The time has come to spread the message

7 12 2013

I just found this.  IF this doesn’t scare the pants off you, then I don’t know what will.  The time to turn “Western Civilisation” OFF has arrived.  It may in fact be way too late, but only time will tell.

Reblogged from Arctic News.

[ click on image to enlarge ]

Above image shows methane rising from the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean on December 3, 2013, and entering the atmosphere, reaching levels as high as 2425 parts per billion (ppb). Last month, on November 9, 2013, methane reached levels as high as 2662 ppb.

The image below gives an idea of the height of this level, compared to historic levels, and how fast levels of methane (CH4) have been rising compared to levels of two other greenhouse gases, i.e. carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O).

While CO2 levels are in ppm and CH4 in ppb, they are directly comparable, because a CH4 cloud that, 5 years after its abrupt release, has shrunk to 20% its original size will over those 5 years have exercized local warming more than 1000 times stronger than the global warming potency of the same mass of CO2.

Why worry about methane rising from the seafloor in the Arctic? Sediments underneath the Arctic Ocean hold vast amounts of methane. Just one part of the Arctic Ocean alone, the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS, see map), holds up to 1700 Gt of methane. A sudden release of just 3% of this amount could add over 50 Gt of methane to the atmosphere, and experts consider such an amount to be ready for release at any time.

The 5 Gt of methane that currently is already in the Earth’s atmosphere is responsible for almost half (42%) the global warming caused by people. As the IPCC puts it, methane is responsible for 0.94 W/m2 of radiative forcing, while total warming caused by people adds up to 2.26 W/m2 of radiative forcing.

Imagine what kind of devastation an extra 50 Gt of methane could cause. Imagine the warming that will take place if the methane in the atmosphere was suddenly multiplied by 11. Recent calculatations by Whiteman et al. show such an event causing $60 trillion in damage. By comparison, the size of the world economy in 2012 was about $70 trillion.

Smaller releases of methane in the Arctic come with the same risk; their huge local warming impact threatens to further destabilize sediments under the Arctic Ocean and trigger further methane releases, as illustrated by the image below.

Victor Hugo

In the light of these figures, there is no question that this is important and that dramatic changes are needed to reduce such dangers. Indeed, the only question is what kind of changes are needed.

The challenges may seem huge, the opposition to change may seem formidable. Yet despite the saber rattling of armies, and despite covert efforts by powerful conglomarates and vested interests to resist change, common sense will prevail, because nothing is as strong as an idea whose time has come. [“On résiste à l’invasion des armées; on ne résiste pas à l’invasion des idées.” — From: Histoire d’un crime, Victor Hugo.]

As the prospect of climate catastrophe becomes ever more apparent and as the political imperative to take comprehensive and effective action becomes ever more urgent and obvious, this message will spread and the winds of change will grow stronger day after day. Be part of the solution and spread the message!




3 responses

8 12 2013

“nothing is as strong as an idea whose time has come”

Really, nothing? What about humanity’s hubris, greed, and/or ignorance?

There will be NO CHANGE until after a disaster.

8 12 2013
Daniel Boon

You’d think some bright spark would have deduced some way of a ship siphoning off the methane bubbles before they breach ….

12 01 2014

Been following the methane story for some years, that one keeps coming up – you can’t siphon them off – they occur over millions of square km. Methane isn’t the only thing to watch right now though – the sea ice itself is an important component of the earth system and notwithstanding a relative improvement over 2012 last year, still on course to entirely disappear rather soon.

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