Apocalyptic Scenario 7.b

Surrounding the Arctic Ocean, the continental shelf harbors thousands of gigatons of of methane in the form of methane hydrate, fire-ice. This substance, methane gas surrounded by water ice, forms when microbes eat organic sediment and release methane (like in the bowels of a bovine) which gets trapped by high water pressure and low temperature.

Were just five of these gigatons of methane to be released into the atmosphere the concentration would double methane’s current contribution of 25% of global warming.

Fifty gigatons would wreak an environmental catastrophe. Five hundred, released in a continuous stream around the Arctic would induce another PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum).

Deep beneath the East Siberian Sea stretching across the straight into the Beaufort Sea and around to the Barents Sea the earth is shifting. Tectonic forces have been pulling apart the crust, magma is seeping upward, and now the once frozen methane hydrates are thawing. Swelling. Bubbling to the surface.

Vents along the Siberian coast crack open and haphazard lightening strikes have ignited the plumes of methane. Volcanoes of flame burn hundreds of meters into the sky. What doesn’t burn, drifts high into the atmosphere where it traps the reflective solar energy. The Arctic has become a tepid bath. Greenland’s ice cap and its hundreds of glaciers steam and melt. Measurements along the Eastern Seaboard measure an inch a month sea level rise.

Life is about to experience Sauna Earth.

Bring your beer and spruce brushes because we’re gonna get sweaty.

8 thoughts on “Apocalyptic Scenario 7.b

  1. This is a comment I made on an Aeon article 3 years ago:

    Visions of cataclysmic change often tend to reignite the “spark of survival”. Let’s face it, life, as we know it today, is mundane. Survival, for most of those who might read this article, takes little effort, will power, or creative drive. Steeling oneself to make “one more stock market trade,” or “write that next proposal,” just doesn’t cut it with regards to triggering that survival mode we all know is buried down in there somewhere. That said, your piece is a fun read, from that point of view.

    I would point out that the PETM is a parallel environment we might examine to see how the climate might evolve in the next few centuries. During that time, ~57-53 mya, the world was a lush paradise – for some species. Yeah it was hot. and all the ice on the planet was melted, but that era, although it killed off a huge portion of the species at that time, gave rise to new animals – including primates. So using the PETM as a model I’m not sure the extremes of your projection are probable. Additionally, the Antarctic is thermally isolated these days, which means that it would most likely take tens of thousands of years, with the elevated temperatures, to melt those ice sheets. So the ocean’s won’t keep rising as one might think.

    I’m generally not one to think that technology will always come through to save our bacon. But the exponential increase we are experiencing now, I believe, will be producing some amazing new tech in the coming decades. Desalination technology, energy and fuels production, agriculture and general food production, and global knowledge increases. Just think of all the incredibly smart people in the world today, who, previously, had no way to contribute their ideas to a global society. Now these people can be part of the solution – whatever and if ever it comes to fruition.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There’s a chunk of plastic litter the size of Mexico off the west coast of South America (I think). Imagine, a whole new artificial continent. What’s that going to do to the next heretical continental drift guys 10,000 years from now? And about that methane. Forget the cows and micro organisms and shut down all the Mexican restaurants or lock me out of them.

    Liked by 1 person

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