Gas the throttle

July 25, 2013

arctic-x-section-350A bit foggy, but warm this early Thursday here on California’s north coast with the weekend now firmly in the sights — just a matter of hours.

Beyond the crazed news cycle of more Weiner nonsense, the NSA still primed, and a royal baby George, the earth continues its rapid demise — and most people are unaware some bad shit is about to descend on our noodles. There’s most-likely just too much inflated crap going on.

Is it warm enough, yet?

(Illustration found here).

Climate change is a hardy hello to the future. The earth is warming, just this year we reached that wondrous level of 400 ppm of CO2 (350, the ‘livable’ level, is long gone, never to return) and as the global temperatures arch upward, there’s really no going back. And trouble bleeds.
Even in the environment, there’s blow-back — Maine lobsters are reproducing at such an alarming rate, prices have plunged and the highly-desired creatures are practicing cannibalism:

From his remote research station on rocky Hurricane Island, floating in the lobster-grabbing chaos off nearby fog-shrouded Vinalhaven Island (one of Maine’s top lobstering locales), Oppenheim has seen that young lobsters left overnight under his camera are over 90 percent more likely to be eaten by another lobster than by anything else.

And it’s going to get worse — I hope humans don’t reach that point.
Another major blow-back is what’s under all that frozen turf in the Arctic and down south in Antarctic — methane gas.
A lot of this shit is buried in the permafrost, under pressure and just waiting to be shot out into an environment already gassed up and ready. There’s been research on this escaping gas, but no one really knows for sure what will happen is this stuff is really allowed to continue.

Now research folks have put a price tag on this phenomenon, beyond what I’d considered a much-much bigger cost — mass death.
Via the BBC:

The researchers estimate that the climate effects of the release of this gas could cost $60 trillion (£39 trillion), roughly the size of the global economy in 2012.
The impacts are most likely to be felt in developing countries they say.

Previous work has shown that the diminishing ice cover in the East Siberian sea is allowing the waters to warm and the methane to leach out. Scientists have found plumes of the gas up to a kilometre in diameter rising from these waters.

They worked out that this would increase climate impacts such as flooding, sea level rise, damage to agriculture and human health to the tune of $60 trillion.
“That’s an economic time bomb that at this stage has not been recognised on the world stage,” said Prof Gail Whiteman at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, and one of authors.
“We think its incredibly important for world leaders to really discuss what are the implications of this methane release and what could we indeed do about it to hopefully prevent the whole burst from happening.”
But according to the new work, these benefits would be a fraction of the likely costs of a large scale methane emission.
The authors say a release of methane on this scale could bring forward the date when global temperatures increase by 2C by between 15 and 35 years.
“We are looking at a big effect,” said Prof Peter Wadhams from the University of Cambridge, “a possibly catastrophic effect on global climate that’s a consequence of this extremely fast sea ice retreat that’s been happening in recent years.”

Prof Wadhams says the evidence is growing.
“We are seeing increasing methane in the atmosphere.
When you look at satellite imagery, for instance the Metop satellite, that’s gone up significantly in the last three years and the place where the increase is happening most is over the Arctic,” he said.

Prof. Wadhams added this in a Guardian interview:

The loss of sea ice leads to seabed warming, which leads to offshore permafrost melt, which leads to methane release, which leads to enhanced warming, which leads to even more rapid uncovering of seabed.
If a large release has not occurred by 2016 the danger will be continuously increasing.
It is thought that at 2-3C of global warming, which means 6-8C of Arctic warming, methane release from permafrost on land will be greatly increased.

And now for the first time, this horror is down below.
Via the Brisbane Times:

Ground previously frozen over a geological time scale in one of the McMurdo Dry Valleys is said to be melting at a rate now running at about 10 times the historical average.
American researcher Joseph Levy said the discovery in an area that represented Antarctic permafrost’s “soft underbelly” foreshadowed bigger impacts ahead under climate change.
Unlike the Arctic, only a small area of Antarctica is permafrost, or iced soil and rock. But because this ground is free of a covering of ice sheet or glacier, it can also be important to polar life.

Scientists previously considered this permafrost to be in equilibrium, meaning that its seasonal melting and refreezing did not, over time, diminish.
But over 10 years from 2002 the cliff increasingly lost ground, until by January 2012 it had fallen back by up to 55 metres.
It had lost an estimated 11,400 cubic metres to melting in the past 12 months alone, Dr Levy found.
“The ice is vanishing; it’s melting faster each time we measure,” said Dr Levy.
“This is a dramatic shift from recent history.”

Looking at the earth as it is now, we’re slowly dying, similar to a creature.
Via Discovery:

David Gems from the Institute of Health Aging at University College London, who led the study, explained:
“We’ve identified a chemical pathway of self-destruction that propagates cell death in worms, which we see as this glowing blue fluorescence traveling through the body.
It’s like a blue grim reaper, tracking death as it spreads throughout the organism until all life is extinguished.”
As a hypothetical, let’s say a worm or a person is stuck in the desert, suffering from severe dehydration.
The stress and strain of that leads to cellular shock and damage, causing individual cells to die.

The entire organism doesn’t just die in an instant. The individual cell deaths trigger a chemical reaction that leads to the breakdown of cell components and a build-up of molecular debris. If this goes on unchecked, the individual is toast.
This type of damage can happen, but in a much slower way, as an individual ages.

A warming environment might be a loser.
Hey, it’s payday Thursday — put on a happy face!

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