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Earth Science

How Much Should You Worry About an Arctic Methane Bomb? 416

barlevg sends this excerpt from an article at MotherJones: "It was a stunning figure: $60 trillion. Such could be the cost, according to a recent commentary in Nature, of 'the release of methane from thawing permafrost beneath the East Siberian Sea, off northern Russia... a figure comparable to the size of the world economy in 2012.' More specifically, the paper described a scenario in which rapid Arctic warming and sea ice retreat lead to a pulse of undersea methane being released into the atmosphere. How much methane? The paper modeled a release of 50 gigatons of this hard-hitting greenhouse gas (a gigaton is equal to a billion metric tons) between 2015 and 2025. This, in turn, would trigger still more warming and gargantuan damage and adaptation costs. ... According to the Nature commentary, that methane 'is likely to be emitted as the seabed warms, either steadily over 50 years or suddenly.' Such are the scientific assumptions behind the paper's economic analysis. But are those assumptions realistic—and could that much methane really be released suddenly from the Arctic? A number of prominent scientists and methane experts interviewed for this article voiced strong skepticism about the Nature paper.'"
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How Much Should You Worry About an Arctic Methane Bomb?

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  • Re:Catastrophe? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by icebike ( 68054 ) on Friday August 09, 2013 @01:29PM (#44522649)


    When was the last seabed warming, and how devastating to life on earth was it?
    Over the history of earth, there were much warmer periods with far smaller ice caps.
    Do those periods correspond with huge species die off?
    Or was it exactly to opposite?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 09, 2013 @01:37PM (#44522735)

    If the building is on fire and I yell fire that may make me an alarmist but I am pretty sure everybody who gets out alive will thank me. There is no denying the science - that's why 99.99% of scientists agree on this. It's just you religious zealots who think God will fix this.

    Don't forget the Randian zealots who think Her ghost will save us by invoking the free market.

  • by Geoffrey.landis ( 926948 ) on Friday August 09, 2013 @03:44PM (#44524311) Homepage

    so the piece doesn't explicitly state that there is a relationship, but it suggests there is one.

    Correct. The data given as a putative "response" is irrelevant to the question on so many levels it hurts. It doesn't state what the connection between sunspots and solar activity is; it shows the normal 11-year sunspot cycle, not anything different or unusual, and it shows only about one and a half cycles, not enough of a long term time series to even judge whether sunspot number (much less solar output) is going up or down.

    So, with respect to the request, "Could you give a citation for that 'lowered solar output?' "-- fail.

    But-- as you go on to demonstrate-- it does serve excellently to completely change the subject, and thus does its job of distracting people from noticing that there is no evidence whatsoever for the original assertion by changing the topic to a discussion of the relationship between sunspots and climate.

    On that subject, the best data at the moment seems to show that the onset of the "little ice age" cooling was correlated with volcanic eruptions, and hid little or nothing to do with sunspots.
    http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/02/eruptions-not-quiet-sun-may-have-triggered-little-ice-age/ [arstechnica.com]
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=volcanoes-may-have-sparked [scientificamerican.com]

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