Newsflash:
Rep. Barbara Lee Stop Global Warming Do These Bubbles Signal the Start of Rapid Climate Change?
Sunday, 10 August 2014 15:27

Do These Bubbles Signal the Start of Rapid Climate Change?

Written by  John Light | Moyers & Company
Methane bubbles rising from seafloor. Methane bubbles rising from seafloor. NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS
First it was mysterious craters appearing in Siberia — possibly the result of the Earth belching methane as permafrost thaws and collapses. Then scientists observed methane gas bubbling to the surface from the sea floor in the Arctic Ocean, where for eons it lay trapped in a flammable slush. The researchers who discovered the plumes — a joint team of Americans, Swedes and Russians on an expedition called the SWERUS-C3 — suspect the methane is escaping due to an influx of warmer water from the Atlantic Ocean, which, in turn, could be tied to climate change.

The release of methane on a large scale has long worried scientists. The greenhouse gas is 20 times more damaging to the Earth over a 100-year period than CO2, and is even more potent in the short term. Should the deposits trapped within the Arctic escape into the air, it could kick off a highly destructive climate feedback loop: The methane would cause rapid warming, which would melt more of the Arctic, which would release more methane, which would cause more warming.

This eventuality was the subject of an ominous commentary published in Nature last summer. It placed the cost of methane escaping into the atmosphere at $60 trillion — the size of the world economy. (Some climatologists argued that the article went too far.)

So do these recent observations — the craters, the plumes — mean a methane-fueled climate disaster has come sooner than previously feared?

We’re in trouble “if even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere,” tweeted widely-published climatologist Jason Box (with stronger phrasing) after the news of the plumes surfaced. “The trajectory we’re on is to awaken a runaway climate heating that will ravage global agricultural systems leading to mass famine, conflict. Sea level rise will be a small problem by comparison. We simply MUST lower atmospheric carbon emissions,” Box explained in a blog post.

BillMoyers.com reached out via email to Dr. Gavin Schmidt, a renowned climatologist and the director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies for his opinion on the plumes observed by the SWERUS crew. He said it’s not yet time for panic.

“The problem with a lot of this research is that we don’t have a long baseline of observations. Therefore when scientists report a new observation, it’s impossible to tell whether it has always been there or whether it is genuinely new,” he wrote. “That goes for these observations in particular.”

He explained that during two periods in the “relatively recent” past — first in the Early Holocene, six to eight thousand years ago, and then in the Eemian, 125,000 years ago — the Arctic was warmer than it is now due to “wobbles in the Earth’s orbit.” Ice core records show that during those warmer periods, the Earth did not release large amounts of methane.

Because the Arctic is not as warm now as it was then, Schmidt wrote, we are not yet at the point where we should expect the Arctic’s frozen methane deposits to melt.

But should today’s human-caused global warming cause the Arctic to warm beyond the high temperatures of the Early Holocene and Eemian periods, the tundra, oceans and ice caps might release methane in amounts never seen before. And that could be quite bad.

As global warming continues, Schmidt wrote, “we will arrive at a point that is completely unprecedented within the last few million years, and at that point, I would be far less sanguine. We are, however, not yet there.”

Link to the original article from Moyers & Company.

Read 3038 times Last modified on Sunday, 10 August 2014 15:33

ERA Legislation in your State

Unratified states Gold - Ratified States Purple

Latest News from the Lee Campaign

Latest News from the Grayson Campaign

Latest News from the Schapira Campaign

  • Standard-Bearer in Pivotal Arizona Congressional Race
    Standard-Bearer in Pivotal Arizona Congressional Race

    With early ballots in the mail, and only three weeks from the August 28th primary, State Senator David Schapira has emerged as the Democratic standard-bearer in a closely watched and increasingly nasty three-way congressional race in Arizona that many observers see as a litmus test for national Democratic chances to pick up critical seats in Congress.

    Written on Thursday, 09 August 2012 01:45 Read more...
  • Harry Mitchell Endorses David Schapira for Congress
    Harry Mitchell Endorses David Schapira for Congress

    “The primary in Congressional District 9 has pitted three of the brightest members of the Democratic Party in Arizona against each other. All three candidates are leaders in our state and I am honored to call them friends.

    Written on Thursday, 26 July 2012 12:14 Read more...
  • A Guest Post From Arizona Progressive State Senator David Schapira
    A Guest Post From Arizona Progressive State Senator David Schapira

    Endorsements are a funny thing. Most of them aren't worth anything at all. I have two friends running in the Democratic primary in Arizona's brand new 9th CD, Kyrsten Sinema and Andrei Cherny. Kyrsten is a progressive and Andrei is somewhere in his own world ideologically. But the third guy... well, he's the one who's been endorsed by Raúl-- and by PDA. Whomever wins the August 28th primary is, likelier than not, headed to Congress. That third guy is David Schapira, the Senate Democratic Leader.

    Written on Saturday, 30 June 2012 13:38 Read more...
  • David Schapira Receives PDA Endorsement
    David Schapira Receives PDA Endorsement

    On the May Inside the Party call, David Schapira (AZ-9) received the PDA National endorsement. Currently David Schapira is the Arizona State Senate Democratic Leader.

    Written on Thursday, 24 May 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • Arizona Communications Workers of America State Council Endorses David Schapira for Congress
    Arizona Communications Workers of America State Council Endorses David Schapira for Congress

    The Arizona Communications Workers of America (CWA) State Council announced today their endorsement of Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, in the race for Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District. The state council is comprised of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association (AZCPOA), the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and multiple CWA local affiliates.

    Written on Thursday, 17 May 2012 19:55 Read more...
  • Congressman Raúl Grijalva Endorses David Schapira
    Congressman Raúl Grijalva Endorses David Schapira

    Congressman Raúl Grijalva, AZ-07, today announced his endorsement of Arizona Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, in his campaign for Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District. “Voters are looking for candidates who stand up for what they believe in and can win, not by hiding their values, but by sharing them with voters. David is that candidate,” said Rep. Grijalva.

    Written on Monday, 30 April 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • Arizona Union Rights Stripped

    Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pushes the country's most anti-union agenda yet. David Shapira, Democratic leader of the Arizona state senate, slams his Republican colleagues. Welcome back to "The Ed Show." Jan Brewer and the Arizona Republicans are on a tear. they are on the offensive. they are on a mission to completely destroy public employee unions. have you heard the story before?

    Written on Thursday, 02 February 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • State Senator David Schapira Jumps Into District 9 Congressional Race
    State Senator David Schapira Jumps Into District 9 Congressional Race

    As predicted, former state Senator Kyrsten Sinema's not the only Democrat with her eye on Arizona's new Congressional seat -- this morning, state Senate Minority Leader David Schapira announced that he, too, will run in Arizona's newly formed 9th Congressional district.

    Written on Tuesday, 17 January 2012 00:00 Read more...

Sign the ERA Petition

ERADemandButton

On Friday, September 12th more than 150 activists will go to DC and Demand that their Senators and Representatives support removing the ratification deadline from the ERA (SJ Res 15 and HJ Res 113)

Button-SignERAPetition

Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

Button-SandersPetition

Like Rep. Barbara Lee

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of