Friday, May 17, 2019

Bad News, Good News, However . . .

Bad News
The Washington Post reported three days ago "It was 84 degrees near the Arctic Ocean this weekend as carbon dioxide hit its highest level in human history" and Democracy Now! noted "temperatures near the entrance to the Arctic Ocean in northwest Russia [have] high temperatures [. . . in a place] normally 30 degrees cooler this time of year" and "Over the weekend, meteorologists measured carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere at over 415 parts per million — the highest level in human history, and a concentration that’s not been seen on Earth in over 3 million years."  For the past 420 million years, according to Nature, when carbon rises, Earth's overall temperature rises.

Good News
Grist reported "Dr. Leslie Field [. . . . of] Silicon Valley nonprofit Ice 911 [. . . . invented] reflective sheets [. . . .of] silica microbeads [. . .] safe for animals, aquatic life, and ecosystems [and able to restore vanishing Arctic ice]." The article continues "Ice treated with silica microbeads grows thicker and more reflective with each application. Ice 911 modeling suggests that spreading the beads in only a few strategic areas, like the Beaufort Gyre or the Fram Strait, could reverse melting across the Arctic."

Clive Hamilton, as I noted in a previous post, wrote in a March 10, 2015 Scientific American about aerial sulfate spraying "Yet every [National Research Council] scientist, including the council authors, is convinced that if albedo modification is implemented and not followed by a program of global emission reductions, then we are almost certainly finished. Sulfate spraying without a change in the political system would make the situation worse."

I think Field's silica microbeads, also enhancing "albedo modification" in limited strategic areas, sound much better than aerial sulfate spraying, and must not be used by oil companies to continue business as usual fossil fuel burning.

This is important because as President Niinist√∂ of Finland said in a joint press conference with President Trump, August 28, 2017, “If we lose the Arctic, we lose the globe.”

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Epic of Gilgamesh and Climate Change

I recall reading an October 7, 2015 article at "Iraqi Museum Discovers Missing Lines From the Epic of Gilgamesh":

“The previously available text made it clear that [Gilgamesh] and Enkidu knew, even before they killed Humbaba, that what they were doing would anger the cosmic forces that governed the world, chiefly the god Enlil. Their reaction after the event is now tinged with a hint of guilty conscience, when Enkidu remarks ruefully that … ‘we have reduced the forest [to] a wasteland.’" -- Marissa Fessenden

Even here in "one of the world's oldest written stories" from about "2150 - 1400 BCE" there is a record of humans grieving loss of trees, and this was made public after 2011 as the Smithsonian article reported it was "part of a collection purchased from a smuggler." So that means about 4,161 years after the "missing fragment" was written, it reappeared as the global human community is waking up to how modern humans have, in ever-expanding areas, "reduced the forest [and coral reefs] [to] a wasteland." For example, I recall reading at "Half of the [1,400 mile] Great Barrier Reef has been bleached to death since 2016." The New York Times noted "The scientist [Terry P. Hughes and his students] cried when [they] saw the evidence.”

I also recall a Buddhist teacher said something like "Mindfulness is always one person at a time.  It is the most difficult way, but it is the only way." It is unknown if orcas and humans will go extinct from climate change.  Each species that can be saved, each human that can be saved, matters. The Guardian reported "The Lummi Nation is dropping live salmon into the sea in a last-ditch rescue effort" to save starving orcas. In Australia's "record-breaking heat" and Arizona, also breaking heat records, wild horses are dying in droughts which are expected to get hotter and longer in coming years.

I imagine our Milky Way Galaxy home, with about 100 billion stars, has some planets that survive to mature death, and many that don't, like herring chased by salmon, salmon chased by orcas, orcas chased by human ignorance. Douglas Adams, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, wrote "Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea."

Regarding these ideas, I respect rare clarity in the YouTube The battle against climate change by Paul Kingsnorth.

