We know methane’s the NZ farming villain — now let’s measure it

New Zealand’s first official space mission announces ‘mission control’

New Zealand’s first government funded space mission has taken a ‘giant leap’ with Auckland University’s Te Pūnaha Ātea-Auckland Space Institute announced as the permanent host of the New Zealand based mission control centre for a global methane tracking satellite.

“MethaneSAT is a really exciting opportunity to showcase New Zealand’s science and research expertise on the world stage, while making a significant contribution to climate change by mapping agricultural emissions of greenhouse gases. It’s great to see Auckland University, with the help of Rocket Lab, playing such a key role” says Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods.

Mission Operations Control Centre (MOCC) for the mission will be managed by Rocket Lab. Once it is running smoothly, it will be transferred to Te Pūnaha Ātea-Auckland Space Institute as the host.

“This international partnership will accelerate our capability in our rapidly growing space sector, increase our reputation for future space missions and provide vital data to support our own climate change policy,” Megan Woods said.

“The mission will see the New Zealand Space Agency partner with one of the world’s leading environmental NGOs, The Environmental Defense Fund, which will also include a team of leading New Zealand atmospheric science and remote sensing researchers led by NIWA’s Dr Sara Mikaloff-Fletcher,” Megan Woods said.

In addition to its agricultural emissions research, the New Zealand science team will work with the US based science team that’s leading the mission’s science on methane emissions from the oil and gas sector. The US team is led by the University of Harvard in close partnership with The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

read more here

This satellite project sounds very good. MethaneSAT will give us high-quality data on minuscule methane, the famous trace gas (at only 0.00041 of the atmosphere, less than a thousandth CORRECTION –H/T Rick– 2 May 2021 13:54 NZST: at only 0.0000017 of the atmosphere, just shy of two millionths). So let’s do the same with atmospheric water and its vapour, widely unacknowledged as the LEADING greenhouse gas (at around 2% of the atmosphere across ocean-girded NZ, 10,000 CORRECTION 2 May 2021 13:54 NZST: 11,700 times more abundant than methane).

In other words, let’s get excellent data on water so we can evaluate the true role played in warming behind water by the minor GHGs. Shame they couldn’t do this before declaring methane the farming villain, but now maybe we can introduce properly scientific, adult decision-making to replace the deeply-felt emotional propaganda erupting everywhere in connection with Net Zero Carbon. Love the Earth? Of course we do! — RT

28 Thoughts on “We know methane’s the NZ farming villain — now let’s measure it

  1. Rick on 02/05/2021 at 11:15 am said:

    “(at only 0.00041 of the atmosphere, less than a thousandth)”

    I don’t know where you’ve got that figure from, Richard, but NASA’s Earth Factsheet says atmospheric Methane is currently at 1.7 ppm. That’s slightly less than 2 millionths of the atmosphere by volume!

    [See: https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/earthfact.html ]

    • Richard Treadgold on 02/05/2021 at 1:27 pm said:

      Deep apologies. You’re right. I got it from the wall beside me, where it says 380 ppm = 0,038% CO2, which I replaced with a more recent figure of 410 ppmv, forgetting CO2 is not methane. I think I’ve got the zeroes in the corrected post accurately counted, but please check.

    • Rick on 03/05/2021 at 1:36 am said:

      No worries, Richard. Thanks for correcting it though. I thought I should mention it as it strengthens your point about methane’s abundance in the atmosphere being ‘miniscule’, from which I think we can infer that its contribution to the greenhouse effect will be correspondingly miniscule, in spite of all the alarmists’ hysteria about methane being more than 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide and its atmospheric concentration having doubled since 1750 and so on and so on.

