much or more greenhouse gas as the coal industry, though only in the short term. This is because methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide and methane leaks during fracking and production59.

85. This conclusion requires unrealistic assumptions about: the quantity of methane that leaks during fracking, production and transport; the lack of methane leaks from coal mines; the residence time of methane in the atmosphere; and the greenhouse warming potential of methane compared with carbon dioxide60. For example, Howarth assumes that methane has 105 times the global-warming potential of carbon dioxide over 20 years; even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change only uses a factor of 72 over 20 years, but prefers 25 over 100 years, which is the normal period of comparison. And Howarth gets his numbers on high gas leakage from shale gas wells from unreliable sources, his numbers on gas leakage from pipelines from long Russian pipelines, and assumes that `lost and unaccounted for gas‘ is actual leakage rather than partly an accounting measure61. He also fails to take into account the greater generating efficiency of gas than coal. As one critic puts it of Howarth‘s latest paper:

Practically every paragraph includes an assumption, simplification or choice by the authors that tends to increase the calculated environmental impact of natural gas. Whether that‘s the result of bias or merely a series of judgment calls, it undermines confidence in the final conclusions at the same time it amplifies them. -- Geoffrey Styles, The Energy Collective, 15 April 201162.

86. Absent these unrealistic assumptions, gas is clearly a lower-emission fuel. It is also worth noting that the growth rate of methane concentration in the atmosphere `slowed in the 1990s, and it has had a near-zero growth rate for the last few years‘ according to NOAA63. This is hardly the signature of a growing problem.


We've said it before and we'll say it again—the science is not settled.  Babs would do well to not make it sound as though it were.

Subscribe to methane