Archives

Tagged ‘Methane‘

FLASHBACK | The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction: Methane, Propaganda & the Architects of Genocide | Part II

WKOG editor: The first segment (Part I-below) of this investigative report was published on January 17, 2011. On December 13, 2011, it was quietly reported that:

 Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.

The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov of the International Arctic Research Centre at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who led the 8th joint US-Russia cruise of the East Siberian Arctic seas, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed.

“Earlier we found torch-like structures like this but they were only tens of metres in diameter. This is the first time that we’ve found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It’s amazing,” Dr Semiletov said….

“In a very small area, less than 10,000 square miles, we have counted more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling through the water column and injected directly into the atmosphere from the seabed,” Dr Semiletov said.

“We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale – I think on a scale not seen before. Some of the plumes were a kilometre or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere – the concentration was a hundred times higher than normal,” he said.

Dr Semiletov released his findings for the first time last week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.

Since this the quiet release of this report, the (essentially non-existent) media coverage on the destabilizing methane hydrates should be considered that of a heavily censored topic by corporate and foundation funded media.

Part II of IV of an investigative report. [Part I: http://bit.ly/fV8slf]

The Art of Annihilation

January 17, 2011

By Cory Morningstar

Post Cancún: North America. The New Energy Kingdom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On 13 December 2010 directly following the disastrous Cancún conference (“one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War” [10]), a revealing post is found on the “oilprice.com” website. The article is titled North America: The New Energy Kingdom. From the article: “Beyond shale oil and shale gas, there’s the awesome energy promise of methane hydrates, frozen crystals of water and gas that lie beneath the northern permafrost and beneath oceans floors around the world in quantities that boggle the imagination.”

“Assuming 1 per cent recovery,” the US Geological Survey says, “these deposits [in US territory] could meet the natural gas needs of the country (at current rates of consumption) for 100 years.” The obstructionist corporate-colluded states – the ones responsible for climate change in the first place – have no intention of going to zero carbon in the single decade as direly warned by Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) in 2009 – what is necessary for the world to avoid reaching and exceeding a global catastrophic 2ºC. They have no intention of going to zero, ever, until the Earth is literally drilled to death – or we annihilate humanity. Whichever comes first.

NASA Has Known All Along

As we work like the busy little worker proles we are, amusing ourselves with irrelevant trivia and nonsense, the global power structures that form the plutocracy have long understood our future demise at the expense of an insatiable economy – and have kept silent. In a 2007 NASA report titled Methane Hydrates: More Than a Viable Aviation Fuel Feedstock Option, NASA unequivocally states that it is not a matter of if the methane from hydrates escapes, rather it is only a matter of when: “The unabated release of methane sequestered in these hydrates could impact the planet to the point of extinction of life as we understand it. Considering the predicted Earth thermal events, the stability of methane hydrates, and the impact of methane on the environment, the question is not will this methane be released, but when. It is suggested in this report that enhanced efforts be placed on a comprehensive program to locate, assess, and recover the sequestered methane at surface levels to meet the energy demand rather than permitting natural release into the environment.” The report later states, “Still, the world energy producers and consumers are encouraged to turn to the Sun and learn to capture, store, condition, and transmit that energy to meet energy needs and to maintain planetary stability.” Fat chance. Corporations would only be interested in the sun if they could drill it.

Methane, U.S. Congress & the “well-funded so-called “environmental” groups like EDF and NRDC that have been seduced into the gospel of endless compromise” …

Published on Monday, July 19, 2010 by CommonDreams.org

Methane Seeps, Tipping Points Feared as Congress Sleepwalks

Dangerous Methane Seeping from Siberian Seabeds

by Gary Houser

“Methane is leaking from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf into the atmosphere at an alarming rate… Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming.”
National Science Foundation press release (March 4, 2010)

As the U.S. Senate finally prepares to bring climate-related legislation to the floor, it has become painfully obvious that the most crucial ingredient in any such debate – a true sense of urgency – is completely absent. Despite the fact that all future life on the planet hangs in the balance and a point of irreversible runaway warming is being rapidly approached, the Senate is proceeding as if it is sleepwalking in a stupor. It has allowed the fossil fuel industry to sabotage all effort at meaningful carbon emission reductions, and will only be considering legislation that is woefully inadequate to prevent catastrophe.

