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Global Climate Change: is it worth brushing off?

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  • Sat, Dec 17, 2011 - 07:28am

    Peak Prosperity Admin

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    What if CAN DO Can’t Do It?

PCI Ecology & Resilience Fellow William Rees: What if CAN DO Can’t Do It?

  • Wed, Jan 11, 2012 - 07:26pm



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    Vast methane ‘plumes’ seen in Arctic ocean as sea ice retreats


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.

“I was most impressed by the shear scale and the high density of the plumes.  Over a relatively small area we found more than 100, but over a wider area there should be thousands of them,” he said.

Scientists estimate that there are hundreds of millions of tons of methane gas locked away beneath the Arctic permafrost, which extends from the mainland into the seabed of the relatively shallow sea of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf.

One of the greatest fears is that with the disappearance of the Arctic sea ice in summer, and rapidly rising temperatures across the entire Arctic region, which are already melting the Siberian permafrost, the trapped methane could be suddenly released into the atmosphere leading to rapid and severe climate change.

Dr Semiletov’s team published a study in 2010 estimating that the methane emissions from this region were in the region of 8 million tons a year but the latest expedition suggests this is a significant underestimate of the true scale of the phenomenon.

In late summer, the Russian research vessel Academician Lavrentiev conducted an extensive survey of about 10,000 square miles of sea off the East Siberian coast, in cooperating with the University of Georgia Athens. Scientists deployed four highly sensitive instruments, both seismic and acoustic, to monitor the “fountains” or plumes of methane bubbles rising to the sea surface from beneath the seabed.

“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. He is now preparing the study for publication in a scientific journal.

The total amount of methane stored beneath the Arctic is calculated to be greater than the overall quantity of carbon locked up in global coal reserves so there is intense interest in the stability of these deposits as the polar region warms at a faster rate than other places on earth.

Natalia Shakhova, a colleague at the International Arctic Research Centre at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said that the Arctic is becoming a major source of atmospheric methane and the concentrations of the powerful greenhouse gas have risen dramatically since pre-industrial times, largely due to agriculture.

However, with the melting of Arctic sea ice and permafrost, the huge stores of methane that have been locked away underground for many thousands of years might be released over a relatively short period of time, Dr Shakhova said.

“I am concerned about this process, I am really concerned. But no-one can tell the timescale of catastrophic releases. There is a probability of future massive releases might occur within the decadal scale, but to be more accurate about how high that probability is, we just don’t know,” Dr Shakova said.

“Methane released from the Arctic shelf deposits contributes to global increase and the best evidence for that is the higher concentration of atmospheric methane above the Arctic Ocean,” she said.

“The concentration of atmospheric methane increased unto three times in the past two centuries from 0.7 parts per million to 1.7ppm, and in the Arctic to 1.9ppm. That’s a huge increase, between two and three times, and this has never happened in the history of the planet,” she added.

Each methane molecule is about 70 times more potent in terms of trapping heat than a molecule of carbon dioxide. However, because methane it broken down more rapidly in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, scientist calculate that methane is about 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a hundred-year cycle.

  • Wed, Jan 11, 2012 - 08:02pm



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    I wonder when the politicians will wake up this time.

The Great Smog of ’52 or Big Smoke was a severe air pollution event that affected London during December 1952. A period of cold weather, combined with an anticyclone and windless conditions, collected airborne pollutants mostly from the use of coal to form a thick layer of smog
over the city. It lasted from Friday 5 to Tuesday 9 December 1952. At least 4000 people died prematurely, and the undertakers were overwhelmed
by the numbers, not all medical and political authorities appreciated what was happening, but the undertakers and florists knew there was a problem. They ran out of caskets and flowers.


Eventually the politicians woke up and we had the clean air act of 1956


We are seeing the same effects with climate change.

The global insurance industry, has had to cover enormous increases in damages from natural disasters during the past few decades and the
frequency of weather-related disasters (floods, fires, storms) has been growing at a much faster pace than geological disasters (such as
earthquakes). Munich Re noted in a late 2010 letter that weather-related disasters due to wind have doubled and flooding events
have tripled in frequency since 1980. The world now has to contend with a much higher degree of risk from weather and climate volatility, and
this has broad-reaching implications.




I wonder when the politicians will wake up this time.  Probably too busy war mongering……


  • Sat, Jan 14, 2012 - 12:38am



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    Climate Change: What it means in terms of Energy

I don’t recall seeing this presentation posted on CM.com.  

It’s a good presentation but they don’t seem to be taking the effect of Peak-Oil in their future energy consumption projection. In slide page 37, oil consumption continues to grow until 2030… But a few slides later they present the challenges that we face with PO… Otherwise there are interresting data presented.




Climate Change: What it means in terms of Energy     

Future of Energy and the Interconnected Challenges of the 21 Century

University of Basel 19th October 2011

Ian T. Dunlop

Director Australia 21

Member, Club of Rome

Chairman, Safe Climate Australia

Deputy Convenor, Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil


  • Wed, Feb 01, 2012 - 12:46am



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    Chris Martenson’s stand on Climate Change

I need to know.  What’s is Chris’ views on Climate Change?  Does he believe it is a major concern or just the workings of fearmongers?  Is it related to exponential growth?  And if so, how?

  • Wed, Feb 01, 2012 - 01:04am


    Aaron M

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Why do you need to know?
Make up your own mind.

  • Wed, Feb 01, 2012 - 01:37am



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    Chris’s stand

Chris has thus far chosen not to take a position.  Too controversial apparently.


  • Wed, Feb 01, 2012 - 02:21am



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Aaron Moyer wrote:

Why do you need to know?
Make up your own mind.


Second that.


Viva — Sager

  • Wed, Feb 01, 2012 - 02:41am


    Stan Robertson

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    NEED to know?? Aw

road2hell wrote:

I need to know.  What’s is Chris’ views on Climate Change?  Does he believe it is a major concern or just the workings of fearmongers?  Is it related to exponential growth?  And if so, how?

Exactly what does Chirs have to gain by stating a position? As near as I can tell, his readers seem to be fairly evenly divided between skeptics and folks anticipating a climate catastrophe. Climate catastrophe seems to me to be less imminent than the resource and financial problems that are the main focus of this site.


  • Wed, Feb 01, 2012 - 03:28am



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    What Good Would Taking Sides Do?

The last time Chris went out on a limb was when he tried to visit the Occupy Wall Street encampment – when it first started – to share his book and find out more about what was going on.

He got his head bit off by a bunch of ideological fundamentalists on this site who had already pre-made-up their minds about everything the still infant Occupy Wall Street was about.

Climate Change or no climate change, it will happen (or not happen) regardless of what Dr. Martenson says, and happen over a longer time frame. I’m pretty certain he’s hedged his bets, however.

For what it’s worth, I agree with Aaron Moyer and Sager.


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