David Burton

Rejected letter to the editor / WaPo

David BurtonWed, Oct 26, 2016 at 1:57 PM
To: warrickj at washpost dot com
Dear Mr. Warrick,


Since the WaPo didn't run (or even acknowledge) my letter about your article, perhaps you might like to see it...


Title: Massively Minuscule Methane


To the editors:

On Thursday, Feb. 25, The Washington Post headline blared: “California gas leak was the worst man-made greenhouse-gas disaster in U.S. history.”

But 107,000 tons of methane (CH4) is just 0.000097 metric Gt, which is less than 0.002% of the estimated 5.284 Gt of methane in the Earth's atmosphere. In other words, it's completely insignificant.

Even if enough methane had been released to significantly affect the atmospheric methane level, the impact would have been very transient, because, even if you don't burn it, methane in the atmosphere oxidizes with a half-life of only about 6 to 8 years, into minute amounts of harmless carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O):

CH4 + 2•O2 → CO2 + 2•H2O

Only in the crazy world of climate politics could a temporary 0.002% increase in a minor greenhouse gas be described by activists and their journalist allies with apocalyptic terms like "massive," "worst," "historic," "disaster," and "huge," all in one article. The only thing "massive" about this incident is the con job about it by climate activists -- and the Washington Post swallowed it, hook, line and sinker.

Dave Burton
Cary, NC


References:




I am webmaster of the sealevel.info climate science website.



David BurtonFri, Nov 4, 2016 at 1:43 PM
To: warrickj at washpost dot com
Did you receive my email, Mr. Warrick,?


[Quoted text hidden]

Warrick, Joby <Joby.Warrick at washpost dot com>Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 10:24 AM
To: David Burton

Hi David—thanks for sharing the letter. Apologies for the slow reply; At the time the story ran I was temporarily parked on the science/environmental desk after a book sabbatical, but have since moved back to the ISIS/terrorism beat, so very busy these days. Regarding your letter: Of course you’re correct in saying the amount of CO2-equivalent released into the atmosphere was small as a proportion of the global C02 budget, but it seems undeniable that the incident remains one of the biggest manmade releases in US history, as NOAA itself concluded, in this interesting study. In that sense it seemed newsworthy to us. We do appreciate the feedback and I’m sorry your letter was not selected for publication. I understand the editors receive about 200 submissions a day, of which only a half-dozen or so make the final cut, so the competition tends to be fierce.

 

Best  of luck,

 

J

 

 

Joby Warrick

National Security Reporter - The Washington Post

Author, Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS,[amazon.com] Knopf Doubleday, 2015;

 The Triple Agent[amazon.com], Doubleday, 2011

W: 202 334 5603

email: joby.warrick at washpost dot com
http://projects.washingtonpost.com/staff/articles/joby+warrick/

 

 

 

From: David Burton
Sent: Friday, November 04, 2016 1:43 PM
To: Warrick, Joby
Subject: Re: Rejected letter to the editor / WaPo

 

Did you receive my email, Mr. Warrick,?

 

 

On Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 1:57 PM, David Burton wrote:

Dear Mr. Warrick,

 

Since the WaPo didn't run (or even acknowledge) my letter about your article, perhaps you might like to see it...

 

Title: Massively Minuscule Methane

To the editors:

On Thursday, Feb. 25, The Washington Post headline blared: “California gas leak was the worst man-made greenhouse-gas disaster in U.S. history.”

But 107,000 tons of methane (CH4) is just 0.000097 metric Gt, which is less than 0.002% of the estimated 5.284 Gt of methane in the Earth's atmosphere. In other words, it's completely insignificant.

Even if enough methane had been released to significantly affect the atmospheric methane level, the impact would have been very transient, because, even if you don't burn it, methane in the atmosphere oxidizes with a half-life of only about 6 to 8 years, into minute amounts of harmless carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O):

CH4 + 2•O2 → CO2 + 2•H2O

Only in the crazy world of climate politics could a temporary 0.002% increase in a minor greenhouse gas be described by activists and their journalist allies with apocalyptic terms like "massive," "worst," "historic," "disaster," and "huge," all in one article. The only thing "massive" about this incident is the con job about it by climate activists -- and the Washington Post swallowed it, hook, line and sinker.

Dave Burton
Cary, NC

References:

I am webmaster of the sealevel.info[sealevel.info] climate science website.

 


David Burton Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 12:42 PM
To: "Warrick, Joby"
Thank, Joby, you for your reply, and for the NOAA link.

My objection is to calling it a "greenhouse-gas disaster." It was not disastrous. It wasn't even significant.

It is true that it was one of the biggest man-made releases of natural gas in U.S. history, but that doesn't change the fact that it was no greenhouse-gas disaster. It just means that the other natural gas releases were not disasters, either.

It was expensive and wasteful, but it had a completely negligible effect on climate. So the headline was very misleading.

Who are the regulars on the science/environmental desk?

Is this the book you were working on? 2016 Pulitizer! Congratulations!

Warmest regards,

Dave
[Quoted text hidden]

Warrick, Joby Mon, Nov 14, 2016 at 4:41 PM
To: David Burton

Thanks (for the kind words as well as feedback..)!

It’s probably not productive to try to engage an editor on that particular headline, since it ran several months ago. But going forward your best bet for engaging with environment/science desk would be through Chris Mooney, chris dot mooney at washpost dot com.  Best of luck,

j

 

From: David Burton
Sent: Monday, November 07, 2016 12:43 PM
To: Warrick, Joby
Subject: Re: Rejected letter to the editor / WaPo

Thank, Joby, you for your reply, and for the NOAA link.

My objection is to calling it a "greenhouse-gas disaster." It was not disastrous. It wasn't even significant.

It is true that it was one of the biggest man-made releases of natural gas in U.S. history, but that doesn't change the fact that it was no greenhouse-gas disaster. It just means that the other natural gas releases were not disasters, either.

It was expensive and wasteful, but it had a completely negligible effect on climate. So the headline was very misleading.

Who are the regulars on the science/environmental desk?

Is this[amazon.com] the book you were working on? 2016 Pulitizer! Congratulations!

Warmest regards,

Dave

 

 

On Mon, Nov 7, 2016 at 10:24 AM, Warrick, Joby wrote:

Hi David—thanks for sharing the letter. Apologies for the slow reply; At the time the story ran I was temporarily parked on the science/environmental desk after a book sabbatical, but have since moved back to the ISIS/terrorism beat, so very busy these days. Regarding your letter: Of course you’re correct in saying the amount of CO2-equivalent released into the atmosphere was small as a proportion of the global C02 budget, but it seems undeniable that the incident remains one of the biggest manmade releases in US history, as NOAA itself concluded, in this interesting study[esrl.noaa.gov]. In that sense it seemed newsworthy to us. We do appreciate the feedback and I’m sorry your letter was not selected for publication. I understand the editors receive about 200 submissions a day, of which only a half-dozen or so make the final cut, so the competition tends to be fierce.

[Quoted text hidden]