Open Thread Plus Cartoon Of The Week

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"Open Thread Plus Cartoon Of The Week"

Opine Away.

Ocean acidification is killing sea life, and we are the culprits

Horsey provides his own sobering commentary on his cartoon, which I excerpt below:

If the prospect of coastal cities sinking into the sea 100 years from now does not motivate Americans to do something dramatic to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, there is something happening at this very moment that should be setting off sirens. Rising CO2 levels are making the oceans more acidic and that change in the chemistry of the seas is disrupting the food chain that ends with you and me….

Researchers are finding that, in several locales, the shells of tiny creatures called pteropods are being thinned and broken down by acidity. People do not eat pteropods, but plenty of fish do. They supply 50% of the diet of pink salmon, and people do eat salmon. It is not hard to understand the biology: If pteropods disappear, salmon and other fish get scarce….

The threat is global. A report by the United Nations Environment Program said, “Fish, including shellfish, contribute 15% of animal protein for three billion people worldwide. A further one billion people rely on fisheries for their primary source of protein…. Fish stocks, already declining in many areas due to over-fishing and habitat destruction now face the new threats posed by ocean acidification.”

Each and every day, humans loft 70 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, and the seas absorb a fourth of that. Unless we are feeling suicidal, it is time to change our way of doing business. This is not a matter of finding empathy for our grandchildren who will be stuck living on a simmering, stormy planet because we refuse to end our carbon-burning ways, this is a matter of killing off species that feed us today.

Global warming is the foreboding thunder in the distance. Ocean acidification is the lightning strike in our frontyard, right here, right now.

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51 Responses to Open Thread Plus Cartoon Of The Week

  1. Anne says:

    A fabulous clip from Louis CK about evolution and humans, seriously funny, humorously serious:
    http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/louis-ck?before=1323650179

  2. Anne says:

    Louis C.K., from his show at the Beacon Theater in 2011 (kid alert, he’s a tiny bit raunchy): “People get angry at environmentalists because they think they’re slowing down the economy and creating restrictions and a lot of these people are Christian. A lot of these people are very devout Christians and that’s such a confusing thing to me – that if you believed that God gave you the Earth, that God created the Earth for you, why would you not have to look after it? Why the f*** — why would you not think that when he came back he wouldn’t go, “What the f*** did you do?! I GAVE THIS TO YOU M************! ARE YOU CRAZY? THE POLAR BEARS ARE BROWN! WHAT DID YOU DO TO THE POLAR BEARS? Did you S*** all over every polar bear?”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_at_the_Beacon_Theater

    • Paul Klinkman says:

      Attacking all Christians because some political crooks are pretending to be Christian, except of course for the “thou shalt not steal” part, isn’t as extreme as attacking all environmentalists because you found a nut among them. A huge wave of preachers and bishops have marched right in and embraced the looters and their filthy rich friends, getting mire all over their nice clean cassocks.

      However, there are plenty of monotheists, people who believe in an unseen but loving God who is currently active in political affairs, and these people are with the environmental movement.

      If you want to go out of your way offend these potential allies because everyone is strangers out there on the internet, you would drag up the worst available caricatures out of several thousand years of religion. Michelangelo drew God as a huge old guy with a beard. Dante described some underground cavern where people were roasted in lava. The devil was originally drawn as Pan, goat-god of alcohol. He became dark-skinned for a while because Muslims and Africans had dark skin, but then he became red when Western Hemisphere Indians were discovered. Somewhere he got himself a long forked tail that looks suspiciously like an oversized male body part, except the sharp barbed hook design was an interesting theological improvement. The whole Adam and Eve story is a warning about sexual behavior.

      The cartoony nebbish God with cheap little wings depicted in this Saturday’s cartoon demeans Himself by saying “Holy Crap”. I can see the cartoonist’s wanting to make a point about man-made climate change, but he probably shouldn’t go out of the way to offend a huge voting bloc of people in order to get his point over. My political advice is that the militant nontheists try to keep their smart remarks about religious belief to themselves.

