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Forum Post: The Giant Methane Monster Lurking

Posted 3 years ago on July 1, 2014, 11:08 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

The Giant Methane Monster Lurking

Tuesday, 01 July 2014 14:22
By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed


There's something lurking deep under the frozen Arctic Ocean, and if it gets released, it could spell disaster for our planet.

That something is methane.

Methane is one of the strongest of the natural greenhouse gases, about 80 times more potent than CO2, and while it may not get as much attention as its cousin CO2, it certainly can do as much, if not more, damage to our planet.

That's because methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and there are trillions of tons of it embedded in a kind of ice slurry called methane hydrate or methane clathrate crystals in the Arctic and in the seas around the continental shelves all around the world.

If enough of this methane is released quickly enough, it won't just produce the same old global warming.

It could produce an extinction of species on a wide scale, an extinction that could even include the human race.

If there is a "ticking time bomb" on our planet that could lead to a global warming so rapid and sudden that we would have no way of dealing with it, it's methane.

Right now, estimates suggest that there's over 1,000 gigatons - that's a thousand billion tons - of carbon in methane form trapped just under the Arctic ice. And if stays trapped under the ice, we might have a chance.

But, thanks to the global warming that's already occurring, Arctic sea ice is melting at unprecedented rates.

In fact, as Gaius Publius points out over at America Blog, just about every reputable projection on the loss of Arctic sea ice has been wrong in a very, very bad way.

The lack of sea ice cover in the Arctic that we're seeing today wasn't supposed to happen for 20+ more years according to 13 of the most accurate models.

As all that sea ice melts, the Arctic ice which once reflected sunlight and prevented global warming, becomes a very blue ocean that absorbs heat and causes even more melting.

And this all means that more and more methane is being released into the atmosphere much faster than expected, speeding up the process of global warming and climate change.

It's all one big and vicious cycle, called a "positive feedback loop," something that can spiral out of balance and control very quickly.

But here's where it gets really scary.

Researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center have found that Arctic methane is leaking out from the ocean floor nearly twice as fast as was previously thought.

The researchers found that the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is releasing at least 17 million tons of methane into the atmosphere each year.

Natalia Shakhova, one of the lead researchers on the study, said methane releases from the Arctic seafloor are, "now on par with the methane being released from the arctic tundra, which is considered to be one of the major sources of methane in the Northern Hemisphere."

To put this in perspective, just seven years ago, estimates suggested that only 500,000 tons of methane were being released into Earth's atmosphere each year. Now we're measuring 17 million tons of it. Just in the Arctic.

Now, we can't directly stop Arctic sea ice from melting and releasing methane into the atmosphere, but we can help stop what's contributing to that melting in the first place: fossil fuel extraction.

Every day, the fossil fuel industry extracts more and more fossil fuels from the ground, releasing tons and tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

That carbon dioxide warms our atmosphere, which hastens the melting of Arctic sea ice, and the release of even more dangerous methane into our atmosphere.

We need to be keeping the remaining methane right where it is, buried deep under a thick sheet of ice.

And a great way to accomplish that goal is by introducing a carbon tax.

Putting a price on the amount of carbon that the fossil fuel industry takes out of the ground would encourage less fossil fuel extraction, and more reliance on clean and green energy.

With a carbon tax, fossil fuels would become more expensive than renewables.

For every day that America's fossil fuel industry pumps carbon pollution into our skies, our environment is deteriorating quicker, more and more Arctic sea ice is melting, and climate change and global warming are speeding up.

We have a chance right now to keep the giant methane monster that's lurking under the Arctic Ocean right where it is, and save our planet in the process.

The time for a carbon tax in America is now!

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.



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[-] 6 points by shadz66 (19985) 3 years ago

'Mother Nature' has locked away VAST amounts of Ancient Carbon in the form of peat, coal, oil & gas [& deep methane sinks on land and at sea]. We know that there is a Carbon Cycle just as there is a Water Cycle, but that the time scale of the Carbon Cycle (which includes Geological processes) is much, much longer than in the case of water (simplified here to : evaporation, condensation, precipitation & run off).

Therefore, how can we as a sentient species, consider that we can bypass the Carbon Cycle and extract huge amounts of carbon based fuels, burn them and almost instantly (in geological time) return this carbon to the atmosphere Without There Being Any Repercussions ?! What is our individual and collective intuition on this matter ?!!

That Carbon Dioxide even tho' it is essential to life via photo-synthesis, is also a 'Greenhouse Gas' is undeniable. The Greenhouse Effect is well understood and without it life on this planet would not exist. We owe our previously relatively stable climate to this and the level of CO2 has been pretty stable at ~ 300ppm (0.03%) for a very, very long time (verifiable from ice and lake sediment cores). However, that proportion has risen in the last 40 years to ~390ppm+ (0.039%) which is a 30% increase in CO2 levels.

