Saturday, August 09, 2014

Bubbling Under

Some weeks it's impossible to know what we should be worrying about first. We've recently had choice of: Israel/Palestine/Gaza; Ukraine; Iraq; net neutrality; torturing "folks"; drones; SCOTUS; and on and on. Then there's that old elephant always waiting in a corner of the room. If only it were half as friendly as an elephant we wouldn't need to worry at all.

Scientists at NASA, NOAA, CDIAC, NSIDC and others are seriously concerned that human activity is likely to emit 44 billion tons of CO2 in a year's time. That amount of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere is tiny compared to what is going to soon release from the Arctic region of the planet in the form of CO2 and methane gas, and enter the atmospheric greenhouse gas mix - and it will be mostly methane. Methane, when it initially enters the atmosphere is 105 times more potent than is CO2 as a heat trapping gas, and even after a 100 years remains around 35 times as potent.

The Arctic region is 70% ocean. That is where methane is, locked in permafrost in the sub sea floor of the ocean. As the ocean's perennial surface ice melts away, as it has been doing, the sub sea permafrost thaws; that allows the methane gas to escape and enter the atmosphere. It isn't just "tiny bubbles", it is massive half mile diameter plumes of methane bursting from the water so the water seems to boil.

According to the International Siberian Shelf Study group, who conduct on-site research in the Arctic, there are trillions of tons of methane there. Not billions! A trillion tons of methane gas entering the atmosphere within a 1 to 5 year time period, would be equal to 105 trillion tons of additional CO2 in the greenhouse gas mix. That is a sobering thought which ought to be jolting world governments to full awareness of future danger to our planet, and perhaps a future danger that is not as far off as they had previously surmised. Methane will escape in huge quantities when the subsea permafrost thaws. The Arctic Ocean is relatively shallow, meaning that methane isn't consumed by bacteria before it enters the upper surface of the water.


After preparing this post, the next day I spotted that a new book by Naomi Klein, due out next month, addresses our situation climate-wise; title: This Changes Everything. Capitalism vs. The Climate. (See HERE.)

Ms Klein:
The case I want to make to you is that climate change—when its full economic and moral implications are understood—is the most powerful weapon progressives have ever had in the fight for equality and social justice.

But first, we have to stop running away from the climate crisis, stop leaving it to the environmentalist, and look at it. Let ourselves absorb the fact that the industrial revolution that led to our society’s prosperity is now destabilizing the natural systems on which all of life depends.

"Climate change," she added, is "not an 'issue' for you to add to the list of things to worry about it. It is a civilizational wake up call."


Jefferson's Guardian said...

If you read Chris Hedges, you'll find that the underlying message is that climate change (i.e., the heating of the earth's atmosphere and ecosystems) will be the "event" that sets the dominoes in motion.

We're on a collusion course with reality.

By the way, I last read Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine. I'm going to see whether my library has her latest. Thanks!

mike said...

Methane ice is found in other parts of our oceans, too, not just the polar regions...methane turns to ice at great ocean depths where the water is very cold and the water pressure is tremendous. There are non-oceanic deposits of methane called continental methane under the land surface of Canada, Alaska, and Siberia ( My first knowledge of the methane problem was probably twenty years ago, when it was first discussed as a potential threat. We've moved way beyond the "potential threat" to "it be happening NOW". Here is a map of global oceanic methane vents:

The recent discovery of continental Siberian sink holes are thought to be methane explosions:

This is like being pregnant with the devil's child and the conservatives have shut-down all the abortion clinics...we seem to only have one choice at this point and that is to face the consequences of our errant disbelief and actions. I don't believe there is much that can be done at this late date.

Twilight said...

Jefferson's Guardian ~ I usually begin reading Chris Hedges' essays, but seldom finish them. I can handle only so much doom and gloom at one sitting. That's not to say he's wrong though.

While it is probably much too late to prevent some level of climate catastrophe, there might still be a tiny window of opportunity to, at least, slow onset of a truly major event.

I feel that total defeatism has to be wrong. I think of Britain in September 1939, and how things must have looked then - would have looked to a Chris Hedges of those times.
But great leadership and human courage and effort held back what could have been complete downfall until allied help arrived a couple of years later.

Maybe there can be no longtime solution to our elephant in the room, or maybe there could be, given enough time. I don't know. But my mind, and heart will not allow me to simply accept the end of all civilisation, even if I'll not be around to experience it.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Yes there are all manner of related dangers, true!

Brilliant metaphor you've used in your last para !

I'll just echo what I wrote to Jeff's Guardian, above.

“The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination.”
― Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Fall of Atlantis

LB said...

Twilight ~ I appreciate how Naomi Klein keeps it real by pointing out how we, as ordinary citizens and consumers, play an important role in shaping our world.