  2. Mack on 03/05/2021 at 12:27 am said:

    Here’s a good little reference to get the comparison of the atmospheric gases, RT…


  3. Andrew on 06/05/2021 at 10:50 am said:

    Measuring atmospheric methane is all very well & good, but the worry for me is that you can just about guarantee this Labour Govt (supported by Greens) will blame all of the atmospheric onto livestock agriculture – it is all the ruminants fault! However, there are many other sources of methane that contribute to the massive atmospheric amount of 1.7ppm & I sincerely hope this satellite can differentiate the source(s).
    Other sources include man-made or natural wetlands, landfills, volcanoes, natural gas exploration plus the oceans that surround us! Many of our natural lakes eg Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Wairarapa, Elsmere will be emitting large amounts of CH4 into our atmosphere which will be all blamed onto livestock or conveniently ignored just as pasture is ignored as a CO2 sink!
    Another large source of methane emissions is from rice agriculture (obviously not in NZ!). Paddy fields for rice production are effectively man-made wetlands. They have high moisture content, oxygen depleted and plenty of organic material which as it rots, creating a great environment for methane producing microbes that decompose the organic matter as do all wet-lands, man-made or natural.
    I hope this satellite will be able to differentiate between the multiple sources of CH4 because I do not want to pay for CH4 that wasn’t produced by my livestock. How will I know the CH4 on my property hasn’t wafted over from my 500 cow neighbour?
    As an aside, it would also be interesting to measure CH4 atmospheric % before and after a thunder storm – as I would be confident a decent % would be burnt up!

  4. Andrew on 08/05/2021 at 9:20 am said:

    Thanks Juglans – I was not aware that termites & cockroaches emitted so much methane, but it makes sense given methane is produced from decaying debris such as wetlands or land fills!

    Cockroaches are endemic throughout NZ & given their numbers would certainly contribute to the 1.7ppm!! We have roughly 7m cattle in NZ – an equivalent CH4 output from roaches would require 2.1billion of the little critters based on your number – the mind boggles at the thought!!
    Some great references thanks


  5. ross on 08/05/2021 at 10:15 am said:

    The greens IPCC/UN treat the lesser human emissions differently from natural emissions which shows their policies are anti human not anti emissions. Ed Berrys pre print 3 has a very good explanation of this.

  6. Graham Anderson on 09/05/2021 at 10:57 am said:

    Methane from natural sources can never be a problem to the world as all those processes are cycles.
    Enteric methane from famed livestock , rice paddies ,termites and the list goes on.
    All these processes have absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere and the extremely small amount of methane released is broken down into water vapour and CO2 in 8 to 10 years in the upper atmosphere .
    Over any time span these processes cannot raise the levels of either CO2 or CH4 in the atmosphere .
    The blame for rising world levels lies with coal mining and oil and gas extraction.
    The oil and gas wells and pipelines were improved 20 to 30 years ago and graphs of world methane levels show this as atmospheric methane levels flat lined from 1999 untill 2008 .
    There was no problem with methane as all methane that was emitted was broken down at the same rate.
    In 2008 world coal production was a steady 4.7 billion tonnes .Since then world coal production has soared to 8,2 billion tonnes in 2018 and methane levels have again started to rise .
    Blame the coal and not the cow .
    This is not rocket science and wasting time and money sending a rocket up with a satellite to measure methane over New Zealand proves that a these people in our universities have certainly got more money to waste than they should have .
    Targeting methane from livestock is a scam and it should never have been included in any countries GHG emission profile .
    This was introduced by activists at the Kyoto climate accord and I have been told by John Maunder who attended as our New Zealand representative the first two world climate meetings in Austria and
    Rio de Janeiro that methane from livestock was never mentioned at those early meetings .
    Our government seems hellbent on restricting out livestock industries and encouraging planting perpetual forests on a lot of our farmland ,
    Restrict farming and with our tourist industry on its knees what will generate overseas funds to buy all the consumables that we cannot produce economically here in New Zealand ?

  7. Charles on 09/05/2021 at 6:17 pm said:

    1. Increasing the emissions increases the level in the atmosphere. That’s the problem for NZ – increase since 1990. No increase in emissions means very little warming, so some improvement in farming practices can nullify it.

    2. The world is now getting to the point lowering the temperature is essential to avoid crossing tipping points. That is the rationale for drastically lowering methane emissions – the effect is immediate.

    Should have started decarbonisation 30 years ago.

    Oil billionaires and their useful idiots like Michael Kelly worked hard to stop mitigation and now we’re in the sh1t with no time to spare.

    More importantly, the matter is being taken out of our hands. We will be doing what China and the US demand. Make no mistake about it.

