Here we go again...

Clock

Senior Member.
Alright guys, it seems as if I need some of your expertise here. I got freaking scared when I read this. http://guymcpherson.com/2012/06/were-done/


He saying that the world is going to end in 2030.

It might sound a bit childish, but he uses Climate Change as an example of this, and that the more Methane released in the world is a sign of our doom. :(


Can anybody debunk some of this? It would greatly help.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
He's actually saying 2020 in that article, which is an update of his previous prediction of 2030.

He's basically just repeating some of the claims of the Arctic Methane Emergency group, which is a small group of scientists who think that were about to enter a sudden arctic methane feedback loop. There's more on this here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic_methane_release

I think that it's certainly a cause of concern. I don't think that the science really supports the AMEG doomsday claims. See:
http://chicagowilderness.org/member...c Armageddon Needs More Science Less Hype.pdf


Folding all of those processes into an
admittedly still-crude model, Archer and his
colleagues get a warming of about 0.5°C,
whether the ultimate carbon dioxide warming
is a very modest 2°C or an extreme 7°C. The
catch is that once the methane is converted
into long-lived carbon dioxide, it prolongs
that added warming for thousands of years.
So to scientists, the methane threat looks
less like a catastrophe than an aggravation
of a problem that already scares them. But
“media people are all the time trying to have
a doomsday story” about methane, says
Walter Anthony. Not that scientists are blameless.
“Quite a few scientists have maybe
exaggerated a bit,” Heimann acknowledges.
“Is now the time to get frightened?”
Archer asked rhetorically on the blog Real
Climate (www.realclimate.org) in March.
His answer: “No. CO2 is plenty to be frightened
of, while methane is frosting on the
cake. … Methane sells newspapers, but it’s
not the big story.”

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I'm sure there's been a response to that article somewhere for Nissan, et al., I'll look for that.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Here's Kerr's Science Podcast transcript (linked from Wikipedia, but a bit buried in a PDF). Aug 6th 2010

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/329/5992/697.2/rel-suppl/5cdf98cf06be5abe/suppl/DC1

Host -- Stewart Wills
In the discussion of climate change positive feedbacks, one frequently mentioned threat is the possibility that, as the planet warms, huge amounts of methane currently locked up in icy polar reservoirs could be released, pushing global warming into overdrive. In a News Focus in this week's Science, however, news writer Richard Kerr suggests that the threat, while real, doesn't necessarily foreshadow a catastrophe.

Interviewee – Richard Kerr

There’s been a lot of excitement in recent months about the prospects for methane oozing out of the Arctic and into the atmosphere and stoking global warming, even more than our burning of fossil fuels has done already. And that is a bit off base, doesn’t have quite the thrust that climate scientists would like to give it. There’s a problem, methane from the Arctic is going to be amplifying global warming, but there’s no catastrophe in the offing.

Interviewer - Stewart Wills

Well, people talk a lot about these various positive feedbacks and, you know, tipping points in global warming. Why don’t you walk us through how this one is actually supposed to work? Where is this methane coming from and why has it been a worry?

Interviewee – Richard Kerr

There’s a lot of methane out there. Scientists don’t have a real good handle on how much, but there’s a lot of methane frozen in the ice beneath the sea floor, not just in the Arctic but all around the world. This is so called methane hydrates – they form naturally from bacterial methane. It’s down there and it’s stable, as is, but the world is warming. And as the ocean warms, it’s going to warm the methane hydrates, and then they can basically melt, releasing their methane. And that can eventually work its way up through the sediments, through the ocean, and into the atmosphere. The other semi-stable reservoir of methane is actually in the form of organic matter frozen in the permafrost on the land. When the permafrost thaws, which some of it is in the Arctic under the warmer regime we’re seeing these days, bacteria, again, can convert the organic matter to methane, methane bubbles often through some of these lakes that form as permafrost thaws. And that can go rather directly into the atmosphere.

Interviewer - Stewart Wills

And I guess the “kicker” from some people’s point of view is that methane “packs a bit more of a wallop” as a greenhouse gas than others.

