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Planet Earth Under Threat

The Methane Monster

  • Howard Stableford
  • 21 Sep 06, 03:14 PM

Be afraid. be very afraid. For lurking at the bottom of our oceans is a huge monster that has been lying dormant for thousands of years. And yet, global warming may just serve as an alarm clock that upon waking this behemoth would cause it to bellow its vast and smelly methane breath into the atmosphere, accelerating the current warming trend still further.

OK, got a bit carried away there, but how else to introduce what I find a fascinating story about gas hydrates! Honestly..stick with me here!


I recently returned from a lengthy foray around the west coast of the USA and parts of the Sierras joining scientists out in the field where I was either bouncing around on a marine research vessel in Monterey Bay or catching and counting chipmunks and mice in the spectacular Lassen Volcanic National Park. Along the way, at the University of California at Santa Barbara to be exact, I met geological scientist Jim Kennet, a fascinating Kiwi, who is something of a controversial figure in the esoteric world of gas hydrates.

Jim's "calthrate gun" hypothesis proposes that past shifts from glacial to interglacial times were caused by a massive decomposotion of the marine methane hydrate deposits that get released into the atmosphere. The methane hydrate is locked in vast frozen reservoirs of ice at the bottom of the oceans. Accoring to Jim, warmer ocean temperatures from current global climate change is likely to release this methane by thawing the ice reservoirs.

What's alarming about this is that we tend to think of climate change as gradual, a perceived shift in treeline up the mountain, or a slow move north for the red fox for instance, but here we are talking about a switch that is either on or off. If the ocean temperature reaches a certain temperature threshold, that could literally switch on the release of vast amounts of methane into the atmosphere which as a green house gas is twenty times more potent than CO2. The methane would then act as a poitive feedback loop, trapping more heat in the atmophere and accelerating the warming process.

It's not just speculation either. Divers from UC Santa Barbara recenty witnessed and video taped one such massive blow out in the Santa Barbara basin. They said it sounded like a freight train. Fascinating. Yet it must be pointed out that Jim's hypotheis isn't mainstream thinking. I think I'm right in saying that most scientists in this field think that historically the majority of methane during global warming periods has come from marshlands around the world and not the sea.

Still the agrrement is that vast quantities of methane are released somehow and for me it is at the very least something else to worry about when going for a swim. I mean which would you rather be, stung by jelly fish, attacked by sharks or blown up by a huge marine fart!

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Great article although I was laughing without control over the phrase huge marine fart.

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Hi Howard,

More on methane, but this one is from the Siberian bogs.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/5321046.stm
"Thawing Siberian bogs are releasing more of the greenhouse gas methane than previously believed, according to new scientific research."

I'm glad to be 35 meters above sea level.

vaya con Gaia
ed

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  • 3.
  • At 09:26 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • Daniel Davies wrote:

Next thing you know, the Day After Tomorrow film won't be as fictional as you think. I'm glad to be 200 metres above sea level, in the West Yorkshire Pennines!
According to a very worst case scenario, we'll be having Brighouse-on-Sea in a couple of decades! ;-)
Good luck to all.
Now I suggest we all go to the bogs and watch out for methane farts!

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  • 4.
  • At 02:54 PM on 29 Sep 2006,
  • George Harrison wrote:

Massive emmissions of methane into the atmosphere were probably responsible for past (and future) sudden global warming events.
Similarly sudden emmissions of sulpur dioxide by big volcanic eruptions are responsible for sudden global cooling events.

If the present global warming trends can not be controlled by human restraint (we are not good at this!) why not seek a planetary engineering solution? Consider the following, all airliners switch to high sulphur fuel when above say 30,000 feet. In this way we could adjust global cooling to a controlled extent. Unless a super volcano gets into the act first.....?

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Hi Howard.

I was interested in your article on methane as it also appears on our website. The methane emissions are the first stage of the "Global Meltdown Domino Effect" It's all in the Bible and it's the biggest story since Noah's ark.

To find out what happens next, follow the link.

www.redsky.uk.net/global.cfm

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  • 6.
  • At 07:12 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Peter Arnold wrote:

Ships vanish notoriously in the Bermuda triangle. People who are good swimmers are drowned in rushing streams. Ships and people are no longer boyant where water contains sufficient bubbles. Vanishing container ships could signal the arrival of the big methane release.
Good luck!

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  • 7.
  • At 07:25 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Peter Arnold wrote:

Andrew is probably right about its being in the Bible, but it sounded a little as though because it is in the Bible it must be alright.

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Methane could certainly be responsible for ships and planes disappearing around the Bermuda triangle. I believe it is affectionately known as "The Flatulent Effect!!!"

"The Global Meltdown Domino effect" which we reveal on our web site is a series of events triggered by methane emissions and would seem to be supported by both science and scripture. You can take a look by following this link...

www.redsky.uk.net/global.cfm

It's gathering a lot of momentum particularly in the United States at the moment.

CNN here we come!!!

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  • 9.
  • At 12:49 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Andrew M. Cassidy wrote:

The hypothesis that the hydrates decompose and reconstitute in cycles can be tested. Carbon-14 date the carbon in the methane and look at how the age is distributed. If the carbon is recently formed (few thousands of years), there maybe reason to be concerned.

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