I came across an interesting article on combating global warming. Aside from a picture of a cow with a gas-mask device to capture cow belches, another picture (see after the jump) shows another methane capture device. Intended to capture cow farts, I can just feel sorry for the cow. That hose feeding the pink plastic methane storage balloon has to be uncomfortable for the cow.
The article goes on to say that the methane emitted by the cows is contributing to the greenhouse gas problem. It is true that methane could keep heat trapped in the atmosphere. Note that I said could. There would have to be a lot of other conditions that would have to be met for this to actually happen in the world.
In the laboratory, you can take methane (also works with carbon dioxide) and put it in a closed jar or box and get it to reflect heat. Add all the other components of air and through Brownian movement the reflective properties are reduced and eventually eliminated.
Let’s take a room and fill it with air. Since oxygen is 21% of the air, what would be the chances of the oxygen falling to the lower ¼ of the room and the lighter nitrogen blocking us from getting any oxygen into our lungs? Heavier gasses will fall. Every once in a while you hear of someone dying in a tank because it was filled with carbon dioxide.
I tried to argue that in physics as part of a class discussion and was proven wrong. Another classmate presented the fact that we were in a closed classroom and were still alive despite us using up some of the oxygen. Movement in the room keeps the gasses mixed. Add that to the laws of Brownian motion precludes all the oxygen from gathering on the floor or in a corner of the room and suffocating us.
Now let’s go outside on the earth’s surface. Lighting a match should result in an explosive firestorm that completely destroys everything on the surface of the earth if the gasses in the atmosphere separated out. Since I am writing this article, that is proof enough that the gasses on earth have not separated.
Therefore, how can the greenhouse effect happen? If the carbon dioxide separated out, it would be on the surface of the earth and not in the stratosphere.
In Part 2, I will cover another inaccuracy or misrepresentation about methane.
Image courtesy of vlastik