Speaking of orcas, I greatly enjoyed the new anthology FOR LOVE OF ORCAS, and I'm grateful to have a poem in it along with fine poems by Craig Santos Perez, Paul E. Nelson, Robert Sund, Kim Stafford, Sam Hamill, Ira Sukrungruang, Martha Silano, Rena Priest, Christopher Howell, Derek Sheffield, Brenda Miller, James Bertolino, Priscilla Long, David M. Laws, and many other fine poets.  This is an anthology to savor, and to share -- the deeper news of our shared reality you seldom hear in mainstream news. Anthology editors Andrew Shattuck McBride and Jill McCabe Johnson noted "proceeds from sales of the book will benefit the SeaDoc Society's efforts to restore the Southern Resident orcas and their extended ecosystem."

This Dammed to Extinction Trailer, about a minute long, shows the best way to help orcas, as Dr. Deborah Giles says, "is to breach the lower four Snake River dams."

My poem in the anthology is below along with some of my favorites used with authors' permission.


“In a 100 years wild salmon runs south of Canada will be reduced to remnant runs.”
—Bob Lackey, Professor of Fisheries at Oregon State University

Future children will hear the story of when
a stranger wandered into town armed with harp,
got food, lodging, women, disappeared
and became a legend.

“Years passed, and someone found a blood-stained
knife under moss beside harp, strings gone
but ghost music still playing in alders and firs.”

The truth will become
the stranger, which was salmon,
changed into man, river a harp,
when real story of losing salmon and orcas
grew too sad to tell.

-- Scott T. Starbuck

Ode to an Orca

You fling your dolphin body

skyward, breach toward sun
to take a look--sleek, black
and white, aglitter with seawater.
You fluke-wave, roll and flip, sleep
with half a mind, travel miles,
team-hunt, herd chinook, slap
and play. You feed each other.
Your old mother leads the pod,
aids daughter, tends son.
We call you killer whale,
we who kill you with PCBs,
who warm your cold world.
You bond with your pod for life.
You are starving. We dream
of saving what we are killing:
your brainy, love-struck life,
your terrible wild beauty. 
-- Priscilla Long 


            Honolulu, Hawai'i

My wife nurses our newborn,
while I feed our toddler.
On the news, we watch you balance

your dead calf on your rostrum.
They numbered you because
there are so few left in your pod.

They named you native
because your kind is vanishing.
My family, too, comes from the sea,

and the fish our ancestors
depended on are also endangered.
Days pass. We drive our eldest

to preschool, the youngest
to her vaccinations. You carry
your decomposing daughter 

a thousand nautical miles until
every wave becomes an elegy,
until our planet becomes an open

casket. What is mourning
but our shared echolocation?
Today, you let go. Today, you let

fall. We wish we could honi you,
breathe in your breath, offer
small comfort. How do you say,

"sorry," in your dialect of sonar,
calls, and whistles? Nights pass.
You keep swimming across

the Salish Sea. We carry our girls
into the Pacific. They kick and laugh
when embraced by salt water. We

wish they could see you breach
and dive so they can grow
in the wake of your resilience. 

We promise to tell them your story
so they'll remember that love
is a wild, oceanic instinct.
-- Craig Santos Perez

Words of Encouragement

            "One must always pretend something 
            Among the dying" -- W. S. Merwin

When writing poems about extinction
it's important that you make the poems
deep, but uplifting.

Nobody wants to read a bummer poem
about endangered orcas and their dead babies.
Keep it light. Keep it motivational. Encouraging.

It's important to accommodate your gentle reader.
Don't say anything about how "If you won't
swim in it, why should they have to live in it?"

Don't say that. Honesty is offensive
in this day and age. It's always been offensive.
How else do you suppose we got here?

Maybe, instead of saying something like,
"The orcas and salmon are going extinct
because of ordinary greed and apathy,"

instead, say something like, "The noble creature
with his power and grace, shall journey away
forever, through the portals of time."