      Some theists are presenting all sorts of well-studied statistical evidence that the militant nontheists then try to hand-wave and pooh-pooh away, but that’s not how science should work. If you believe in the scientific process, either find absolute refutation of phenomena such as ESP or else admit to doubt. Denialism isn’t a substitute for the crucible of science.

      • Dan B says:

        Paul;

        I understand your frustration. I spent 6 years in a futile attempt to persuade progressive Christians to use the time worn tools of mass communication that had put far-right anti-science “Christians” in the headlines.

        I gave up. I’m not religious at all. I don’t have any dog in this fight. If “Christianity” is snubbed by most young people, so be it. All young people are hearing is “6,000 years old”, “God controls the weather. Trust in God.”, “Humans can’t affect the weather, only God can.”

        There are millions of Christians who don’t buy this sort of crap but they’re not being heard. There are millions of Christians who believe in Anthropogenic Climate Change and that it’s a crisis. They’re not being heard.

        I believe it’s because they continue to buy into the ridiculous belief that human beings are rational and reason will persuade. This is dogma, not science.

        If you want to persuade, persuade. If you want to reason, reason. Far-right fundamentalist “Christians” have understood the distinction, and profited mightily from it, for decades.

        Stop the persecution complex. I’ve got many perfectly wonderful Christians on my speed dial. When they decide to heed my advice I’ll be much happier. We need salvation far more than we need reasonable discussion.

  3. Robert Callaghan says:

    Scientists are now speaking out saying we are entering profound planetary climate state shift. The new state is so terrifying as to be unbelievable. All the climate feedbacks are in the early stages of running out of control. This is unstoppable irreversible and super deadly to our continued existence.

    On top of that we are entering into an ecological planetary state shift that even more destructive than the climate. Human agriculture and land use is breaking down the food web of life. This is also irreversible and unstoppable once started.

    Now it gets worse because the same two state shifts are beginning to occur in the oceans. In another 40 – 60 years the basic food web will become unstable and break down. This is not reversible on human time scales. The warm acidification of oceans may have caused 4 of the earth’s last 5 mass extinction events.

    The food web of life is breaking down on land and in the oceans while the climate is jumping into a extraordinarily dangerous heated state.

    Now, the really bad news is that we are going to fix it seeding the skies and oceans. I would be afraid if I were you.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=is-global-warming-happening-faster-than-expected

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      The scenario you paint, with which I fully concur, has been a plain danger for at least thirty years (with presentiments stretching back decades before that)and plainly occurring for ten or so years, to my eyes at least. Yet the ruling cliques are utterly determined to drive on to auto-genocide. I’ve long been convinced that this must be deliberate, for reasons beyond imagining. In any case, we are witnessing the final apotheosis of our species’ apparently innate lust for destruction, now, inevitably, consuming the psychopathic ape himself.

    • Bruce S says:

      We’re at 130,000 views in four years. Acidification isn’t crazy talk anymore. The effects on pacific oysters and southern ocean pteropods are much better understood than 5 years ago. Long term effects about 100,000 years. Like talk about bio-char, simplified living, 4 degrees is going to make gardening a real challenge but should change the population dynamic. If we were planning at all we would plan on better family planning.

  4. Mike Roddy says:

    The deniers don’t care, they only eat beef.

    As long as it’s a link day:

    http://buffalobeast.com/an-extremely-depressing-article-about-global-warming-with-adorable-cat-gifs/#more-16282

    Sobering info. Global warming press coverage was far greater under Bush than under Obama.
    We have been lulled into complacency be a person who wants to drill in the Arctic, build pipelines, and give away coal and gas from public lands. “All of the above” is leading to a different kind of all of the above- as in multiple catastrophes.

    • I said this on this site a while ago, but it bears repeating.

      The President has started many a public address by saying that his first and foremost responsibility is to protect the American people. But how can he be serious about that if he won’t take steps tp protect us against climate change?

