Monday, November 09, 2009

Earth warming faster as catastrophe draws nearer

On global warming, we're playing with fire. Jeff Goodell published a powerful little article in Rolling Stone this week detailing the fact -- not surprising, in my opinion -- that global warming is happening faster then the world's leading scientists ever thought possible. Scientists once thought the Arctic would be completely melted by the end of the century; now, they believe the entire ice mass will be gone in the next couple of decades. The Arctic is dramatically smaller than it was even ten years ago because the ever expanding open waters melt ice faster, which warms the water quicker, assuring that the sum temperature of the waters are higher and less and less ice refreezes every winter. In short, positive feedback.

Here's the really scary part. Beneath the Arctic is a layer of permafrost "more than 1000 feet thick in some places" made of "partially decomposed trees, plants, woolly mammoths and other organic matter that lived in the region thousands of years ago." The terrifying reality is this:

As it thaws, all that rotting debirs send carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Worse, the debris is a feast for microscopic bugs that transform it into methane, a greenhouse gas at least 20 times more potent than CO2. All told, there are some 1 TRILLION metric tons of carbon buried in the Arctic - the equivalent of the oil, gas and coal reserves on the entire planet."


It gets worse.

"A similarly huge amount of methane is frozen in the floor of the shallow seas surrounding the Arctic. As the water warms, these bubbles of methane ice can bubble to the surface and release million of tons of methane -- more or less cooking the planet overnight."

Think of the enormity of that sum of methane - "equivalent to more than all of the oil, gas and coal reserves on the entire planet," doubled. Then recognize that methane is TWENTY times more potent than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere. What we are talking about is no less a global meltdown that would raise sea levels by as much as nine feet by the end of the century. Such a rise in water levels would leave major cities like Miami, London, New York and Shanghai under water. It would also flood entire countries in low lying areas like Bangladesh, destroying the homes of millions of people.

The time to take action to stop global warming has come; in fact, it may have already passed.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

OMG WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!

Epididymus said...

Before you let a Rolling Stone Article or Al Gore PowerPoint Presentation scare you into selling all of your shorefront property, you might want to look at this:Anthropogenic Global Warming Disproved by Thousands of Years of Ice Core Data

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