  8. Graham Anderson on 09/05/2021 at 8:41 pm said:

    Charles who ever you are have been hoodwinked as there is no proof that the worlds temperature is controlled by rising levels of GHG.
    The effect of CO2 on the temperature is logarithmic and the atmosphere is saturated and very little if any warming from now on will be caused by further increases in CO2 and CH4.
    The world will never reach a tipping point as heat moves towards the poles and is emitted to space .
    The climatic cycles of this earth have been going on for millions of years and the world came out of an ice age just 12000 years ago .
    Since then there have been three climate optimums and they have all been warmer than present .
    If you are so concerned what steps have you taken to reduce or exit using fossil fuels ?
    Do you still drive a car ? Do you use any thing made of steel ? Do you buy any thing from overseas ? Do you buy any thing from the supermarket ?
    Of course you do .Fossil fuels are essential to feed and house the worlds billions .
    Any government who thinks that they can run a country with low levels of fossil fuel use ares dreaming.
    When I was at primary school New Zealands population was just over 2million and the worlds population was 2.5 billion.
    We now have over 5 million people here and close to 8 billion worldwide .
    Fossil fuels are essential to the well being of all modern countries and any country that attempts to restrict there use will be very much worse off unless they opt for nuclear power plants to replace the energy required.
    Wake up Charles and think what things would be like if automotive fuel suddenly dried up for whatever reason .
    How far would you walk or cycle and how would goods get to the supermarket ?
    Just think a little and you might realize that you are being hood winked with this absolute nonsensical talk of tipping points .They just cannot happen .

    • Charles on 10/05/2021 at 2:26 pm said:



      The atmosphere is not enclosed. You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.

      How do you suppose Earth comes out of an ice age? It’s the increasing level of CO2 following slight increase in insolation.

      Why don’t you 1d1ots stop prattling like old women and learn some science…

  9. Mack on 09/05/2021 at 9:03 pm said:

    @ Charles,
    Are we correct in assuming that you might be Charles Moore ? as in Charles Moore here…
    If you are that Charles, then you’ve just called Micheal Kelly a “useful idiot”….. hardly the response of an impartial interviewer. … very different from how you treated him in those interviews.
    On the other hand, you might be just a stirring, activist imposter.

    • Mack on 10/05/2021 at 3:25 pm said:

      Well, it seems that “charles” is just an imposter

      “How do you suppose Earth comes out of an ice age ?”

      Yeah, well an ignorant loon like you would have us believe the Earth comes out of an ice age by means of the evil CO2 emitted by volcanoes, bugs and snow-mobiles.

    • Graham Anderson on 10/05/2021 at 7:22 pm said:

      Charles you are the one who should learn some science .
      The warming potential of CO2 is logarithmic .Do you know what logarithmic means ?
      Here is the science lesson so try to learn .The first 100 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere creates warming of about 3 degrees C.
      The next 100 parts per million warms the earth 1.5 degrees C.
      The next 100 pp million of CO2 may push up the temperature by .75 C a cumulative somewhere around 5 C and that was around 1900.
      Since then CO2 has risen another 100 p p million with a potential to warm .3 of a degree C.
      The next 100 pp million could only warm the earth .15 C point 0ne five of a degree Celsius .
      Nothing to worry about Charlie .
      This is what saturation means ,the warming effect gets less and less as the CO2 increases as it only reflects back the heat from the earths surface in narrow band widths and more CO2 does not mean more warming once those band widths are saturated .
      Of course the atmosphere is no enclosed .That is where excess heat goes out to space
      I know that I am wasting my time but you just might learn some thing here on this site Charles .
      I think you have a cheek accusing most of us being useful idiots .You had better look in the mirror Charles .
      Other wise you are just a drive by who has been hoodwinked by unscrupulous politicians and activists.

  10. ross on 10/05/2021 at 8:38 am said:

    Is there a tipping point when one superpower stops using fossil fuels and another increases fossil fuels.

    • Andrew on 10/05/2021 at 3:55 pm said:

      Problem is Mack – these “imposters” are running our country disguised as politicians making up dumb legislation to satisfy the mindless idiots like Charles, Greta & all the other alarmists that promise the ‘end is nigh’!!

      I had to laugh today when someone on the radio said that the NZ cricketers were spending some time on the Maldives (enroute to the UK from India)- he made the comment, “i thought they were supposed to be under (sea) water by now!!”

