Thursday 31 October 2013

The methane emergency

This article finishes up pretending there is still time to do something

Climate crisis unfolding: Methane coming from Arctic at an all time high

30 October, 2013

While we go about our day, working, taking care of our family and doing life, a crisis that many are unaware of is unfolding in the Arctic that has been, and will affect, every living thing on Earth, including us. As recently as of Monday, October 28, 2013, consistently high levels of methane have been detected through the methane tracker that the Arctic News monitors.

Not only will the Arctic soon be ice-free, but something far worse and a symptom of climate change is happening in real-time: This methane, previously stored for millions of years in frozen clathrates deep below the ocean, is starting to be released at a staggering rate in October, alarming scientists and researchers worldwide.

Most people joke and think of methane as the thing that comes from cows and don't understand the seriousness of what unchecked methane entering the atmosphere will do. Besides accelerating climate change and making the planet warm even faster, a catastrophic release of methane has also been thought to be the reason behind past mass extinctions.

Throw in the fact that the oceans are dying, and it looks we are indeed watching the unfolding of a major climate change crisis.

A recently released short film "Last Hours", drives home the seriousness of climate change and methane, and why every person on the planet should be concerned about a catastrophic release of methane (you can watch the 10 minute video here in this article)

You may ask yourself, "If this is such an emergency, why I am not hearing about this in the mainstream media? Why isn't this on the nightly news?"

Good question. You will seldom hear about this in the mainstream media, because it's something that is so huge, so frightening and so mind boggling that if people were to wrap their minds around this there would be a mass uprising and mass panic. So we are left in the dark about the potential extinction of our species because certain special interest groups want to continue to profit from the use of fossil fuels, and certain governing agencies do not want to create mass panic.
A quote by Dennis Hayes, founder of Earth Day Network, sums it up:

"The fossil fuel industry has broken lots of human laws over the last century. Now the big laws - Nature's laws - are catching up to it. As Last Hours makes clear, humankind must choose to rein in its carbon emissions now, or Nature will rein them in for us."

So by not talking about it or being able to learn about it, our freedom to make our own decisions has been taken away. We can't address the problem if we don't know that we have a problem, right?

Thanks to climate activists like Sam Carana and other members of the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, we can follow in real time the staggering amount of methane that is now coming forth from the Arctic at the Arctic News Blog.
Released on 10/27/2013 by the USGS (photo above in the slideshow) are the latest readings of methane over the Arctic area. Methane that is being released above 1950 pbb (parts per billion) is in red.

To put those numbers into context, what is considered a "normal" release of methane? According to Dr. James Hansen, an American adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, 1250 ppb is a livable level.

We are now well surpassing that level daily.

Harold Hensel, another member of AMEG, has this to say about the recent high level readings:

"This is epic! Keep watching the Laptev and East Siberian Sea. This is a very dangerous place for methane to come up. Huge amounts of methane hydrates are stored below. They have been frozen there safely for over 10,000 years. We are witnessing the thawing and large release of methane from this area for the first time in over 10,000 years. The fear is that at a critical point there may be a catastrophic sudden burst of methane from this area. This would more than likely trigger runaway global warming. We could be watching the beginnings of this. If the red on the 1750 ppb and the yellow on the 1950 ppb setting on the keeps spreading and intensifies, we are watching it happen. I hope this is an anomaly and these areas return to little or no activity."
NASA and scientists around the world are also taking note of the alarming methane levels:

"A NASA science team has observed “amazing and potentially troubling” levels of methane and CO2 from the rapidly warming Arctic. Given the staggering amount of carbon trapped in the permafrost — and the fact that methane is a very potent heat-trapping gas — the space agency is now asking: Is a Sleeping Climate Giant Stirring in the Arctic?”

For more information and news about methane and why we should be concerned, here is a list of FAQ'S from the Arctic News site: Frequently asked questions about the Arctic and methane.

So what can you do? According to The Last Hours website, there is plenty you can do:

1. Sign the global call to action and share on FaceBook and Twitter (and any other sites you frequent) Share The Last Hours video with friends and family.
2. Vote with your wallet
3. Lighten your own carbon load
4. Pressure your politicians
5. Fund the solutions
6. Join a climate campaign

Here is also a list of groups you can join and follow to find out more:

The Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG) on FaceBook

You can follow Dorsi Diaz on Twitter and also here at HubPages where she publishes articles about climate change and educating through art. Her website is www.DorsiDiaz.

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