Thursday, August 07, 2014



I hate always sounding like the voice of doom and gloom, but I'm starting to wonder which will get us all first, global climate change, environmental disaster, bacteria, viruses, nuclear weapons and war.  It'll be a good race...and we will have global capital to thank for it all. 

The dragon is burping and we'd best take its indigestion very seriously.  You remember those strange sinkholes that popped up in Siberia last month.  You may have missed, or not considered the seriousness of the news that scientists are saying the mystery is not a mystery.  Climate scientists who traveled to the site decided it is methane gas a come a gurgling.   

As Digital Journal reported:

A senior researcher with the Scientific Research Center of the Arctic, Andrei Plekhanov, speaking with the Associated Press said the crater is likely caused by a "buildup of excessive pressure" underground caused by warming regional temperatures in the area. Unusually high levels of methane were recorded by Plekhanov's team near the bottom of the sinkhole.

Sensors dropped down the first hole discovered measured 9.6 percent methane, which is much higher than the 0.000179 percent that is normally found in the atmosphere, Nature reported. There is also water at the bottom, about 300 feet down.

 "Here, total carbon storage is like all the rain forests of our planet put together," says the scientist, Sergey Zimov.  The "here" Zimov is talking about is out there in the great Siberia. 

Scientists and others have warned for years that the day will come when all that methane buried in the permafrost of places like Siberia will come rolling out and act as one incredible accelerator of global climate change.

Well, hello Earth people.

You see, although methane is not the most abundant GHG, it is one of the strongest, being 80-times more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane is actually 21 times more efficient in absorbing infrared radiation than CO2, even though it only hangs around 10 years in the atmosphere.

Some people think a catastrophic release of methane gases would even lead to an extinction event.

That wouldn't be good.

Scientists have said for many years that the epicenter of global warming will be found in the far-northern reaches of the globe. Gas has been seeping out of the regions permafrost for the past 10,000 years, since the last ice-age. That slow seepage has changed in the last 60 years or so as the earth began to warm.  You can presume that the seepage hasn't been slowing down.  Let's say things have cranked up a bit, more than a bit.

An article in Nature points out,

...researchers argue that long-term global warming might be to blame — and that a slow and steady thaw in the region could have been enough to free a burst of methane and create such a big crater. Over the past 20 years, permafrost at a depth of 20 metres has warmed by about 2°C, driven by rising air temperatures1, notes Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten, a geochemist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany.
Hubberten speculates that a thick layer of ice on top of the soil at the Yamal crater site trapped methane released by thawing permafrost. “Gas pressure increased until it was high enough to push away the overlying layers in a powerful injection, forming the crater,” he says. Hubberten says that he has never before seen a crater similar to the Yamal crater in the Arctic.

Seriously, you should worry some about craters popping up in Siberia.  You might also worry about other places that seem pretty out of the way.  Several years ago Russian scientists began reporting on  hundreds of plumes of methane gas, some 1,000 meters in diameter, bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean,

Anarchist Writers makes the problem crystal clear and the solution just as clear:

The concern is the possible creation of a major posse feedback loop where climate change resulting in increased temperatures in the tundra leads to permafrost thawing and the release of methane. The methane causes additional warming leading to additional release of methane etc. At the moment looking at available evidence many scientists think such a loop is unlikely { ed. note: not according to what I read} but as with other aspects of climate change it’s not fully predictable and represents yet another potentially disastrous tipping point.

The root problem is the global capitalist economy that goes into crisis if growth ever slows to 2% or less. But growth translates to greater extraction of natural resources and escalating climate change. The Kyoto and other attempts at international deals have been a failure due to the ‘dog eat dog’ nature of capitalist competition. We need a very different economy that serves society rather than the profit of a few.

Capitalism:  We can't live all that much longer on the Earth with it.  So, "hey, hey, ho, ho, Capitalism has got to go."

Now, if we could just get it together and make that happen before Capital's slogan of, "hey, hey, ho, ho, all the Earth has got to go," wins out.

Got it.  Get it.  The following is from Democracy Web.

And yeah, I know this news isn't brand new, but than neither am I.