  11. Mack on 10/05/2021 at 5:24 pm said:

    Quite right, Andrew.– the….”and now we’re in the sh1t with no time to spare” ..should have given it away to me as just another brainless bed wetter…..maybe it’s the future King of England.

  12. Richard Treadgold on 10/05/2021 at 5:46 pm said:

    Lads generally,

    Our recent reception of warmsters resembles the toxic responses we have complained about for 15 years and more. If you appreciate a cool climate for conversation for yourself you should consider providing one. I hope for a pretty rapid improvement in the intellectual climate of this discussion space, otherwise our complaints against contrary blogs like Hot Topic, RealClimate and the rest will be laughed at and I’ll be looking to pull the plug even on some of those who agree with me. Tone, gentlemen, is everything.

    Incidentally, I haven’t seen contributions at Hot Topic for four years. Nobody cares, of course, but does anyone know what’s happened to them?

    • Mack on 10/05/2021 at 9:16 pm said:

      The point where I dished out toxic responses to Charles was after…

      “Why don’t you idiots stop prattling like old women and learn some science ”

      In the face of that, it is hard to maintain some sort of tone of “cool climate for conversation”, gentlemanly decorum, RT.
      I’m trying my best….. could try harder?

  13. Richard Treadgold on 10/05/2021 at 9:36 pm said:

    @Mack 9:16 pm,

    Yes, it’s hard, that’s why it’s worth doing. Don’t think of the troublemakers, think of the onlookers. They’re listening closely, so while we address the troublemaker, the onlookers are the only ones worth talking to.

  14. Richard Treadgold on 11/05/2021 at 12:57 am said:

    @Charles 10/05/2021 at 2:26 pm,

    The word ‘saturation’ refers variously to the atmospheric concentration of a gas or the amount of energy absorbed from particular electromagnetic frequencies (absorption bands) by a greenhouse gas. It’s clear that little warming can be expected from further increases in CO2 because most of the warming (about 80%) occurs with the first 20 ppm and after about 130 ppm it’s adding less than 0.1 °C of warming for each increase of 20 ppm—minute amounts of warming by any standards.

    Check out Joanne Nova’s 2010 article showing two versions of a graph that David Archibald first calculated using the MODTRAN database. It’s a good read.

    A recent paper, Influence of Greenhouse Gases on Thermal Radiation from the Earth, September 2019, by W. A. van Wijngaarden (York University, Canada) and W. Happer (Princeton University, USA) discusses this with data on the relative strength of the greenhouse gases.

    Dr John McLean is producing a book, How the Atmosphere Works, that should be released any day now. He’s done a good job in making it accessible to the layman. I’ll write it up when it’s available.

    • Charles on 13/05/2021 at 6:41 pm said:

      Simple fact: Adding more CO2 to the atmosphere causes more warming.

      The “saturation” argument is total nonsense.

      Ask Michael Kelly.

    • Rick on 14/05/2021 at 3:04 am said:

      “Simple fact: Adding more CO2 to the atmosphere causes more warming.”

      Is it? I can see that the idea would be a ‘simple fact’ if the Earth was simply a dry, rocky planet with a purely gaseous atmosphere.

      But the Earth is not a dry, rocky planet with a purely gaseous atmosphere and the water that covers 70% of its surface to an average depth of about 2½ miles and keeps the atmosphere partially filled with clouds that reflect away up to 90% of the incoming sunlight that falls upon them complicates the situation drastically and far beyond the ability of present-day ‘climate scientists’ to model it accurately and comprehensively and determine what the ultimate effect of adding more CO2 to Earth’s atmosphere really is.

      So, no, it doesn’t look like a ‘simple fact’ to me. Sorry.

