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How Much Should You Worry About an Arctic Methane Bomb?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the TSA-now-banning-all-carbon-based-gases-on-airplanes dept.

Earth 416

barlevg sends this excerpt from an article at MotherJones: "It was a stunning figure: $60 trillion. Such could be the cost, according to a recent commentary in Nature, of 'the release of methane from thawing permafrost beneath the East Siberian Sea, off northern Russia... a figure comparable to the size of the world economy in 2012.' More specifically, the paper described a scenario in which rapid Arctic warming and sea ice retreat lead to a pulse of undersea methane being released into the atmosphere. How much methane? The paper modeled a release of 50 gigatons of this hard-hitting greenhouse gas (a gigaton is equal to a billion metric tons) between 2015 and 2025. This, in turn, would trigger still more warming and gargantuan damage and adaptation costs. ... According to the Nature commentary, that methane 'is likely to be emitted as the seabed warms, either steadily over 50 years or suddenly.' Such are the scientific assumptions behind the paper's economic analysis. But are those assumptions realistic—and could that much methane really be released suddenly from the Arctic? A number of prominent scientists and methane experts interviewed for this article voiced strong skepticism about the Nature paper.'"

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Archaic? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522283)

Ha. I read the headline as "Archaic" instead of Arctic. As if nobody uses them anymore.

My experience (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522287)

My workmates don't seem to mind my methane bombs after lunch.

I think we'll be okay.

Re:My experience (1, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44522379)

Cue bean eating scene from Blazing Saddles.

How 'bout some more beans, Mr. Taggart?

Taggart: [fans his hat in the air] I'd say you've had enough!

Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (5, Insightful)

BillCable (1464383) | about a year ago | (#44522289)

I supposed the 15-year pause in global warming has prompted alarmists to come up with even more extreme catastrophes.

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (1, Informative)

Salgak1 (20136) | about a year ago | (#44522347)

Mind you, not sure where this seabed warming is supposed to come from, with Global cooling (due to lower Solar output. . . .) And temperatures during the Medieval Optimum were even higher that the peak of the current warming, and no sudden volatilization of Methane Clathrates. . . Agreed: nothing to see here. . .

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (2, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#44522545)

Could you give a citation for that "lowered solar output?" Because wikipedia disagrees with you. [wikipedia.org] Do you work for an oil company or have you just succumbed to their propaganda?

As to should we worry, no. Worrying never solved anything. Worry isn't needed, planning is.

You can worry about global cooling in five or ten thousand years. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (4, Insightful)

Anon-Admin (443764) | about a year ago | (#44522793)

Nasa http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/SunspotCycle.shtml [nasa.gov]

(And just so you dont have to read that long complicated article here is a link to a nice picture)
http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/images/ssn_predict_l.gif [nasa.gov]

But don't let real science get in the way of your research via Wikipedia.

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (2)

BillCable (1464383) | about a year ago | (#44522835)

But if it's on the Internet it has to be true.

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (1)

Shatrat (855151) | about a year ago | (#44522933)

If it's on nasa.gov that's a pretty good start.

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (1)

Anon-Admin (443764) | about a year ago | (#44522985)

Then I am a french model.

Now it must be true.

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44523059)

wikipedia disagrees with you.

Are you fucking kidding? Wikipedia? The "source" that any jackass can edit and put in anything he wants?

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522561)

Lol climate change deniers are so cute in their ignorance. I bet you believe the earth is flat and the center of the universe, too.

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522635)

As are alarmists. I only believe in trolls, and you've proven my point.

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522673)

If the building is on fire and I yell fire that may make me an alarmist but I am pretty sure everybody who gets out alive will thank me. There is no denying the science - that's why 99.99% of scientists agree on this. It's just you religious zealots who think God will fix this.

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522735)

If the building is on fire and I yell fire that may make me an alarmist but I am pretty sure everybody who gets out alive will thank me. There is no denying the science - that's why 99.99% of scientists agree on this. It's just you religious zealots who think God will fix this.

Don't forget the Randian zealots who think Her ghost will save us by invoking the free market.

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (1)

Anon-Admin (443764) | about a year ago | (#44522845)

Unless you are yelling FIRE because you see someone light a bic lighter.

  Based on your projection that it could start a fire and burn the building down.

If you would like we could build a computer simulation as to what would happen if the building was to burn from the bic lighter along with projected death rates and evaluations of proper suppression systems as a feedback.

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522915)

The bic lighter was 20 years ago. Right now the fire is something akin to what is happening in California. We are long past the hypothetical simulation stage. We are actually see the effects of it now.

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (4, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44522745)

The Earth *IS* the center of the universe, just like everywhere else is.

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (1)

BillCable (1464383) | about a year ago | (#44522797)

Don't go confusing everyone with science!!

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (1, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | about a year ago | (#44522767)

Mind you, not sure where this seabed warming is supposed to come from, with Global cooling (due to lower Solar output. . . .)

And temperatures during the Medieval Optimum were even higher that the peak of the current warming, and no sudden volatilization of Methane Clathrates. . .

Agreed: nothing to see here. . .

An awful low UID for such a silly post... The current warming is indeed beyond the Medieval Optimum by a significant margin, and Solar output is at a pretty high level (we are at the middle of the current output cycle). Are you trying to troll, or are you literally drowning in Kool Aid and this is the best you could type as you choked for air?

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (1, Informative)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#44522969)

There is no 15 year pause in global warming.

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44523117)

Because you say so eh?

Have you not been paying attention for the last six months? The AGW establishment has admitted the pause and are scrambling to find the reason.

But there is one because YOU say so, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44523237)

Have you been paying attention in school?

The trend is not flat.

The trend is positive.

The error bars for such a short period include both zero and the IPCC predicted trend, therefore the 15 years worth of data does not disprove the IPCC's predictions.

Next time in maths class, try doing more than one sum.

Re:Dog and cats! Living together! Mass hysteria!!! (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#44523057)

You may be interested in this [skepticalscience.com] .

After enjoying the review of the creationist tactic of combating science by means of a letter signed by mostly non-experts, scroll down to the plot and consider it carefully. Notice anything?

OTOH, the link contains facts, which may cause you irreparable harm if you click it.

What about a "15 year pause" would worry us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44523189)

A "15 year pause" has nothing to worry us realists because it doesn't matter if you find a trend that is zero.

Go ahead. Knock yourself out finding as many as you like.

What you have to do is prove that the trend is different from the predictions we've made of 0.16C per decade.

Prove the trend predicted is now disproven.

Your "15 year pause" doesn't disprove the trend in the IPCC reports because the trend predicted is within the error bars of the 15 year trend's result.

Control (2, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#44522291)

I worry about things about as much as I have control over them. Things like this I have Zero control so I have Zero worries. About the same I worry about a comet impacting the planet. It might happen and there is nothing I can do. Why worry?

Re: Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522325)

because the sky is falling and if we all don't stop breathing global warming will wipe us out.

Re: Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522351)

if we all start paying carbon taxes to all gores company it can be reversed. puff puff pass.

Re:Control (3, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44522481)

I worry about things about as much as I have control over them. Things like this I have Zero control so I have Zero worries. About the same I worry about a comet impacting the planet. It might happen and there is nothing I can do. Why worry?

According to some studies we've already crossed the tipping point and it's going to happen. So even if every government and every state and every person suddenly did everything they could to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we're going to get that methane anyway.

Where we'll see it is where it affects the flora and fauna directly (altering availability of species in the food chain) and weather - more greenhouse gasses mean more disruption to weather patterns. Some places will get hotter, some will actually get cooler, some will get more precipitation and others will get less, over time this will shape the world we live in and our own food sources.

Time to put REM - End of the World on the iPod and look at housing on higher ground.

Re:Control (2, Insightful)

Danathar (267989) | about a year ago | (#44522717)

"Some places will get hotter, some will actually get cooler, some will get more precipitation and others will get less, over time this will shape the world we live in and our own food sources."

Isn't that the way it's always been?

Re:Control (4, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44523053)

"Some places will get hotter, some will actually get cooler, some will get more precipitation and others will get less, over time this will shape the world we live in and our own food sources."

Isn't that the way it's always been?

Yes, but generally these changes have been gradual. We're seeing significant changes in the start of seasons, insect life cycles, migration of birds, etc. over a short time span.

Re:Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522509)

I worry about things about as much as I have control over them. Things like this I have Zero control so I have Zero worries. About the same I worry about a comet impacting the planet. It might happen and there is nothing I can do. Why worry?

Well, now I'm actually curious as to whether or not you're flipping your shit over the NSA kerfuffle, as is trendy on Slashdot lately. I, for one, am not, for the exact reasons you mentioned, but I do have to ask where you stand on that with that same outlook.

Re:Control (1)

Danathar (267989) | about a year ago | (#44522685)

Yea, you might as well be worrying about a gamma ray burst from a distant star blasting it's way over the Earth. Or maybe a stray black hole wandering it's way through the solar system.

What point is there in worrying about it.

Re:Control (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#44522895)

Odds? People worry about shark attacks and not about car accidents, even if car accidents are 200.000 times more probable. And could be some way of control damage, to protect against some of their effects (i.e. not moving to coastal cities, that should be under sea in some yars), or at least stop paying, cheering and defending the culprits of screwing us all.

Re:Control (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about a year ago | (#44522789)

I worry about things about as much as I have control over them. Things like this I have Zero control so I have Zero worries. About the same I worry about a comet impacting the planet. It might happen and there is nothing I can do. Why worry?

You actually do have some control over how it affects you based on how you respond to it if it happens.

Re:Control (2)

Time_Ngler (564671) | about a year ago | (#44522993)

Having a better idea of what the future will bring regardless of your control still should be something you think about. What if your doctor told you had incurable cancer and will die within 6 months? Would you continue to go to work as normal, because you have no control over it, or would you party like there is no tomorrow?

What if were studying advanced basket weaving in college and the job market soured in basket weaving? Would you not worry about it because have no control over the job market, or would you switch majors to something more potentially profitable?

So, then if there is a good chance that the environment will be get extremely fucked up (not sure of this, but just for argument's sake), would you put off that trip around the world 10 more years like you were planning to, or would you take it now? Would you have a family and curse your children to live in a dystopian future, or would you take the humanitarian route and have no kids?

"Methane Bomb"? (3, Funny)

Andrio (2580551) | about a year ago | (#44522293)

Oh god, here come the jokes.

Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522305)

How Much Should You Worry About an Arctic Methane Bomb?

Not at all.

How much? (2)

no-body (127863) | about a year ago | (#44522343)

Very - like 1000 %. The ignoring of all the environmental issues by the people able to change track will surely lead to a runaway situation in earth climate.

There seems to be a large part of the US population thinking global climate change is a non-issue. Good luck with all of that!

Re:How much? (2, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44522559)

So I should be in a pure panic right now because of everything.

There are a lot of issues in the world to worry about. I choose not to worry about global warming, not because I don't think it is a problem, but because I have my own sets of things I worry about and feel like spending my time advocating.

I find that it is a big deal on how American Education puts such little focus on Math and Science, and passes it off as something that is OK not to know.

As far as I am concerned, if my cause got priority, the next generation would be better at math and science, be able to accept the findings about climate change. Then be able to put more pressure on our leaders to do something about it. There are too many people right now who threw lack of scientific knowledge fall pray to pseudoscience from say supporters of Oil industries, without seeing the major flaws in their reasoning, because they stated their "facts" so elegantly, and with authority.

Re:How much? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522773)

Eeesh. Are you trolling for spelling pedants?
"who threw lack of scientific knowledge fall pray to"
should be ;
who through lack of scientific knowledge fall prey to...
Maybe less STEM for you and more English!

Re:How much? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522889)

Wait, what? You sound like you believe climate change is problematic, but you're going to leave it for the next generation of people to do something about it. Time is a bit of a factor when it comes to what we can do about climate change, and I don't think even if education instantly became the biggest priority of everyone in the country that it'd still do that much good in, say, the two years till 2015.

Re:How much? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44523151)

Yes I will leave it to the next generation, however I would like to make sure the next generation has better tools then I do.

Re:How much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522579)

There seems to be a large part of the US population thinking global climate change is a non-issue. Good luck with all of that!

There seems to be a large part of the non-US population that somehow believes that the US population responsible for much of the global pollution somehow gives a shit, as they wallow in their first-world problems.

This is like trying to talk to a gun-totin', can-spittin' redneck about how red meat and chewing tobacco is bad for you...

Re:How much? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522721)

No more than teaching a limp wristed, Ralph Lauren wearing, sushi eating, Astro Boy haircut, sissy, that the sky isn't falling.

Re:How much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522771)

The ignoring of your mom's extremely large birth canal will surely lead to a runaway train on her uterus.

There seems to be a large part of the US population thinking they can all fit in there, in parallel. Luck not needed, they will fit no problem.

Re:How much? (1, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44523047)

worry 1000%? what the fuck.

that makes as much sense as the methane "costing" the worth of world economy.

let's triple worry on a sorry lorry, that'll make it better.

Catastrophe? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522349)

Why does it seem that around every corner there is a new totally natural and cyclical process that the news is going to kill us? I am tired of all this. The Earth is a very complex system and we and it will adapt. I think we should actually understand the natural cycles and integrate ourselves so we are not fighting against it all the time.

Permaculture is the future.

Re:Catastrophe? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44522587)

Because pending DOOOOOOM is News.

The problem I see it, is that we already passed the threshold. But we didn't know where the threshold was until we passed it. Now we just need to factor in how are we are going to adapt to the changes, not as much trying to stop it.

Re:Catastrophe? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44522645)

We're all doomed. Some are more doomed than others.

Re:Catastrophe? (2, Insightful)

dcw3 (649211) | about a year ago | (#44522817)

For the same reason that the media loves to use the word pandemic at every opportunity. How many people actually died from SARs or Bird Flu? Compare that to how many die on the highway every single day. Scare people, and they'll always come back to hear more.

Re:Catastrophe? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44523091)

For the same reason that the media loves to use the word pandemic at every opportunity. How many people actually died from SARs or Bird Flu? Compare that to how many die on the highway every single day. Scare people, and they'll always come back to hear more.

More than all these and others, the media loves the comparison like a war zone Perhaps the media are behind the increase in conflict linked to global warming - so they can use those words more often.

Re:Catastrophe? (1, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44522649)

Exactly.

When was the last seabed warming, and how devastating to life on earth was it?
Over the history of earth, there were much warmer periods with far smaller ice caps.
Do those periods correspond with huge species die off?
Or was it exactly to opposite?

Re:Catastrophe? (5, Informative)

riverat1 (1048260) | about a year ago | (#44522725)

The most likely candidate for the last seabed warming of this potential magnitude was about 55 million years ago during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum. [wikipedia.org] That period did coincide with a lot of extinctions.

Re:Catastrophe? (4, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#44522799)

Exactly.

When was the last seabed warming, and how devastating to life on earth was it?
Over the history of earth, there were much warmer periods with far smaller ice caps.
Do those periods correspond with huge species die off?
Or was it exactly to opposite?

How many mega-cities were right by the seashore during those previous times?

Re:Catastrophe? (4, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year ago | (#44522671)

I think we should actually understand the natural cycles and integrate ourselves so we are not fighting against it all the time.

The whole point of climate change is that it is not natural that we put large quantities of CO2 into the air.

Sounds like a lot of methane. (3, Funny)

mrjb (547783) | about a year ago | (#44522355)

Anyone got a match?

Fragile... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522361)

There's not a whole lot keeping us going venus and dying out. Or going mars and dying out...

But thinking about doing anything to keep us in this nice safe area is expensive. So.. We're not gonna do anything about anything until it's too late.

