Monday, January 31, 2011
One of the committees that I sit on, the ElderNet Transportation Planning Table, has been working on a mapping strategy to look at where seniors travel in our city and where the gaps are. It's been a fascinating process already: learning that the trip from one senior centre to a hospital in the same city quadrant can take up to two hours on transit, while another transit route from a hospital to several care facilities has its last bus of the evening leave 15 minutes before visiting hours are over, has us thinking about "what" people are doing when they use transit. This is starting to make the news in Toronto as well: proposed cuts to routes would impact people who are mobile (War on Roller Derby) and not-so-mobile (Fiorito: Cuts threaten bus service to Toronto's deaf-blind community).
Another collaboration opportunity has been the involvement of nursing students from the University of Calgary at our centre. This semester, the group is looking at how our members get to the centre, get groceries and get themselves to health services on a regular basis. I've also encouraged them to do a community survey to assess walking, transit and driving issues in the immediate neighbourhood, as keeping people engaged in community means being able to access it. It will be interesting to see what gaps they find here in relation to the bigger ElderNet project.
This week I'm also meeting with the coordinator of Get Up and Go, which connects seniors with "buddies" in an attempt to get people to ride transit. I'm hoping that the program will be a fit for BCS members, both as a way of getting more people to the centre (so they can participate in programs, access services, and not be isolated!) but also as another way of sparking a transit advocacy strategy process in the community. I still think the key to getting seniors using transit is to get them on it before they're seniors, but that's going to be a bigger project. (Hmmm....)
Trying to address social isolation without looking at root causes like transportation is a futile exercise. I'm glad that there are so many opportunities to work with others in the community, and I'm glad so many of them are recognizing that our transportation systems include more than individual vehicle ownership. What a radical concept, non?
(Cross-posted at Witch-Ways, where I've been crafting magic on the internet since 1994.)
Post Cancún: North America. The New Energy Kingdom
On 13 December 2010 directly following the disastrous Cancún conference ("one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War" ), a revealing post is found on the "oilprice.com" website. The article is titled North America: The New Energy Kingdom. From the article: "Beyond shale oil and shale gas, there's the awesome energy promise of methane hydrates, frozen crystals of water and gas that lie beneath the northern permafrost and beneath oceans floors around the world in quantities that boggle the imagination."
"Assuming 1 per cent recovery," the US Geological Survey says, "these deposits [in US territory] could meet the natural gas needs of the country (at current rates of consumption) for 100 years." The obstructionist corporate-colluded states – the ones responsible for climate change in the first place – have no intention of going to zero carbon in the single decade as direly warned by Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) in 2009 – what is necessary for the world to avoid reaching and exceeding a global catastrophic 2ºC. They have no intention of going to zero, ever, until the Earth is literally drilled to death – or we annihilate humanity. Whichever comes first.
NASA Has Known All Along
As we work like the busy little worker proles we are, amusing ourselves with irrelevant trivia and nonsense, the global power structures that form the plutocracy have long understood our future demise at the expense of an insatiable economy – and have kept silent. In a 2007 NASA report titled Methane Hydrates: More Than a Viable Aviation Fuel Feedstock Option, NASA unequivocally states that it is not a matter of if the methane from hydrates escapes, rather it is only a matter of when: "The unabated release of methane sequestered in these hydrates could impact the planet to the point of extinction of life as we understand it. Considering the predicted Earth thermal events, the stability of methane hydrates, and the impact of methane on the environment, the question is not will this methane be released, but when. It is suggested in this report that enhanced efforts be placed on a comprehensive program to locate, assess, and recover the sequestered methane at surface levels to meet the energy demand rather than permitting natural release into the environment." The report later states, "Still, the world energy producers and consumers are encouraged to turn to the Sun and learn to capture, store, condition, and transmit that energy to meet energy needs and to maintain planetary stability." Fat chance. Corporations would only be interested in the sun if they could drill it.
Blinded by Addiction: Methane Hydrates – The Oil of the Future
The OECD originated in 1948 as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC). In the early 1990s, intergovernmental negotiations soon transformed the vision of prevention into a more restricted mitigation/adaptation agenda. By 1992 it is clear that influential interest groups and powerful institutions had become heavily involved in the negotiations, including the OECD, OPEC countries, oil-importing developing nations and private industry/corporations. The OECD has been heavily criticized by several civil society groups as well as developing states. The main criticism has been the narrowness of the OECD on account of its limited membership to a select few wealthy states. 
An unclassified document was prepared in May 2003 by the OECD and the International Energy Agency (IEA) Secretariats at the request of the Annex I Expert Group on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The acknowledgements cite Cédric Philibert at the IEA who prepared the document while thanking the US's Jonathan Pershing for the information, comments and ideas he provided.
From the unclassified document: Technology Innovation, Development and Diffusion - OECD/IEA Information Paper:
"No technology currently exists to use this enormous energy resource. Depressurisation, thermal stimulation and solvent injection are possible candidates for commercial exploitation – but a prerequisite would be to develop tools for identifying and characterising concentrated deposits. If a technology were to be developed, it could have, with respect to climate change, a kind of Janus' double face. On the one hand, it could prolong the era of fossil fuels and ultimately add a supplementary 10 000 Pg of carbon into the atmosphere (on top of the 5 000 Pg from the combustion of the currently known fossil resource base). Absent associated developments of CO2 capture and storage technologies, such uses would imply an increase in atmospheric concentrations of up to 20-fold (substantially higher than the seven-fold increase projected with full combustion of current resources). On the other hand, such developments could stimulate the near-term replacement of coal and oil." [Gas hydrates may contain three orders of magnitude more methane than exists in today's atmosphere. Because hydrate breakdown, causing release to the atmosphere, can be related to global temperature increases, gas hydrates may play an even more important role in global climate change.]
The introduction within this document correctly identifies that only zero carbon can stabilize our planet: "... the ultimate objective of the UN Convention on Climate Change: 'stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.' Such an achievement is likely to eventually require near elimination of CO2 emissions. Without radical changes in lifestyles, only a massive deployment of carbon-free (or close to carbon-free) energy technologies can power the world economy and satisfy growing energy needs, especially of the developing world, while making stabilisation sustainable over the long term." Yet, the authors of this document cite the solution of "new technologies" as playing the critical role in achieving the UN objective of avoiding dangerous atmospheric interference -- outlining pages of false solutions that will continue to line the bank vaults of corporate powers and keep the power structures intact.
The truth that few wish to acknowledge is that a radical change in our economic system must be the imperative central role and task of this ultimate objective, along with the existing clean, safe, renewable technologies we already possess – the ones that serve to benefit citizens throughout the world with energy independence but which are the greatest threat to the very foundation of corporate powers. A further truth is that we are already beyond dangerous climate interference in the climate system – made clear by John Holdren in 2006.
The OECD report says "without radical changes in lifestyles" – omitting the fact that the wealthiest 15% are responsible for 75% of global emissions. The remaining 85% of humanity emit only 25% of all emissions while the poorest 3 billion emit essentially nothing. Such brilliant tactics using language and framing have been essential in ensuring that current power structures remain unthreatened. Such tactics have thus far succeeded in keeping global citizens in the dark by essentially employing "big green" co-opted NGOs who reverberate the same messages and language. These co-opted groups serve their vital purpose – to successfully lend the illusion of democracy, which is critical in ensuring the public is kept passive, thereby ensuring the system will not be threatened in any meaningful way. The message is consistent and repetitive: place the emphasis on the individual, frame the climate issue around false solutions of green consumerism and symbolic actions, keep the dialogue successfully away from the root causes of climate change – thereby ensuring business as usual and uninterrupted profits.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), who wrote the unclassified document mentioned above:
- Fossil fuels account for almost 90% of the growth in energy demand between now and 2030. Energy trade between regions more than doubles by 2030, most of it still in the form of oil.
- Global emissions grow 62% between now and 2030.
- Global oil demand for transport increases very closely in line with GDP.
- World emissions increase by 1.8 % per year to 38 billion tonnes in 2030 – 70% above 2000 levels.
Make no mistake that world governments have no plans of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Global emissions are set to soar and no one disputes this. A MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) video filmed in September 2010 showcasing the views of Shell and ExxonMobil executives begins with the statement: "But the truth is that a civilization is largely defined by the energy technologies they use." If this is true, we can easily and truthfully define, at minimum, our own ethically bankrupt society 1) by the unconcealed disrespect for our Earth, which graciously sustains us; 2) as a society that commits and condones infanticide, genocide, ecocide and now progenycide; 3) as a society that condones occupations and invasions; 4) as a socially bankrupt society that easily exploits others with no empathy; and 5) as a society that places economic value over the value of life. In the film, a comment follows: " ... powering the planet we actually possess." The narcissistic tendencies of those at the centre of the energy dialogue are spectacular beyond imagination.
Below: Shell promotional video. November 2010 (3:32). Shell Arctic Exploration Program. The Next Chapter in Alaska's Oil and Gas History:
Information not made public until July 18, 2007 in a working document by the National Petroleum Council's Oil Shales and Hydrates Subgroup of the Technology Task Group of the NPC Committee on Global Oil & Gas Study showed that worldwide, only a few dozen boreholes have been drilled with most being drilled offshore Japan in 2004 and offshore India in 2006.  NPC further states that comprehensive reports of these campaigns are not in the public domain, so there is little public record available to assess the efficacy of exploration paradigms. NPC states it is unclear how much information from these tests will be made public.
Brief Timeline of Hydrate Drilling Development | Halliburton, ChevronTexaco, BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil and Friends
In 1970, Soviet scientists discussed the possibility that methane hydrates could exist in large volumes in the earth's crust. By 1972 methane hydrates were recovered from the Black Sea. Once the presence of global hydrates was confirmed and it was proven that the volume of gas was massive, the next question, for states and corporations, was how to exploit it. The US Geological Survey estimates that globally, there is twice as much methane trapped in hydrates as there is carbon in all the world's conventional fossil fuels. One can imagine that the sheer volume of these hydrates would have had corporations with corporate-colluded governments salivating over the potential profits of what will become our species' greatest assault and most reckless exploitation of our Earth to date.
1982: A US Department of Defense report states that following the discovery of massive hydrate deposits off the coast of Guatemala in 1982, the US Department of Energy (DOE), in collaboration with other organizations, embarked on a ten-year program to establish a foundation on methane hydrate science.
March 1995: Chemical Engineering News: Gas hydrates eyed as future energy source: "An icelike material that occurs in underground deposits all over the world and is composed largely of water and methane may turn out to be an unconventional energy source for the future – if scientists can find a way to tap it. Global deposits of this material, known as methane (or gas) hydrate, are estimated to contain twice as much carbon as all other fossil fuels on Earth. But tapping this enormous potential energy resource may not be as easy as drilling for oil or natural gas. Nevertheless, scientists and engineers are now beginning to develop strategies to exploit methane hydrate. And some of their ideas were aired in late February in Atlanta at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science."
Canada, Japan, India, and the United States launched ambitious research projects. Canada has led with university-driven research since 1985, focused mainly on the west coast and the Arctic.
In 1997, the US Department of Energy initiated a research program with intent of commercial production by 2015. In 2000, US Congress would authorize funding via the Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act of 2000. The Interagency Coordination Committee (ICC), a coalition of six government agencies, has been advancing research on several fronts. President Clinton signed the act, which authorized approximately $50 million over five years for research.
1998: Three very quiet research programs have also taken place over the last decade at the Mackenzie Delta at the Mallik research site. In 1998, led by leading climate obstructionist Canada along with Japan, the 1150 metre deep Mallik 2L-38 well was completed. For the first time, cores were brought to the surface from an Arctic methane hydrate. In 2002 the second phase of this research project commenced, this time with a country partnership: Canada, Japan, Germany, USA and India. Three additional wells were completed and the first production test was completed. This was the first time gas would be flared from a drilled hydrate. Canada conducted its efforts under its "New Canadian Gas Hydrate Research Program" supported by the Geological Survey of Canada. The Canadian gas hydrate program focused on the marine region around Vancouver Island and Arctic region around the Mackenzie Delta.
2000: The US government passed the Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act. The Act authorized the expenditure of $43 million over five years and directs the US Department of Energy in consultation with the US Geological Survey, the Minerals Management Service, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Commerce to commence basic and applied research to identify, explore, assess and develop methane hydrates as a source of energy.
2000: From the Gas Methane Hydrates – Research Status, Annoted Bibliography, and Energy Implications Final Report, prepared for the DoE: "Theoretically, it appears possible that a single explosive methane release, such as may occur with a large seafloor collapse event, could cause a significant climate change over a short time period."
2002: This marketing video (posted on vimeo 12 June 2010) chronicles the Mallik 2002 gas hydrate research well program. The video is courtesy of the Japan National Oil Corporation Technology Research Center (JNOCTRC) and the Geological Survey of Canada.
2002: The US Department of Energy and BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc. (BPXA), in cooperation with the US Geological Survey (USGS), initiated a research program on Alaska North Slope (ANS) methane hydrates.
2002-2006: Gulf of Mexico Bush Hill Project: The project consisted of two field expeditions having the acronym GHOST to research methane gas hydrates at and near the seafloor in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The first of two research cruises took place June 6-14, 2002 aboard the R/V Seward Johnson. Two sites, Green Canyon 185 (Bush Hill) and Green Canyon 234, were selected for study based on their well-mapped and well-characterized shallow gas hydrate outcrops.
The USGS estimates about 2.4Tm³ (85Tcf; 15Bboe) of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas resources within gas hydrates in Alaska. The area is mostly Federal, State, and Native lands covering 145,000 km² (the equivalent of some 25 North Sea quadrants). Photo: OilEdge.com
US Department of Defense
"The worldwide distribution of this energy resource has the potential for changing the balance of power." – Brad Tomer, Department of Defense "Future Energy Resources" Workshops, May 2003
17 December 2003: The US Department of Defense (DOD) brings forth major recommendations from a workshop series: 1) That the DOD immediately conduct an in-depth study to identify the S&T (science and technology) and later the R&D (research and development) needed to assure that its future fuel and energy needs are met. The report states: "In this regard, consideration should be given to establish a position in the office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy that would be responsible for future DOD energy needs. This position would report directly to the Secretary of Defense and would coordinate with the energy and fuel offices in the individual services and with the office of the Secretary of Energy. The results of the in-depth DOD study would be reported to the Secretary of Defense, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, and the Secretary of Energy with the necessary information upon which to establish future programs."
During the early 1990s it was recognized that more organic carbon is stored within hydrates than is present in all the world's coal, oil and non-hydrate natural gas combined. The DOD report states that "Concerns were raised on the linkage of hydrate deposits to catastrophic instability of continental shelves and to the lack of understanding of the global carbon cycle. These preliminary findings also raised the question on the role of periodic and massive dissociation of methane from hydrates over geologic time in affecting the earth's climate." A structuring of a program plan was formulated from two workshops conducted by DOE in 1998 and 2000 with the Gulf of Mexico having been a focal point for extensive studies in partnership with industries such as ChevronTexaco, Schlumberger, Conoco Phillips and Halliburton. USGS, Center for Marine Resources and Environmental Technology (CMRET) and Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) were principal participants in this study. The other focal point in the Arctic fields, in collaboration with an international partnership, has been directed to drilling and tests at the Mallik well in the Mackenzie Delta of Canada.
Within the DOD report it is identified that energy corporations are short-term focused, as evidenced in the declining corporate support on energy research during the last decade. Any investment in research is driven only by expectations of short-term returns or prevention of losses in monetary profits. Investments made by Anadarko and BP on the North Slope of Alaska in pursuit of exploiting methane hydrates resulted from the Mallik well project in Canada and the US market for natural gas. A so-called "gas bubble" during the decade between 1985 and 1995 when it is said that an excess of natural gas on the market stabilized the gas price at $1.60 per thousand cubic feet (106 BTU), rapidly accelerated from 1996 to 1999 increasing to $2.35. It continued to increase during 2000 to an average price of $3.72, the price at the time of the Department of Defense workshop. And consider this – while the Earth burns, ecosystems collapse, species are decimated and people die – oil companies' profits skyrocket. In 2007, the combined profits of Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, ChevronTexaco and ConocoPhillips skyrocketed to $123.9 billion. In 2008, Exxon Mobil alone posted a record $45.2 billion profit. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens are left to pay for the phenomenal externalized costs ( oil-related health and environmental damage) – in the range of $232 billion annually. The United Nations reported that in 2008 the world's largest corporations caused $2.2 trillion dollars' worth of environmental damage. If these corporations were not able to externalize these costs by way of destroying and poisoning the natural environment, at least one-third of their profits would be lost.
These are perfect examples of the fact that within the corporate world, where quarterly profits are sacrosanct, a simple pollution tax – to be taxed at the source – would effectively force the energy markets to transition to clean renewable technologies almost overnight. Remember – for corporations it is only the quarterly profits that matter – little else.
Unfortunately we no longer have governments of the people – but rather governments of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation. The US president may, for all illusionary purposes, be a man with the brand name of "Obama" – but he is certainly not the one pulling the strings in the greatest puppet show on Earth.
June 2004: The American Geological Institute, Tapping methane hydrates in the Gulf: "For decades, oil companies have punched through large deposits of icy hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Mexico to reach the regular oil and gas deposits that sit below them. Starting this fall, after some delays, an industry-government effort will finally begin to examine those methane hydrate deposits more carefully — for their stability during drilling and their potential as a future energy source…. Funded largely by DOE [US Department of Energy], the interdisciplinary project was first broached in August 2000. ChevronTexaco organized the research in 2001, and now more than half a dozen companies and agencies participate, including Japan National Oil Company, Halliburton, India's Reliance Industries and TotalFinaElf." [August, 2010: The Energy Vampires: "The global elite know that energy is paramount to life. Control over energy means control over people. Four giant companies are now making a play to own not just all the oil, but virtually all energy sources on the planet. Royal Dutch/Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco & BP Amoco."]
March 2005: An International Association of Drilling Contractors paper in reference to a the methane discussion at a conference in 2004: "To achieve the longterm goals of the US Federal Government in regard to energy supplies of the US, the Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to developing the knowledge and technology base to allow commercial production of methane from domestic hydrates deposits by the year 2015…. Under changing geological conditions hydrates can dissociate and be released gradually or explosively depending on how rapidly the pressure drops or on how the temperature increases. The magnitude of this previously unknown global storehouse of methane is staggering and has raised serious inquiries…."
The Mt. Elbert-01 stratigraphic test well, Milne Point Unit on the North Slope of Alaska, collected the first open-hole formation pressure response data in a gas hydrate reservoir. This test and reservoir simulations are some of the first steps that could lead to production of hydrate reservoirs. Photo: Tim Collett, USGS | OilEdge.com
February 2007: Petroleum News: "BP-operated Mount Elbert well confirms presence of gas hydrate accumulation and enables coring and testing of gas hydrate zone. A joint government, industry and university team investigating gas hydrate deposits under Alaska’s North Slope hit the jackpot in mid-February, when the BP-operated Mount Elbert stratigraphic test well successfully penetrated several hundred feet of hydrate bearing sandstone at Milne Point. The first ever retrieval of North Slope gas hydrate well cores and the second ever test anywhere in the world of the pressure response of gas hydrates." The US DOE funded the $4.6 million test well. Due to the extraordinary amounts of hydrate, US Congress has taken a big interest in funding research, authorizing more than $200 million in spending since 2000.
2007 and 2008: Japan (JOGMEC) and Canada (NRCan) returned to the Mallik site to initiate a new testing program that focused on a full scale production draw down test. The 2007 tests were the world's first gas production from exploiting methane hydrate.
Forbes 29 August 2008: Energy's Most Dangerous Game: "Welcome to the final frontier in fossil fuels, the wild card in climate change theories and the dark horse in the scramble to secure access to clean energy. Meet methane hydrates, the world's most promising and perilous energy resource…. A substantial amount of evidence suggests that weakening the lattice-like structure of gas hydrates has triggered underwater landslides on the continental margin. In other words, the extraction process, if done improperly, could cause sudden disruptions on the ocean floor, reducing ocean pressure rates and releasing methane gas from hydrates. A mass release of methane into the sea and atmosphere could have catastrophic consequences on the pace of climate change. More than 50 million years ago, undersea landslides resulted in the release of methane gas from methane hydrate, which contributed to global warming that lasted tens of thousands of years. 'Methane hydrate was a key cause of the global warming that led to one of the largest extinctions in the earth's history,' Ryo Matsumoto, a professor at the University of Tokyo who has spent 20 years researching the subject, told Bloomberg in December."
