Energy and Global Warming News for November 8th: Gen 1 biofuels are more harmful to climate than fossil fuels; Dead corals found near BP spill site; Shell presses for drilling in Arctic

First generation biofuels worse for climate than fossil fuel – study

BRUSSELS, Nov 8 (Reuters) – European plans to promote biofuels will drive farmers to convert 69,000 square km of wild land into fields and plantations, depriving the poor of food and accelerating climate change, a report warned on Monday.

The impact equates to an area the size of the Republic of Ireland.

As a result, the extra biofuels that Europe will use over the next decade will generate between 81 and 167 percent more carbon dioxide than fossil fuels, says the report.

Nine environmental groups reached the conclusion after analyzing official data on the European Union’s goal of getting 10 percent of transport fuel from renewable sources by 2020.

But the European Commission’s energy team, which originally formulated the goal, countered that the bulk of the land needed would be found by recultivating abandoned farmland in Europe and Asia, minimizing the impact.

… 23 of the EU’s 27 member states have now published their national strategies for renewable energy, revealing that fully 9.5 percent of transport fuel will be biofuel in 2020, 90 percent of which will come from food crops, the report says….

The debate centres on a new concept known as “indirect land-use change.”

In essence, that means that if you take a field of grain and switch the crop to biofuel, somebody, somewhere, will go hungry unless those missing tonnes of grain are grown elsewhere.

The crops to make up the shortfall could come from anywhere, and economics often dictate that will be in tropical zones, encouraging farmers to hack out new land from fertile forests.

Burning forests to clear that land can pump vast quantities of climate-warming emissions into the atmosphere, enough to cancel out any of the benefits the biofuels were meant to bring.

The indirect effects of the EU’s biofuel strategy will generate an extra 27 to 56 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year, says the report. In the worst case, that would be the equivalent of putting another 26 million cars on Europe’s roads, it added….

The European Commission’s energy team says shortfalls in grain can be avoided in several ways, including by improving farming yields and cultivating abandoned land.

“The EU has a sufficient amount of land previously used for crop production and now no longer in arable use to cover the land needed,” said a statement from the Commission’s energy department. “It makes sense to bring this land into use.”

For background on the indirect land use issue, see “About those two studies dissing biofuels.”

Deep-sea corals near BP oil spill site found dying

SCIENTISTS on a research cruise have found a community of dead and dying deep-sea corals not far from the site of BP’s blown-out oil well.

”Within minutes of our arrival … it was evident to the biologists on board that this site was unlike any others that we have seen over the course of hundreds of hours of studying the deep corals in the Gulf of Mexico over the last decade,”  Pennsylvania State University  biology professor Charles Fisher said.

A colony of hard coral at a depth of more than 1.2 kilometers was sloughing off tissue and producing mucous, and  soft corals had extensive bare areas. A type of starfish associated with the coral was also in bad shape.

Using a robotic vessel, government and academic researchers were surveying coral communities they had studied for several years. Most showed no changes from previous visits.

But when the crew focused underwater cameras on colonies about 11kilometres south-west of the BP leak, images of  corals covered with a brown substance  appeared on the screen.

Researchers will analyze samples for evidence of the chemical dispersants that were used to break up the oil.

Climate change hurting China’s grain crop: report

BEIJING “” Climate change could trigger a 10 percent drop in China’s grain harvest over the next 20 years, threatening the country’s food security, a leading agriculture expert warned in comments published Friday.

Tang Huajun, deputy dean of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, warned crop production could fall by five to 10 percent by 2030 if climate change continues unchecked, in an interview with the official China Daily.

“The output of the country’s three main foods — rice, wheat and corn — may suffer a 37 percent decline in the latter part of this century if the government fails to take effective measures to address the impact of climate change,” Tang was quoted as saying.

China, which produced 530.8 million tonnes of grain in 2009, plans to increase output to 550 million tons by 2020 to ensure food security for the world’s most populous country of more than 1.3 billion, the paper said.