You future people are fucked...

Nature lets one rip (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522393)

and gives evolution another chance.

Really dumb alarmist nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522403)

Might as well ask "what would happen if the sun collapse?", or "what would happen if a huge comet was about to strike the earth" or "What if the oceans dried up all the sudden".

I guess the cool summer this year has dried up donations to the crazies.

Re:Really dumb alarmist nonsense (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#44523041)

What are the odds of all those events? Anyway, I wonder why in a country where so many people bet a lot of money in games where odds against them are astronomical are so easily convinced that the high odds of this aren't worth worrying about. But i suppose that should be a normal human bias to only fear the spectacular with very improbable odds [divinecaroline.com] over the boring that are almost certain to happen (and that you could do something to avoid them in a lot of cases)

More hoax maskerading as "science" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522425)

Global warming my ass. It's fucking cold and raining here in Wyoming. What the hell is wrong with these people? Oh that's right, it's just more excuses for academics to demand more and more taxpayer funding and for the liberal elites to hand it over to them in their never ending quest to balloon the size of government while expecting those of us who actually WORK for a living to pay it all. Pretty soon the Galt's of this world will just shrug off these useless fools.

Re:More hoax maskerading as "science" (4, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#44522949)

Global warming my ass. It's fucking cold and raining here in Wyoming.

If a cool spell disproves global warming, does a warm spell prove it? Or do you prefer to focus on the details that you think support your beliefs?

Ask people who spent June in Phoenix or Las Vegas how they liked the weather this year.

Re:More hoax maskerading as "science" (2)

I'm just joshin (633449) | about a year ago | (#44523227)

So far this summer has been nice. We had a few really hot days, but fewer than normal. We didn't get enough rain from our "monsoon," but that's what I say almost every year. It's going to be somewhere between 103F and 107F today which is on the low side of normal.

And looking at our electrical use for the summer, it's about 15% lower than last year which means our A/C units haven't been running as hard.

But go ahead and hype how hot it has been here, especially to anyone in California. We like that, it helps keep more Californians from moving here.

-J

Re:More hoax maskerading as "science" (1)

Time_Ngler (564671) | about a year ago | (#44523143)

Damn straight! I've had it up to here with these so called scientists. If it's not hot out, right now, in the exact location where you live, we can all put this global warming fear mongering to bed!

Not scared but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522451)

All I know is we are hitting record temperatures here (highest ever recorded) and each year after year has the highest average temperature recorded previously.

I don't care if it's natural or not. We subdued nature when we got rid of our local predators, when we domesticated animals, when we cut down forests to grow more food, when we drilled tunnels through mountains, when we made diseases extinct through vaccinations... Modifying nature for our benefit is and has been our business since the first civilizations.

This needs to be contained. The cost is too damn high if we don't.

Easier to move (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44523073)

Nobody is going to spend trillions of dollars to "cure" global warming.

Plus, it's easier just to make people move from places that are inhospitable.

Sounds like something that could be harnessed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522453)

Rather than pumping oil from the ground, why not harness all this methane? Car engines run great on it. 50,000,000,000,000 kg, sold at today's gas prices is worth about $50 trillion.

The fact there's no companies stepping up to the plate to take this incredible prize might tell you something about the veracity of the claims.

Things I AM worried about (0)

johofnovi (1667811) | about a year ago | (#44522459)

Top five things I am worried about: 1. Will my employer let me go or reduce me to the "new" 30 hour work week. 2. Is my health insurance premium going to go through the roof. 3. Is gasoline going to climb above $5 usd again. 4. Will Detroit's bankruptcy affect me. (I live in the evil suburbs.) 5. Will there be traffic on the way home today. Things I am not worried about: That's a pretty long list, but Methane bombs are definitely in there somewhere. Seriously, we can all come up with things that are way more important in the REAL world to worry about.

Re:Things I AM worried about (1)

sinij (911942) | about a year ago | (#44522595)

1. Reasonable, you are on /. instead of working and you know they are logging it (unless you are sysadmin with direct access to logs)
2. It will inevitably go up as you age.
3. Very likely, but if this affects you so much you are ether driving decades-old car (and realize savings from not buying a newcar) or you over-spent on something and now living paycheck-to-paycheck with no margin or savings for raising costs
4. There is very little reason to suspect that on-going decline of Detroit will reverse. Things will keep getting worse (and your taxes will keep going up).

Now get back to worrying about methane bombs!

Re:Things I AM worried about (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44523127)

2. It will inevitably go up as you age.

Actually, I just got notification from our insurance agent that after 10 years of yearly increases in the cost of my health insurance (on top of constantly increasing deductible), my company's insurer is suggesting that next year's premium will NOT increase (*: actual numbers due later, after it's too late to shop around for next year's coverage)

Very likely, but if this affects you so much you are ether driving decades-old car

But it's his god given right to drive his hummer from the middle of nowhere into town every day, and everyone else should rearrange their lives to make sure he can continue to live this way affordably without changing a thing in his. There's gotta be some country we can bomb to hell to make it so!

Re:Things I AM worried about (1)

Anon-Admin (443764) | about a year ago | (#44522947)

2. Is my health insurance premium going to go through the roof.

My company just announced a 20% increase in health insurance premiums. Seems Obama care is kicking in and it is going to cost us more (Managements explanation)

So, yes it is going through the roof.

Re:Things I AM worried about (1)

danceswithtrees (968154) | about a year ago | (#44523111)

I completely understand your prioritization of concerns and worries. But I sometimes wonder whether the humans on earth will end like bacteria growing on a Petri dish. You grow bacteria on a plate and at first, things are great-- more resources than bacteria, so no worries and gangbuster (exponential) growth. As the population density increases, competition grows for nutrients so growth starts slowing. Perhaps some bacteria do better than others. Allow me to anthropomorphize the little buggers and lets say they worry about the amount of space they have, how much food they have, how many kids to have, commute time (some bacteria are motile), etc. Meanwhile the finite nutrients and space are disappearing and toxic waste products are building up. The outcome is inevitable-- nutrients and space run out after a couple of days and then the bacteria die.

For eons, life on earth was in a steady state because survival was hard and limited by food and other resources as well as predation. People and organisms had to spend a lot of time and effort to get enough to feed themselves and their offspring. Now you can take $4 to the local 7-11 and buy more calories than are good for you. The population of humans have been growing nearly exponentially for several thousand years. We worry about the daily things in life as you mentioned and this is totally logical. But I wonder if we humans are headed to the same inevitable end as the bacteria. Instead of a Petri dish, we are on earth and instead of playing out over a couple of days, our tragedy takes a couple thousand years.

Seems like a resource, not a threat (3, Insightful)

Old VMS Junkie (739626) | about a year ago | (#44522493)

Seems to me we should be figuring out how to tap into this stuff and use it for fuel.

Re:Seems like a resource, not a threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522675)

Right! House is on fire. Go get some marshmellows. Time to make smores!

Re:Seems like a resource, not a threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522693)

D'oh! "marshmallows"

But what comes out of a mellow marsh? Why methane of course!

Re:Seems like a resource, not a threat (1)

BillCable (1464383) | about a year ago | (#44522709)

There are many groups trying to figure out how to harvest methane hydrate. So far it's been an impossible problem to solve - mostly due to the resource being ridiculously deep in the ocean. The cost to extract exceeds the value of the fuel.

But then that used to be the case with all the natural gas we're now recovering through fracking. All we need is a disruptive innovation and that methane will be viable. There's billions to be made... and lots of hard-working scientists working on making it reality.

Re:Seems like a resource, not a threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44523225)

agree. how can i get filthy rich off this? gotta get that spot on the orbiting space paradise lined up.

Thinking outside the box (4, Funny)

Provocateur (133110) | about a year ago | (#44522495)

Instead of the Arctic, let's work with the Antarctic, to get opposite results. Less methane, and more good news all round., leaving the cows to rejoice at still being Number One methane producer.

You shouldn't (1)

redmid17 (1217076) | about a year ago | (#44522529)

If it happens, there is not much you can do about it.

Not a crisis! (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44522533)

This is no crisis, it's an opportunity! I vote we send the entire TSA to the arctic right now with orders to pat the polar bears down for arctic methane bombs! We'll get those terrorists this time!

Doesn't seem likely but (1)

apcullen (2504324) | about a year ago | (#44522599)

Given consequences as grave as those predicted, it seems like this should be looked at very closely, despite the skepticism of prominent scientists.

Law of Headlines (1)

neminem (561346) | about a year ago | (#44522609)

According to Betteridge's Law of Headlines, this is a question, so the answer is "no". I'm not sure how well that works, though...

(Though my favorite unexpected use of that "law" was a thread a few months back titled something like "Will your computer run Crysis 3?")

Re:Law of Headlines (1)

vlueboy (1799360) | about a year ago | (#44522913)

Thanks, that was intersting
A slashdot search (wow, didn't have to resort to google!) showed that is here: But Can It Run Crysis 3?

Since Betterigde is mentioned so much, I'll share what I found on Yammer (a social network I haven't heard of here): 5 Data Insights into the Headlines Readers Click [moz.com]

There are various headline types, and they "resonate better". Pasting their reasons (go to article to see numbers and stuff):
Explosion in content competing for readers' attention
80% of readers never make it past the headline
Traffic can vary by as much as 500% based on the headline

What's new is that they break things down:

We determined there to be five high-level headline types

        Normal (Ways to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful)
        Question (What are Ways to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful?)
        How to (How to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful)
        Number (30 Ways To Make Drinking Tea More Delightful)
        Reader-Addressing (Ways You Need to Make Drinking Tea More Delightful)

I've seen lots of headlines for 2sleep and other trollish headline sites (or ads), which use and abuse those, plus enticing pictures that may or may not have anything to do with the content. Compared to them slashdot is seriously restrained and honext in its journalism.

Been there (1)

puddingebola (2036796) | about a year ago | (#44522629)

Just had one after lunch. Pew.

Just had a thought, a worrying one (1)

Palamos (1379347) | about a year ago | (#44522663)

Now what would happen if a stream of methane developed which was ignited by, say, a lightening strike, there would be a rapidly growing forward feedback loop which would release more methane and generate more heat, and more methane, etc. How much oxygen would this methane use up and how much heat would be dumped into the atmosphere? Would this be shrugged off by the earth or would it spell a species killing catastrophe?

Re:Just had a thought, a worrying one (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year ago | (#44523169)

Now what would happen if a stream of methane developed which was ignited by, say, a lightening strike, there would be a rapidly growing forward feedback loop which would release more methane and generate more heat, and more methane, etc.

Possible, but unlikely. Surface fires, especially something short lived like a gas burnoff, would not have a great effect on subsurface temperatures.

How much oxygen would this methane use up

Two oxygen molecules for each methane molecule assuming complete and pure combustion.

and how much heat would be dumped into the atmosphere?

About 891 kJ/mol.

Would this be shrugged off by the earth

Yes.

or would it spell a species killing catastrophe?

I'm fairly sure some of the local species would be done for, but would it be an extinction level event? Doubt it.

*Crap* likes this undermines real science (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522731)

When alarmist shit like this gets touted as real (hint: Earth was warmer in the recent geological past without this happening....) it actually addressing climate change HARDER.

Question for anyone tempted to mod this down: Do you really want to address climate change, or do you just want to act superior?

Nature is a RAG (0)

hackus (159037) | about a year ago | (#44522737)

Nature is a pay for only RAG of a publication.

I would ignore most of what they publish and instead pay attention to where the money is coming from for most of this carbon tax crap.

Besides methane isn't the problem, we need to evaporate the oceans and destroy all fresh water/water vapor in the atmosphere a very potent green house gas before it kills us all!