Good taste, omits mention of ~
(baby orcas, abducted to be theme park clowns --
decades in chlorinated cages, taking their eyes --

how during the capture, so many died.)
Don't forget, to forget what you know
about human cruelty --

how the baby orcas that didn't survive
had their bellies slit and filled with stones,
then were sewn closed

and dumped into the sea,
to sink into a silence so dark and so deep
public outrage couldn't reach --

a depth unfathomable as a mother's grief --
too heavy to carry for one day, much less 17.
Among the dying, shall we pretend

that in the end, we too, shall not be listed
among the dead? Yes. Let's pretend,
when writing poems about extinction.
-- Rena Priest

Earth Totem

Dorsal cedar dressed in moss where the village stood.
Crest carved fresh and proud, the clan not yet defeated.
White on black the color of starlight, high and old.
Glittering where the sea's back breaks open. In the strait,
their formation ancestors could use to teach children
the ways of courage, certainty, persistence.

Thriving where King Salmon thrive, the throng
charging in their own endemic wave through waves,
splitting the eternal, binding what flows, braiding
salt to salt in a shape the old ones carved in stone,
up from the hidden, forth through the hungry,
diving secret, swallowed by the sea.

Who will lead us into the future if not these?
Who will teach us high respect, if not
the whales that prey on whales? Who
among us can dance like that, in storm
or cold, driving through shoals of silver
where all the little lives glitter in beautiful fear?

Hold honor of ancestors in our keeping, destiny of children,
eel and clam, eagle and heron, bear and frog, all the woven
hungers nourishing us by their vigor, their abundant life.
How can we meet our children's eager, brimming gaze
if we let the orca essence falter, barren, hungry, gaunt, if
our pod of treasures dive, never to return?
-- Kim Stafford


It was all somehow accounted for
in the ledgers of those who served

the kings and commissars of an orderly
distribution and control

that everything was theirs, even the crushed
knuckles of the stones, even the stiff

facsimiles of our brethren who had vanished
before us into that green flash

above the sundown sea. The whales, the dodo,
the great apes, all irrelevant as beauty, disappeared

like beauty, leaving only their names scratched
next to our own in the halls of unopening books.

We might have prayed for God
to come, or Noah, and deliver us

two by two again, drowning our terrible machines.
Now the oceans rise to take us

all. The stars go out. The angels, weary of extinctions,
Shake their heads. But what were we to do, force

the powerful to change?
-- Christopher Howell


In the mountain's
white expanse

beyond the tree line,
we learned

Buddhist holy men
come again as Orca

whales, the greater their
mastery, the further

back in time. 
-- James Bertolino 

We Could Have Saved the Orcas

We could have saved the orcas
but we were so in love with plastic:
straws, beer can holders, and parts for everything,
just so convenient, except when it’s time
to be rid of it, just toss it in the ocean,
out of sight, out of mind, and if you need it,
you can sail out to the place in the Pacific
with the floating trash pile, I’m sure
it will be in there somewhere.

We could have saved the orcas
but we work so hard, we deserve
a little fun now and then, so let’s fly
to Cabo or Machu Picchu, or at least
let’s drive to the Grand Canyon,
buy a giant motorhome and save
a ton on motels and meals,
seven miles to the gallon.

We could have saved the orcas
but they eat those Chinook salmon
that taste so good with a little lemon,
so delicious with some corn-on-the-cob
and a nice arugula salad, tofu-dill dressing,
or fresh off the grill, and how much fun
it is to go out on the boat and fish,
pulling in those big ones to gut
and stick in the freezer.

We could have saved the orcas . . .
-- David M. Laws

Self-portrait as Southern Resident Orca

For everybody I’m speechless Damn it I gotta go get my camera!
For this must be the happiest pod.
For you can hear them saying there she goes again. Big one! Wow!
For you can hear them clapping, laughing.

For I am made of the research proving there is no difference
in the lifespan of an orca born at SeaWorld
and an orca born in the wild.

For behind me 700,000 years of genetic distinction.
For behind me 700,000 years of a distinct dialect evolving.

