Friday, September 26, 2008

Nobody light a match!

Methane being released in the north in huge amounts because of melting ice:
The U.K.'s Independent reported today some pretty shocking news in "Exclusive: The methane time bomb":

The first evidence that millions of tons of a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide is being released into the atmosphere from beneath the Arctic seabed has been discovered by scientists ...

The Independent has been passed details of preliminary findings suggesting that massive deposits of sub-sea methane are bubbling to the surface as the Arctic region becomes warmer and its ice retreats.

Assuming these findings are published in a peer-reviewed publication, as is planned, they should be taken quite seriously for four reasons. First, many fear that a huge methane release is what happened during the Permian-Triassic extinction event and the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Second, releasing even a small fraction of the sub-sea methane would make a stabilizing greenhouse gas emissions at non-catastrophic concentrations all but impossible.

Third, as NOAA reported earlier this year, levels of methane rose sharply last year for the first time since 1998..[snip]

Fourth, the findings are apparently based on very new and credible in situ measurements:

Scientists aboard a research ship that has sailed the entire length of Russia's northern coast have discovered intense concentrations of methane -- sometimes at up to 100 times background levels -- over several areas covering thousands of square miles of the Siberian continental shelf.
So. If we don't get washed out of our homes by the rising sea levels, blown out of them by more category 5 hurricanes, tossed out of them by foreclosures and another Great Depression... we can be gassed to death in them by methane...

Shouldn't we ...ah... be doing something? Like planting shrubberies? Igniting the methane hot spots? Dumping ice cubes into the ocean? Something?


Because it won't just be the polar bears who'll disappear...

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