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Bubbling Our Way to Catastrophe

Out of sight and out of mind, methane stored in melting permafrost poses an environmental hazard.
 
 
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Oscillating between pessimistic optimism (or optimistic pessimism), there are so many reasons to be hopeful for change. Amazing technologies. Increasing awareness. McSUV sales plummeting. Political leaders taking forthright stands. Optimism.

Reality can strike hard, ambusing surging optimism with reasons for dire concern. Today’s Chicago Tribune had a story of bubbling catastrophe …

Sergei Zimov waded through knee-deep snow to reach a frozen lake where so much methane belches out of the melting permafrost that it spews from the ice like small geysers.

Remember, methane is 23 times as potent as carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas (GHG). And, billions of tons of Siberian peat/such melting and we’ve crossed any sort of tipping point of humanity having a say about the direction of global warming in the next few years.

the Russian scientist struck a match to make a jet of the greenhouse gas visible. The sudden plume of fire threw him backward. … “Sometimes a big explosion happens, because the gas comes out like a bomb…. There are a million lakes like this in northern Siberia.”

A million bubbling, exploding lakes.

Out of sight of almost all of us (the US). Out of mind for most as well.

In Siberia, the permafrost entombs billions of tons of organic matter from the Ice Age, … Dormant for millennia, the permafrost is being thawed by global warming, triggering the microbial consumption that results in the release of greenhouse gases.

 
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