For I was misnamed whale killer by Spanish explorers.
For I am a dolphin.

For each year I ingest some of the seven million quarts of motor oil
that washes into the Salish Sea. 

For PCBs were banned in 1979, but each day I push
through 1.5 billion pounds of them.

For in my fat stores I carry your legacy of coal mining,
electrical appliance dependence, your attempts at insect eradication.

For because of you I brush up against carcinogenic furans.

For I am a mother carrying her dead newborn.

For I have been carrying her for days.

For thanks to my contaminated milk, she is even more toxic than I.

For you might call this behavior a tour of grief, but I’ve been driving her to the surface so she can take a breath.

For my solitude grows scarce.

For the noise of passing ships interferes
with my clicks, my whistles, my pulses.
With finding salmon—species, speed, size.

For the sea and I are both wide.

For the water I glide through is poisoned with 

viscosity index improvers;
for the lapping is laced with alkaline additives and sealants;
for if you read more closely, you will learn PCBs were not banned
but permitted in lower concentrations.

For I can certainly experience intense emotion.

For Monsanto’s CEO makes 19 million a year
but the Chemical Action Plan lacks funding.

For there is no government strong enough to save me.

For behold my spyhopping!

For who can resist my one-syllabled, Darth Vader-like exhale? 

For Google biomagnification.

For the rainbowed road is my demise.

For the highway’s yellow line, I die.

For I am corralled not by my mistakes but yours.

For the doors of my duration are closing.

-- Martha Silano

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Free Showing of The Reluctant Radical on May 1, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., G101, San Diego Mesa College

Click for film trailer.
"They told him he was crazy, but crazy is sitting idly by as disaster for young people is knowingly locked in." -- Dr. James Hansen, Climate Scientist

"The Reluctant Radical is the most striking environmental documentary I've seen to date- and I have seen plenty. It is an absolute must-see." -- D. Schwartz, The Marin Post

Update from producer/director Lindsey Grayzel: 

WA Appeal Court Sides With Ken

Yesterday [4/8/19], the Washington Court of Appeals issued a decision to reverse and remand the felony conviction of Ken Ward, sending his case back to the lower courts for a third trial. The Court of Appeals found that Ken was denied his constitutional rights when the judge in the lower court prevented him from using a necessity defense. A necessity defense would have enabled expert witnesses in climate science, politics and history to testify in trial about the known scientific facts of climate change and the ineffectiveness of legal alternatives to adequately address the threat. Ken Ward is the main character of The Reluctant Radical, and one of the five valve turners who took direct action to manually shut down the flow of all US tar sands oil pipelines on October 16, 2016.

The Court of Appeals found that Ken had legal standing to use the necessity defense based on several factors, including that he "offered sufficient evidence to show that the harms of global climate change were greater than the harm of breaking into Kinder Morgan’s property." (Ya think?) The full document from the Court of Appeals can be found via the button below and is highly recommended reading. 
Read the Court Document

Now What?

The State of Washington has 30 days to appeal the decision to the Washington Supreme Court. It has 20 days to file a motion with the Court of Appeals to reconsider. If no appeal is filed, the State may refile the charges, sending Ken back to Skagit County for a third trial, this time having the ability to present a necessity defense.  
Masada Disenhouse, Executive Director of SanDiego350, will attend the Mesa College event to help answer climate questions.  I wrote about Ken Ward and the other Valve Turners for San Diego Free Press.

Regarding climate, Dave Borlace has a great YouTube ranking countries levels of action. I also like his video Blue Ocean Event : Game Over?

I appreciate San Diego Reader's promotion of the Mesa College event, and my books and classes. I'm also grateful to Amsterdam Quarterly for a new review of Carbonfish Blues. The battle with oil companies continues for people, like Ward, of conscience and action. Oregon poet William Stafford wrote "This earth we are riding keeps trying to tell us / something with its continuous scripture of leaves."