Tribes working to buck unemployment with green jobs

“You’re not sovereign unless you’re controlling your energy future.”

When Dillon Toya started his senior year at Jemez Pueblo’s Walatowa Charter High School in northern New Mexico last fall, he wanted his senior project to combine the teachings of his ancestors with cutting-edge building design.

Six months later, the 18-year-old high school graduate and aspiring architect had designed a new energy efficient high school building that he hopes will one day replace the portable trailers where he and his 66 classmates studied. The proposed building, designed to resemble traditional Pueblo dwellings of adobe and wood, includes solar panels to generate electricity, a solar-powered heating system and water recycling.

Toya’s project reflects one of many ways that impoverished Jemez Pueblo is building strong connections between its education system and its fledgling green energy industry. And it’s not alone. Jemez Pueblo is an example of a larger movement among native groups to promote a green sector that they hope will chip away at a problem that has plagued their communities for years: high unemployment. The jobless rate in native communities is often several times the national average.

While there is no single tally of the amount of money going directly to tribes for renewable energy, energy efficiency and green job training, the federal government is funding a range of energy-related programs that count tribes among their recipients. Tribal leaders and native entrepreneurs are trying for a share of billions of dollars available in economic stimulus funds administered through the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Small Business Administration, among other agencies.

80 nations want farming as part of climate talks

An 80-nation conference on food security is urging U.N. climate negotiators to consider agriculture when drawing up strategies to fight climate change.

The five-day meeting has ended with a call to invest in new farming practices that will curb greenhouse gas emissions and better use currently available land to feed a global population of 9 billion by 2050.

About 30 percent of carbon emissions come from farming, livestock and forest destruction.

Dutch Agriculture Minister Henk Bleker says agriculture must be integrated into climate negotiations and should receive some of the funds earmarked for poor countries to help them reduce emissions and adapt to changing climate conditions.

The conference, attended by 60 government ministers, ended Friday.

Shell presses for drilling in Arctic

HOUSTON “” Eager to win approval for its stalled plan to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic, Royal Dutch Shell is beginning a public lobbying campaign, including national advertising, on Monday. As part of the effort, the giant oil company is promising to make unprecedented preparations to prevent the kind of disaster that polluted the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.

Shell’s plan to drill in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas has been snarled in regulatory delays and lawsuits for four years. The company has already invested $3.5 billion in the projects, and it was close to overcoming the final regulatory hurdles to begin drilling when BP’s Macondo well blew out April 20, killing 11 rig workers and spilling millions of barrels of oil into the gulf.

In response to the gulf accident, the Obama administration suspended most new offshore drilling, including in the environmentally sensitive waters of the Arctic.

But now that the moratorium on gulf drilling has been lifted, Shell is pressing the Interior Department to grant final approval for its Arctic projects by the end of this year so that the company has enough time to move the necessary equipment to drill next summer, when the waters offshore are free of ice.

Second generation biofuel at Danish gas pumps

Just over a week ago, Denmark became the first European country to make available to drivers second generation biofuel, fuel made of agricultural residues that do not compete with food crops. The fuel, called Bio95, is now on offer at 100 filling stations across the country on a 95% gas, 5% biofuel blend.

Bio95 is made from wheat straw collected after harvest in Denmark and is produced by a company called DONG Inbicon with enzyme technology by Novozymes.

“Long a grand vision of the future, next-generation biofuel is now coming to market to fulfil its promises. The industry has delivered and we’re now sending a strong signal to policy-makers that their support for this exciting technology is required if all our citizens are to benefit from it,” said Steen Riisgaard, CEO of Novozymes.

A recent study released by Bloomberg said second-generation biofuel could generate up to one million jobs in the European Union over the next decade, mainly in rural areas and replace up to 62% of imported gasoline. The report also claims that second generation biofuels could cut down road transport emissions by 50% until 2020. But a set of policies need to be put in place in order for that to happen, the report added, such as the creation of an ambitious mandate for second-generation bio fuel, incentives for the collection of farming residues and tax breaks for investments.