Interviewee – Richard Kerr

Yes, methane is about 25 times more powerful, as a greenhouse gas, than carbon dioxide.

Interviewer - Stewart Wills

So, that’s how it’s supposed to work. Have these methane leaks actually been observed?

Interviewee – Richard Kerr

Well, they’re going on, and they’re happening because parts of the world are warming. And maybe that warming is global warming, greenhouse warming. One case in point is just west of the archipelago of Svalbard that’s, oh, halfway between Norway and the North Pole, up in the Arctic. And scientists have seen, through the wonders of sonar, methane bubbles coming up from the sea floor reaching, or almost reaching the surface, and that methane’s coming from hydrates beneath the sea floor. Of course there’s any number of reports less quantified of methane bubbling up in Arctic lakes that have formed because the permafrost has thawed.

Interviewer - Stewart Wills

So, these things seem to be happening, but I guess the big question is how much is this actually going to affect an already warming climate? The sense I have from your article is that this is a somewhat overblown fear.

Interviewee – Richard Kerr

Somewhat. The headlines have often mentioned looming catastrophes--Armageddon in the Arctic--and that’s perhaps only to be expected. The amounts of methane are so large
that it does bring to mind the potential catastrophe. But, from what scientists know at this point, there are a lot of steps in the process between unleashing the methane and triggering warming that are innately slow, and speed is all-important. The methane, even when it makes it into the atmosphere, only survives about 10 years. So, if you’re not driving it out at a terrific rate, natural processes are going to take care of that methane, convert it into carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas. But, it tends to take the catastrophic aspects out of the picture. Fairly crude modeling, but the best that can be done, suggests that there will be amplification of greenhouse warming, but it’s going to be a long-term problem. And, you know, to scientists, geologists, we’re talking many centuries, millennia that methane converted to carbon dioxide will still be warming the world 1,000 years from now or perhaps even 10,000.

Interviewer - Stewart Wills

So, you mentioned the importance of the rate of these processes and alluded to some of the process being quite slow. What are some of the rate-limiting factors, if you will?

Interviewee – Richard Kerr

Well, the warming due to carbon dioxide greenhouse has to get from the atmosphere into the ocean, fairly deeply into the ocean. That heat has to penetrate the sediments, then that penetrating heat has to melt the hydrate, and as you know from ice melting in your iced tea, it takes a good bit of heat to do that. Then, the methane gas has to make its way out of the sediment, not well understood how that works, but apparently does happen. In the case of hydrates in the sea floor it has to get through the seawater itself, where the methane can be oxidized to CO2. Most of the same rate-limiting steps apply to permafrost, as well.

Interviewer - Stewart Wills

So, we’re not talking about a big burst of methane, just kind of a burble of it over -- over time.

Interviewee – Richard Kerr

Right. Scientists have identified a very strange, abrupt – by their standards – warming about 55 million years ago that may have been caused by a relatively sudden release of methane from methane hydrates. But, even then we’re talking about abruptness on the order of a thousand years or ten thousand years, not in the next decade.

Interviewer - Stewart Wills

Okay. So, we have a situation where there’s clearly an effect that methane is going to have, but it’s not going to be this sort of catastrophic story. I mean I think I know the answer to this, but why do you suppose, given that we already have so much to worry about on CO2-driven warming that this methane threat has gotten so much attention?

Interviewee – Richard Kerr

Well, it’s a natural for we in the media, to look for novel aspects of the climate change problem, aspects that have some drama attached to them. And frankly, scientists
involved in this process of communicating with the public through the media haven’t always been as cautious and attentive to the potential problems as they might have been.

Interviewer - Stewart Wills

Dick Kerr, thanks very much.

Interviewee – Richard Kerr

My pleasure, Stewart.

Host -- Stewart Wills

Richard Kerr writes about the truth and hype of Arctic methane in this
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Clock

Senior Member.
Thanks Mick.

Once again, you're debunking is awesome. Even though this wasn't really a debunking (methane is pretty darn real)
 
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