Further, both water vapour and methane are also greenhouse gases and the level of both will also rise with rising global temperatures. This is termed 'positive feedback'. A Human Influenced and possible 'run away' Greenhouse Effect is empirically, scientifically and mathematically possible, so the question is do we accept or 'believe' that it is happening ?

The atmosphere is but a film above us like cling-film on a water melon. It's easy to assume that we can have no effect on the vastness of the atmosphere but this is not true. As the atmosphere warms, the dynamic and apparently chaotic but actually relatively ordered 'Climate System', has 'more energy' and will operate at a higher energetic level and with a higher 'water carrying' capacity. Thus, 'The Climate' will be seemingly more chaotic to our perception. We are already witnessing weather records being taken to new levels throughout the world and this matter is not really up for debate - unless there is an evil, truly vast international conspiracy of scientists at many levels !

Globally, as a species we can feel and detect that 'something is changing', that something is different now to how things were but we may choose to behave like the proverbial 'frog slowly boiling in a pan of water on a stove' &/or as a 'rabbit caught in a bright light' !!

Sadly, I don't really think that we will stop either our behaviour or its results in the short or even medium terms. It's now a question of adaptation, however consider this : That "The International 'Darksider-Sith' Ruling Elites" [translation : 'Parasites' !] actually do NOT mind countless hundreds of millions of the rest of us perishing if it means more for them and Less Of Us !!!

Even if the US Govt. wishes not to accept or acknowledge the true science of the major US scientific institutions, such as The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute ( http://www.whoi.edu/ ) or The Scripps Institute of Oceanography ( http://sio.ucsd.edu/ ) etc., internationally the scientists have known for well over a decade that 'something' is afoot. The question now is, will we act now for our future kith and kin ?


The above is abridged, annotated and excerpted from one of my comments at :

respice, adspice, prospice .. et caveat ...

[-] 3 points by trashyharry (3082) from Waterville, NY 3 years ago

Capitalism is a Giant Death Engine that cannot be turned off.No amount of scientific information can influence the continued attempts to operate the machine.Will the Machine be turned off when every single living creature in the oceans of the planet dies and the rotting corpses begin to bury beaches around the world in bloated rotting flesh? I would tend to think...not.The immediate concern of Capitalism would be finding ways to make money off of the clean-up so people can go swimmin'.Right now,I can't think of an environmental disaster that might interrupt the normal operation of The Death Engine.Capitalism was created by people.Now it cannot be turned off.If the Machine is turned off,many humans will die due to the disruptions that would result.If the Death Machine is not turned off.every living thing on Earth will die.A worldwide collapse of the economy is a horrible thing to hope for,but it's the only way to slow down the calamitous rise of CO2.The only Solution is World Revolution.Better Late than Never.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33490) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

The last ice age happened in 6 months. 6 months for the planet to unleash an army of apartment-building-size ice blocks across Europe and the United States. It was a climate tipping point where the balance is knocked completely out of control and threatens the survival of everything -- and three more tipping points exactly like it are on the verge of happening.

It's our "holy shit" climate moment according to a leading NASA scientist, and only a holy shit massive coordinated day of action response, right now, can change the future we're facing.

One agreement with common sense steps to end dirty energy can save us. That's why the UN has called an urgent climate meeting in just over 100 days with all major world leaders — if we greet them on September 21st with the largest ever global climate mobilisation in history we can break through the walls of mega coal, oil, and business that prevent even the best politicians from doing what is right.

There's no way to get around how big a task this is. But together, each small action will add up into a millions-strong movement that literally drowns out the opposition and gives our leaders the best reason to break free and build a hopeful, clean and green future. Click below to join in:


"Tipping points" are feedback loops, where climate change feeds back on itself and causes rapidly accelerating, catastrophic consequences. Right now, methane gas that is 25 times worse for global warming than CO2 is frozen in our ice. But as the ice melts, the gas leaks, causing more melting and each melt loses us another layer of reflective ice shield that we rely on to keep the planet cool, more methane and less ice means more warming still, and everything starts to spin out of control. And that's just one example… it's why scientists are yelling from the rooftops that we have to act now.

We actually have the tools and the plan we need to make sure we don't cross into a world where tipping points destroy us. And while it will take global cooperation on a bigger scale than ever before, our 36 million-strong movement already has the people power necessary to move leaders from every country to take the first steps. Just days ago, the United States and China announced serious new plans to curb their pollution — momentum is building ahead of next year's critical Paris climate summit where a deal could be inked, and in just over 100 days we can take it up a notch further.