12 November 2008: USGS Director Mark Myers states that gas hydrates research has been going on for more than 25 years.
March 2008: The Mallik 5L-38 test produced the world's first gas flare of methane from a hydrate reservoir. The test lasted six days producing 13,000 m³ of gas.
Photo: 2006-08 Canada-Japan Mallik Project - located in the Canadian Arctic off the Mackenzie Delta. Photo: OilEdge.com
2010: A small army of representatives from universities, scientists, oil executives and others write the 2005-page book titled Realizing the Energy Potential of Methane Hydrate for the United States. It includes a project summary table.
In 2010 "big green" organization WWF identifies on their website the fact that the extraction of methane hydrates from the Arctic region for energy use is banned by Arctic governments unless a comprehensive and verifiable legal agreement is in place to restrict their use to replace high carbon fuels like coal.
Video below (2010 | 0:55) created by PolarTREC teacher Bill Schmoker onboard the International Continental Shelf Survey. This was the first piston core that returned a gas hydrate sample in the core cutter. The hydrate was about 20 feet beneath the sea floor:
One of the largest landslides in Earth's history occurred not on land, but underwater, off the coast of Norway during the Holocene epoch approximately 8,200 years ago. This event, known as the Storegga (big edge) Submarine Landslide, caused massive amounts of sediments to slide approximately 800 kilometres down the continental slope. This event triggered a massive tsunami, as high as 25 meters, that struck both Norway and Scotland. Afterwards, the seafloor was wiped clean of all life. Scientists suspect that the entire disaster happened in a very short time - a few weeks or perhaps a few days. Perhaps two hours. At the time of the Storegga slide, the hydrate was being melted by global warming. An earthquake possibly triggered the slide. More recently, in 1998, Russian scientists discovered an unstable hydrate field near the site of the Storegga slide. Scientists believe that a rapid decomposition of hydrates, related to temperature and pressure changes at the end of the last ice age, destabilized the sediments, causing the disaster. Methane hydrates should be considered as nature's cement foundations. A frozen hydrate that cements sediments together - vital if you wish to keep ecosystems and lands intact. When you remove the methane hydrate, the seafloor destabilizes. Marine geologist James Kennett of the University of California suggests that bursts of methane from seafloor hydrates were synchronous with, and largely responsible for, virtually all the warmings the planet has experienced over the last 800,000 years. Other scientists suggest that changes in ocean currents triggered such methane bursts by channeling warmer water over continental slopes, as at Storegga.
A research paper published 21 June 2010 warns of a massive methane release triggered by seafloor erosion offshore near southwestern Japan: "Vast amounts of methane hydrate exist beneath continental margins, but whether this methane releases from sediment on a large scale and affects the oceans and atmosphere remains unclear. Analysis of newly acquired three-dimensional seismic images and drilling data from a large gas hydrate province reveal a recently eroded v-shaped depression. The depression sharply cuts through a relic bottom simulating reflection (BSR) and hydrate-laden sediments. The shape of the relic BSR indicates that the seafloor depression was once a large anticline that has recently been eroded and released an estimated 1.51 × 1011 m3 of methane. We hypothesize that erosion of the seafloor via bottom-water currents unroofed buoyant hydrate-laden sediments and subhydrate overpressured free gas zones beneath the anticline. Once triggered, gas-driven erosion created a positive feedback mechanism, releasing gas and eroding hydrate-bearing sediment. We suggest that erosive currents in deep-water methane hydrate provinces act as hair triggers, destabilizing kilometer-scale swaths of the seafloor where large concentrations of underlying overpressured methane exist. Our analysis suggests that kilometer-scale degassing events are widespread, and that deep-water hydrate reservoirs can rapidly release methane in massive quantities."
By 2010 internet searches for the word "methane" are quietly exposing the very silent discussions, papers and investment data on the quietly emerging topic of drilling methane hydrates. No longer surprising, the most lethal component of climate change is now being viewed by multinational corporations and corporate-colluded governments as the ultimate in potential climate wealth. Most recently, in a bid to shore up its precarious energy security, Japan is to start commercial test drilling for frozen methane gas along its coast early this year. (Japan's trade ministry has requested a budget of $105.6 million (US) for the drilling.) The issue is barely controversial as few are hardly aware of it. A corporate consortium led by the Japanese government including Japan Oil and Gas and Metals National Corporation (Jogmec) will be sinking several wells off Japan's southeastern coast to assess the commercial viability of extracting gas from frozen methane. Surveys suggest Japan has enough methane hydrate for 100 years at the current rate of usage. Tokyo plans to start commercial output of methane hydrates by 2018.
UNEP Climbs in Bed with Shell and EDF Energy
25 February 2010: United Nations Environment Programme announces the "UNEP Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates" initiative: "UNEP/GRID-Arendal, a collaborating center of the United Nations Environment Programme, announces the launch of a new initiative dedicated with bringing to the attention of the general public, the media and decision makers the latest knowledge research and development being conducted in relation to occurrences of methane gas hydrates." On March 4 and 5, 2010, 24 delegates from Norway, the United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, Korea and India, representing government, academia, industry and the NGO community, gathered at the offices of UNEP/GRID-Arendal in Arendal, Norway to discuss the development of the Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates. Who was representing the NGO community? It was the consultant and former director of the WWF Arctic. In the 2007 Report to Congress, Richard Charter, representative of NGO Defenders of Wildlife, is listed as a member of the Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee.
Highlights of key decisions made by the steering committee in the first UNEP meeting held in March 2010 include:
• Engage with and include environmental NGOs and the media early on in the process.
• Develop a FAQ section that can be used both for marketing purposes and as a volume guide.
• Develop project material toolkits based on the different target audiences (government and industry toolkit, media toolkit, NGO toolkit, education system toolkit)
• General consensus is that a broad spectrum of the expert community needs to be engaged in the process to ensure its robustness to scrutiny.
August 2010: UNEP: "Expertise from 7 national research groups (US, Canada, Germany, Norway, Japan, India, Korea), industry (Statoil, Schlumberger) and NGOs (Forum for the Future) has been assembled to guide the development of the report. As a first milestone, a project website has now been launched." So while your favourite big green NGO continues the symbolic echoing that "we need to work harder than ever!" (never telling us the truth of what we really must do or achieve – or how much time we have to do so), and while your favourite big green works to convince you that you merely need to keep hoping, while using other strategic language that is meaningless in the face of climate catastrophe – "Forum of the Future" NGOs are and will be partnered with "some of the best-known brands in the world" including giants like Royal Dutch Shell, EDF energy and many others. [The late Godfrey Rockefeller (1924-2010) was the WWF Executive Director. Godfrey Rockefeller played a vital role in the founding and creation of WWF, which has become the wealthiest "conservation" group in the world.]
January 2011: Canada's Globe and Mail reports the UN Environment Program describes methane hydrates as "the most abundant form of organic carbon on Earth."
Sampled and inferred gas hydrates occur world wide in oceanic sediment of continental margins and in permafrost regions. Inferred gas hydrates are from bottom simulating reflectors (BSRs) on seismic profiles. The Mt. Elbert and Mallik test sites are located at the top of the map. ©USGS | Photo: OilEdge.com
Burn Baby Burn
"The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences…." – Sir Winston Churchill
Countries have been exploring how to exploit methane hydrates for years, some for decades. These countries include: Russia (1969), U.S. (DoE has sponsored some research on methane hydrate since at least 1982), Canada (1985), Japan (1995), New Zealand (1997), Germany (2000), Chile (2001), South Korea (2000), Ireland (2003), China (2004), Mexico (2004), Taiwan (2004) and India (2006). United Kingdom, Norway and France also are participating in hydrate methane research though it appears they are not focusing on exploration. China and South Korea are seeking to develop the extraction technology, and each is now exploring the mining of methane hydrates from their own sea beds. In 2010, at a cost of $37 million, South Korea hired a deep-water drilling ship to sink 32 holes in a sea basin south of the Dokdo Islands, which are disputed with Japan. Japan has spent more than $260 million since 2001 on research into methane hydrates.
Recently (17 October 2009), Beijing (AsiaNews) reported that a huge methane reservoir was discovered under the tundra of Tibet. A representative of the Chinese Ministry for Land and Resources stated "The secret to energy independence for China is hidden, opening up the road to environmentally sustainable development without oil," adding "Under the ice of Tibet and Qinghai our geologists have found the largest underground reservoir of methane hydrates. Immediately after the announcement, the Shanghai market witnessed the value of the energy company shares sky rocket."
A recent study of the Indian continental margin has confirmed the presence of methane hydrates in four offshore basins. They found one of the richest methane hydrate accumulations yet documented as well as the thickest and deepest methane hydrate stability zone near the Andaman Islands, both in the Bay of Bengal.
The US Department of Energy is spending at minimum $12 million to help ConocoPhillips test an experimental extraction technique on Alaska's North Slope, which will incorporate the false solution of CCS (carbon capture and storage, as with shale drilling, has already proven to be a spectacular failure). Although these Arctic hydrates could become commercially viable as soon as 2015, the US and corporations are currently enjoying massive profits from shale gas (fracking) on the backs of poisoning the people. In 2009, US available natural gas resources increased by 11 percent due to shale gas mining – the biggest single-year jump in history. But, as history shows, corporate greed is unapologetic, deadly and insatiable and the thirst to dominate this industry will soon rear its ugly head.
In 2009 Russia warned of war within a decade over "Arctic oil and gas riches". In Canada, the Harper minority government has the propaganda machine working overtime, selling the lie of "Climate Prosperity" to Canadian citizens while investing 16 billion tax dollars to friends at Lockheed Martin for F-35 stealth fighter jets. Will Korea and Iran be the next Iraq and Afghanistan – to be decimated and occupied under imperialist countries such as US and Canada? Will Japan and South Korea go to war over the disputed Dokdo Islands? Future wars over waters that hold methane hydrates, in the midst of a global water crisis, are not implausible. The Caspian Sea (a basin) is a land-locked body of salt water bordered by Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. Not only does it harbour oil reserves (that could exceed $5 trillion, according to some estimates), the sea also holds massive amounts of natural gas (up to 325 trillion cubic feet) as well as an immense amount of methane hydrates. The dangers of drilling in the Caspian Sea have been made clear.