    • Addicted says:

      I am kind of tired of liberals blaming every failure on Obama’s election. It is hilarious how they have, conservative style, started finding anyone to blame but themselves.

      The reality is that Obama’s 2008 election was a result of a leftward turn taken by the whole country. And that freaked all the rightwing nuts, and their corporate overlords out. Which is why they pushed back big time since 2009. Hence the hacked emails, the tea party, and ridiculous games with the country’s economy. Unfortunately, liberals offered little resistance. It is time to start pushing back now instead of conveniently blaming Obama for everything.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      MSM coverage of Doha in Australia has been minimal, to say the least. Coverage of ocean acidification even less, always accompanied by the demented galahs of denialism screeching that it is another ‘watermelon’ conspiracy. Perhaps they are just the victims of some as yet undiscovered virus or prion which renders its victims ferociously suicidal.

  5. RapaNui Lewie says:

    NOt to mention the acidification of the coral reefs which will further degrade that resource. Coral lives within a small pH range as it is. To have the oceans potentially drop below even neutral pH levels …. well … the consequences are pretty dramatic, eh?

  6. Will Fox says:

    Scientists have achieved a major breakthrough in deciphering bread wheat’s genetic code. This could lead to new varieties that are more productive and better able to cope with disease, drought and other aspects of climate change.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121128142144.htm

  7. So many constraints on our future and they all affect our food supply. Now we have to think about “peak fertilizer” or is this just more leftist propaganda. http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/11/are-we-heading-toward-peak-fertilizer

    We hear a lot about the fact that we should not be using grain based ethanol as fuel. Maybe we should not be burning natural gas but using it to manufacture nitrogen fertilizers. The linkages between energy use and our food supply are much wider than just the effects of flood and drought or the northbound march of climate zones. Dustbowlification is only lone of the results we will see.

    The longer I have to think about this, the more I am convinced that our solutions will come from movements like Transition Towns and their focus on local self-sufficiency.

    • Maybe. I’ve given this a lot of thought as well and written several articles about local self-sufficiency. But recently I’m becoming convinced that we actually do need a world-wide solution, because the problem of global warming is pervasive and ubiquitious. There is no escaping it in some local haven.

      Even if, in a world of higher temperatures and unreliabe climate, some group managed to set up a sustainable local society, guess what? Those who could no longer feed themselves would show up, probably well armed.

      Nope, we’re all in this boat together, and we either figure out how to keep it afloat or we all go to Davey Jones.

      • David Smith says:

        None the less, I think it is important for people to develop self-sufficient communities and individual solutions because it will help build our understanding in the effort to figure out what might work globally.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      Transition Towns are wonderful, and twenty years too late, and would need to be universal. In the dog-eat-dog world that awaits us twenty or so years hence, a thriving Transition Town will be a succulent morsel for the starving, wretched, human detritus of collapsing, submerged cities. Piecemeal measures will no longer work. This global catastrophe requires a universal, just, and utterly determined response, with every dollar and ounce of effort at our disposal thrown into the effort, for decades at least. Do you see that happening?

      • Could happen. Arab Spring happened. The American Revolution happened. Life from inanimate matter happened. All very unlikely, but all happened.

        Let’s don’t give up quite yet.

  8. Will Fox says:

    The energy department has dismissed a report that “60% of the UK countryside could be exploited” for fracking, the controversial gas extraction method.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20565152

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      David Cameron and his wannabe Tea Party Tories are the necromantic embodiment of the pathopsychology that has got us into this crisis. They are absolutely certain to pursue fracking because it undermines renewable energy, it pollutes groundwater, it is based on PR lies and hype ( Cameron’s old ‘job’,)it profits their friends and old school chums and because it will divide society to their (they hope) political advantage. These creatures do no good, by virtue of heredity, upbringing and peer group pressure. Show them a destructive process and they embrace it with ardour. It’s in their perverted nature.

  9. Brooks Bridges says:

    The Washington Redskins have averaged over 78,000 attendance this year. 78,000. And that’s an average – so five times in a couple of months they’ve gotten around 78,000 to attend – and also pay an exorbitant song for this privilege.

    350.org is setting a goal of 20,000 for their next event in DC Feb 18, 2013. 20,000

    My wife and I have just started asking progressive friends who say they are concerned about AGW if they were aware of 350.org.

    We’re 0 for 5. We’re 3 for 5 getting a commitment to spend one day in DC Feb 18 (We’re only 1.5 hours away)

    If everyone who reads this comment got just one person to attend Feb 18, I suspect McKibben would reach his goal easily.

    People, it’s time for us to accept that WE are the only media that can reach people like this. WE have to go after people one at a time. WE have to become evangelists rather than getting more and more depressed.

    It’s not Shame on Obama or Shame on the MSM.

    It’s Shame on we the convinced for not making a one on one effort to convince others.

  10. Will Fox says:

    What’s the REAL threat to birds?

    http://i.imgur.com/8YJfm.jpg

  11. SecularAnimist says:

    Solar energy.
    Wind energy.
    Vegan diets.
    Organic agriculture.
    Reforestation.
    Bioregional self-reliance.

    That should do it.

  12. Lionel A says:

    Meanwhile The cuckoos are still on their cloud. This via Climate Crocks with the pre-debunk at SkS.

  13. prokaryotes says:

    The U.S. Dept. of Energy creates “Manhattan Project” with the goal to develop battery and energy storage technologies that are five times more powerful and five times cheaper than today’s within five years. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9234200/DOE_wants_5X_battery_power_boost_in_5_years

    • prokaryotes says:

      btw. the headline is taken from reddit (on frontpage atm)

    • Artful Dodger says:

      You can relax. It’s $24 Million per year in funding.

      That’s about what the Big Five Oil companies make in profit in an hour and a half.

      Likely also to be cut in the Fiscal Cliff deal.

  14. Joan Savage says:

    Reflections like Horsey’s about one hundred years from now, and the present – although geographically distant – ocean acidification, usually get me going about time frames and what prompts us to pay attention.

    For an intact community, it is common for an adult to realize that he/she knows both someone born over sixty years earlier and children who will live sixty years into the future, so a hundred years can seem relatively short and full of first-person anecdotes and hopes.
    But a lot of society is mobile and family stories get lost, so the “hundred years” isn’t as emotionally pungent with implications as it once was.
    Ocean acidification also can seem distant, even though it is occurring now.

    There are times I feel weary and would welcome the arrival of a disgusted winged angel bearing a test tube. But meanwhile, as it has been said, “God has no hands but ours.”

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says:

      The psychological damage of knowing that the human future is over, or will, at best, be one of hideous suffering, civilizational decay and a return to barbarism, will, at some stage, become a complicating factor in our struggle to survive. How individuals and groups react to this knowledge will be crucial to our chances of surviving. I’d say that the study, not of populations in war, even the mass destructive wars of this century, but of the survivors of concentration and extermination camps, will give us clues as to how to deal with the psychic and spiritual blows about to fall. One thinks immediately of the ‘Where was God in Auschwitz’ problem. One dreads to think what perverse message the religious fundamentalist fanatics will draw from universal catastrophe. For many this will be ‘..the fire next time’, and will fit with their Apocalyptic longings only too well.

      • Joan Savage says:

        I agree about studying survivors, but let’s broaden that, as any human alive is necessarily the descendant of survivors – of some sort.

        We have ideological clashes that could indicate more about ancestry-stories than the speakers themselves fully understand.

        The gamut surely ranges at least from isolated homestead with guns to collaborative city builders.

        When I was a child, our family doctor was a concentration camp survivor, and he saved my life when I was a wee one. He not only survived, he was a truly good human being.

        • Mond from Oz says:

          I admire the dialogue between you two. ‘Survival’ should be one of the topics taken up by Martin Rees at the new unit being set up in Cambridge. If I can generate the chutzpah I’ll suggest it to him.

