Nuclear war and waste are not the only way we are creating hell on earth. We are beset with heat waves, blizzards, draughts , hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and raging fires on the across vast regions. We don’t have to be meteorologists to know these unnatural disasters are increasing and that the proof of their increase is due to global warming. We’d have to have our head buried in the sand or to be motivated by money not to acknowledge that human dependence on fossil fuels is causing our planet’s overheating. I know that the melting ice caps of the Artic and Antarctic will cause the oceans to rise and that that will destroy coastlines, cities and even nations at sea level. What I have not known is that the melting of Greenland and other now ice-covered lands will unleash methane gases from melting permafrost and that that is doubling carbon burned by human use of fossil fuel.
Nor did I realize that we are fast melting down. In a recent article (December 17, 2013 in the Tomgram newsletter) Dahr Jamail in The Climate Change Scorecard, quotes authoritative scientists who argue that we are melting faster and faster.
“Professor Peter Wadhams, a leading Arctic expert at Cambridge University, has been measuring Arctic ice for 40 years, and his findings underscore McPherson’s fears. ‘The fall-off in ice volume is so fast it is going to bring us to zero very quickly,’ Wadhams told a reporter. According to current data, he estimates “with 95% confidence” that the Arctic will have completely ice-free summers by 2018. (U.S. Navy researchers have predicted an ice-free Arctic even earlier -- by 2016.)”
The consequence of this, Jamail says is that melting permafrost releases methane: “In the atmosphere, methane is a greenhouse gas that, on a relatively short-term time scale, is far more destructive than carbon dioxide (CO2). It is 23 times as powerful as CO2 per molecule on a 100-year timescale, 105 times more potent when it comes to heating the planet on a 20-year timescale -- and the Arctic permafrost, onshore and off, is packed with the stuff. ‘The seabed,’ says Wadham, ‘is offshore permafrost, but is now warming and melting. We are now seeing great plumes of methane bubbling up in the Siberian Sea… millions of square miles where methane cover is being released’”
Although you and I haven’t studied what happened to our planet, some 250 million years ago, there was a mass extinction of life, known as “The Great Dying”, scientists say, that was due to massive lava flow from volcanoes in Siberia. This caused melting of frozen methane deposits under the seas and released into the atmosphere. Temperatures soared for approximately 80,000 years.
Jamail concludes: “We are currently in the midst of what scientists consider the sixth mass extinction in planetary history, with between 150 and 200 species going extinct daily, a pace 1,000 times greater than the “natural” or “background” extinction rate. This event may already be comparable to, or even exceed, both the speed and intensity of the Permian mass extinction. The difference being that ours is human caused, and isn’t going to take 80,000 years, so far has lasted just a few centuries, and is now gaining speed in a non-linear fashion.”
Our hell on earth is beginning and immanent? Can we delay it when self, corporate, military and national interests believe fossil fuels are essential and see global warming as distant?