Taiwan moves to slash solar energy prices

Government steps up plans to become global renewable energy hub

Taiwan is preparing to reduce wholesale prices for electricity generated by solar panels by as much as 20 per cent as part of moves designed to bolster the competitiveness of the territory’s fast-expanding renewable energy sector.

According to reports in the Chinese-language Commercial Times, the price cut is intended to drive demand for solar energy and provide a boost to domestic solar panel manufacturers.

Taiwan has set a target for renewables to meet 10 per cent of its electricity needs by the end of this year, up from 5.8 per cent in 2009.

Wind power is expected to meet 80 per cent of the total and 78MW of wind power has been installed since a feed-in tariff was introduced in 2009.

Although, speaking at the 2010 International Conference on Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) in Taiwan last month, premier Wu Den-yih said he wants to encourage growth in other areas such as solar too.

Orders for wind turbines to fall by 93%, energy experts predict

Orders for offshore wind turbines in Britain will slump next year, threatening to halt the industry’s recent growth and the expected creation of up to 10,000 “green economy” jobs.

Analysts are forecasting a 93% drop in the installation of new offshore windfarms in 2013 compared with the previous year. As orders for cables, foundations and other equipment are typically made two to three years ahead of the project being completed, the slowdown will start to bite among UK suppliers next year.

Windfarm developers are worried that the hiatus in the industry will last several years, which could result in large-scale job losses if other related work cannot be found. One said this gap would cause “huge problems” for the supply chain and it would be hard for manufacturers to invest in new facilities in Britain without a steady stream of work.

Britain recently overtook Denmark to become the world’s largest offshore windfarm player, implying the tripling of capacity in the next two years. But new projects will dry up in 2013. Only 90 megawatts (MW) of newly installed capacity, which is enough to supply 30,000 homes when the wind blows, is being forecast by energy experts at Douglas-Westwood, compared with 1,368Mw the year before.

Gov. Paterson proposes eliminating New York participation in Federal Superfund Program

In a radio interview last week, outgoing New York Governor David Paterson announced his plans to eliminate the state’s participation in the federal Superfund cleanup program. The proposal is one of several cuts designed to reduce the state’s budget deficit and accommodate the proposed layoffs of an additional 898 state employees by the year’s end, including 150 in the Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”).

The immediate impact of Paterson’s announcement on ongoing and future site cleanups is unclear, and DEC said that “no final decision has been made” on the issue. The state and federal governments currently operate their own Superfund programs, created through separate statutes, and it appears that cleanup will continue as planned for sites listed exclusively under the state program.

According to the Albany Times Union, however, there are 114 federal Superfund sites in New York, with the state and federal governments often cooperating on remedial efforts. For instance, DEC is listed as a support agency in the ongoing, federally-led Hudson River Superfund cleanup, with state officials assisting in the development and oversight of General Electric’s cleanup work. Under Paterson’s plan, “the state will not be involved” at federally listed sites moving forward.

Despite electoral outcomes, poll shows voters want clean economy

WASHINGTON””Environmental organizations fearful of being blamed for Tuesday’s devastating Democratic losses trotted out a poll they say shows support for cap-and-trade legislation did not contribute significantly to the defeat of House incumbents.

Those findings come from a survey of 1,000 voters who actually cast ballots in 83 battleground House districts nationwide. Washington, D.C.-based Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted the poll Nov. 1 and 2.

When voters who chose the Republican candidate were asked to name their biggest concern about the Democrat, only 1 percent cited an answer related to energy or cap and trade. When offered a list of six arguments that Republicans made against Democrats, 7 percent selected what the GOP mislabeled a “cap and tax.”

“There was no mandate on turning back the clock on environmental protection,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund. “Polls galore show continued and strong public support for making continued progress to protect our health and boost our economy.”

