Methane's Fugitive Emissions Underestimated and Purposefully Ignored by IPCC's AR5. Why?

Manhatten's fugitive methane survey on Nov. 29th 2012

Fugitive emissions of methane from ruminants get some of the blame for the current underestimates but the out of control fracking practices, feedbacks and leakage throughout the distribution systems are the worst offenders. Methane wafts into the air during drilling as well as during frack fluid flowback and into the air directly throughout the explosive cracking of the rock layers that usually contain the gas. It is now estimated that methane emissions from shale gas are nearly 30 times more than those of conventional gas over the lifetime of a well.

Fugitive methane emissions and leakage from shale gas developments squarely challenges both industry and government claims about its cleanliness. One 2011 Australian study found that any climate gains made in converting coal-fired power stations to natural gas were simply lost by conventional methane leakage rates of 10 percent from wells and pipelines. "We find greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and fossil fuel extraction and processing (i.e., oil and/or natural gas) are likely a factor of two or greater than cited in existing studies." says the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences report.

The omission of the effects of positive feedbacks was widely criticized by experts in the years after the AR4 report. The Copenhagen Diagnosis found that the IPCC had also underestimated emissions and added, "The global warming amplification (feedback) from carbon released as a result of permafrost melting has not been accounted for in any of the IPCC projections.  A recent UN Environment Programme report warned that failing to account for this feedback will result in an underestimate of future warming."

About 5 months ago The Mud Report published 'The IPCC's Underestimated Projections Crucial in Understanding the Need to Take Precautions'. Since then many folks [academic and not] have written to me about the issues it covers and the fugitive methane issue it didn't. Especially disconcerting is the fact that in the interim the IPCC has released the first part of its AR5 report which purposefully omits the significant feedback effects from the climate models used in its preparation because they are difficult to model.

Up here in BC the politician's, unions and fossil fuel industry have never seen a megaproject they didn't love. We are constantly bombarded by promises of all free lunches, tax revenues and jobs but nary a word on the what Andrew Nikiforuk calls the 'Myths and Realities of Fracking Shale Gas'. Fugitive emissions and leaks from BC's shale gas production now total between 12 and 22 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year. So much fracked gas leaks before use that its climate impact compares to coal, say researchers.

It's easy enough to surmise that the energy industry 'experts' and the politicians everywhere have a dog in this fight - power and profits. But what dog does the IPCC have in it? Why do they continue to underestimate the future feedback contributions? Why, at least, don't they acknowledge their willful ignorance? Are they, as often whispered, afraid of the skeptics ridiculous arguments?

After reading through many articles and studies these last months i see no other reason than fear to explain these actions. The IPCC has lost all credibility IMO, they base their findings on limited models whose conclusions are either able to be shoehorned into  politically acceptable forms or they are omitted. This isn't science, it isn't even good politics, but it does make the currently rich richer and our descendants future more bleak.