Since San Diego Union-Tribune did not publish my letter, I will post it here.  That is what's great about having a blog!  My letter was inspired by Thoreau's essay "Civil Disobedience," a good fit for the film event above.

We Need Leaders of Conscience, Not Fossil Fuel Company Puppets

Rep. Scott Peters is commended for saying at UCSD March 2, 2018, evangelicals must be invited to help respond to climate change; and I scold him for his weak "Climate Playbook" offered as alternative to Green New Deal. If Rockefeller Brothers Fund can divest from fossil fuels ("98% fossil fuel free" "as of December 31, 2017") and invest 10 million dollars in Mainstream Renewable Power (wind and solar), Rep Peters can stop accepting campaign funds from fossil fuel companies now. Peters' definition of political realism is the same as planetary suicide. At the same UCSD March 2, 2018 panel Dr. Ramanathan praised Gandhi's nonviolent work in India, and Dr. Somerville reminded everyone of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and civil rights movement. We need leaders like them of conscience, not more fossil fuel company puppets.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Solution to Reducing Climate Change is Purple

Thank you to readers from 69 countries (see 8 posts down at bottom of "Arctic Methane Debate Rages On").  The problem is green house gases are invisible, and solution is to require by international law fossil fuel emissions in all countries be immediately colored purple the same way rotten egg scent is added to natural gas to alert homeowners to danger of leaks.  This way people can see what humans are doing in local real time to build social, political, economic, and legal will necessary to reduce emissions and preserve a livable planet.  The truth would no longer be silenced in some areas, with building catastrophic events in others, because it would be in everyone's face every second of every day.

The less purple the sky gets, the closer humans will be to preserving a livable planet for all species. To increase albedo, make it a nearly white purple.

I understand many readers will see this as an April Fools Day joke, but it is not. My idea is far less radical than sulfate spraying considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), or simply allowing billions of humans and nonhumans to die prematurely from heat and hunger because, as a Shell CEO told Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research), "The climate problem is real but it is completely intractable. You can not solve it. So, let's get rich quick before the world ends, huh?'" See my August 29, 2018 post Schellnhuber: "Rising Seas Could Affect 1.4 Billion People by 2060."

Most readers likely know winter in northern hemisphere is summer in southern where temperatures have been "near" 122 F (50 C)  in Australia as fish have been dying in rivers, and bats and birds falling from trees and dying. Similarly, as I noted before, Chile and Argentina are also having extreme heat-problems. Three days ago reported "Alaska temperatures expected to soar 40 degrees above normal this weekend" complementing a report noting "Persistent heat records have assaulted the fragile Arctic for each of the past five years—a record-long warming streak, said the 2018 Arctic Report Card, released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)."

What will happen to future U. S. summers?

My idea, while expensive, is not insane. What is insane is doing nothing significant to reduce emissions. Let's see if we can get 70 or more countries to visit this post. Merely click links below to forward.

Regarding my background, in 2015 I proposed a 1.5 C limit to pre-industrial global temperature rise, and binding resolutions, when I served as a member of SanDiego.350's Coordinating Committee for the Road Through Paris Action.  I was told that was politically impractical, but the 1.5 C limit, in course of negotiations, became a "pursue[d] effort . . ."  When I served on the UCSD Faculty Climate Change Curriculum Workshop and Networking Group in 2016, I said the next step was to make a "Climate Change Museum" to promote social and political momentum for reducing carbon emissions.  I greatly respected leaders and professors involved, but was told my idea was impractical.  Now, New York has The Climate Museum and on August 30, 2018, The New York Times published an article about it. One quote from the museum’s director, Miranda Massie, is "It’s becoming axiomatic and clear that we need cultural transformation on climate in order to move forward." There is probably no better way to do this than to require by international law fossil fuel emissions in all countries be immediately colored purple. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Where's the Love?

Today I said to Suz, "Why don't you fish with me in the morn so we can take home 4 steelhead instead of 2?"

She said "Try 'I love spending time with you, Honey, so why don't you join me in the morning?'"