36 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for November 8th: Gen 1 biofuels are more harmful to climate than fossil fuels; Dead corals found near BP spill site; Shell presses for drilling in Arctic

  1. Adrian says:

    From the LA Times: The American Geophysical Union is planning to speak out and push back against skeptics, deniers and their ilk, elected or otherwise. 700 scientists have agreed to speak out.,0,545056.story


  2. Mark S says:

    Perhaps the most significant climate news of the year: scientists have decided to fight back.,0,545056.story

    Turns out that John Abraham had bigger plans than just taking on Monckton.

    Joe, hope you can do a in-depth post on this development soon.

  3. cyclonebuster says:

    “Underwater Suspension Tunnels” save the corals!

  4. Mike says:

    Hopefully the AGU move will get wide coverage. I hope other science societies follow their lead.

    In other good news:

    Bloomberg to promote electric taxis in cities

    By MIN LEE, Associated Press Min Lee, Associated Press – Sat Nov 6, 4:57 am ET

    HONG KONG – City authorities are often better placed than national governments to combat climate change, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Saturday, vowing to promote the use of electric taxis as he takes over the leadership of a global coalition of major cities.;_ylt=Am8pJW2_SnRKXlhxQe_zlkdH2ocA;_ylu=X3oDMTQ0MWJ1M3VzBGFzc2V0Ay9zL2FwLzIwMTAxMTA2L2FwX29uX3JlX2FzL2FzX2hvbmdfa29uZ19tYXlvcnNfY2xpbWF0ZV9jb25mZXJlbmNlBGNjb2RlA3B6YWdyBGNwb3MDOARwb3MDOARzZWMDeW5fdG9wX3N0b3JpZXMEc2xrA2Jsb29tYmVyZ3RvcA–

  5. caerbannog says:

    Regarding the LA Times article referenced in comments 1 and 2 above, here’s a particularly idiotic comment. Take the usual hot beverage precautions before reading on.

    pryxp1 at 4:20 AM November 8, 2010

    American Geophysical Union Thats all it is another (UNION) to tear this country down Wonder who pays their retirement plan maybe taxpayers! keep it up there want be any taxpayer left when you shut down every industry in the Greates Nation on Earth.

  6. Esop says:

    Too bad about the biofuel, as ethanol is a superior fuel when used in compact turbo and/or supercharged engines, especially when used in DI (Direct Injection) configurations.
    Work is being done on having algae produce ethanol, absorbing CO2 in the process.

  7. paulm says:

    With a whole years worth of world energy use equivelent hitting the earth every 8 mins, why would we choose a nuclear option. Brain Dead Frog syndrome.

    Entergy Shuts Down Two Nuclear Power Plants, Vermont Yankee And Indian Point 2, Within Same Hour Due To Emergencies, Called A ‘Coincidence’

  8. MarkB says:

    Kudos to the 700 AGU scientists. Speaking out against science denialism puts them at personal risk, especially with Republicans taking over the House. I hope to see more scientists from other disciplines join them with a more general role of defending science against political attacks.

  9. cyclonebuster says:

    Heat created nuclear power plants also gets trapped by GHGs. “Underwater Suspension Tunnels” are the best option allowing energy production 24/7/365 for hundreds of years without generating any heat.

  10. Sasparilla says:

    Cost of Green Power Makes Projects Tougher Sell – basically starts to detail how wind projects in particular are not occurring already (down by 72% compared to 2009 for the same timeframe) and that the main tax incentive for these projects expires at the end of this year:

    Totally expected (the down dip) although the amount of the decrease already is much higher than I would have expected. Seems like the solar projects the current administration is approving as fast as they can are going to be the last hurrah for green energy for a while – with everything falling back to the state level.

  11. catman306 says:

    Drilling in the Arctic? The issue of methane hydrates immediately comes to mind. More research, please.

  12. paulm says:

    It seems like larger earthquakes are trending up again…

  13. paulm says:


  14. Mike says:

    From the Christian Science Monitor

    New energy: climate change and sustainability shape a new era

    A new energy revolution – similar to shifts from wood to coal to oil – is inevitable as climate change and oil scarcity drive a global search for sustainability in power production. But even the promise of renewable energy holds drawbacks.

  15. Mike says:


    Are Earthquakes Really on the Increase?

