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Old 12-16-2011, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by taylorcraftbc65 View Post
If, and this is a BIG if, we could get the corporate "bean counters" and their share holders to realize that we are in the fight of our LIVES here with the methane, streams, the "profit margins" would shrink to little importance, and we would find the way...
Make them understand how fast that could happen if all the trapped methane were released into the atmosphere, and we would HAVE the kind of unity of purpose that enabled us to walk on the Moon within a decade.
I believe to see two problems with that. For once, people just refuse to believe the facts. They instead tend to hold on to a fantasy world. Scientists have been warning about and predicting climate catastrophe for over 3 decades now with increasing persistence. While some politicians accepted this, we also saw in that timeframe the birth of "climate change deniers", simply ignoring what is happening and insisting on these scientists just speaking alarmist messages. They just fear what huge changes would need to happen when it is true. I see the other problem in that companies have the (also legal!) obligation to shareholders and investors to make money as much as they can. There is little possibility in economic terms for them to act differently.

If anyone want's to see what this planet would look like if all the methane hydrolized to carbon dioxide, tipping the atmosphere into runaway greenhouse, just look at Venus.
Methane clathrates (a mixture of frozen methane and water) when warming produce Methane, which will go into the atmosphere. In the atmosphere the methane acts as a strong greenhouse gas. Within some decades that methane oxidizes to CO2 and water, diminishing the greenhouse effect of its presence significantly. But that takes decades. And yes, methane in the upper atmosphere could react with other gases there, like ozone (possibly widening the ozone holes).

Regarding the possibility of runaway climate change I recommend two books. One of them is called "Under a green sky" by paleontologist Peter Ward. He looks at past climate catastrophes and what their results are. The evidence from that is in the fossil records, in stable isotope signatures and sedimentary climate records. In short - he says that a global warming can lead to a tropical climates near the poles, eliminating the ocean currents and winds, causing stagnant oceans which would suffocate much of the marine life, producing a lot of sulfide, a toxic gas. A palaeontologist coming to our university was adding to that the theory that in one of the last mass extinctions (the Perm/Trias ages in earths history) the same thing happened but with the twist that the gas managed to escape the oceans, killing land animals as well.
The other book is calles "Gaias revenge" and was written by James Lovelock, a very famous scientist, who ic however now retired but has many decades understanding of ecosystems and climate. In his projections, climate could warm by several °C, causing mammals to migrate into now arctic regions which then become the only inhabitable zones.

In both cases, the climate change is assumed to stop at some point when some negative feedback loops kick in - as of now only a few of them are recognized and I suspect that some of them have been eliminated by this culture.

In any case - each of these scenarios is horrible beyond belief.
Know your idols: Who said "Hitler killed five million Jews. It is the greatest crime of our time. But the Jews should have offered themselves to the butcher's knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs.". (Solution: "Mahatma" Ghandi)

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