"You must think I'm Italian, or something," I said.

It reminded me of Pat McManus asking his wife "Row a bit faster along here, will you, Bun? I don't want my lure to get snagged in the weeds."

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Two Literary Quotes That Fit Reducing Climate Disruption

"Somehow -- in spite of all the madness, all the stupidity -- somehow the thing could be done." -- Tim O'Brien, Going After Cacciato

“There must have been a moment, at the beginning, where we could have said -- no. But somehow we missed it.” -- Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

Saturday, March 9, 2019

"Can we hack climate change to save us all?" | Foreign Correspondent, ABC News (Australia) 2/26/19

March 11, 2019 Update from The Guardian: "Robock said one of his studies contains a list of 27 reasons why Earth-cooling aerosols might be a bad idea. And he added that the technology could cost hundreds of billions of dollars a year and would pose complicated ethical questions, such as whether people have a right to see a blue sky."

Watch Jason Box, and others, discuss geoengineering.

The video reminds me of Clive Hamilton's March 10, 2015 Scientific American article which notes "Yet every [National Research Council] scientist, including the council authors, is convinced that if albedo modification is implemented and not followed by a program of global emission reductions, then we are almost certainly finished. Sulfate spraying without a change in the political system would make the situation worse."

Thursday, February 21, 2019

William Happer was Refuted by Michael C. MacCracken in 2011

This morning when I saw President Trump appointed William Happer to consider a Climate Panel, I thought it was a bad dream. It wasn't. He did.
In yesterday's Washington Post article "White House prepares to scrutinize intelligence agencies’ finding that climate change threatens national security," Francesco Femia, chief executive of the Council on Strategic Risks and co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security, was quoted “This is the equivalent of setting up a committee on nuclear-weapons proliferation and having someone lead it who doesn’t think nuclear weapons exist [. . .] It’s honestly a blunt-force political tool designed to shut the national security community up on climate change.” 

Happer is an extremely bad choice. If Trump's plan proceeds, I imagine space aliens watching and remarking "It's too late. Their brains are fried."

Dennis Silvermana retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine, has a good blog post about Happer. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Recalling Cobain, Bowie, and Prophetic Power of Art

Today, I'm recalling Cobain, Bowie, and prophetic power of art.  U.S. politicians think they are better scientists than scientists.  Climate history has shown politicians are not.  The above link goes to "Nirvana - The Man Who Sold The World (MTV Unplugged)," a song by David Bowie. Lyrics include "Oh no, not me/We never lost control." According to Wiki, Bowie commented about his song on BBC Radio "That song for me always exemplified kind of how you feel when you're young, when you know that there's a piece of yourself that you haven't really put together yet. You have this great searching, this great need to find out who you really are."  To this I would add, "The human race is very young.  We haven't collectively found out who we are.  More quiet times in meditation and nature are needed before quiet times and nature are gone.  After that, if those things happen, it will be too late."

Sunday, February 10, 2019

"Why we need to rethink climate change, with Timothy Morton – books podcast, [The Guardian]"

I greatly enjoyed this 40 minute podcast because of how it humanizes thought about climate change in terms of the best of us -- creative, playful, humorous, empathetic, honest -- instead of evil anthropocene roller derby twin. Sure, it's almost a year old, but like Socrates and his almost- contemporary Chuang Tzu, still highly relevant (Did I mention I teach World Lit.?)  Here are some quotes, "One Buddhist teacher I know said once, 'You can't turn shit into chocolate mousse.'" Morton added "Your lab is your inner space." "I'm terribly keen on not dying." "Art is the future [ . . . .] telling me how to think."  The only pause I had was I believe in God, compassionate and just beyond human understanding. As the back cover of my last book notes, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever" (Thomas Jefferson).

