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Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Disaster Has Already Happened

Dec 15th, 2011

Less than a week after the "farce" that was the most recent round of international climate talks and the predictable corresponding wave of right wing denial regarding global warming, comes some very bad news.

Via The Independent:

"Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.

The scale and volume of the methane release has astonished the head of the Russian research team who has been surveying the seabed of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf off northern Russia for nearly 20 years.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Igor Semiletov, of the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said that he has never before witnessed the scale and force of the methane being released from beneath the Arctic seabed."

How bad is it?

"In a very small area, less than 10,000 square miles, we have counted more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling through the water column and injected directly into the atmosphere from the seabed," Dr Semiletov said. "We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale – I think on a scale not seen before. Some plumes were a kilometre or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere – the concentration was a hundred times higher than normal."

This is only the latest in a wave of terrible findings made this year regarding our air and water. Summarizing portions of the IPSO report released this Summer, The Week reported:

"The oceans are under siege by a "deadly trio" of threats — rising water temperature, acidification, and lack of oxygen — that played a role in similar mass extinctions 55 million years ago, says Jelle Bijma of the Alfred Wegener Institute. This time, humans are largely to blame, according to the report. Overfishing alone has pushed many species to the brink of extinction. Pollution and run-off of fertilizers from farms have choked out life in vast areas. And the oceans absorb most of the carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere, changing pH levels and adding stress on all kinds of marine creatures."

It now seems to be accelerating. To think we can substantially undo the damage at this point is naive. We should still do everything in our power to stop poisoning ourselves for the simple reason that poisoning ourselves is insane.

Where climate change is concerned, we must adapt, however painfully, to the coming new world. If we don't, the extinction event we face may be our own.

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