Microbes Manage World Climate!!

http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20120407190029data_trunc_sys.shtml

Now if you bother to read this article carefully, which I did being a responsible blog host of course (!), you might notice how the scientific method works these days.

1. Wilkinson and co-researcher Graeme Ruxton, from the University of St Andrews, were studying sauropod ecology when a question dawned on them: If modern cows produce enough methane gas to be of interest to climate scientists, what about sauropod dinosaurs?

Comment: in other words, since it is of interest it must be worth studying. Fair enough, but basically it’s a very social-group type sort of motivation if you ask me.

2. The researchers based their calculations on a medium-sized sauropod weighing around 20,000 kilograms, and population densities ranging from a few large adults to a few tens of individuals per square kilometer. They then calculated that global methane emissions from sauropods would have been 520 million tons (520 Tg) per year, comparable to total modern methane emissions.

Comment: they made wild guesses as to the population numbers, and also assumed constant sizes even though we know that both plant and animal populations have enlarged and shrunken sometimes quite rapidly (including humans, for Westerners are about 25% larger than our forebears of only about 15 generations ago – maybe it was the bread??!)

3. Before the industrial age, about 150 years ago, methane emissions were roughly 200 Tg per year. By comparison, modern ruminant animals, including cows, goats, and others, contribute methane emissions of 50 to 100 Tg per year. The researchers say the study’s conclusions; “serve as a useful reminder for the importance of microbes and methane for global climate.”

Comments: well, maybe the first part is just poor journalism but I can’t make head or tail of what point, if any, is being made. So 150 years ago we had 200T per year (they are guessing). Today we have 50 -100T from animals. OK. So? In any case, we now get to the conclusions: ‘the study serves as a reminder for the importance of microbes and methanes (which are produced mainly by microbes) for global climate.”

I heartily agree, being a microbe maniac of sorts. But again, not to get too pithy here but: DUH!!! Of course microbes influence the climate. ALL LIVING THINGS in our ecosystem influence the climate. The climate is just a word we use to distinguish certain aspects of the world from certain other aspects but just because it is a word doesn’t mean it exists.

Truly, there really isn’t a thing, entity, being or particular ‘it’ that the word ‘climate’ refers to.

I wonder if scientists have the faintest idea what they are doing these days…. certainly they need far better general studies education, including things like logic, rhetoric, philosophy, quantum physics and so forth.

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