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Arctic Methane Debate Rages On

Update Feb. 12, 2019

Thanks to Dahr Jamail for this update today: "[Dr. Ira Leifer, Chemical Engineering Department,
University of California, Santa Barbara, noted] the normal background rate for methane seeps from a seabed in that area is approximately 3000 methane seeps over a thousand square kilometer area. He had, using satellites to measure the methane, [ . . .] found in another thousand square kilometer area, [. . .] there were already 60 million methane seeps [ . . .]"

Leifer was "chief mission coordinating scientist for the NASA effort for airborne remote sensing of the Gulf oil spill."

In contrast, Yale Climate Connections updated their story on the debate Feb. 7, 2019

More countries are following this, so I am giving both sides of the issue.

As with DNA, the truth is in details.

In my April 29, 2018 blog post "What is the Source of 2017s Increased Atmospheric Methane?" I wrote "A 2014 article in Scientific American reported 'Levels of the potent greenhouse gas continue to rise and scientists aren't sure where most of it is coming from, though likely suspects include fracking, increased coal mining in China and a melting Arctic." I added "Regardless of source, or sources, humanity is moving in the wrong direction, and it's time to reverse course [of carbon burning] whatever the cost."

April 28, 2018, I covered similar conflicting information between Natalia Shakhova, ("Expertise: chemical oceanography") Research Associate Professor at International Arctic Research Center at The University of Alaska Fairbanks vs The U. S. Geological Survey / University of Rochester. 

In my October 29, 2018 blog post "TASS Reports Russian Scientists Found 'Massive' New Arctic Methane Emissions" I wrote "TASS, noted by Wiki as 'the largest Russian news agency and one of the largest news agencies worldwide,' reported today newly discovered increase in Arctic methane emissions 'may affect the planet’s climate system.' According to the Ministry of Education and Science, 'Russian scientists have found a new big area in the East Arctic’s seas with big emissions of greenhouse gases. [ . . . ] They also saw that emissions in earlier found areas had become more active.'"

"This news is more important than regular news chatter because details may determine how, where, and if humans get to live on Earth."

This news is more important than regular news chatter because details may determine how, where, and if humans get to live on Earth. Many news sources noted Australia is having a summer so hot fish are dying in rivers, and bats and birds are falling from trees and dying. reported January 16, 2019 "Researchers now believe that at least 23,000 spectacled fruit bats died - around one-third of the total population - over just two days in and around Cairns, where temperatures passed 42C [107.6 F]."

Chile and Argentina are also having extreme heat-problems.

Since U. S. winter is Australia's summer, will summer 2019 in the U.S. present similar heat when the northern hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun? Last summer, California had it's worst-ever fire, and the summer before was also it's worst-ever fire up to that time. Specifically, July and August 2018 brought the Mendocino Complex Fire in Colusa, Lake, Mendocino, and Glenn counties, and December 2017 brought the Thomas Fire to Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. In addition, November 2018 brought the Camp Fire to Butte County, which, according to Wiki, "was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history to date" killing "86 civilians," some of whom burned in cars fleeing, and destroying "18,804 buildings."

For these reasons, I followed with interest recent conflicting information between Jem Bendell, a Professor of Sustainability Leadership and Founder of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) at the University of Cumbria (UK) vs Carolyn Ruppel, Ph.D, a Research Geophysicist at Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, and leader of the USGS Gas Hydrates Project.

In short, Ruppel coauthored a paper with Kessler in 2017 about the methane threat, to which Bendell responded "key questions at the heart of this scientific debate (about what would amount to the probable extinction of the human race) include the amount of time it will take for ocean warming to destabilise hydrates on the sea floor, and how much methane will be consumed by aerobic and anaerobic microbes before it reaches the surface and escapes to the atmosphere. In a global review of this contentious topic, scientists concluded that there is not the evidence to predict a sudden release of catastrophic levels of methane in the near-term."

Bendell added, "a key reason for their conclusion was the lack of data showing actual increases in atmospheric methane at the surface of the Arctic, which is partly the result of a lack such information. Most ground-level methane measuring of sensors collecting systems are on land. Could that be why the unusual increases in atmospheric methane concentrations cannot be fully explained by existing data sets from around the world (Saunois et al, 2016)?"