Naïveté is Deadly
"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." – Lord Acton
A scientific paper on methane hydrates in the Caspian Sea was prepared for presentation at the Offshore Technology Conference (Houston, Texas US, 6-9 May 2002) using Chevron's internal reports and samples from 1998. From the report: "The gas hydrates of the South Caspian region prove to be widespread features of the deepwater of the South Caspian Sea, buried deposits well beneath the seafloor, and accordingly, they may represent significant and previously underestimated geo-hazards….From a structural viewpoint, the Absheron gas hydrates appear to control a large (~200 m2) zone of recent and possibly ongoing deformation on the continental slope of the South Caspian Sea. Such attributes make these gas hydrates important, and perhaps previously underestimated, geohazards of the South Caspian region. Primary among these are uncontrolled release of free gas trapped beneath the hydrate seal, or disruption of the gas hydrate stability field leading to either explosive dissociation of the gas hydrate, or reduction in sediment strength, slope instability, and mass sediment transport. Association of gas hydrates with active mud volcanoes in the South Caspian Sea increases the potential for offshore flaming eruptions, as attested to in historical records."
There was a reason why the Cancún set of "agreements" was nothing more than an agreement to do nothing. Melting permafrost and venting methane hydrates – the greatest accelerating threat to all life on Earth – are seen to those blinded by stupidity, greed and psychopathic tendencies as nothing less than the ultimate climate wealth jackpot with global warming having opened up the Arctic.
Burn baby burn. Keep raping and pillaging our Earth to burn ever more earth-locked hydrocarbons as we apparently have not suffered enough to learn. And as we continue to burn the fossil fuels, burn with them the dreams of the children of those most vulnerable whose lives will be annihilated for short-term monetary wealth. The insanity is breathtaking.
Lying hundreds of metres below the sea and deeper still below sediments, frozen methane gas is exceedingly difficult and extremely dangerous to extract as the pressure is enormous. If Japan "succeeds," it will have a massive impact, equivalent to the use of shale gas now being witnessed in the United States.
Global fossil fuel subsidies amount to hundreds of billions of dollars per year ($558 billion in 2008 – the year of the stealthily planned financial crisis). To be clear, our corporate-controlled states have no intention of abandoning fossil fuels. On the contrary – in brilliant stealth – they have plans to expand fossil fuels even further. No one plans on stopping them. In contrast, union workers, citizens and activists who challenge corporate profit and power in developing countries are brutally assassinated – by the hundreds.
Without a mobilization of unparalleled magnitude to a zero carbon economy in greenhouse gas-emitting developed states such as the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia – within years, not decades – the world will not avoid a catastrophic 2ºC rise in global average temperature. It's that simple. Nature will not compromise nor negotiate these terms.
Yes, Virginia – There is a Santa Claus | BP, A&M University and Corporate Media
"If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it... In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons ... who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind." – Edward Barnays American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda. Combining ideas of crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical ideas of his uncle, Dr. Sigmund Freud, Bernays was one of the first to attempt to manipulate public opinion using the subconscious.
Drilling for frozen methane will undoubtedly destabilize the methane beds, which contain enough gas worldwide to diminish most complex life on our increasingly fragile Earth. Drilling methane will also undoubtedly result in landslides and advance devastation of marine life and stressed ecosystems. Further, drilling creates heat, which turns the frozen methane into gas, which will undoubtedly leak uncontrollably through the sea into our atmosphere. Such disasters will make the BP oil spill look like child's play. After the 2010 BP oil spill, methane dead zones in the Gulf constituted gas levels as high as one million times normal.
Gulf shrimp make for exotic and quite intoxicating salad garnish now that they are self-oiling ... and small miracles do appear in corporate media. During this writing, corporate media have saturated mainstream media outlets with an anomaly – that all the methane has been eaten up by bacteria.
On 6 January 2011, the Washington Post publishes an article titled Bacteria devoured methane gas from gulf oil spill, scientists say. From the article: "Besides providing some good news for the gulf region, the finding has potential implications for climate change science, too. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and, as the earth warms, climate scientists worry that much more methane will be released from the oceans. 'What this tells us is that natural releases of methane from the seafloor with similar characteristics will not make it up to the atmosphere, will not influence climate,' Kessler says." Kessler is a Texas A&M University oceanographer. Preliminary studies from both academia, including key work at Texas A&M working with and funded by industry, have supported the methane hydrate drilling project. Thomas Blasingame of Texas A&M University serves on the Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee - an Advisory Committee member to the Secretary of Energy in the US.
The fictionary has been scoured over for the most persuasive phrases and words – carefully chosen for maximum effect. Words and phrases such as ‘devoured’, ‘gobbled up’, ‘totally disappeared’, ‘incredible disappearing methane’, ‘massive microbial munching’, etc. The stealthily chosen list of words to appease all concern is endless. Corporate media has been unrelenting in pumping out falsehoods from both BP and the Obama administration that the Gulf of Mexico is safe from the effects of the BP oil disaster.
The impression is that ‘yes Virginia, miracles do happen and even the most destructive assaults on our natural environment are nothing to be concerned about’. BP’s disastrous oil spill is cleaned up - shiny and new.
Beyond such spin, the tragic state of the Gulf of Mexico is revealed by the oil and dispersants samplings on the Mississippi Coast. On 7 January 2011, federal and Louisiana officials took a boat tour of an area in southern Louisiana that remains contaminated with oil from the BP disaster. Barataria Bay is one such area where the oil continued to eat away at the fragile marshland. No cleanup crew could be found. Affected areas varied with some measuring up to 100 feet wide. "This is the biggest cover-up in the history of America," Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser told reporters. Nungesser was angered by the claims of the Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials present who claimed that a plan was under development to clean the area. "It's like you're in bed with BP," Nungesser chided officials. "Don't tell me I got a voice in the way you put together that crappy document … It ain't worth the paper it's printed on. That is bullshit." Nungesser also told one of the federal officials, "You cover up for BP." And one could safely assume that many, including Stuart Smith, an internationally recognized attorney in New Orleans, believe that Nungesser is absolutely right. Smith's opinion is that the NOAA Claims: "Gas-Gobbling" Bacteria Consumed Nearly All of the Estimated 200,000 Tons of Methane Spewed into Gulf - is mere junk science.
There is more.
Gregory Retallack a leading scientist with the University of Oregon (cited below) has been a leading voice on methane gases for decades suggesting that methane from below the seafloor produced a postapocalyptic greenhouse event that drained oxygen from the atmosphere, leaving animals gasping.
Now look at the instantaneous ‘about face’ below:
(From the article Methane Spill from the Deepwater Horizon Cleaned Up By Bacteria) "In April 2010, a drill column of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig hit a methane bubble, causing it to catch fire and sink, which allowed oil and gas to churn into the Gulf of Mexico for 83 days. Scientists predicted that the dissolved methane would stay in the gulf for years to come. But within four months, the methane had disappeared. John Kessler of Texas A&M University took three trips out to the gulf to find the methane, but made a discovery – he couldn’t find any substantial amount because it had been eaten by bacteria. The bacteria in question, aptly named methanotrophs, are able to use methane as their only source of energy. Kessler found millions of these bacteria, which appear to have eaten all of the methane from the spill. This discovery can tell us more about earth’s natural processes regarding methane bubbles that rise from the deep ocean. Methane naturally escapes from methane clathrates (cages of ice on the ocean floor) on a regular basis. If this methane, a potent greenhouse gas, got into the atmosphere, it could have serious negative effects on the climate. However, this gas does not appear to regularly reach the atmosphere, which Kessler attributes to these bacteria. Some researchers have hypothesized that this natural methane from clathrates might have played a major role in some of the great extinctions in Earth’s history, but this is seeming less and less plausible because of these new bacterial studies, according to Greg Retallack from the University of Oregon."
The article ends with: These methane-eaters "have the ability to degrade over 300 other compounds," according to Hazen, and can help clean-up efforts for methane contamination across the world.
In a separate article: "Some scientists have suggested that methane freed from clathrates could have contributed to the climate upheavals behind some of Earth's greatest extinctions events, including the day when life nearly died – the Permian-Triassic extinction. * Greg Retallack from the University of Oregon initially backed this idea, but his mind has since changed. "I love this paper as it signals the final break with my long love affair with methane clathrate release as a cause of [the Permian-Triassic] mass extinction," he says. "It seems that marine methane cannot even make it out of the ocean because it's rapidly consumed there." ** Richard Camilli, who has studied the Deepwater Horizon oil plume, agrees. He says that Kessler's conclusions probably apply to natural methane leakages, as well as to other oil spills too. "[It] is likely to become a classic reference," he says.
At the very end of the article under footnotes it states: ** It's possible that the Permian-Triassic event might have involved methane in such large amounts that it "would have overwhelmed the methanotrophs capable of handling the small Gulf spill." But Retallack can't find enough methane clathrates in the ocean to account for such a large plume. He still thinks that methane was still involved in the Permian extinction but now he suspects it came from disturbed coal seams. 
The spin is intoxicating.
Such messages are not embraced by all scientists: "I despise that message—it's blindly simplified," says Ian MacDonald, a celebrated oceanographer at Florida State University. "The gulf is not all better now. We don't know what we've done to it." MacDonald’s views would be supported by scientific findings in December 2010, uncovered on an expedition led by David Hollander, marine geochemist at the University of South Florida. Such findings and opposing views are not just those of Hollander, but also of other independent scientists.
In the article published 13 January 2011 in The Nation titled The Search for BP's Oil, Naomi Klein writes that in mid-December the joint government-BP body formed to oversee the spill response, released a fat report that seemed expressly designed to close the book on the disaster. Mike Utsler, BP's Unified Area Commander, summed up its findings like this: "The beaches are safe, the water is safe, and the seafood is safe." Klein reminds us that just four days prior, more than 8,000 pounds of tar balls were collected on Florida's beaches —and that was an average day. Klein states by the end of 2010 investors were celebrating BP's stock rebound. The corporation feeling so emboldened that it then revealed plans to challenge the official estimates of the amount of oil gushed out of its broken wellhead, claiming that the figures are as much as 50 percent too high. Klein reports that if BP succeeds, it could save the corporation as much as $10.5 billion in damages. Adding insult to injury the Obama administration has just given the go-ahead for sixteen deepwater drilling projects to resume in the gulf. Klein outlines the current state of the Gulf and the dire consequences of the gulf spill as conveyed by independent scientists here.
Klein states that "perhaps not coincidentally, the most outspoken scientists doing this research come from Florida and Georgia, coastal states that have so far managed to avoid offshore drilling. Their universities are far less beholden to Big Oil than, say, Louisiana State University, which has received tens of millions from the oil giants. Again and again these scientists have used their independence to correct the official record about how much oil is actually out there, and what it is doing under the waves."