This isn't just about governments or corporations, or some external villain we have absolutely no control over. It's about us and our consumerism.

In another article, "The Change Within: The Obstacles We Face Are Not Just External", she says:

"Climate change demands that we consume less, but being consumers is all we know. Climate change is not a problem that can be solved simply by changing what we buy—a hybrid instead of an SUV, some carbon offsets when we get on a plane. At its core, it is a crisis born of overconsumption by the comparatively wealthy, which means the world’s most manic consumers are going to have to consume less."

Notice how she makes a point of saying "the ***comparatively*** wealthy" and not the one percent. By world standards, most of us reading this would probably fit the bill.

She then goes on to say:

"Late capitalism teaches us to create ourselves through our consumer choices: shopping is how we form our identities, find community and express ourselves. Thus, telling people that they can’t shop as much as they want to because the planet’s support systems are overburdened can be understood as a kind of attack, akin to telling them that they cannot truly be themselves. This is likely why, of the original “Three Rs”—reduce, reuse, recycle—only the third has ever gotten any traction, since it allows us to keep on shopping as long as we put the refuse in the right box. The other two, which require that we consume less, were pretty much dead on arrival."

All this goes against everything we've been taught and conditioned to believe in - which is that more is good. It's part of the "Progress Trap".

Twilight said...

LB ~ We do, all of us, need to consume less, you and Ms Klein are right - less of everything, especially of everything new. Barter and second-hand articles are one way to feel less guilty about satisfying the urge to "have a change" or fill a need.

I'd add another "R" to her 3 : repair. It used to be (in Britain anyway) that most things could be repaired, and were, when accidents happened or parts broke or wore out...cobblers' stores, tailors, electrical repair stores were part of most main streets back several decades. These, mostly, have disappeared in our throw-away world.

We all could do more, and every little helps, but what's really needed at this stage in the game is leadership from the top, huge input via media to wake people who are still snoozing or have heads in sand.

What's needed is for governments to assist the weaker-willed among us by limiting what we can have, restricting what's possible. Providing alternatives to car use for those unable to travel in any other way. To stop spending on wars with other countries, and start spending on our war with ourselves.

It'd be unpopular, it'd be uncomfortable at times, it might even be unhealthy for some of us - but less so than what will happen if these things don't.

LB said...

Twilight ~ Oh how I miss the days when things could be repaired, as well as the talented people who could repair them! Remember when our televisions and record players (stereos) used to last for decades and then some? And when our shoes could be resoled?

Agree with you about the throw-away world we live in - technology, shoes, clothing, furniture, etc. - the list goes on and on. Planned obsolescence made sure of it, and most of us have been very cooperative.

In previous generations, when clothing wore out and was no longer usable as such, it became part of a quilt.:) That was before shopping became sport or a form of entertainment.

LB said...

Adding ~ I also agree with you about the need for better transportation systems - and for sidewalks/walkways with access to local services.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could all live in communities where owning an auto wasn't a requirement? Maybe the Amish have the right idea.:)

Twilight said...

LB ~ Several steps back - by everyone, assisted/mandated by government, in developed countries - might give enough time, and sufficient slow-down of climate change effects, for technology to find a way out of our self-created trap.

The human race has become too clever, too fast, for its own good; too fast to smother our darker urges. Maybe there was a reason for our rapid development this far, with its inherent dangers. Maybe we need that intelligence level that has the potential to destroy us, to put to better use - to save us.

(I'm trying to see a crack of light)

mike (again) said...

You said, "...leadership from the top, huge input via media to wake people who are still snoozing or have heads in sand."

I am constantly seeing-hearing climate change via the media. Images of melting ice, polar bears hopping over chunks of floating ice, and penguins losing the habitat under their feet. Most people do not read newspapers or magazines, watch the news on TV, or even bother with current events. Their news is via Facebook, Twitter, etc...and it's fine-tuned to their viewpoints (celebrities, videos, music, fashion, digital toys, socializing).

The Obama administration hasn't been down-playing climate change. The Republican conservatives ARE down-playing climate change and the environment. Sadly, many of the articles I've read about Al Gore indicate he's ruined his career by focusing on global warming.

The past couple of summers have been cooler in the midwest and northern regions, and colder winters. Many see this as the reverse of global warming, ie global cooling. I can't tell you how many times my conservative neighbors and acquaintances have randomly mentioned that global warming is a hoax or a natural cycle...ain't putting a dent on their day.

A global warming discussion with the average American is the equivalent of saying don't rain on my parade. Or as Al Gore said, an inconvenient truth. Maybe "...snoozing or have head in sand" is more appropriate as "...self-absorbed or have head in ass."

Twilight said...

mike ~ There's information in the media - but only certain parts of the media. Nothing in our local newspapers, nor I dare say in any Texas papers - they wouldn't want to alarm the oil industry would they?
These are some of the people who need to be jolted into realisation.
And some of 'em do still read newspapers.