So how about a H20 Tax Exchange?

-Hack

Economic Bonanza (2)

sunsurfandsand (1959680) | about a year ago | (#44522791)

Suppose the $60T estimate is right. Isn't that good? In a closed economy, income equals expenditure. Earth, for now, is a closed economy. Therefore, if we spend $60T on goods and services to deal with methane, then we will have $60T in income.

Re:Economic Bonanza (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about a year ago | (#44522973)

Except I'd rather spend my $80T on electronic gizmos, food and shelter instead of $20T on those things and $60T helping you losers who insist on living on flood plains move to higher ground.

don't worry about it (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#44522893)

There is no realistic way of stopping the warming that would lead to such a release; short of imposing some kind of totalitarian worldwide government and destroying the world economy, people are not going to stop burning fossil fuels in massive quantities.

Compared to that basic fact, the fact that these predictions are pure guesswork based on many untested assumptions doesn't even matter that much.

Dr. Strangelove to the rescue (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44522909)

"How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb"

Seriously though, the Arctic methane "bomb" is one of the less likely scenarios to bring about an apocalypse. See also: Yellowstone Caldera eruption (blankets most of North America in ash, triggers another global ice age), Siberian Traps (mass extinction event, again), or any one of several volcanoes in Iceland (sulfuric acid haze slowly destroying your lungs, anyone?).

the answer is Bean-O (2)

ClassicASP (1791116) | about a year ago | (#44522937)

beano prevents gas. we're gonna need a lot of it

It's a self correcting issue (0)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year ago | (#44522941)

It's a self correcting issue. Methane is a fossil fuel, it can be burned to generate energy and the world needs energy. Once the worlds cities start sinking the and the cost of energy starts rising the opposition to exploiting the methane will naturally drop.

If things get bad enough to get this point you have two choices, use the methane and prevent it from going straight into the atmosphere or let it go straight into the atmosphere. Once enough refugees from enough flooded cities start displacing the right / wrong people the opposition will be collapse.

The only question is whether or not we exploit these resources or we let them evaporate into the atmosphere. Of course we could always try to avoid global warming to begin with, but that can only be put off for so long...

Worry - not as much as some other problems (1)

Silvrmane (773720) | about a year ago | (#44523023)

I'd be worried more about all the methane leaking from drilling and fracking sites... just saying.

Armageddon (1)

Shempster (2523982) | about a year ago | (#44523035)

Political rhetoric aside, if there is a shred of truth to this possible methane bomb event, then humanity is too stupid, and unable to hit the brakes. You wind up with theories on how can human civilization possibly make the type of significant global changes to its daily operation that might mitigate the damage? Drastically cut the population via conventional weapons or some bio-engineered attack on humanity? Jam the majority of human population into giant bio-domed metropolises? (nah, that's sci-fi fantasy). I'm leaning more on mass-extinction level event that accelerates on top of the existing mass-extinction event already in progress, that wipes out everything except maybe cockroaches. Jesus isn't going to save us from our stupidity. Either way, its a possible type of armageddon, no matter what you believe.

It's time (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44523093)

Everything you need to know about the end of the world you can see from hiking slot-canyons in southern Utah. You'll notice the rocks are composed of layers; 0.3 meters of red sandstone and then a thin layer of black, then the next 0.3 meters of sandstone and another layer of black. Poke at the layer of black and it's clearly a layer of carbon-based stuff.

Then notice there is a 0.3 meter layer of sandstone sitting just below the surface layer of sagebrush. Clearly it's time. We are the next black layer in the sandstone.

In related news (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#44523135)

the FBI raided MotherJones offices because they were talking about some dangerous new kind of bomb, confiscating a pressure cooker from there as evidence.

What's DHS doing about this? (2)

qwijibo (101731) | about a year ago | (#44523229)

Why haven't we heard about this from the Department of Homeland Security? What are they hiding?

It's just a matter of time before al queda gets its hand on this methane bomb. $60 trillion is just the kind of impact they'd like to unleash on us heathens and infidels.

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