A New Greenhouse Gas!

I would really like to focus on water-related topics, but somehow the LA Times won’t let me escape from the anthropogenic – human-caused – global warming (AGW) issue. As an aside, we know that this must be a serious issue now, since it has its very own acronym! The story is on page AA3 of today’s LA Times, with the truly dumbfounding headline “Grass not always ‘green,’ study shows.”
So “a new study by UC Irvine researchers” has debunked photosynthesis once and for all! Thankfully, the conclusions reported are not quite that crazy. However, the assertion that there would be less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere if we killed all the lawns does seem pretty preposterous. And so is the claim that “turf grass” covers “an estimated 1.9% of the United States.” That’s an awful lot of golf courses and suburban front yards. The federal government owns over 30% of all the land in the country, and there aren’t too many lawns in national parks, national forests, etc. While I find this claim to be way too high, I honestly have no data to support my position on this.
The contention of the study is that the efforts to keep the lawns intact require too much energy, and that energy requires the combustion of fossil fuels. The combustion of fossil fuels produces more carbon dioxide than the lawns will consume. I suppose this is possible. But the accelerated growth of lawns brought about by irrigation, fertilization, and maintenance, surely results in a higher rate of carbon dioxide uptake: more growth, more CO2 consumption.
Ominously, this study also examined the production of nitrous oxide, “a greenhouse gas 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, which is released by fossil fuel combustion.” While this is a known fact – nitrous oxide is a major component of smog – this is the first time that I have heard of a reference to any greenhouse gas other than carbon dioxide. That’s astounding, if this chemical is actually “300 times more powerful.” No one has mentioned anything about my personal nitrogen footprint. Egad, now I have something else to feel guilty about.
So that’s the main thing I got out of this study: carbon dioxide as the bad guy has sure taken a beating, what with “Climategate.” Enter the new bogeyman: nitrous oxide!
When will “researchers” begin to study the most important greenhouse gas: water vapor? I don’t suppose there’s any research grant money coming from environmentalist organizations to examine the profound impacts of a gas in our planet’s atmosphere that could not possibly be affected by evil human activities. And without research grants, these studies would just “dry up.”

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