    We continue to be asked by many people throughout the world if earthquakes are on the increase. Although it may seem that we are having more earthquakes, earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant.

    A partial explanation may lie in the fact that in the last twenty years, we have definitely had an increase in the number of earthquakes we have been able to locate each year. This is because of the tremendous increase in the number of seismograph stations in the world and the many improvements in global communications. In 1931, there were about 350 stations operating in the world; today, there are more than 8,000 stations and the data now comes in rapidly from these stations by electronic mail, internet and satellite. This increase in the number of stations and the more timely receipt of data has allowed us and other seismological centers to locate earthquakes more rapidly and to locate many small earthquakes which were undetected in earlier years. The NEIC now locates about 20,000 earthquakes each year or approximately 50 per day. Also, because of the improvements in communications and the increased interest in the environment and natural disasters, the public now learns about more earthquakes.

    According to long-term records (since about 1900), we expect about 17 major earthquakes (7.0 – 7.9) and one great earthquake (8.0 or above) in any given year.

  16. Paulm says:
    Igor caused one death when it ripped through eastern Newfoundland on Sept. 21, leaving so much damage that the Canadian military had to be called in for emergency repairs and to deliver supplies to cut-off communities.

    The Newfoundland and Labrador government has estimated that Igor caused at least $100 million in damage to infrastructure.

  17. Paulm says:

    N.S. floods prompt state of emergency
    Many roads in New Brunswick also closed

    ‘The province is soggy, to say the least.’
    —Ramona Jennex, Nova Scotia emergency management minister

  18. Prokaryotes says:

    paulm, did you read the part about the “End Times”?

    With ice melt progression, released pressure increases the chance of geospheric activity same goes with more frequent weather systems.

    How Storms Can Trigger Earthquakes

    Scientists are increasingly pointing to storms as a trigger for earthquakes and mudslides. That’s raising questions about the effects that climate change might have on one of the world’s deadliest natural catastrophes, and to what extent, if any, insurers and governments could be adapting to the interplay between atmosphere and earth.

    New evidence (pdf) shows that atmospheric low pressure systems can prompt the landslide to lurch downward. Pressure drops when warm daytime air results in low “tides,” or when fast-moving storms race onto the scene. The effect on landslides and earthquakes only occurs when the pressure plummets suddenly, causing underground water and air to shoot toward the surface.

  19. paulm says:

    #20 Prok, yes, but I thought it had reasonably good data content. In any case, who knows…

    We are defiantly in for a wild ride with this climate warming.

    Couple more general articles…

    According to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, today’s 25 million-plus environmental refugees now outnumber political refugees worldwide and, if present trends continue, that number may swell to 50 million by 2013.

    While certain political leaders in Washington are still publicly denying climate change, members of the Pentagon are quietly working out scenarios on how to deal with it, ranking it, after a potential conflict with China, as their top national security concern


  20. paulm says:

    #16 mike, It would be nice if the had the data available and presented us with some graphs.

  21. Michael T. says:

    NOAA: U.S. Experienced Above Average Temperatures; Below Average Rainfall

    “The contiguous United States had its 11th warmest October on record, according to the latest NOAA State of the Climate report issued today. The average temperature for October was 56.9 F, which is 2.1 F above the 1901–2000 average. The average precipitation was 1.85 inches, which was 0.26 inch below the 1901–2000 average. The report, which draws from a network of long-term weather stations across the country, showed the combined average temperatures for the past three months (August–October) were the fifth warmest on record.”

  22. OregonStream says:

    I hope algal biofuel production will soon be scalable enough to satisfy a significant percentage of demand. Clearly challenges remain though, in both strain-specific cultivation and refining. We see Big Oil touting it, but we can check how serious they are by following the money. Compare investment in biofuel to investment in extraction, including tar sands. Speaking of which, I wonder if the European study considered that fossil fuel use is becoming more carbon-intensive as conventional sources are depleted. And presumably it’s based more on the use of things like canola, since at least part of the corn crop is used for it’s protein value in feeding livestock (something retained after fermenting for ethanol). I suspect with proper regulation and management, a modest net benefit could be realized from some gen-1 biofuels, but it probably won’t be nearly enough to make a dent in the fossil fuel problem.

  23. Mike says:

    The Notices of the American Mathematical Society has published two articles reviewing climate change and related issues (including even Earthquakes!). A subscription may or may not be required.

    Earthquakes and Weatherquakes: Mathematics and Climate Change
    Martin E. Walter

    Environmental Problems, Uncertainty, and Mathematical Modeling
    John W. Boland, Jerzy A. Filar, and Phil Howlett

  24. Mike says:

    Turbines Could Tap the Mississippi’s Power

    Underwater turbines could harness a massive amount of energy—but could cause problems for boat navigation.

  25. Prokaryotes says:

    Flooding Raises New Cholera Fears in Haiti

    The cholera outbreak, which has killed more than 500 people and sickened more than 7,000 in the past two and a half weeks, is largely confined to this region of rice paddies and small settlements, where the water has long provided life and livelihood.

    But after several inches of rain fell as Hurricane Tomas passed on Friday, health authorities are racing to keep people from drinking unsanitary water, particularly here, where the Artibonite River is known to be contaminated with the disease.

    In the countryside, medical workers from Doctors Without Borders have quickly found that they have to battle not only the water, which is everywhere, but also the fact that generations of Haitians use the river and its tributaries for almost everything.

    Rice farming requires heavy water use, and irrigation ditches and branches from the Artibonite lace through here. The people cook with the water and wash clothes in it. And most alarmingly for those trying to check the spread of cholera, which is found in feces and spread through water, the people sometimes defecate in it.

    “The two things we do not have enough here are bottled water and latrines,” said Ruben Petit, a local minister helping the workers educate the community.

    Anne Khoudiacoff, a Doctors Without Borders nurse, said it was impractical to tell people not to wash or bathe in the waters, even with the risk of incidental consumption, because of the lack of alternatives.

  26. Prokaryotes says:

    A Novel Tactic in Climate Fight Gains Some Traction

    With energy legislation shelved in the United States and little hope for a global climate change agreement this year, some policy experts are proposing a novel approach to curbing global warming: including greenhouse gases under an existing and highly successful international treaty ratified more than 20 years ago.

    The treaty, the Montreal Protocol, was adopted in 1987 for a completely different purpose, to eliminate aerosols and other chemicals that were blowing a hole in the Earth’s protective ozone layer.

    But as the signers of the protocol convened the 22nd annual meeting in Bangkok on Monday, negotiators are considering a proposed expansion in the ozone treaty to phase out the production and use of the industrial chemicals known as hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs The chemicals have thousands of times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas.

    HFCs are used as refrigerants in air-conditioners and cooling systems. They are manufactured mostly in China and India, but appliances containing the substance are in use in every corner of the world. HFCs replaced even more dangerous ozone-depleting chemicals known as HCFCs, themselves a substitute for the chlorofluorocarbons that were the first big target of the Montreal process.

  27. Prokaryotes says:

    Chicago Climate Exchange Dies, Victim of Shifting Political Winds

  28. Prokaryotes says:

    Cancer Research: New Science on How to Prevent and Treat Cancer From TEDMED 2010

  29. Prokaryotes says:

    On a sidenote, over 10k comments for

    Keith Olbermann To RETURN Tuesday, Phil Griffin Announces

  30. Harold Pierce Jr says:

    Esop @ 7

    Methanex (Vancouver, BC) sells methnol for ca $1.6 per US gal. There is no need to use these biofuels. Racing cars have been using blended methanol fuels for many years and they go very fast.

    Methanol is made from nat gas which is presently less expensive than oil.

  31. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi catman306-

    Yes, the oil corporations have their eyes on the Arctic, and are apparently cheering as the Arctic sea ice melts in the summer, as the article on Shell mentions:

    But now that the moratorium on gulf drilling has been lifted, Shell is pressing the Interior Department to grant final approval for its Arctic projects by the end of this year so that the company has enough time to move the necessary equipment to drill next summer, when the waters offshore are free of ice.

