The Methane Time Bomb and the Future of the Biosphere
Dr. Andrew Glikson
29 April, 2018
The extraction and transfer from the earth crust to the atmosphere of every economically available molecule of carbon, including coal,oil, tar sand oil, shale oil, methane gas, coal seam gas and other forms of hydrocarbon, constitutes the most significant shift in composition of the atmosphere since the PETM hyperthermal event about 56 million years ago[i] and the K-T extinction of the dinosaurs some 66 million years ago[ii]. Methane, the most potent common greenhouse gas, billions of tons of which are stored in Arctic permafrost, lakes, shallow seas and sediments, is emitted as the Arctic warms by an average of 3-8 degrees Celsius. This release threatens to melt the large polar ice caps, leading to tens of meters sea level rise and disappearance of species a rate two orders of magnitude faster than they would have without human interference[iii]. Compounding this effect is extensive drilling for coal seam gas, perforating the crust in several parts of the world and releasing commercial and fugitive emissions of methane to the atmosphere. Having sent young generations to kill and die in wars, the powers to be are now presiding over the greatest mass extinction of nature since 66 million years ago.
“In the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, open-cut coal mining district we mapped a continuous 50 km interval where the concentration of methane exceeded 1800 ppb. The median concentration in this interval was 2020 ppb. Peak readings were beyond the range of the reliable measurement (in excess of 3000 ppb). This extended plume is an amalgamation of plumes from 17 major pits 1 to 10 km in length. Adjacent to CSG developments in the Surat Basin, southeast Queensland, only small anomalies were detected near the well-heads. Throughout the vast majority of the gas fields the concentration of methane was below 1800 ppb. The largest source of fugitive methane associated with CSG was off-gassing methane from the co-produced water holding ponds. At one location the downwind plume had a cross section of approximately 1 km where the concentration of methane was above 1800 ppb. The median concentration within this section was 1820 ppb, with a peak reading of 2110 ppb.”