Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Global Warming and the Bubbles of the Apocalypse

When I look at a picture of our beautiful little blue planet, and I think of what the Cons have done, I feel so angry and so ashamed to be a Canadian.

We're a rich, advanced country that should be a leader. Yet we've failed the world on climate change. We let our aboriginal peoples live in tents with sick children in the middle of winter. We send cancer-causing asbestos to developing nations. What's wrong with us?

Especially since, as John Ibbitson points out, the Cons may have done the dirty deed, but in a way we're all responsible for the Kyoto debacle.

“Global warming peaked as an issue when Al Gore won his Academy Award in 2007, and has basically declined since,” he said Monday. “And when the economy went up the hit parade, the environment went down precipitously.”

To a degree I can understand why so many Canadians feel this way. Thanks to the Cons we've come to believe that our prosperity depends on dirty oil. And in a cold country like Canada the day of reckoning seems so far off.

But what if it wasn't? What if  bubbles like these are already heralding the beginning of the Apocalypse? 

Dramatic and unprecedented plumes of methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – have been seen bubbling to the surface of the Arctic Ocean by scientists undertaking an extensive survey of the region.

"In a very small area, less than 10,000 square miles, we have counted more than 100 fountains, or torch-like structures, bubbling through the water column and injected directly into the atmosphere from the seabed," Dr Semiletov said. Some plumes were a kilometre or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere – the concentration was a hundred times higher than normal."

Because it has happened before.

So has this deep sea horror story.

Heating makes it harder for water to absorb oxygen from the atmosphere; thus, if ancient volcanism raised CO2 and lowered the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, and global warming made it more difficult for the remaining oxygen to penetrate the oceans, conditions would have become amenable for the deep-sea anaerobic bacteria to generate massive upwellings of H2S.

As the H2S gas choked creatures on land and eroded the planet's protective shield, virtually no form of life on the earth was safe.

And as we all should know, it's what you don't see coming that kills you.

Which is why I like the way David Attenborough, the great British nature correspondent, ended what might be his last amazing series for the BBC, the other day.

With this little video....

Because it is a wonderful world isn't it?

To sacrifice it to short term economic interests, or just plain greed, would be the greatest crime ever.

So we've all got to do more to save it...


Anonymous said...

H2S is pretty nasty stuff for sure. As they say at work, don't bother running from it because it would already be too late.

LMA said...

David Attenborough's video almost seems like a farewell to the natural world that he has studied and loved for so many years. Sad to think that to satisfy our addiction to oil, we are willing to sacrifice the lives of so many creatures, as well as our own species.

If the release of methane in the permafrost and seabeds is accelerating, we are in deep trouble. The forests of the planet are already suffering from drought and infestation. If these carbon sinks begin to turn to carbon sources, we will face uncontrollable global warming, and Canada will not escape resulting weather extremes, food shortages, and civil unrest.

How Canadians can continue to support the expansion and export of Tar Sands bitumen is beyond me.

thwap said...


Don't bother running because people like you want to go full steam ahead (literally) with the Tar Sands 'eh?

Simon said...

hi Way Way sure is, first you smell the rotten eggs and then you die.
I'm not too worried about it as threat to our existence, but if huge quantities of methane start pouring out of the sea or the permafrost, we could be in trouble sooner than we think. There is however a delicious irony about the H2S extinction. When all those dead fish and other organisms settled on the bottom they went on to create great quantities of oil...

Simon said...

hi LMA...yes it did seem like a bit of a melancholic farewell. But what a farewell that grand old man has made his programs through the years synonymous with quality. So I hope he sticks around for a while.
As for the methane situation, I've heard of it bubbling out of Siberian swamps, but this new discovery is truly alarming. And I wonder if it's happening in our Arctic and we don't even know it. We've been on this planet for such a short time, we have so much to learn. And as I said in my post, what you don't know can kill you...