In the video below (2008 | 10:01) Roger Sassen from Texas A&M University tells us unequivocally that "when we run out of conventional oil and gas this [gas hydrate] is going to power the planet". Sassen goes on to state, "I can't escape from gas hydrate, it's like my fate, my destiny at this point, I got to go along that road – I can't escape from it."
Today, we have already reached the worst case scenario of the IPCC (IPCC 2007 AR4), which assumes that global CO2equivalent emissions (CO2e = CO2 + methane + nitrous oxide + halocarbons) will grow from the current level of about 40 billion tons CO2e per year to near 130 GtCO2e/year through the 21st century. The consequences of this IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios is a mean global temperature rise as high as 6.5°C by 2090-2099 relative to the period 1980-1999. However, the report takes only limited account of carbon cycle feedback effects and ice/water interaction feedback effects in raising global temperatures. It also acknowledges limited information regarding ice sheet melt and breakdown dynamics. Methane is excluded. The last time mean global temperatures reached 2-3°C above present levels, in the mid-Pliocene (3 million years ago) – an event associated with CO2 levels of about 400 ppm – polar regions were heated by nearly 8°C, and sea levels had risen by 25 metres relative to the present. This represents near-total melting of Greenland and West Antarctica Ice Sheets [Robinson et al, 2008, Pliocene role in assessing future climate impacts].
With large methane releases, most methane would reach the surface before bacteria could metabolize it. This is certainly what science tells us happened during the PETM extinction event 55 million years ago. And no magic wand appeared to create magical bacteria to eat the methane that caused such extinctions. Today, corporate forces using their furtive media techniques would like us to believe magic microbes can vapourize our stupidity. And all the corporate media reporting such wishful thinking will not make it so. The bacteria in the Arctic Ocean certainly do not appear to be as effective at gobbling up the methane that is now releasing into the atmosphere in the Arctic. Shall we cross our fingers that the Arctic Ocean will warm to the temperature to that of the Gulf of Mexico, hoping magical bacteria will be the solution to our madness everywhere? The way we are going, one need not hope. Of course, methane in the Arctic Ocean will have reached a runaway state long before the bacteria are warm enough to eat up our self-imposed nightmare, however, these are mere inconveniences – the type that Shell, BP, Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil and friends do not contemplate. And as Arctic temperatures continue to accelerate, the warming of our dying world's oceans will continue to acidify.
What corporate media powerhouse CNN et al does not report:
Next: Part III:
- The Spin Doctors | Spinning the Potential for Abrupt & Catastrophic Climate Change
- Universities as Bedfellows | Moral Nihilism
- Economy is Sacrosanct
- Ignoring the Necessity of a Plant-Based Diet at Our Own Peril
- The Right to Destroy Ourselves
- More False Solutions
Cory Morningstar is climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on Canadians for Action on Climate Change and The Art of Annihilation site where you can read her bio. You can follow her on Twitter: @elleprovocateur
 COP16, Cancún, Mexico. The largest economic conference in history was an epic failure for humanity. And as the world burns, the wealthy elites stuffed their custom gold-lined Brioni pockets with dreams and promises of unsurpassed wealth predicated upon climate catastrophe in the 21st century. Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist who is co-chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Working Group III on Mitigation of Climate Change, stated in an interview on 14 November 2010: "The climate summit in Cancún at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.… [I]t's a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization.... One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.…"
 In 1997–1998, the draft Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) was heavily criticized by developing states. Many argued that the agreement would threaten protection of human rights, labour and environmental standards, and the most vulnerable countries. Critics argued (correctly) that the MAI would result in a "race to the bottom" among countries willing to lower their labour and environmental standards to attract foreign investment. The OECD's actions against harmful tax practices has also raised criticism. The primary objection is the sanctity of tax policy as a matter of sovereign entitlement. Saudi Arabia played a key role in interferingin and shaping international climate policy since international negotiations began in the 1990s in order to ensure that the billion dollar oil industry would not be affected. As a consequence of such interference by many powerful players who sought to ensure the economic and political power structure would not be threatened, adaptation surfaced as the primary goal in international climate science and policy, effectively replacing the goals of prevention and mitigation from the 1980s.
 In Japan, the "National R&D Program for Methane /Hydrate Resources" is sponsored by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and the Japan National Oil Corporation (JNOC). Japan launched its program in 2001 for a 5-year study of methane hydrate deposits at the Nankai Trough and Okhotsk Sea. Additionally, it has also embarked on a comprehensive plan to be conducted over a period of 16 years in three phases focused on research areas related to exploration, modeling, field testing, development technology and health-safety-environmental assistance. Japan's investment is perhaps the largest of its kind in this field of research. India has initiated its National Gas Hydrate Program (NGHP) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in 1997. This program was reconstituted in 2000 with the direction of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH). Efforts addressing issues of drilling, production, geoscience, and environment are under the auspices of the Office of Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and the issue of transportation is under the guidance of Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL).
 India has completed a preliminary survey of the prospective regions with high gas hydrate concentrations beyond the 700 metre water depth using geologic and thermodynamic data and expected to complete its resource estimates by the end of 2003 and initiate assessment of realities through various laboratory studies, deep water coring and drilling operations development of gas hydrate production pilot and economic studies.
Since 1999 the Department of Energy has designated the National Energy Technology Laboratory to develop a comprehensive R&D plan in collaboration with MMS, NOAA, NRL, NSF and USGS.
Studies: 3/4/2002-3/3/2006: Final Technical Report on: Controls on Gas Hydrate Formation and Dissociation, Gulf of Mexico: In Situ Field Study with Laboratory Characterizations of Exposed and Buried Gas Hydrates (DOE Award Number: DE-FC26-02NT41328 - Dates: 3/4/02 - 3/3/06)
 The paper on coal seems proposes a thesis that igniting planetary coal deposits, triggered by the extreme volcanic action of the Siberian Steppes was the major factor in the end Permian extinction event. This paper supports extreme global warming as the cause of the end-Permian extinction event with the initial trigger being massive amounts of CO2 emitted by extreme volcanic activity in the region of the Siberian Steppes. It cannot and does not exclude the contribution to extreme global warming by destabilized methane hydrates.
A Killer in Our Midst | http://www.killerinourmidst.com/
Only Zero Carbon | http://www.onlyzerocarbon.org/
Media Education Foundation | http://www.mediaed.org/
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
An investigative report. [Part 1: http://bit.ly/fV8slf]
World Marches to Methane Annihilation
"[T]he question is not will this methane be released, but when." – Robert C. Hendricks, NASA, November 2007
The architects of death: The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction are the melting permafrost, the destabilizing methane hydrates and the corporations such as Halliburton, ChevronTexaco, BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil who, hand in hand with the US Department of Energy and the US Department of Defense, have been planning and waiting to exploit methane hydrates for decades. Methane hydrates are considered the ultimate in climate wealth opportunity because the control of these hydrocarbons could literally shift the balance of global power (US Department of Defense). It is clear that nothing has been done to prevent catastrophic climate change – and nothing will be done. Global emissions are set to skyrocket. This article attempts to clearly articulate why, almost two decades after the first international climate change summit, the world governments have failed to protect us from dangerous atmospheric interference. As we are now living in a world that is beyond dangerous, society must be aware of, be able to critically analyze, and ultimately reject the new onslaught of misinformation that is being perpetuated by the corporate elite and the current power structures that support their agenda.
The red dots indicate where researchers have proved that gas hydrates exist and where they are suspected to exist. But no matter where researchers now drill under the sea, they find methane, often in the form of a hydrate.
What the Governments and Environmental Groups Won't Tell You
Thawing frozen soils could unleash a carbon bomb – massive volumes of carbon dioxide and methane frozen in the earth's soils are a "time-bomb ticking under our feet." – World Congress of Soil Science, 4 August 2010
For anyone interested in staying alive, the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) in Cancún was a disaster. The world's "leaders" – aside from those in Bolivia alone – have decided to trade off the lives of billions for insatiable corporate profits. And all the corporate-funded messages of progress and hope for the future pumped out by compromised and bought off NGOs do not make this reality any less true. Make no mistake, a mass genocide is in the making.
The end of the Permian Period, which happened 250 million years ago, was the greatest extinction event in the history of life. More than 90% of the species in existence perished. The end-Permian event was accompanied by a temperature rise of as little as 6ºC. Life took 50 million years to recover the diversity that had existed prior to this mass extinction. Although extinctions such as this one occurred long ago, today nature and science clearly indicate that such an extinction event is not far away in our future. The cataclysmic release of methane from Earth's seafloor has already begun. This is our final warning – but is anyone listening? We must change our relationship with our planet – and fast. Market mechanisms and other false solutions that prey on ignorance and hope rather than acceptance of reality must be rejected. All fossil fuels must be left in the ground. There is no other way.
Gregory Ryskin, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University, suggests that so much methane accumulated in stagnant seas at the end of the Permian, that when it finally erupted, it spontaneously ignited, creating a worldwide blanket of fire. He suggests that even marine organisms weren’t safe; the rising methane brought up anoxic water from the deep, suffocating them.
From Ryskin’s paper titled Methane-driven oceanic eruptions and mass extinctions: "The consequences of a methane-driven oceanic eruption for marine and terrestrial life are likely to be catastrophic. Figuratively speaking, the erupting region "boils over," ejecting a large amount of methane and other gases (e.g., CO2, H2S) into the atmosphere, and flooding large areas of land. Whereas pure methane is lighter than air, methane loaded with water droplets is much heavier, and thus spreads over the land, mixing with air in the process (and losing water as rain). The air-methane mixture is explosive at methane concentrations between 5% and 15%; as such mixtures form in different locations near the ground and are ignited by lightning, explosions and conflagrations destroy most of the terrestrial life, and also produce great amounts of smoke and of carbon dioxide. Firestorms carry smoke and dust into the upper atmosphere, where they may remain for several years; the resulting darkness and global cooling may provide an additional kill mechanism. Conversely, carbon dioxide and the remaining methane create the greenhouse effect, which may lead to global warming. "
For a deeper understanding of Ryskin's methane theories, he suggests to watch this short video in which he discusses methane dangers. [Viewer discretion is advised – this video contains footage of 1986 Lake Nyos Tragedy, where a cloud of CO2 asphyxiated over 1700 people.]
24 November 2010: "Greenhouse gases rise to record levels in 2009" According to Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization: "If we continue business as usual, we will not achieve the level of atmospheric concentration that would allow a two degree Celsius target." Further, Jarraud stated that to start decreasing the levels of greenhouse gases, it is necessary to "stop totally the emissions." Jarraud states unequivocally that "this means that the usage of fossil energy should be halted."
Keep in mind that the two-degree target was adopted in order to protect economic interests rather than to protect life, while the low risk recommendation in 1990 of 1ºC, recommended by the United Nations Greenhouse Gas Advisory Group (UN AGGG) was effectively buried. After the Intergovernmental Panels on Climate Change (IPCC) emerged as the global voice on climate change, it quickly became controlled, directed and dominated by corporate-colluded governments, and economic interests soon crushed the best interests of the people. The IPCC, backed into a corner from its inception, is muzzled due to the interference and influence of corporate powers that have political control over all IPCC summary reports. For example, Exxon, the global catalyst for climate denialism, has been a member of the IPCC since 1992. Two Exxon scientists attend all meetings and have held positions as lead authors. By way of the IPCC unanimity rule, Exxon has a veto over the IPCC. Therefore, all science must be watered down until all parties – including Exxon – approve. One could perhaps compare this arrangement to having the Hells Angels write the legislation to define and protect women's rights.
It's a fine day for bananafish, mind pollution, delusion and boiling oceans
"A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep." – Saul Bellow, Canadian writer
The short story It's a Fine Day for Bananafish by J D Salinger, first appeared in the January 31st, 1948 issue of the New Yorker.  It tells the story of the disillusionment of Seymour (the main character) with those around him, who are preoccupied and enamoured by the superficial. Seymour tells a young girl named Sybil a sad story of innocent fish that find a hole full of bananas in the ocean. Upon finding the bananas, the bananafish become glutinous. They eat so many bananas that they become too fat to get out of the hole. Seymour ends his story with "Well, I hate to tell you, Sybil. They die." The story illustrates how affluence can foster materialism, thereby creating a life devoid of meaning. The story also illustrates how utter despair can lead one down the path of surrender. Perhaps Seymour is reflecting upon his own life – a life in high society where all too easily, he can have anything he wishes. Seymour perhaps views his own life as the banana hole where innocent fish are deceived by the appearance of a secure future – only to become trapped. Seymour is overcome with the feeling of isolation when he realizes he is no longer able to communicate in this shallow world. Perhaps believing his only hope is to escape – permanently – he sits "down on the unoccupied twin bed, [looks] at the girl, [aims] the pistol, and [fires] a bullet through his right temple." Prior to the act of suicide Seymour’s actions are most poignant and revealing: "The young man suddenly picked up one of Sybil's wet feet, which were drooping over the end of the float, and kissed the arch." Seymour longed for truth, simplicity and innocence in an isolated, superficial world of illusions. This story could be and has been interpreted in many ways – and it should be – as ultimately it is our shared humanity that connects us and challenges us. Nurturing and protecting this common thread is vital if we are to understand anything written or spoken with truth. Relentless advertising coupled with sophisticated propaganda results in mind pollution, the erosion of critical thinking and the crushing of independent thought, which effectively shuts out the truth – ultimately destroying ourselves.
Mind Pollution and Delusion
"Men die but the plutocracy is immortal; and it is necessary that fresh generations should be trained to its service." – Sinclair Lewis
In 2001, a documentary titled "The Day the Oceans Boiled" was released. Segments of the largely overlooked documentary were posted on YouTube in July 2009. To date, just over 200 people have been interested enough to watch it – on a planet of almost seven billion people. Compare this to the "New Mario Bros. Movie Trailer - The Game Station Exclusive!" video, which provoked over one million views in less than 48 hours, and which now exceeds over three million views. A Business Insider newswire reports that in 2010, Stefani Germanotta – known as Lady Gaga sold more magazines than anyone in the world. The "newswire report" features her "top 13 weirdest covers." Germanotta's covers reflect her country and mirror the underlying American culture. The New York Magazine cover caption states "I will kill to get what I need." On Rolling Stone, dressed in a thong, Germanotta wields a machine gun. Most predominant in the images are the messages of sex, narcissism, violence and sadism that dominate our culture – enticing and fueling the acquiescent corporate collective. The Vogue Japan cover features Germanotta with her mouth open (most always predominant in the sexual commercialization of women), nude with raw red meat covering her breasts, hips and head. Germanotta, famous for stuffing dildos down her pants and spreading her legs, has been named by corporate media powerhouse Time magazine as one of the "100 most influential people in the world." Corporate icon Forbes also lists Germanotta as one of "the 100 most powerful and influential celebrities in the world." Time names Germanotta's raw meat ensemble as the number one fashion statement of the year.
The question is – which no one asks – who exactly is Germanotta influencing and in what way? We know the answer to the question as to why. Governments and corporations have brilliantly and seductively kept absolute focus on the task at hand: keeping an entire global society stupefied, corporatized, numbed, dumbed down and in the dark using an onslaught of irrelevant meaningless nonsense, sophisticated propaganda and unrelenting, trivial distraction. This is an easy enough task if citizens are exhausted from working their lives away in order to pay debt that can never be paid off. This is an even easier task in the developing countries, whose exploited citizens toil daily in the grinds of the most tedious, horrific jobs in order to provide the stuff that no one needs in the developed wealthy countries. These grossly exploited people do not require the same degree of inundation and mind pollution; they are simply exhausted from the laborious, dangerous, exploitive work they must succumb to in order to feed their hungry children. Massive corporate profits, personal fortunes of the plutocracy, and the success of political efforts that will ensure the current power structures are not threatened are all at stake. Protect the current economic system at all costs. Protect the fossil fuel industry at all costs.
Above photo: Stefani Germanotta. US Brand President Barack Obama: "It's a privilege to be here tonight to open for Lady Gaga," Obama goes on to say: "I've made it!" (These remarks were made by President Obama to a receptive audience during a Human Rights Campaign dinner in Washington, DC – all while innocent civilians continue to be killed in the US occupation in Iraq which continues today. The death toll to date is 1, 421, 933.) In a UK 'Q' Magazine interview Germanotta states: "Me and my fucking dick are out there for the world." (Who knew that Obama and friends would be so receptive?) ... God bless America. While that's happening, please pass the Soma.
Toxins in, toxins out
Porn revenues top $96 billion worldwide in 2006. The more women are objectified and degraded, the higher the sales – women and young girls lose while corporate entities AT&T and General Motors 80% of the revenues.  Children's social skills become inept and empathy becomes eroded as video games condition society to believe/accept violence is entertainment. Video games sales reach $46.2 billion in 2008 with the US military, psychologists and Coke executives playing pivotal roles in design, marketing and funding. Gambling brings in $92 billion in 2007. In 2009, US communications and media spending alone top $890 billion – AOL Time Warner, Viacom, General Electric, Disney and Rupert Murdoch's NewsGroup control almost all of it. Yet, we have no money for clean, safe, renewable energy sources to save humanity. We have no money to feed our children healthy food – all while gluttony reins. Like the planet's failing carbon sinks, our minds are failing our collective past ability to absorb information, filter it and then emit clarity to improve our collective existence. Today our minds simply take in the pollution and regurgitate the pollution – what we give back, like the failing carbon sinks, will eventually kill us.
In the meantime, governments and corporations are very quietly at work tapping into the most dangerous aspect of climate change, which no one speaks of – the methane hydrates.
Methane's Warming Potential
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, approximately 23 times more powerful than CO2 over the long term (100 years). In the short term (10 years), methane is 72 to 100 times more powerful than CO2. 
Over a long period, methane's impact appears less threatening than CO2. However, over a short period from its release, methane’s impact is dramatic. In the first five years after its release, methane’s impact is more than 100 times as potent as carbon dioxide. In the absence of OH (hydroxyl radicals) to oxidize methane, much methane could persist locally with its full global warming potential for years, causing a dramatic greenhouse effect and thus warming locally. A recent study shows that increases in global methane emissions have caused a 26% OH decrease. This coupled with other feedback mechanisms, many of which are now operational, can dramatically amplify local warming in the Arctic, causing large-scale thawing and melting over a period of years, rather than centuries. Arctic amplification is for the most part overlooked by the IPCC which uses a period of a century to calculate methane's impact. [Carana, Sam. The Threat of Methane Release from Permafrost and Clathrates: How important is hydroxyl depletion? 2010 Mar 10.]
Below video: Methane hydrate formation and release. (2010 | 1:50). The instability is clearly demonstrated at the end of the video when the robot merely touches the hydrate.
"Abrupt Planetary Catastrophic Global Warming. It’s happened before. We have the planet headed that way again." – A November 2010 statement by the Geological Society of London regarding catastrophic climate change and methane hydrates
During the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) extinction event that took place 55 million years ago, the oceans were warming just as they are today.
The 2001 documentary "The Day the Oceans Boiled" examined what was new evidence in 1999.  Scientists had discovered that the expected rise in global temperature in the near future could be only the start of a much greater increase. The evidence uncovered warned that our Earth's temperature could rise by 20 degrees within the next three generations. The documentary follows scientists uncovering evidence for what caused massive, abrupt climate shifts that happened 55 million years ago. *This was the last time the Earth's temperature accelerated quickly, causing many animals to shrink, with horses becoming the size of modern domestic cats. It took the planet 60,000 years to cool down again.
Sediment samples drilled from the ocean sea floor provide scientists with the ability to uncover what took place in our Earth's history hundreds of millions of years ago. In 1999, Santo Bains of Oxford University’s Department of Earth Sciences was looking for clues as to what happened 55 million years ago during the Paleocene-Eocene. In particular, he was interested in one specific sediment core named core 690. Core 690 was to have the most detailed record of the Paleocene-Eocene climate change event. Bains took one sediment sample per centimeter of the entire core 690. Buried in the sludge along the bottom of the sea there are stories of the past. Within this sediment there are tiny sea creatures - deep-ocean microscopic foraminifera - that survived the asteroids that killed the dinosaurs. However, 55 million years ago, half of the tiny forams went extinct. Locked in their shells lies the story of why. As their shells were made of the carbon dioxide dissolved in the sea, their detailed composition revealed both the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere and the water temperature at the time of extinction. Bains dropped the tiny shells into acid, releasing the carbon dioxide that had last seen the atmosphere 55 million years ago.
