A recent report published in Palaeoworld blew the top off a little known risk that we are facing. Most people don’t know much about methane hydrate, but that won’t stop it from wiping most life from the face of the earth.
While global warming is debated, there is little controversy surrounding methane hydrate and the nightmare scenario that this report puts forth.
The title is very telling, “Methane Hydrate: Killer Cause of Earth’s Greatest Mass Extinction,”, and it details how a mass release of methane was the likely cause of a global die-off called “The Permian Mass Extinction event” This planet wide slaughter happened around 250 million years ago, and human made emissions may very well trigger the same event at any time.
Natalia Shakhova, is an associate research professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks’ International Arctic Research Center, told Truthout that, “These emissions are prone to be non-gradual (massive, abrupt) for a variety of reasons,” and that, “The main reason is that the nature of major processes associated with methane releases from subsea permafrost is non-gradual.”
What that means is that an estimated 50-gigaton methane release is possible at any moment, or in her words, “highly possible at any time.”
Mrs. Shakhova isn’t alone in her views, in July of 2013 the journal Nature published a study that confirmed this apocalyptic prediction. In addition to Nature, the UK’s Met Office considers a 50-gigaton methane release from the arctic to be “plausible,”
The Met went on to say that, “That may cause ∼12-times increase of modern atmospheric methane burden, with consequent catastrophic greenhouse warming.”
The economic fallout from this scenario is thought to be in the area of 60 trillion dollars. But 250 million years ago when this happened, 90% of all life on earth died very quickly.
So there is no time like the present to look for ways to cut carbon emissions, and perhaps it isn’t too late to avoid a giant death burp from the arctic. But you know, enjoy your life, because if this thing goes off, you will be glad you did.