          Afterthought: maybe Svalbaard should store human genetic material as well as plant seeds?

    • Raul M. says:

      Good discussion of the alternate story of the survivors of an earlier race being adom and eve. The fellow they called god was a survivor from an excellent storm shelter. Adom and eve had no such advantage. Anyway the winged angels were genetic engineered individuals who liked what science had made of themselves. Adam and eve grubbing for food didn’t know what to think of that survivor telling them that they couldn’t eat the vine fruit fron the apple tree or fig tree for that matter. Such suphicated language skills for heathen grubber survivors. Anyway their stomachs had merrit and they decided not to eat the poisened vine fruit hanging from the fig tree saying ugh ugh.

  15. Patrick Linsley says:

    Joe or anyone else see this report?
    There was a part of the highway in Fort Lauderdale near the beach that fell into the ocean (Peter Sinclair over at Climate Crocks posted it)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Kr3NtrEhkAc#!
    Subsequently there was this video on youtube by the same reporter
    Climate change factor in beach erosion?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYODFGYcAwM
    Couldda dumped the question mark (again another bad headline), but otherwise it has city and county officals and the mayor of Fort Lauderdale saying that climate change is here and this was influenced by climate change. No balance by some hack or ‘some will say’ nonsense. She condenses a lot of info from salt water intrusion, to higher sea levels, and that these events will become more common. The only unfortunate thing is talking about adaptation rather than saying how it needs to be prevented, but then again getting this far is shocking to watch.

  16. Will Fox says:

    Scientists have achieved a major breakthrough in deciphering bread wheat’s genetic code. This could lead to new varieties that are more productive and better able to cope with disease, drought and other aspects of climate change.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121128142144.htm

  17. prokaryotes says:

    From drought to floods: a look at 2012

    “Fastest switch from one of the driest/drought winters over to wettest summer recorded.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/features/20531012

  18. prokaryotes says:

    Growing food in the desert: is this the solution to the world’s food crisis?
    Philipp Saumweber is creating a miracle in the barren Australian outback, growing tonnes of fresh food. So why has he fallen out with the pioneering environmentalist who invented the revolutionary system? http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/nov/24/growing-food-in-the-desert-crisis?mobile-redirect=false

  19. prokaryotes says:

    Long-Term Research Reveals How Climate Change Is Playing out in Real Ecosystems http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121201085917.htm

    • prokaryotes says:

      “The ability to use long-term data streams as a platform for asking detailed questions about complex changes in the environment is the only way that society will be able to grapple with how climate change is playing out at the local scales that most directly affect people.”

      Because climate change plays out on a complex and dynamic landscape with intertwined patterns of soils, vegetation, and hydrologic flowpaths and interacts with many human and natural factors over many areas and time periods, the report says the various effects of climate change cannot be predicted purely from the broad effects of temperature and precipitation on ecosystem properties

      At Hubbard Brook, that interplay has produced surprising effects on hydrologic variables such as evapotranspiration, streamflow, and soil moisture; the importance of changes in periodic biological occurrences on water, carbon, and nitrogen fluxes during critical transition periods; climate change effects on plant and animal community composition and ecosystem services in winter; and the effects of human induced disturbances and land-use history on the composition of plant communities.

  20. Mossy says:

    Mulga, you perfectly expressed my thoughts about Transition Towns! Once, attending a lecture in Lexington, MA, Transition Towns were brought up at the end as the one glimmer of hope. So I raised the “gun” issue and was immediately scorned by my fellow environmentalists….unfortunately, I know that my scenario, and yours, is the realistic one.

  21. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I might watch the ‘Seven Samurai’ this afternoon to kid myself a little. The bien pensants with their vegie plots and communal ways, their Gandhian devotion to ahimsa etc are my preference as a human type, but up against the ferals armed with semi-automatic weapons-well it won’t be nice. Gandhi only succeeded because the British were grossly outnumbered, weary from war, and had elected a Labour socialist (in those days) Government dedicated to decolonisation, in India at least. If Churchill had remained in power things might have turned rather nasty. In any case Partition turned into a bloodbath, the last strange fruit of ‘The White Man’s Burden’.

  22. Leland Palmer says:

    Another entry for the “What were they thinking?” file:

    Huffington Post- Alaska’s Methane Hydrate Resource Sparks Debate Over Energy And Climate Change

    “”If you wait until you need it, and then you have 20 years of research to do, that’s not a good plan,” said Ray Boswell, technology manager for methane hydrates within the DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

    The nearly $29 million science experiment on the North Slope produced 1 million cubic feet (30,000 cubic meters) of methane. Researchers have begun the complex task of analyzing how the reservoir responded to extraction.

    Much is unknown but interest has accelerated over the last decade, said Tim Collett, a research geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver.

    U.S. operators in Alaska, he said, may want to harvest methane so they can re-inject it into the ground. Crude oil is more lucrative than natural gas, which is routinely injected into North Slope fields to maintain underground pressure to aid in oil extraction. Japan, South Korea, India and China, however, want to cut down on natural gas imports by burning methane. Japan is setting up for a production test on a gas hydrate accumulation in the Nankai Trough south of Honshu, its main island.

    “That will be the first marine gas hydrate test anywhere in the world,” Collett said.”

    The only permissible use of methane from natural gas hydrates, I think, would be combustion at the wellhead to generate electricity, followed by carbon capture and storage, with the subsequent CO2 injected deep underground for in situ mineral carbonation. This electricity could be transported southward with high voltage DC power lines, and could then displace CO2 generated from fossil fuels elsewhere.

    This would be a carbon neutral use of this resource.

    Any attempt to pipe the gas long distances or inject it into oil formations would seem very unwise, considering the disastrous consequences of even small percentages of leakage of methane- itself a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2.

    About ocean acidification, see my next post.

  23. Leland Palmer says:

    If the methane hydrates start to destabilize in a major way, this could have truly massive oceanic acidification and hypoxia results, many scientists say. Some of the methane released by the hydrates ends up being oxidized into CO2 and so carbonic acid, the experts say.

    The End Permian mass extinction may offer some clues to what awaits us, if we don’t massively switch away from fossil fuels- or even if we do, if our pulse of CO2 generated heat sets off massive dissociation of the methane hydrates. See, for example:

    Acidifiation, anoxia, and extinction: A multiple logistic regression analysis of extinction selectivity during the Middle and Late Permian

    CONCLUSIONS
    Our results indicate that the end-Permian mass extinction was a physiologically selective crisis, favoring taxa with well buffered physiology and noncarbonate shells, consistent with stresses from warming, elevated pCO2, and anoxia resulting from Siberian Traps volcanism. Despite its much smaller magnitude, the Guadalupian extinction is the only other Permian stage to exhibit similar physiological selectivity. Physiological stresses from the smaller Emeishan flood basalts also explain the pronounced taxonomic differences of the Guadalupian crisis, affecting foraminifera and reef-builders far more severely than most other marine invertebrates. The end-Permian extinction may have been more severe than other Phanerozoic crises because of the lack of deep-sea carbonates, the prevalence of physiologically unbuffered clades, or the extreme magnitude of the environmental perturbation, but the confluence of multiple physiological stressors likely also played a major role.

    The Guadalupian, end-Permian, and other physiological extinctions of the Phanerozoic contain lessons for the future of modern marine organisms faced with a warming world, ocean acidification, and spreading hypoxia. On the one hand, many extant marine invertebrates are less susceptible to the kinds of physiological stresses that were so catastrophic in the Permian, perhaps because the composition of marine ecosystems has been tempered by multiple physiological crises during the last 250 million years. On the other hand, the combination of warming, acidification, and hypoxia, as seen in the end-Permian extinction, exacerbates the physiological impact, even in groups with greater buffering capacity. Furthermore, the physiology of many ecologically important groups, such as reef-building corals, is minimally buffered, like their Paleozoic counterparts, and those groups will be at particular risk as anthropogenic stresses grow larger.