Bains's scientific analysis confirmed that at the time the mammals shrank, the atmospheric carbon levels had suddenly risen abruptly – causing a rapid warming of ocean waters. As he examined more samples, Bains discovered something extraordinary. There was not just one sudden rise in temperature. There were three. Temperatures accelerated dramatically in three succinct steps over a period of just a few of hundred years for a total temperature increase of approximately 8ºC. The rise in atmospheric carbon was just as dramatic. The jumps in Bains's graph add up to one and a half trillion tonnes of carbon. His discovery was the first time this was recognized in the geological record. Where did all of the carbon come from? Methane hydrates are believed to be the only explanation. Methane hydrates quickly decomposed, releasing vast amounts of carbon into the oceans and into the atmosphere.
Bain’s research suggests that prior to the extinction, a massive release of methane caused a severe feedback, which then resulted in a second immense methane release. The second release caused an even greater amplifying effect, thereby causing a severe third release, which finally resulted in a runaway greenhouse event of mass extinction.
Methane hydrates have been formed over millions of years on the floor of our oceans and seas from decaying organic matter carried there by rivers. The methane takes the form of methane hydrates – methane gas frozen into lattices of ice (called clathrate ) that lie in ocean floor sediment off the continental coasts of our planet, storing massive amounts of carbon. When the frozen hydrates melt, 170 times the volume of methane gas comes bubbling out. The pressure only stays locked up if the pressure of the sea floor remains high and the temperature stays low. If this balance changes, the methane will quickly escape.
A more recent study in 2010  uncovers that even though the Pliocene Epoch (5.3 to 2.6 million years ago) was approximately 19ºC warmer than today, CO2 levels were only slightly higher than they are now.
*In 2010, researchers from the University of Zϋrich found that more than 100 bird species have shrunk in size over the past half a century. Ary Hoffmann, evolutionary biologist at the University of Melbourne, says: "The surprise is that you're seeing these consistent patterns across a large number of species."
Above: A block of methane gas hydrate – the mud around the hydrate has recently been discovered by scientists to be teaming with life. [Discussed in part III]
Clathrate Gun Hypothesis
The clathrate gun hypothesis is the theory that rises in ocean temperature can trigger the sudden release of methane from the methane hydrates buried in seabeds and permafrost. Because methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, these releases would lead to feedbacks – further temperature rise and further methane clathrate destabilization – in effect initiating a runaway process as irreversible, once started, as the firing of a gun. In its original form, the hypothesis proposed that the "clathrate gun" could cause abrupt runaway warming in a timescale less than a human lifetime, and might be responsible for warming events in and at the end of the last ice age.
28 May 2008: The National Science Foundation issued an alarming press release largely ignored by mainstream corporate media. The report cautioned that methane release could cause abrupt, far-reaching climate change parallel to a catastrophic event of 635 million years ago – the ending of the last "snowball" ice age. The researchers believe that the catastrophic event was caused by the release of methane, which was released gradually at first and then very quickly from hydrates. When the ice sheets became unstable, they collapsed, releasing pressure on the hydrates, which then began to de-gas. Geologist Martin Kennedy of the University of California at Riverside (UCR), who led the research team, stated: "Our findings document an abrupt and catastrophic global warming that led from a very cold, seemingly stable climate state to a very warm, also stable, climate state – with no pause in between…. Once methane was released at low latitudes from destabilization in front of the ice sheets, warming caused other clathrates to destabilize…. Clathrates are held in a temperature-pressure balance of only a few degrees." Kennedy further states that this trigger is a major concern, because it's possible that very little warming could unleash our Earth's trapped methane, which has been frozen for millions of years. Kennedy adds that uncovering the planet's methane reservoir could potentially and rapidly warm our planet tens of degrees. "Today we're conducting a global-scale experiment with Earth's climate system," Kennedy says, "and witnessing an unprecedented rate of warming, all with little or no knowledge of what instabilities lurk in the climate system and how they can influence life on Earth…. Much the same experiment was done 635 million years ago, and the outcome is preserved in the geologic record. We see that strong forcing on the climate, not unlike the current carbon dioxide forcing, results in the activation of latent controls in the climate system that, once initiated, change climate to a completely different state." The research team found the broadest range of oxygen isotopic variation ever reported from marine sediments, which they attribute to melting waters in ice sheets as well as destabilization of clathrates by glacial meltwater.
Video below: Year round methane bubbles create ice cavern (2010:0:30):
This is Not the Future – This is Today
March 2010: The National Science Foundation issues world a wake-up call: "Release of even a fraction of the methane stored in the shelf could trigger abrupt climate warming." Research finds a key "lid" on "the large sub-sea permafrost carbon reservoir" near Eastern Siberia "is clearly perforated, and sedimentary CH4 [methane] is escaping to the atmosphere."
The Arctic summer sea ice has now passed its tipping point to meltdown, having shifted to a new climate pattern where "normal" has become obsolete (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 21 October 2010).
Our oceans are warming – and acidifying. In "The Day the Oceans Boiled" (2001), a satellite image captures what is thought to be a small plume of methane escaping from the Arctic ocean. Today, just over 3 years after the first official reports of venting hydrates, we now witness melting permafrost and leaking hydrates accelerating all over the world.
With the Cancún outcome supporting a catastrophic 2ºC threshold that climate scientists consider to be, at minimum, 4ºC in real life, how will an extinction event not be repeated? A 4ºC rise will ensure the disappearance of the Amazon rainforest adding further billions of tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere. Spontaneous releases of carbon 55 million years took global temperatures to a level perhaps 15 degrees higher than human beings have ever experienced – and we are in essence choosing to repeat the past. Yet we are doing so by way of anthropogenic carbon over a period of 200 years – versus 55 million years. This pace of change is unparalleled in Earth's history. Insatiable corporate greed and the growth fetish virus have succeeded in setting the world on course for a series of events that will make this temperature rise inevitable.
Not in the future but today, the Arctic methane hydrate deposits are destabilizing, and if not re-stabilized will release vast amounts of methane into the atmosphere and add yet more acid to our oceans. The oceans will then become more acidified by dissolution of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This scenario will lead to the end of virtually all life on Earth. Today, the rate of ocean acidification exceeds anything witnessed in the past 65 million years. The increasing acidity reduces the amounts of calcium carbonate available to plankton and other species that require it in order to form shells and skeletons. Charlie Veron, former chief scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science states that "for our coral reefs, as acidification progresses, they will all suffer from some form of coralline osteoporosis. The result will be that corals will no longer be able to build reefs or maintain them against the forces of erosion. What were once thriving coral gardens that supported the greatest biodiversity of the marine realm will become red-black bacterial slime, and they will stay that way. If coral reefs fail, the rest will follow in rapid succession, and the Sixth Mass Extinction will be upon us — and will be of our making." If we continue burning fossil fuels, this will further acidify the ocean to levels not witnessed in the past third of a billion years. Organisms with calcium carbonate skeletons will be hard pressed to survive.
Recently scientists discovered that plankton, the organism responsible for every other breath we take, has been decimated in a massive way. Studies show phytoplankton have died off more than 40% since 1950 and continue to do so at an accelerating rate. "This is an almost unprecedented geological event," stated Andy Ridgwell, an earth scientist at the University of Bristol. Phytoplankton account for half of all photosynthetic activity on Earth. Thus phytoplankton are responsible for much of the oxygen present in the Earth's atmosphere – half of the total amount produced by all plant life. Climate scientist James Hansen warns that humanity is putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere today at a rate that is 10,000 times higher than the rate during the extinction event of 55 million years ago.
Above image illustrates the vulnerability of the Amazon rain forest and the Arctic. The Met study concludes that, by the end of the century, the Arctic could warm by up to 27°F (15.2°C) for a high-emissions scenario, enhanced by melting of snow and ice causing more of the Sun’s radiation to be absorbed.
Prior to the Cancún climate talks, Nobel Physicist and US Energy Secretary Steven Chu warned of potential runaway feedback, expressing that many scientists view this as a distinct possibility:
Hansen | The Venus Syndrome
"Two degrees Celsius is guaranteed disaster," says Hansen scornfully. "It is equivalent to the early Pliocene epoch when the sea level was 25m higher." - 4 January 2011
James Hansen, chief climate scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, posits a possible future Earth in which a "runaway greenhouse effect" takes over. Anthropogenic global warming from greenhouse gases causes a massive increase of water vapor into the atmosphere as the heated oceans evaporate, which in turn causes further warming. Hansen (along with many other scientists from several disciplines) believes that methane hydrates played a crucial role in the largest mass extinction, the "end-Permian" event 251 million years ago.
Hansen: "The paleoclimate record does not provide a case with a climate forcing of the magnitude and speed that will occur if fossil fuels are all burned. Models are nowhere near the stage at which they can predict reliably when major ice sheet disintegration will begin. Nor can we say how close we are to methane hydrate instability. But these are questions of when, not if. If we burn all the fossil fuels, the ice sheets almost surely will melt entirely, with the final sea level rise about 75 meters (250 feet), with most of that possibly occurring within a time scale of centuries. Methane hydrates are likely to be more extensive and vulnerable now than they were in the early Cenozoic. It is difficult to imagine how the methane clathrates could survive, once the ocean has had time to warm. In that event a PETM-like warming could be added on top of the fossil fuel warming. After the ice is gone, would Earth proceed to the Venus syndrome, a runaway greenhouse effect that would destroy all life on the planet, perhaps permanently? While that is difficult to say based on present information, I’ve come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty."
"Concerning permafrost there is – as with many other systems affected by global warming – a point of no return. Once we are beyond that point, the development can't be stopped anymore. Permafrost is a slow system: The area is warming relatively slowly, but once it has started to melt, it goes fast. – Johann Stötter, geographer at the University of Innsbruck, head of the COMET K1 alpS - Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Technologies
"Warmer temperatures at high latitudes are already resulting in unprecedented permafrost degradation …Projections show that almost all near-surface permafrost will by the end of this century exposing large carbon stores to decomposition and release of greenhouse gases." - Dr. Pep Canadell, Executive Director of the Global Carbon Project at CSIRO (Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization)
Permafrost is the vital component that has kept deadly methane safely locked away in methane hydrates for millions of years. It has been melting and continues to melt at an unprecedented and accelerating rate. The methane "vaults" (seeing as methane hydrates have become Pandora's box) are now being eyed foolishly by corporations and states as the greatest climate wealth opportunity. Ever.