The Really Scary Thing About Those Jaw-Dropping Siberian Craters — ClimateProgress
by Ari Phillips

yamnal crater siberia methane
CREDIT: flickr/ Steve Jurvetson

Since this first discovery, two other smaller craters have been spotted in the surrounding regions, fueling even more [STUPID] armchair conjecture.
Russian scientists sent to the site are now providing first-hand data showing that unusually high concentrations of methane of up to 9.6 percent were present at the bottom of the first large crater shortly after it was discovered on July 16. Andrei Plekhanov, an archaeologist at the Scientific Centre of Arctic Studies in Salekhard, Russia, who led an expedition to the crater, told The Journal Nature that air normally contains just 0.000179 percent methane.
The last two summers in the Yamal have been exceptionally warm at about nine degrees Fahrenheit above average.
According to Plekhanov, the last two summers in the Yamal have been exceptionally warm at about nine degrees Fahrenheit above average. Rising temperatures could have allowed the permafrost to thaw and collapse, releasing the methane previously trapped by the subterranean ice. Methane is the primary component of natural gas. The original crater is about 20 miles from a large natural gas plant and the entire Yamal Peninsula is rich in natural gas that is being extensively tapped to help fuel Russia’s natural gas boom.
Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten, a geochemist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany, told Nature that climate change and the slow, steady thaw of the region could be to blame.
“Gas pressure increased until it was high enough to push away the overlying layers in a powerful injection, forming the crater,” he said.
This frame grab made Wednesday, July 16 shows the 200-foot wide crater discovered in the Yamal Peninsula.
While staring down into the abyss of these craters is a scary thought, the release of large quantities of greenhouse gases from melting permafrost is existentially daunting. A study from earlier this year found that melting permafrost soil, which typically remains frozen all year, is thawing and decomposing at an accelerating rate. This is releasing more methane into the atmosphere, causing the greenhouse effect to increase global temperatures and creating a positive feedback loop in which more permafrost melts.
“The world is getting warmer, and the additional release of gas would only add to our problems,” said Jeff Chanton, the John Widmer Winchester Professor of Oceanography at Florida State and researcher on the study. According to Chanton, if the permafrost completely melts, there would be five times the current amount of carbon equivalent in the atmosphere.
Kevin Schaefer, a permafrost scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, told ThinkProgress that there are actually two sources of GHGs released by melting permafrost: methane hydrates that destabilize when permafrost temperatures rise, as has been the case in Siberia, and frozen organic matter.
“Note that the methane hydrate and the decaying organic matter emissions result from two completely different mechanisms,” said Schaefer. “Methane hydrate emissions come from deep permafrost due to purely physical processes. The decaying organic matter emissions come from near-surface permafrost due to purely biological processes.”
He said that as the permafrost thaws, the organic matter will also thaw and begin to decay, releasing CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. “Published estimates indicate 120 gigatons of carbon emissions from thawing permafrost by 2100, which would increase global temperatures by an additional 7.98 percent,” he said.
As with other processes in the permafrost zone, abrupt changes appear to be as or perhaps more important than slow gradual change.
Schaefer said the phenomenon of the Siberian craters was a surprise to him because he thought the methane would leak out more slowly. Capturing these large bursts of methane before they enter the atmosphere could be possible, according to Schaefer, however extremely difficult. [Yes, and monkeys might fly out of his ass.]
“The key is drilling into the permafrost before the methane escapes,” he said. “However, creating the infrastructure just to get to these remote locations is daunting.”
He said that capturing the emissions from decaying organic matter would be impossible.
Ted Schuur, a professor of ecosystem ecology at the University of Florida and leader of the Permafrost Carbon Network, told ThinkProgress that the
Siberian craters remind him of ‘hot spots’ of methane bubbling that occur both in lakes and undersea in the permafrost zone. [This was my initial thought.]
“This could be a terrestrial version that was previously capped by ground ice in permafrost,” he said. “If indeed they are the result of warming permafrost they could be a significant pathway of greenhouse gas release to the atmosphere. As with other processes in the permafrost zone, abrupt changes appear to be as or perhaps more important than slow gradual change.”
A survey of 41 permafrost scientists in 2011 estimated that if human fossil-fuel use remained on a high projection and the planet warmed significantly, gases from permafrost could eventually equal 35 percent of present day annual emissions. In the few years since then, emissions have continued to rise. If emissions are heavily curtailed, greenhouse gases from permafrost could make up as little as around the equivalent of 10 percent of today’s human-caused emissions. This is far lower, but still highly disconcerting.


No comments: