Massive Methane Digits — Climate Change’s ‘Fire-Alarm Moment’

January 8, 2022

Foggy and damp this Saturday evening here in California’s Central Valley — weathering the weather has always been a part of life’s story, except nowadays there’s an endgame included and it’s shitty.

And climate-changing that weather is a heavy gas:

Not a happy milestone, in fact this is serious, heavy shit — literally — via NewScientist yesterday:

Rising levels of the powerful greenhouse gas methane reaching a new milestone should serve as a “fire alarm moment,” say researchers.
According to data compiled by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), average atmospheric concentrations of methane reached a record 1900 parts per billion (ppb) in September 2021, the highest in nearly four decades of records.
The figure stood at 1638 ppb in 1983.

“It is scary,” says Euan Nisbet at Royal Holloway, University of London.
He says the record shows the importance of more than 100 countries acting on their methane-cutting pledge at the COP26 climate summit.

The new high is unsurprising because methane levels have been climbing since 2007, thought to be driven primarily by changes in wetlands and agriculture in the tropics and — to a lesser degree — by leaks from oil and gas production. “The September data continues the exceptional trends that we’ve been seeing over the past few years,” says Keith Shine at the University of Reading, UK.

However, the rate at which concentrations are rising is concerning researchers, with 2020 marking the biggest annual jump since records began in 1983.

Conclusion: While the 1900 ppb figure for September is provisional and will be revised, Nisbet says it is “certainly a fire alarm moment” and a reminder “we really need to act.”

Haste not to waste time, however, even if a warning is already been screamed about the neighborhood:

Another telling piece on the recent satirical, ultimately-ultimate disaster movie, “Don’t Look Up,” at the Guardian this afternoon, a collection of quick reviews from four longtime climate journalists, experts by virtue of reporting the reality of climate change. They give the film generally overall positive write-ups.
Especially good take from Fiona Harvey, environmental correspondent at the Guardian:

Writing about the end of the world is often a thankless task, so the prospect of Don’t Look Up immediately appealed. Billed as a satirical comedy, what satire could even come close to the experience of the world’s biggest climate conference, Cop26 in Glasgow, where the main achievement of nearly 200 governments and 30,000 delegates after two weeks of wrenching talks and stark scientific warnings was a resolve to return next year and try a bit harder?

After 17 years of reporting on the climate crisis, I doubted at first that the film had much to tell me about the frustrations of communicating a hypothetical catastrophe. As the film’s scientists first struggled to clothe their data in sober, measured terms, then broke into swearing, arm-waving shrieks about provable imminent apocalypse, I nodded along. Yes, that’s what it feels like, and no, no one listens, not until it is too late.

Yet it was illuminating in unexpected ways – something I’ve always struggled with is how rational people can fail to grasp the scale of climate breakdown, how we could leave it so late. As the film shows, it’s partly because vested interests keep it that way, but it’s also just because we’re human. Believing in disaster before it strikes is fundamentally not how we work.

The role of the techno-loon, played by Mark Rylance, struck another chord. Cop26 was not a failure, though on the surface that was the obvious conclusion – it was more nuanced than that. Soon after the Cop26 circus left Glasgow, the danger of painting the outcome in such black-and-white terms became apparent, as well-meaning experts concluded – in all seriousness – as talking didn’t work, our best hope would be for billionaires to bypass the UN and geoengineer the climate from space. Because obviously the answer to a vast uncontrolled experiment on the atmosphere is to conduct a vast uncontrolled experiment on the atmosphere.

Don’t Look Up is hardly subtle, which may be why climate scientists have enjoyed it more than some film critics. But in a world where the president of the most powerful democracy appeared close to inciting insurrection, where businesses argue over whether saving the planet makes economic sense, where oil apologists ally with Covid deniers, where a teenager shows more maturity than 200 heads of government – well, subtlety sailed off across the horizon a long time ago.

The other three — Ketan Joshi, a freelance writer specializing in climate and energy, and author of “Windfall: Unlocking A Fossil-Free Future;” Nina Lakhani, a British freelance journalist; and Damian Carrington, the Guardian‘s environmental editor — also related to being ignored in the face of impending catastrophe.
I would guess the reporters covering the environment, and all the implications a warming world means for humanity could also be susceptible to PTSD as it becomes more obvious we’re apparently are going to fall way-short of getting a handle on climate change anytime soon.

And once again, here we are…

(Illustration out front: Salvador Dali’s ‘Hell Canto 2: Giants,’ found here)

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