Although the rate of permafrost thaw will likely triple (NCAR study), with the Arctic permafrost disappearing almost completely (90%) this century, no IPPC climate model currently incorporates the amplifying feedback from methane released by a defrosting tundra.  Leading scientist Shakhova and colleagues estimate that roughly eight million tons of methane are now leaking into the atmosphere each year from the East Siberia Sea. Since 1992 it has been recognized that the shallow Arctic methane hydrates would be subject to melting by global warming, releasing methane gas into the atmosphere. 
Permafrost currently stores more than double the amount of all carbon in the atmosphere. Will our governments stop counting their GDP numbers long enough to comprehend the simple fact that there is absolutely no way we can possibly refreeze melting permafrost and the hydrates that are further deteriorating as I write? With the exception of Bolivia, the answer is no. Our governments were bought and sold long ago. We are on our own.
Arctic temperatures are rising 4 times faster than the global average. 50% of the permanent sea, ice that has existed for 64 million years, has disappeared since 1980. NASA predicts that the Arctic ice sheet will be gone by 2030. Others predict the Arctic Sea ice will disappear completely by as early as 2013. The loss of polar sea ice will further melt the Russian and Alaskan tundra. The release of tundra methane hydrates has the potential to double total atmospheric GHG emissions, adding 6,000 billion tonnes of CO2equivalent. By contrast, the total of atmospheric CO2 is projected to be 386 billion tonnes by 2030.
Permafrost serves as nature's "cement" holding our "foundations" intact … a glue that holds steep mountain slopes together. Its degradation leads to not only venting hydrates, but to hazards such as falling rocks, "drunken" forests, landslides, broken pipelines, collapsing buildings and buckled highways like what we see happening already in the Arctic. Melting permafrost in northern Russia could lead to radioactive leaks from storage facilities and presents deadly scenarios for the radioactive dump-sites on Novaya Zemlya, a former nuclear weapons testing range. More than half of Alaska's surface, including its water, sits on permafrost. "The stability of Arctic ecosystems depends on the ice that holds them together," according to University of Alaska–Fairbanks (UAF) permafrost scientist Vladimir Romanovsky.
According to scientists, such permafrost melting does not constitute a gradual change – it is a phase change, meaning that the ecosystem in such areas could be shifting within just a few years to an entirely different ecosystem. Scientist Dave Klein (UAF) explains, "So you could likely have a rapid transition from boreal forest to a grassland savannah, with groups of trees scattered around." Permafrost, like the Boreal Forest, like peat, all former carbon sinks, have become carbon emitters, because we have failed to act. In Canada, our permafrost has moved north 80 miles in the past 50 years. In 2006 scientists announced that nearly 90 per cent of the permafrost in Arctic soils could melt in the coming century.
Consider this: if only 10% of the permafrost melts, scientists state that this will release enough carbon into the atmosphere to add a further 0.7°C of warming in addition to our current 0.8ºC of warming. This 10% melt consequence will be equivalent to all the warming that has already taken place since the beginning of the industrial age. Permafrost melt, even without methane hydrates destabilizing, could easily cause our planet to pass the tipping point where future melting becomes irreversible. If an additional 0.7°C is the result of 10% of permafrost melt, imagine what will happen if it all melts. And imagine, if you can, what will happen when the existing venting methane hydrates (below the currently frozen permafrost), already destabilizing at today’s temperatures, rapidly release the gases that have been locked up for 65 million years.
Brief Timeline on Venting Methane Hydrates
7 September 2006: As the permafrost melts in North Siberia due to climate change, carbon sequestered and buried there since the Pleistocene era is bubbling up to the surface of Siberian thaw lakes and into the atmosphere as methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
8 September 2006: Frozen bubbles in Siberian lakes are releasing methane, a greenhouse gas, at rates that appear to be "... five times higher than previously estimated" and acting as a positive feedback to climate warming.
17 September 2007: Lakes Boiling With Methane Discovered In Alaska.
26 October 2007: A team of scientists has identified a new likely source of a spike in atmospheric methane coming out of the North during the end of the last ice age.
April 2008: A Storehouse of Greenhouse Gases Is Opening in Siberia. It's always been a disturbing what-if scenario for climate researchers: Gas hydrates stored in the Arctic ocean floor – hard clumps of ice and methane, conserved by freezing temperatures and high pressure – could grow unstable and release massive amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Until now this idea was mostly academic; scientists had warned that such a thing could happen. Now it seems more likely that it will.
April 2008: NOAA - Carbon Dioxide, Methane Rise Sharply in 2007.
10 June 2008: Permafrost Threatened by Rapid Retreat of Arctic Sea Ice, NCAR Study Finds
23 September 2008: Exclusive: The methane time bomb: Arctic scientists discover new global warming threat as melting permafrost releases millions of tons of a gas 20 times more damaging than carbon dioxide
25 September 2008: Hundreds of methane 'plumes' discovered. British scientists have discovered hundreds more methane 'plumes' bubbling up from the Arctic seabed, in an area to the west of the Norwegian island of Svalbard. It is the second time in a week that scientists have reported methane emissions from the Arctic.
March 2009: A sleeping giant? "These deposits rival fossil fuels in terms of their size. It's like having a whole additional supply of coal, oil and natural gas out there that we can't control." A temperature rise of as little as 1°C at the sea floor could dissolve shallow subsea clathrates. If temperatures in the deep ocean were to rise by about 3°C, nearly a trillion tonnes of carbon could be released from subsea clathrates.
1 July 2009: "The research shows that the amount of carbon stored in soils surrounding the North Pole has been hugely underestimated….Warmer temperatures at high latitudes are already resulting in unprecedented permafrost degradation…. Projections show that almost all near-surface permafrost will disappear by the end of this century exposing large carbon stores to decomposition and release of greenhouse gases."
September 2009: Methane gas likely spewing into the oceans through vents in sea floor. [In this video University of Alaska Fairbanks scientist Natalia Shakhova discusses the East Siberian Arctic Shelf area:
September 2010: Nevada researchers find receding permafrost in Siberian Arctic: "We see the permafrost receding hundreds of yards each year, and the ancient carbon from Pleistocene era plants and animals being unleashed into the air, soil and water."
August 2010: Frozen CO2, methane a time bomb: experts – Massive volumes of carbon dioxide and methane frozen in the earth's soils are a "time-bomb ticking under our feet," soil scientists say.
September 2010: A ticking time bomb in Siberian marshes. "The fact is that the permafrost covers millions of kilometers of swamps. While melting, swamps send to the atmosphere tons of methane, which, in turn, leads to more significant changes in the climate. In the pseudoscientific press, this process has already received the name "methane bomb" and "methane flywheel."
November 2010: "Abrupt Planetary Catastrophic Global Warming. It's happened before. We have the planet headed that way again." A statement by the Geological Society of London regarding catastrophic climate and methane hydrates.
22 November 2010: Siberian Methane Marks Climate Tipping Point: "Yet awareness of methane leaks from permafrost is so new that it was not even mentioned in the seminal 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which warned of rising sea levels inundating coastal cities, dramatic shifts in rainfall disrupting agriculture and drinking water, the spread of diseases and the extinction of species."
So why do states and "co-opted green" greens continue to stay silent on declaring a global planetary emergency, called for by esteemed climate scientists John Holdren and James Hansen since 2006 and 2008 respectively?  The answer is always the same. Just follow the money.
Our world is securely on the path to global methane hell.
This is not the future – this is now.
We may be doomed if we face the truth but we are certainly doomed if we do not.
Next: Part II:
- Post Cancún: North America. The New Energy Kingdom
- NASA Has Known All Along
- Blinded by Addiction: Methane Hydrates – The Oil of the Future
- Brief Timeline | Halliburton, ChevronTexaco, BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil and Friends
- US Department of Defense
- UNEP Climbs in Bed with Shell and EDF Energy
- Burn Baby Burn
- Naïveté is Deadly
- Yes, Virginia – There is a Santa Claus | BP, A&M University and Corporate Media
Cory Morningstar is climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on Canadians for Action on Climate Change and The Art of Annihilation site where you can read her bio. You can follow her on Twitter: @elleprovocateur
 It's a fine day for bananafish - by JD Salinger | http://www.miguelmllop.com/stories/stories/bananafish.pdf
 The statistics are truly staggering. According to compiled numbers from respected news and research organizations, every second, $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography. Every second, 28,258 internet users are viewing pornography. In that same second, 372 internet users are typing adult search terms into search engines. Every 39 minutes, a new pornographic video is being created in the United States. It's big business. The pornography industry has larger revenues than Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, Apple and Netflix combined. 2006 Worldwide Pornography Revenues ballooned to $97.06 billion.
 Over a 20-year period methane's GWP will be 72, while over a 100-year period its GWP will be 21, and over a 500-year period, its GWP will be 7.6. In AR4, the IPCC upgraded methane's GWP to 25 over a 100-year period.
 Documentary – The Day the Oceans Boiled | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDBt07skLbQ
 Clathrate is derived from the Latin word for cage. Methane hydrates consist of molecules of methane trapped in cages of H20. Typically, six water molecules surround a single methane molecule, and many of those cages linked together form a crystal.
 Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council in Canada, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, and the European Research Council.
 U.S. Geological Survey Marine and Coastal Geology Program, Gas (Methane) Hydrates – A New Frontier, September 1992.
 According to another study by David Lawrence, this means that the rate of permafrost thaw will likely triple.
 John Holdren on 3 November 2006: "Climate change is coming at us faster, with larger impacts and bigger risks, than even most climate scientists expected as recently as a few years ago. The stated goal of the UNFCCC – avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate – is in fact unattainable, because today we are already experiencing dangerous anthropogenic interference. The real question now is whether we can still avoid catastrophic anthro-pogenic interference in climate. There is no guarantee that catastrophe can be avoided even we start taking serious evasive action immediately; But it's increasingly clear that the current level of anthropogenic interference is dangerous: Significant impacts in terms of floods, droughts, wildfires, species, melting ice already evident at ~0.8°C above pre-industrial Tavg. Current GHG concentrations commit us to 0.6°C more." Holdren is advisor to President Barack Obama for Science and Technology, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Co-Chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
A Killer in Our Midst | http://www.killerinourmidst.com/
Only Zero Carbon | http://www.onlyzerocarbon.org/
Media Education Foundation | http://www.mediaed.org/