Monday, February 13, 2012


Maybe we need a big burst of methane to get real climate action.

Recent Russian expeditions to the Eastern Siberian coast find plumes of methane into the atmosphere. Is it worse than our own oil and coal pollution? I ask three top climate scientists: oceanographer Carlos Duarte, ice expert Peter Wadhams, and carbon-meister David Archer.

There is a growing wave of unease, even panic. Our fossil fuel civilization may be accelerating straight off the cliff of mass extinction.

Will the rapid rise in Arctic temperatures, and the disappearance of summer sea ice, trigger a runaway climate change, and a mass extinction event?

You would think a possibility so huge would fill television news and newspapers. What are political candidates saying, or business leaders? Everyone must be talking about the chance we could be killed off within a generation or two. No, the silence is deafening.

Right now, this debate is sealed off into a strong debate among scientists, and a small group of journalists and concerned citizens. You'll have to go to blogs like or climateprogress to find the discussion. Or listen to Radio Ecoshock.

What is the problem? New science shows seven of thirteen major feed-back mechanisms - the forces that create climate tipping points, are found in the Arctic. We'll talk to the lead author of that paper, award-winning scientist Carlos Duarte.

One of those frightening developments is the discovery by a joint Russian Amerian research expedition that large plumes of methane are escaping into the atmosphere from the Arctic sea bed along Eastern Siberia.

Scientists Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov suggest a burst of 50 Gigatonnes of methane could result from an "abrupt release at any time". The would multiply current methane levels by about 12 times with "consequent catastrophic greenhouse warming".

As a result, a combination of scientists, journalists and other concerned people have formed the Arctic Methane Emergency Group. They call for an immediate war-scale geoengineering effort to save the last of the Arctic summer sea ice cover, so save our climate. In this program, I interview one of the world's top ice experts, Dr. Peter Wadhams of Cambridge. He warns the Arctic Sea could become virtually ice-free in September as early as 2015, just three years from now.

We may already be seeing the destabilizing results of this loss of the Arctic climate regulator in the mild almost snowless winter in North America, while Arctic cold pushed deep into Europe and even North Africa in the late winter of 2012.

Dr. David Archer thinks the warnings of catastrophe from Arctic melting methane are either over-blown, or miss the real and known threat. You know, the threat you and I create every day, as we participate in ever-increasign emissions of carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuels. Don't miss our new interview with David Archer, a famous climate expert - and his dark dare about a methane burst.

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