    So, as we knew from coral bleaching due to rising ocean temperatures, the coral reefs would seem to be at risk from both temperature and acidification.

    One reason I completely buy the methane hydrate mass extinction scenario is that it makes such good predictions, and has so much explanatory power. Those are characteristics of good theories I have come to recognize, during my 25 years of analytical chemistry lab experience.

    That explanatory power is reduced if you buy the new, lower estimates of the total amount of methane hydrate in the world produced by Archer and Milkov.

    Archer co-authors papers with ExxonMobil chief scientist Kheshgi and works for the University of Chicago, founded and funded by Rockefeller (ExxonMobil) oil money. Milkov worked for BP America at the time those new lower estimates were published.

    If there really are more than ten trillion tons of hydrates on the continental shelves, as the earlier estimates by Dickenson for example calculated, then the problem is just that much worse.

    Something like twelve trillion tons of carbon came out of the hydrates at the end of the Triassic, though, according to one estimate:

    Atmospheric Carbon Injection Linked to End-Triassic Mass Extinction – Science 7/2011

    If the fundamental conditions have not changed, and I don’t think they have, the earlier, higher, generation of estimates of total mass of hydrates are probably correct.

    We are coming out of a series of ice ages, with low water temperatures. Sea levels are low, but so are water temperatures, and no truly massive hydrate release has occurred during at least the last 50 million years, I think.

    If anything, we should have more hydrates now than the geological average, I think.

    We could have truly massive amounts of methane hydrate on the continental shelves, because of the geologically recent ice ages.

    If twelve trillion tons of carbon came out of the hydrates at the end of the Triassic, likely the total amount of carbon in the hydrates right now is twenty trillion tons or more, I think.

  24. Leland Palmer says:

    From Gerald Dickens, concerning the gas hydrate dissociation hypothesis as a general explanation for many past mass extinction events, and the total modern mass of methane hydrates:

    Down the Rabbit Hole: toward appropriate discussion of methane release from gas hydrate systems during the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum and other past hyperthermal events

    … an appropriate range across the studies was 5000–20000 Gt (Dickens, 2001b). In the last ten years, estimates have ranged from 500-2500 Gt (Milkov, 2004), ∼700–1200 Gt (Archer et al., 2009), and 4-995 Gt(Burwicz et al., 2011) to 74 400 Gt (Klauda and Sandler,2005). The latter is almost assuredly too high (Archer, 2007).
    The others are probably too low.

    Dickens goes on to explain in detail why he disagrees with the three modern estimates including those of Archer and Milkov. His reasons for his disagreement seem excellent, to me.

    Dickens is the credible source, in my opinion. Archer and Milkov have uncomfortably close associations with oil corporations known to engage in massive deception campaigns.

    Other scientists also assume higher numbers are correct. According to Shakova and Simeletov, there are around 1.4 trillion tons of carbon in the gas hydrates and associated free gas in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf alone. So, if there are over a trillion tons of carbon in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf alone, that makes Archer’s and Milkov’s estimates nonsense, and far too low.

    If twelve trillion tons of carbon came out of the hydrates at the end of the Triassic, that makes Archer’s and Milkov’s estimates of 2.5 trillion tons or less nonsense, probably.

    As terrible as it may seem, the methane hydrate dissociation and subsequent abrupt climate change hypothesis is the most logical explanation for many past extinction events. It is a truly general theory of many past mass extinctions. It has huge explanatory power, and makes many accurate predictions.

    Sorry to go on about this, but the total mass of the hydrates and the rate at which they will dissociate are probably the two most important numbers in science to the human race. Those numbers probably distinguish between a manageable scenario and a truly disastrous biosphere threatening one.

    The gas hydrate dissociation hypothesis of many past mass extinctions has everything a good scientific theory needs- except a happy ending.

    Oh, and the oil corporations don’t like it, for obvious reasons.