Obama hasn't done much - he's saying a few things now because he doesn't need to worry about re-election. He could have said much, much more.

Al Gore is the only former politician in the USA who has ever said the right things. People might say he ruined his career, people might have to eat their words one day and turn their comments on themselves.

Facebook and Twitter could be useful tools if the accent on their use were adjusted somewhat. They are simply adult toys in the USA at present.

I know the deniers will leap upon any cool breeze as evidence that there's no warming trend. They're simply showing their ignorance in my opinion.

Self-absorbed too many are - yes - sadly I have to agree on that. Blinkered too.

As I said earlier in the thread, there'll likely need be some major calamity before deniers will come to their senses. Although I don't wish to will such a calamity on, if it doesn't come in time, before any tiny window of opportunity to slow things down closes - then we probably are, as many have said already - well and truly fucked!

mike (again) said...

My local Texas newspaper, The Caller-Times, has many articles regarding global warming and climate change and from the "it's happening", "it's man made" perspective. Austin is very left of center, so I suppose their paper is similar...maybe San Antonio, too.

I tend to view Brian Williams' NBC Nightly News, which leans left, and there are usually several items every week about destructive environmental changes and climate change. Of course, PBS covers this topic constantly with Nature, NOVA, Frontline, Charlie Rose, et al.

I avoid the subject when talking with people, as most have taken the drumbeat of the conservatives' "no change - it's a natural cycle". Most people do have an opinion, so they have thought about it, but their views are contrary to mine.

"A Gallup poll in 2014 concluded that 51 percent of Americans were a little or not at all worried about climate change, 24 percent a great deal and 25 percent a fair amount."

People make choices, but in a self-centered, self-focused fashion, without much altruism. Our local drought is a good example and can be extrapolated to climate change. In an average year, my burg uses 40% of our yearly water consumption on landscape and the bulk is utilized for watering grass. We are in a critical drought, yet our citizens continue to water their grass on their designated days and for longer durations than prior to the drought! The notion is to get it while you can, with no consideration of conservation or future needs, should the drought continue.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I'm glad to know there are some Texas newspapers spreading the news of climate change in the right way. Urban areas do seem to be more fortunate in that respect; though here in OK, I doubt The Oklahoman, the biggest OK rag, does much to help. Husband won't have it in the house, it's such an avidly right-wing rag.

Smaller local papers tend to avoid the subject for fear losing their advertisers, who keep them afloat. This is understandable but frustrating.

I don't watch TV news any longer, local or national. Bill Maher's "Real Time" is the only discussion show I see regularly. He is keen on environmentalist issues, and often brings up the topic of climate change. He's largely preaching to the choir though, as his audience is mostly made up of liberal-leaning people.

I used to watch MSNBC but stopped when they became Obama apologists, and when Keith Olbermann was kicked out.

I can speak only from my own perspective here. We have re-cycling service - eventually, which is something. We have water restrictions, due to be a complete ban on outside watering this month.
But because the state relies so much on its oil and gas production, and the idiotic James Inhofe seems to be cemented in place in the Senate, there'll be no support for anything near the what would be needed in respect of slowing down change. It'd have to come from sheer necessity a....fear of loss of property (that'd do it!) and life I guess... their lives not someone else's thousands of miles away.

Twilight said...

mike ~

There's a piece at TruthOut today with a good thread of commentary. the piece itself doesn't tell us anything new, but there's a commenter there - "Len Runciter" whose observations make a lot of sense, and he isn't afraid of taking on any deniers without resorting to name-calling etc.

mike (again) said...

You might find this essay interesting, Twilight, regarding Saturn and the outer planets by John Townley:

His comment at the end of the article may give you some hope (Saturn's entrance to the bowl formation).

Twilight said...

mike ~ Thanks - yes good one - I started at

Then followed the link there to
"Saturn Rescue Bowl Periods.

I like the idea of looking at the outer planets and Saturn alone, for clearer views of the rolling spiral that seems to reflect our global roller coaster ride.

That theory is another that takes us to around 2020 for some beginnings of relief or easing, at least on the war-related front.

The climate problem, and its solution or climactic end point, might be linked to an even wider outlier than Pluto, seeing that it's a more unknown quantity than wars and rumours of wars, which we've grown used to for centuries.

We'll see - or not....! :-/

mike (again) said...

Yes, interesting conversation in the comments on TruthOut. "Len Runciter" has some good points to espouse, but she is partially, but inadvertently, neglectful of other points. Money buys influence is a biggie. She says to believe the science behind climate change.

Here's an essay about corrupted (purchased) science:

Whose "science" does one believe? It's a bit like creationism vs evolution. There was a time when science was science, but that seems to have disappeared about 1950 or there about, and has become increasingly aberrant since, as it has become more politicized, corporatized, and non-secular.