Taking to the streets in a record setting show of power and coordination is one of the most effective ways to create change -- from the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa to civil rights in the US, it's sometimes been the only way. This is our chance to bring that power to the most important issue of our time: survival and a thriving future for our families, and their families and the generations of people to come. Click below to be a part of it all:


We know we can do this… and do it big. When our community was just 3 million people we held 3,000 actions on the same day to protect our planet. We're now 36 million strong, ten times the size! Imagine what we can achieve together now...

With so much hope for our future,

Emma, Iain, Lisa, Ricken, Alice, Emily, Sayeeda, Uilleam and the rest of the Avaaz team


Global warming: it's a point of no return in West Antarctica. What happens next? (The Guardian) http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/17/climate-change-antarctica-glaciers-melting-global-warming-nasa

A Call to Arms: An Invitation to Demand Action on Climate Change (Rolling Stone) http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/a-call-to-arms-an-invitation-to-demand-action-on-climate-change-20140521

Mini ice age took hold of Europe in months (New Scientist) http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427344.800-mini-ice-age-took-hold-of-europe-in-months.html

Report: Prepare for climate tipping points (Politico) http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/national-research-council-report-climate-change-could-hit-tipping-points-environment-100615.html

Avaaz.org is a 36-million-person global campaign network that works to ensure that the views and values of the world's people shape global decision-making. ("Avaaz" means "voice" or "song" in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz's biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33490) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago


DKAtoday @DKAtoday · now

Methane - NO - it's "Not" all good.


Look into it !

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33490) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

[ edit ] So much that says we have no time to waste ( throw away ) - and Yet . . . inaction and worse = expansion of toxic FF extraction

edit-> We gotta get the word out..................by tweet &/or any other way . . . . . .

DKAtoday @DKAtoday · now

Getting the word out. https://occupywallst.org/forum/ny-towns-cities-can-ban-fracking-court-rules/#comment-1036950 … Fighting back against all of the fossil fuel propaganda.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33490) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

I mean good God what a load of needless crap:


[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33490) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

So much shit that can't be controlled once it is set in motion - but - then - SHIT - so much crap that could be controlled but isn't and it's making the other situation that much worse: https://occupywallst.org/forum/take-a-walk-on-a-leaky-uintah-basin-oil-well-with-/

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33490) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

WoW - such a non-response - HUH - guess this issue is really a non-issue? Who knew?

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

I'm surprised this http://occupywallst.org/forum/the-future-is-now/ hasn't received more attention considering the impact it would have in reducing the causes of climate change.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33490) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

Dammit anyhow Leo - what are you doing bringing up a non-issue?

[-] 5 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

You know me. That's all I do around here.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33490) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

No no - I beg to differ - you generally - do NOT - bring up non-issues - - - - - - - HUH . . . . perhaps this one is just too BIG ???

[-] 5 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

In Memory of Bobby Womack


Ya see, there I go again.

[-] 3 points by shadz66 (19985) 3 years ago

RiP Bobby Womack, you are missed and loved :


Live & on fire at The Glastonbury Festival, 2013.

requiescat in pace ...

[-] 2 points by gnomunny (6819) from St Louis, MO 3 years ago

I have to say Leo, . . .

I like your style, heheh.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 3 years ago

Well, as long as were taking a momentary stroll down memory lane, I have to add http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0z7MaFE-uRQ

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33490) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago
[-] 3 points by gnomunny (6819) from St Louis, MO 3 years ago

And from the same page, and on the theme of R&B, . . . and probably one of the best songs ever recorded:


[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33490) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago
[-] 3 points by gnomunny (6819) from St Louis, MO 3 years ago

Definitely a classic. One of the most speculated about anyway.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33490) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

Whats to speculate? It was of an age of a time of a death and the events going on. Here is another timeless one - as we all are = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-SpyO6bcwc

[-] 2 points by gnomunny (6819) from St Louis, MO 3 years ago

There's a lot of speculation about the true meaning of the lyrics, and as usual, McLean's been vague about it.

Never was much of a Doors fan, even back then. Which might just put me in the minority for our generation, heheh.

[-] 0 points by DKAtoday (33490) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

There are only a couple songs from the doors that I really care for - I will have to look for the meaning behind American Pie as I know it but can't really articulate it - but it has to do with the death of Buddy - and the Sergent's = the Beatles - and the players = The Stones. There is a lot to it. But he wrote it out of a memory from his childhood - and yep - he was the paper boy.

[-] 2 points by gnomunny (6819) from St Louis, MO 3 years ago

I agree about the Doors, and 'Riders' is definitely one of them.

Yeah, Google 'American Pie' when you get some time. There's definitely a lot to those lyrics.

[-] -1 points by DKAtoday (33490) from Coon Rapids, MN 3 years ago

ahhhh Ha haha ha hahahaha - um - I am thinking - more male propaganda - as I have always found it to be - more like = Men " I am gonna die if I don't get me some soon sooner quick now"............. HHHHAAAAHAHA ha hahahah