    Here’s a link to a report, from the Pacific Northwest National Labs, run by Battelle for the DOE:

    Preliminary Geospatial Analysis of Arctic Ocean Hydrocarbon Resources

    Ice over the Arctic Ocean is predicted to become thinner and to cover less area with time (NASA, 2005).
    The combination of more ice-free waters for exploration and navigation, along with increasing demand
    for hydrocarbons and improvements in technologies for the discovery and exploitation of new
    hydrocarbon resources have focused attention on the hydrocarbon potential of the Arctic Basin and its
    margins. The purpose of this document is to 1) summarize results of a review of published hydrocarbon
    resources in the Arctic, including both conventional oil and gas and methane hydrates and 2) develop a set
    of digital maps of the hydrocarbon potential of the Arctic Ocean. These maps can be combined with
    predictions of ice-free areas to enable estimates of the likely regions and sequence of hydrocarbon
    production development in the Arctic.
    In this report, conventional oil and gas resources are explicitly linked with potential gas hydrate
    resources. This has not been attempted previously and is particularly powerful as the likelihood of gas
    production from marine gas hydrates increases. Available or planned infrastructure, such as pipelines,
    combined with the geospatial distribution of hydrocarbons is a very strong determinant of the temporal-
    spatial development of Arctic hydrocarbon resources.

    They’re talking about half a million cubic kilometers of methane hydrates, worldwide, which is kind of mind boggling.

    Google patents has a list of patents on methane hydrate extraction, and different proposed apparatus to harvest them.

    Perhaps the simplest scheme to harvest them is simply to drill into associated gas deposits, and produce gas from them. The released pressure can apparently cause more hydrate dissociation, and more gas production. This may already have been done, just by luck, in some Siberian gas wells.

    If the methane was burned via oxyfuel combustion, the CO2 captured and injected into basalt strata under the hydrate deposits for in situ mineral carbonation, this could be a huge source of energy, which could be done in a carbon neutral way.

    Exploitation of the methane hydrates may be practical- but is less likely to be practical, IMO, if the climate destabilizes. The oil corporations seem to think otherwise, and are apparently cheering as the Arctic sea ice melts in the summer.

  32. Leland Palmer says:

    More methane may be escaping into the atmosphere from hydrates than we think:

    Considerable methane fluxes to the atmosphere from hydrocarbon seeps in the Gulf of Mexico

    The fluxes of the greenhouse gas methane from many
    individual sources to the atmosphere are not well constrained1.
    Marine geological sources may be significant2, but they are
    poorly quantified and are not included in the Intergovernmental
    Panel on Climate Change budget1. Previous results based
    on traditional indirect sampling techniques and modelling
    suggested bubble plumes emitted from marine seeps at
    depths greater than 200m do not reach the surface mixed
    layer because of bubble dissolution and methane oxidation3–5.
    Here we report methane concentration and isotope-depth
    profiles from direct submersible sampling of deepwater (550–
    600 m) hydrocarbon plumes in the Gulf of Mexico. We
    show that bubble size, upwelling flows and the presence
    of surfactants inhibit bubble dissolution, and that methane
    oxidation is negligible. Consequently, methane concentrations
    in surface waters are up to 1,000 times saturation with
    respect to atmospheric equilibrium. We estimate that diffusive
    atmospheric methane fluxes from individual plumes are one
    to three orders of magnitude greater than estimates from
    shallow-water seeps6–8, greatly expanding the depth range
    from which methane seep emissions should be considered
    significant. Given the widespread occurrence of deepwater
    seeps, we suggest that current estimates of the global oceanic
    methane flux to the atmosphere1 may be too low.

    So, it’s not just the shallow hydrate deposits, the permafrost, and the pulse of heat entering the permafrost from warming seas and higher sea levels we have to worry about. We might have to worry about the deep deposits, too.