Quality water is part of the climate change discussion, but can also be viewed as a stand-alone issue. Water was discussed in the TruthOut article and comments. Many, many factors influence our water supplies (or lack of!). Lack of potable water has a more imminent and immediate disastrous tone to it compared to global warming. Yet our groundwater is being consumed at astonishing rates toward depletion, while at the same time it is being polluted by fracking and other mining ventures. Our rivers, lakes, and reservoirs are tremendously polluted by industry, agriculture, and sewage. Oceans are in the same boat...LOL. Drilling for oil continues...the public demands the keystone pipeline (jobs, jobs, jobs, more oil, more oil)...we want the mega-farms to produce more bacon and chickens...gotta put the sewage somewhere (and we might all be drinking it soon!).

My paragraph above is about water, but water is only one of the multiple metaphors for global warming and it's all connected. There are many root causes, but ultimately all of this is being done for each of us, and each of us plays a role in our own demise. The Koch brothers wouldn't have their wealth, if we didn't purchase their products or work in their factories. The other side of the coin?...there are simply too many humans on Earth to sustain within a structured, industrialized society. Otherwise, it's survival of the fittest.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I understand your point - it really is hard to know who to believe these days. I do tend to believe the reports of methane bubbles and sink holes - that alone is scary enough.

Water, lack of it, will be for a lot of people, rather than the canary in the coalmine, the albatross in the tunnel we can't flee from. Fracking is making things worse, as well as causing earthquakes - especially in Oklahoma. A bad one of those might bring a few more to their senses.

I know you emphasis our own contribution to our own demise, often. It's logically true, yet there's something not quite right about always blaming the people.

A commenter "Maxwell" at Common Dreams in a thread here

Said as part of two long comments:

Absolute crap to lay the ills of capitalism at the feet of some ill-defined and impossible to define "human nature." That is such a tired canard and to parrot that ruling class idea is to do the tawdry work of the House Negro.

This is a chronic weakness in the thinking of many liberals and progressives, and is itself a product of the specialized and targeted indoctrination that the more educated receive as they are groomed for middle management positions of various kinds to serve the needs and desires of the wealthiest few..........

Everyday people are aware of the contempt that many intellectuals hold for their presumed inferiors, and this is why the right wing propaganda about "elitists" can gain traction with the public. It also sends all of us off on a fool's errand - trying to "convert" the masses to "our beliefs." Politics, and social arrangements, are not driven or controlled by beliefs, they are driven and controlled by wealth. Only those who are relatively well-off and who identify with the well-off can think that beliefs drive politics and society.

The people have been brainwashed, cajoled and lied to. It has been going on for decades, centuries even, in the western world - and in the USA it has "taken" better than just about any other country . Don't know why - maybe because of the mix of ethnicities here, which could have meant smaller peer groups and lack of a sturdy individualistic bloody-mindedness.
Don't know - just an idea.

mike (again) said...

I'm a bit confused by "Maxwell"'s comment.

"Politics, and social arrangements, are not driven or controlled by beliefs, they are driven and controlled by wealth."
Politics has always been tainted by wealth (greed). Would we need politicians, if greed (wealth) did not exist? We would not be having a discussion about climate change if the wealthy were truly controlling the show. We wouldn't have valid scientific evidence to contrast their pseudo-science, if the wealthy were truly in control. We wouldn't have the well-educated intellectuals crying foul, if the wealthy were in control. Al Gore knows the wealthy are not in control or he wouldn't have taken-up the cause. Belief plays a huge role in the climate change debate, or the wealthy wouldn't be trying every avenue available to change the public's beliefs.

"Everyday people are aware of the contempt that many intellectuals hold for their presumed inferiors, and this is why the right wing propaganda about "elitists" can gain traction with the public."
Substitute the word "intellectuals" for "wealthy" or "1%", and "right wing" for "left wing".

"Absolute crap to lay the ills of capitalism at the feet of some ill-defined and impossible to define 'human nature'."
If we are talking avarice as part of human nature, well, it works for me, and avarice is easily defined. But I accuse communism and socialism as being vulnerable to's an affliction common to humans, not "-isms".

The deceleration of and solutions toward climate change will require the assistance of individuals, groups, collectives, government, nations, et al. Everyone will be affected, so it's only fair that everyone play a role in minimizing their particular contributions that would promote climate change.

Historically, all revolutions have advanced through the efforts of the individual commoners forming a collective.

Twilight said...

mike ~ I think Maxwell was really getting at commenters who sancitmoniously and routinely blame ordinary people for all the ills of the world - including climate change.

The People obviously have a role in causing our problems, but that's not the whole story - the wealthy, our leaders and governments have to accept a greater share of the blame, they have far better opportunities to help in attempting to right the problens - IMO.