Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Submarine Prompt and "Arctic Methane: Why The Sea Ice Matters" (YouTube)

For about 27 years, my developmental writing students have enjoyed the following prompt: "Imagine you are in a sub in the North Atlantic, in WWII, which has been hit by a torpedo. You are told you have 10 minutes to live.  You have waterproof tubes so you can save anything you want to write for 10 minutes such as a letter to a loved one, to future generations, or even your attempt to escape. It's called a 'nonstop' because you must keep writing until you are 'dead.'" The results are always interesting, but not as interesting as the real life situation we may be in. According to Dr. Peter Wadhams in the 2012 video below, "The whole [Siberian Sea] zone of millions of square miles of territory is now releasing all of its methane cover, and that's a large boost to global warming because methane [ . . . . is] about 23 times as powerful as carbon dioxide per molecule." Dr. Natalia Shakhova of the International Arctic Research Centre adds "only 1 percent of [this Arctic shelf's amount] is required to double the atmospheric burden of methane [ . . . ] To destabilize 1 percent I think is not much effort needed considering [ . .. ] the [melting] state of permafrost and the amount of methane currently involved."  Responding to this situation, David Wasdell, also in the video, noted "The danger of moving into a runaway climate change scenario is [ . . .] probably the greatest threat that we face as a planet. [ . . . . ] We've lost about 40% of the phytoplankton in the ocean, which is the basis of the food chain, simply because of acidification and temperature change in the climate." This is the real news.

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