  15. Esra Dral on 11/05/2021 at 9:17 am said:

    Hi Guys,

    Just an observation about the tone of some of the exchanges. Please remember that the global warmists are bombarded from all sides by climate change propaganda. The main stream media only deals in stories that support the narrative. So called legitimate scientific journals only peer review and publish the pro-warming papers and will argue that this is reasonable as any papers that question man made climate change are merely pseudoscientific babble. Those who question the established “science” are subject to cancel culture and, in so called scientific circles, are excommunicated for what amounts to heresy. Pro global warming propaganda is easily accessible and presented in a way that supports an established confirmation bias. It is readily available from so called “credible” resources such as NASA, NOAA, most universities, many government agencies around the world and, of course, the IPCC. I look at the website for my current electricity supplier and read how I am being gleefully fleeced through higher prices due to their commitment to lower their carbon footprint. It is easy to see how people get sucked in to this. After all, that is the aim of propaganda. Those who are less convinced by the man made warming argument have a number of issues to contend with. You have to go out of your way to find alternative information and some of the ideas and theories can be pretty “out there”, so careful consideration of the information is important. I would always suggest:

    Look for credible information from trusted resources. In spite of the global warmists going out of their way to debunk or de-platform these resources, there are out there.
    Research the information thoroughly and beware of confirmation bias. Yes, you are just as subject to this as the warmists. Just because the information appears to support your position does not mean it is true or will bear in depth scrutiny. Don’t fall in to the same trap.
    Look for the counter arguments so you are ready for them when they are inevitably pointed out.
    Stay calm and state facts. Don’t get drawn in to a slagging match. Remember, when the other party resorts to ad hominem attacks and name calling, they have run out of any logical or coherent arguments and you have won. So there is no need to stoop to their level. Merely by not being drawn in to the herd mentality you have shown you are better than that. Believe me, winning the argument with facts and dignity annoys them far more than telling them that, if they had another brain cell, it would be lonely.
    The baiters want you to react to the name calling. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

    Man made climate change is the gift that keeps on giving. The establishment is not going to give up this amazing resource without a fight. It is blamed for anything and everything happening to the planet. The latest theory I have read is that climate change is responsible for the shift of the Earth’s magnetic poles. I think there is something far more sinister behind this but that is probably worth exploring in another post.

    • Charles on 13/05/2021 at 6:48 pm said:

      Phooey. Look for the consensus of experts. The key word is expert.

      You wouldn’t ask a brain surgeon to do your heart surgery – likewise in science. Of course anyone can point out an error but it has to be real not just something floating in your head.

      A scientist can be totally wrong for all sorts of reasons but science corrects for error and bias.

    • Rick on 14/05/2021 at 4:27 am said:

      “You wouldn’t ask a brain surgeon to do your heart surgery – likewise in science.”

      I wouldn’t ask a brain surgeon to do my climate science either, so I’m not seeing the analogy.

      But on the subject of ‘climate experts’, how many of them really possess expert knowledge and understanding of the Earth’s incredibly complex and largely inscrutable climate system, whose recondite mysteries are still largely unknown and unfathomed by modern ‘climate science’, which is not a real science in any case since it does not follow the established scientific method but is essentially an imaginative mathematical game played on computers without any substantial reference to the actual behaviour of the real-world climate system. Would you entrust your life to one of its practitioners in the same way that you would entrust it to a suitably qualified heart surgeon who has acquired his expertise through years of rigorously disciplined study and practical experience and who has a good track record of successful similar operations behind him? I wouldn’t!

      “A scientist can be totally wrong for all sorts of reasons but science corrects for error and bias.”

      True science does, I agree. That is what the scientific method is designed to do. But IPCC ‘climate science’ is a sham and instead of correcting its errors it fights tooth and claw to protect and preserve them – and at terrible cost to the human race and the planet too.

  16. Charles on 14/05/2021 at 8:41 am said:


    Total nonsense. Impossible for there to be a conspiracy on the scale needed for climate science to be a sham. If you think the Royal Society, National Academy of Sciences, American Association for the advancement of Science etc etc etc — all of which endorse the science — are all “collaborating” to defraud humanity you are insane.

    You don’t understand the analogy of choosing a brain surgeon for heart surgery? Are you an expert climate scientist? No? You are hardly in a position to contradict the experts. But if you see an error then publish in a peer-reviewed journal. Just claiming “wrong” doesn’t work in science.

    The know-alls who talk about CO2 saturation should read this:
    Accepted Manuscript online 5 May 2021 • IOP Publishing Ltd

    As I’ve explained earlier the atmosphere is not enclosed. The tropopause is rising.

    More CO2 causes more warming. It’s how Earth comes out of an ice age — changes in insolation with Milankovitch Cycles are not sufficient.

    Humanity is causing global warming/climate change. The basic science is irrefutable.

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