Those who follow this issue likely have familiarity with the concept of “tipping points”. This innocuous-sounding phrase does not do justice to its vast meaning. It refers to the crossing of a line whereby tremendous natural forces are unleashed and an unstoppable rush of interlocking climate disruptions wreak havoc on the earth and its fragile web of life-supporting ecosystems. Once set in motion, it cannot be predicted how far the devastation would extend. Geological records have linked a severe climate shift with the “Great Extinction” event which wiped out a ghastly 90% of all life forms on the planet.

Serving as a direct counterpoint to this disastrous “disconnect” from reality in the Senate is the stunning news that these tipping points may be much closer than previously imagined. Ignored by mainstream media, recent scientific findings have the potential to turn the world as we know it upside down. Situated off the Siberian coast – in an area containing more carbon than that known to exist in all the world’s oil, coal, and natural gas reserves – is the climate threat of all climate threats. Some call it the “Arctic super carbon pool”. Others call it a “methane time bomb”. The reason for this ominous latter description is the quite real threat of an unstoppable chain reaction which could release much or all of this tremendous stockpile. This is a nightmare scenario feared by many tracking the evolution of the climate emergency.

Methane is a particularly powerful greenhouse gas, at least 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Once the methane – currently in frozen form – begins to thaw and release gas, it either oxidizes in the water or travels to the surface and enters the atmosphere. If the latter occurs, it can act as a strong warming agent and therefore cause even more of the frozen methane to thaw and release gas. The scientific term for this self-perpetuating cycle is “reinforcing feedback”.

The “conventional wisdom” was that this thawing and venting of methane would not manifest for at least 100 years. But as the case has been with much such “wisdom” these days, scientists have encountered great difficulty in accurately predicting the full consequences of the unprecedented alterations being imposed on the planet by greenhouse gases. The reality of climate disruption has continued to outpace the projections. Recent studies of the Siberian methane show that a very serious amount is already venting to the atmosphere.

In their report (summarized in Chapter 6), researchers Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov describe that methane is now being released across a full 50% of a quite sizable study area in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. Based on 5100 seawater samples taken from 1080 different locations, they report that 80% of the bottom water and 50% of the surface water is “super-saturated” with methane. Adding to the seriousness is the fact that this methane is not oxidizing in the water. Due to the shallow depths of these seabeds, the methane is traveling directly to the surface and venting into the atmosphere.

Methane is a volatile gas that rapidly expands in volume as it releases. Referring to the giant stockpile in this arctic shelf, Shakhova and Semiletov warn that it is “highly possible for abrupt release at any time. That may cause a 12 time increase of modern atmospheric methane burden with consequent catastrophic greenhouse warming.” As if this information is not unsettling enough, one then encounters the following staggering fact. This entire scenario is being played out in the most rapidly warming geographic location on the planet: “The Arctic is warming more quickly than the rest of the world, and this warming is most pronounced in the arctic shelf.”

Given the potential for such a catastrophic event and with so many factors lining up that could indeed release the trigger, one would expect the collective scientific community to issue a grave warning to the world. If ever there was a time to exercise the precautionary principle, it would be now. Stunningly, the scientific community is failing to do so. Instead, in a classic exhibition of ivory tower disconnectedness – perhaps in combination with a hesitancy brought on by the aggressive attacks of deniers – it is calling for more definitive “proof” that the thawing of methane is directly related to human-generated warming and not being caused by other natural sources.

The stupendously dangerous flaw in this reaction is that by the time such proof is “definitively gathered”, it could well be too late to stop the runaway chain reaction. In a situation where we may already be too late, it is the height of irresponsibility to argue for even more delay. If a blind person appears to be walking toward a cliff and is only three steps away, does a responsible observer guide that person away from the edge or stand back and wait for more proof? In this case, the blind person is all of humanity. The world needs every precious moment it can find to move back from the precipice.

