Saturday, December 17, 2011

Methane plumes and global warming; mainstream press articles

Two mainstream press articles recently caught my eye; both appeared within a day of the other, and both detail the growing release of methane from the ocean floor in the Arctic region above Russia as well as the permafrost in Alaska.  This methane release is a major pillar in Whitley Strieber global superstorm scenario.

An accelerated release of methane is predicted in Whitley Stieber's global "superstorm" model.  Strieber obtained this model from someone he dubbed the "Master of the Key."

I'm not sure if the "Master" was an objectified physical being, and I would not automatically assume that this entity's information is completely "true." However, it corresponds with similar warnings found in other sources that I, personally, consider legitimate. And as I've written earlier, I've had a lifetime of dreams that describe a future crisis not unlike the superstorm scenario.

Although the "Master" does not specifically mention methane release as a component of the impending superstorm, Strieber, to his credit, identified this danger early, and so the appearance of reports in the mainstream press is somewhat ominous.

The "New York Times" article in particular is worth reading for a number of reasons. While the NYT is regarded as an authoritative source of news by most unthinking people (because, frequently, it is), it actually functions more effectively as a mouthpiece for the political and cultural mainstream and the elites that direct it. The Times article contains the requisite amount of "balancing" and equivocation that is associated with its reportage of non-mainstream topics. The tone of the report leaves the reader with the distinct impression that it's too early to determine if methane release is a significant danger to the planet--which contradicts the barely-concealed panicked undertones of the scientists who are quoted. The impression that I get is that scientists are clearly alarmed by the methane release and seem to be truly afraid to speculate too much on its implications.

Both reports detail roughly how much methane is being released, inviting the readers to make their own deductions from the data. The "Independent" cites one measurement of Arctic atmospheric methane of 1.9ppm, up from the pre-industrial measure of .7 parts per million, while pointing out that methane is "70 times" more effective at trapping terrestrial heat than carbon dioxide.

Of course, the pseudo-scientist in me says that it would be a mistake to project current trends onto an unknown future. I well remember Carl Sagan's warnings that a nuclear war would create a "nuclear winter" on the planet--which was enough, apparently, to cause the United States and the Soviet Union to resume arms reduction negotiations (as if the obliteration of millions of people was not a sufficient motivation).   While Sagan's warnings had a salutary effect, other scientists later argued that Sagan had overstated his concern, and that the data did not support his conclusion. Science can only measure what is, and make tentative predictions of what might happen, based on the available data. Science cannot predict the unpredictable. While the current trends argue that global warning is accelerating, allowing us to make reasonable assumptions of what will happen if the trends continue, the main engine of global warming--the sun--has entered an unpredictable phase, and it is possible that a decrease of radiation from the sun may compensate for any increase in greenhouse gasses. Indeed, radiation from other sources, presently unknown, may also drive the climate. Scientists know this, and say this. The stupid person concludes, "See? Because you can't say for sure what's happening, I can ignore everything you say, consume resources at an accelerating rate, and vote for politicians who pander to to my particular brand of ignorance." The wise person, on the other hand, considers himself forewarned.

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