Ruppel appeared in a January 29, 2019 Yale Climate Connections video "Polar melting: 'Methane time bomb' isn't actually a 'bomb'" in which she noted "People who may not be too aware of the thermodynamics of gas hydrates may believe that once you start triggering warming of those, and breakdown of those deposits, you can't stop it. And, in fact, the thermodynamics helps you a lot on that because of the nature of the reaction [ . . . .] this is a problem when we try to produce methane from hydrates. It keeps shutting itself down, right? So it's not a situation where we trigger breakdown, and [ . . . ] the whole deposit's going to release its methane all of a sudden. That [ . . .] is not a scientifically sound worry."

So is the Arctic methane death bomb unlikely? I don't know.  Is Arctic methane still a problem? Yes.

"If we mitigate or reduce human emissions, looks like you can avoid 70 to 80 percent of the permafrost climate feedback. That means the size of this ecosystem feedback to climate depends almost completely on what we do." -- Ben Abbott, Brigham Young University

In the above video, Ben Abbott, a Brigham Young University "ecosystem ecologist who studies the permafrost climate feedback,"said "If we mitigate or reduce human emissions, looks like you can avoid 70 to 80 percent of the permafrost climate feedback. That means the size of this ecosystem feedback to climate depends almost completely on what we do. [ . . . .] This is a call to action, not a declaration of defeat."

My concern is the volume to cause trouble for humans may be much smaller than any giant short-term Arctic methane release.  This is because, as I wrote before, an October 4, 2016, Siberian Times article quoted Professor Igor Semiletov, of Tomsk Polytechnic University, Shakhova's colleague, "We have reason to believe that such emissions may change the climate. This is due to the fact that the reserves of methane under the submarine permafrost exceed the methane content in the atmosphere [ . . . ] many thousands of times. If 3-4% from underwater will go into the atmosphere within 10 years, the methane concentration therein (in the atmosphere) will increase by tens to hundreds of times, and this can lead to rapid climate warming. This is due to the fact that the greenhouse effect of one molecule of methane is 20-30 times greater than one molecule of CO2." I added "The good news is that even though methane has a much stronger effect than CO2, the life of methane in the atmosphere is shorter.  Duncan Clark's January 16, 2012 article in The Guardian noted 'Between 65% and 80% of CO2 released into the air dissolves into the ocean over a period of 20–200 years' while 'Methane, by contrast, is mostly removed from the atmosphere by chemical reaction, persisting for about 12 years.'"

Bendell wrote "Data published by scientists from the Arctic News (2018) website indicates that in March 2018 at mid altitudes, methane was around 1865 parts per billion (ppb), which represents a 1.8 percent increase of 35 ppb from the same time in 2017, while surface measurements of methane increased by about 15 ppb in that time. Both figures are consistent with a non-linear increase - potentially exponential - in atmospheric levels since 2007. That is worrying data in itself, but the more significant matter is the difference between the increase measured at ground and mid altitudes. That is consistent with this added methane coming from our oceans, which could in turn be from methane hydrates [. . . .] [A] report of subsea permafrost destabilisation in the East Siberian Arctic sea shelf, the latest unprecedented temperatures in the Arctic, and the data in non-linear rises in high-atmosphere methane levels, combine to make it feel like we are about to play Russian Roulette with the entire human race, with already two bullets loaded."

In short, this debate is like two people standing on the upper deck of a possible Titanic arguing about damage caused by collision when the ship hit the iceberg.  It is clear most scientists agree humans on Earth must switch from carbon to renewable energy as soon as possible. At the end of my April 28, 2018 post mentioned above, I wrote, "In other words, depending on how much Arctic methane is released how fast, it could be a difficult time for humans and other species if Shakhova's and Semiletov's concerns become reality.  Creon says in the Greek tragedy Oedipus 'Time is the one incorruptible judge.'"

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