Because of time consumed to document and verify, IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports and projections have been lagging at least two or three years behind what is actually happening in real life. With the thawing of sea-based methane already having been miscalculated, this looming threat that a “methane time bomb” is on the verge of being activated (if indeed it has not already occurred) is only beginning to be addressed by climate modelling and IPCC studies.

The scientific community must immediately ramp up its effort and mobilize whatever resources are needed to either confirm or disprove that this activation is occurring. Even as such effort proceeds, however, it has an immediate and transcendent moral responsibility to issue a strong warning to both policy makers and the public about what is at risk. Testimony to Congress by the National Academy of Sciences that climate disruption is real and human-caused is valuable, but in the current context too measured and mild. It does not convey that humanity is truly perched on a precipice overlooking an abyss. It does not begin to do justice to the monumental urgency of the crisis we are in, how humanity is on the verge of unleashing a beast it will not be able to control.

Why are there so few climate scientists willing to stand beside Jim Hansen and truly speak from their consciences about the disaster that is unfolding? Some say that policy must be left to the policy makers. But it is now obvious that legislation being discussed in Congress is completely out of touch with the scientific reality. The two primary bills – Waxman-Markey and Kerry-Lieberman – were already allowing the industry to stonewall (pdf) actual carbon emission reductions for 15 to 20 years. Now the Senate is capitulating even further. Such a delay would all but guarantee the crossing of tipping points.

We have reached physical limits that cannot be “negotiated” away. Those who have lost their way in the “inside-the-beltway world” of political horse-trading must be brought to recognize this reality before it is too late. This indictment applies not only to the politicians but also the large, well-funded so-called “environmental” groups like EDF and NRDC that have been seduced into the gospel of endless compromise. The passage of such weak and inadequate legislation would constitute a massive triple failure of the scientific community, the mainstream environmental groups, and Congress.

If the scientific community was to empower itself at this time of global emergency and somehow find the much stronger and louder voice that is needed, there is a hope that at least a few members of the Senatemight actually become emboldened to regain their own courage and stand up to the monied interests that have hijacked this legislation. Such legislation could yet become transformed into a saving grace for humanity rather than an unspeakably tragic abdication of moral responsibility.

The “motherlode” of earth’s stockpile of carbon exists on the shallow seabeds off the Siberian coast, for all practical purposes a veritable doomsday beast ready to rise in retribution for humanity’s abuse of the earth and its Faustian bargain with the dark gods of oil and coal. Extremely volatile, it is the same gas believed to have entered both the oil rig in the Gulf and coal mine in West Virginia causing destructive explosions. Some might interpret this as a warning to humanity.

Methane has been found to be thawing and releasing to the surface in 50 percent of a large study area. In a location that is “warming more quickly than the rest of the world”, the release of only one half of one percent of this stockpile has been determined to be capable of causing “abrupt climate change”. If this most feared “feedback” of all – the one which humanity would likely be helpless to stop once activated – has not already started, then it certainly appears that all the factors necessary to trigger it are lining up.

One day, the public release of these findings may hold great significance. It might be seen as the time when at least a handful of scientists tried to warn about the coming disaster. This time might be celebrated as the beginning of the great “wake-up” in which the scientific community spoke out in a unified and bold voice, both policy makers and mainstream enviros re-discovered their backbone, and the cataclysm was avoided. But based on current reality, it may well turn into a time for lamentation. Those clinging for survival in a world ravaged by climate catastrophe may look back with anger and an acute sense of betrayal about the passivity and the silence of those who could have made a difference and mourn the indefensible failure to act while there was still time.

Gary Houser is a public interest writer/columnist, anti-coal campaigner, green energy advocate, and activist with Climate SOS (www.climatesos.org) based in Ohio. He is also seeking support for a broadcast quality documentary on the “methane time bomb”.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/07/19-4

%d bloggers like this: