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The alphabetically-organized Methane Bomb Threat website (“Methane Bomb Threat”:

https://sites.google.co/site/methanebombthreat/ documents expert opinions about the worsening threat of methane (CH4) to humanity.  The world faces a worsening climate emergency due to global warming from ever-increasing atmospheric pollution with greenhouse gases (GHGs) of which the most important are carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), noting that the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CH4 is 21 times that of CO2 on a 100 year time frame but is 105 times greater than that of CO2 on a 20 year time frame and taking atmospheric  aerosol  impacts into account. Huge stores of CH4 as water-methane (H2O-CH4) clathrates  in the Arctic  tundra permafrost and on the Arctic Ocean sea bed may be released in coming decades due to global warming, with this release involving a disastrous positive feedback loop in which global warming causes CH4 release, thence more global warming and consequently even more CH4 release.  

Meteorologists Dr Jeff Masters (co-founder of Weather Underground) and Bob Henson have recently commented on a shocking spike in global temperature in February 2016: “On Saturday, NASA dropped a bombshell of a climate report. February 2016 has soared past all rivals as the warmest seasonally adjusted month in more than a century of global recordkeeping. NASA’s analysis showed that February ran 1.35°C (2.43°F) above the 1951-1980 global average for the month… if we add 0.2°C as a conservative estimate of the amount of human-produced warming that occurred between the late 1800s and 1951-1980, then the February result winds up at 1.55°C above average. If we use 0.4°C as a higher-end estimate, then February sits at 1.75°C above average… even if we could somehow manage to slash emissions enough to stabilize concentrations of carbon dioxide at their current level, we are still committed to at least 0.5°C of additional atmospheric warming as heat stored in the ocean makes its way into the air. In short, we are now hurtling at a frightening pace toward the globally agreed maximum of 2.0°C warming over pre-industrial levels” [1].

David Spratt (co-author with Phillip Sutton of “Climate Code Red” [2] and author  of the Climate Code Red website) has commented: “The 1.35°C figure from NASA is from the norm for February for 1950-1980. The instrumental temperature record goes back to 1880 and early instrumental data and model simulations allow a reasonable estimate for the northern hemisphere for warming since 1750, which is the "pre-industrial" starting point. The record shows 0.3°C warming from ~1900 to the NASA 1950-1980 baseline, and Prof Michael Mann told Climate Code Red that the proxy data shows around another 0.3°C from 1750 to the end of the nineteenth century for the northern hemisphere. "Adding the figures together, we can estimate February 2016 as being around 1.95°C warmer than the 1750 pre-industrial level for the northern hemisphere, and 1.65°C warmer than the beginning of the twentieth century for the planet as a whole", says Mann. "It emphasises the point I have made previously that we have no carbon budget left for the 1.5°C target and the opportunity for holding to 2°C is rapidly fading unless the world starts cutting emissions hard right now” [3]. Dr Stefan Rahmstorf, from Germany's Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research commented: “We are in a kind of climate emergency now” [3].

The current El Nino phenomenon has no doubt contributed to this  temperature spike but major contributors  are  the remorseless increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) to the highest level and at the highest rate (3.05 ppm CO2 per year) observed since records began [4, 5] and the accelerating increase in atmospheric methane  (CH4) [6]. Atmospheric CO2 was increasing at about 0.9 ppm CO2 per year in  1959-1970 but the rate has steadily increased and reached 3.05 ppm per year in 2015 [4]. Atmospheric CO2 (which fluctuates seasonally) reached 400 ppm in 2013 and the peak in 2015 was 400 ppm CO2. In February 2016 it reached 404 ppm CO2 [5]. As determined from ice cores, the atmospheric CO2 concentration has been 180-280 parts per million (ppm) for the last 800,000 years (excluding the last century), during which time Homo sapiens finally evolved (glaciation at low CO2 and inter-glacial periods at high CO2) [7]. Atmospheric CH4 increased in 1983-1998 by up to 13 ppb (parts per billion) per year, increased much more slowly in the period 1999-2006 (up to 3 ppb per year, the 2001-2005 average being 0.5 ppb/year),  and has increased more rapidly from 2007 onwards, reaching 12.5 ppb per year in 2014 [6].  Atmospheric CH4 increased  to 1,843 ppb CH4 in  December 2015 as compared to a pre-Industrial Revolution level of 700 ppb CH4 [7].

The Global Warming Potential of CH4 is 21 times that of CO2 on a 100 year time frame but is 105 times greater than that of CO2 on a 20 year time frame and taking atmospheric  aerosol  impacts into account [8]. The IPCC ( the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has released a succession of 5 key reports, the latest being the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5 , 2013) which states that “About 450 ppm CO2-eq [is]  likely to limit warming to 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels” [8]. However in 2013 atmospheric greenhouse gas expert Professor Ron Prinn of 85-Nobel-Laureate MIT stated that we had already reached 478 ppm CO2-equivalent [10]. On a 20 year time frame and considering aerosol impacts,  the present CH4 contribution to atmospheric CO2-equivalent (CO2-e) is 105 x 1.843 ppm =  194 ppm CO2-e. Accordingly, the current  CO2-e (CH4 + CO2) on this 20 year basis  =  404 + 194 = 598 ppm CO2-e.

It is now very unlikely that the world will avoid a catastrophic plus 2 degree Centigrade temperature  rise [11-13] and the current high rate of  atmospheric CH4 pollution (after a decade around the turn of the century of low CH4 pollution)  augurs much worse to come.  

Atmospheric CH4 derives in part from anaerobic degradation of plant material [14] and it has been estimated that 23% of man-made CH4  pollution comes from such anaerobic degradation in dams [15]. World Bank analysts have carefully re-evaluated the contribution of methanogenic (CH4-producing) livestock production to world annual greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution and found that the world's annual total rose from 41.76 billion tonnes CO2-equivalent (CO2-e) as estimated by the Food and Agricultural  Organisation  (FAO) to 63.80 billion tonnes CO2-e, with livestock production contributing  over 51% of the higher figure [16].

CH4 is a major component  of natural gas and atmospheric CH4 also derives from leakage of  gas from natural gas production and reticulation. Methane (CH4) (about 85% of natural gas)  is 105 times worse than CO2 as a greenhouse gas (GHG) on a 20 year time frame and taking aerosol impacts into account. Methane leaks (3.3% in the US based on the latest US EPA data and as high as 7.9% for methane from “fracking” coal seams; a 2.6 % leakage of CH4 yields the same greenhouse effect as burning the remaining 97.4% CH4). Using this information one can determine that gas burning for electricity  can be much dirtier than coal burning greenhouse gas-wise (GHG-wise). While gas burning for power generates twice as much electrical energy per tonne of CO2 produced (MWh/tonne CO2) than coal burning and the health-adverse pollution from gas burning is lower than for coal burning, gas leakage in the system actually means that gas burning for power can actually be  worse GHG-wise than coal burning [17].  

However the real killer will be the  predicted huge release of 50 billion tonnes of CH4 from the warming Arctic in coming decades, release that is set to accelerate due to the positive feedback loop in which global warming causes CH4 release, thence more global warming and consequently even more CH4 release.  Indeed 2 further positive feedback loops exacerbate this – the so-called “albedo flip” in which warming -> sea ice melting -> more “black”  ice-free sea ->  more absorption of solar radiation -> more warming etc, and the loss of Greenland ice involving warming -> more glacier melting -> more lubricating melt water -> more glacier melting [14].  Professor Peter Wadhams (professor of Ocean Physics, and Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, 90-Nobel-Laureate University of Cambridge, UK)  and colleagues on the threat of 50Gt methane from East Siberian Arctic Shelf (2013): “Economic time bomb. As the amount of Arctic sea ice declines at an unprecedented rate, the thawing of offshore permafrost releases methane. A 50-gigatonne (Gt) reservoir of methane, stored in the form of hydrates, exists on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. It is likely to be emitted as the seabed warms, either steadily over 50 years or suddenly. Higher methane concentrations in the atmosphere will accelerate global warming and hasten local changes in the Arctic, speeding up sea-ice retreat, reducing the reflection of solar energy and accelerating the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. The ramifications will be felt far from the poles… To quantify the effects of Arctic methane release on the global economy, we used PAGE09. This integrated assessment model calculates the impacts of climate change and the costs of mitigation and adaptation measures… The methane pulse will bring forward by 15–35 years the average date at which the global mean temperature rise exceeds 2°C above pre-industrial levels — to 2035 for the business-as-usual scenario and to 2040 for the low-emissions case (see 'Arctic methane'). This will lead to an extra $60 trillion (net present value) of mean climate-change impacts for the scenario with no mitigation, or 15% of the mean total predicted cost of climate-change impacts (about $400 trillion)" [18].

However the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CH4 on a 20 year time frame and with aerosol impacts considered is 105 times that of CO2 [8] .   The German WBGU (2009) and the Australian Climate Commission (2013) have estimated that no more than a Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget of 600 billion tonnes of CO2 can be emitted between 2010 and zero emissions in 2050 if the world is to have a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2C temperature  rise  [19, 20]. The 50 Gt (billion tonnes) CH4 in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is thus equivalent to 50 billion tonnes CH4 x 105 tonnes  CO2-equivalent/tonne CH4 = 5,250 billion tonnes CO2-e or about nine (9) times more than the world’s Terminal  Carbon Pollution Budget. We are doomed unless we can stop this Arctic CH4 release.

 

[1]. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson, “February smashes Earth’s all-time global heat record by a jaw-dropping margin”, Weather Underground, 13 March 2016:  http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/february-smashes-earths-alltime-global-heat-record-by-a-jawdropping .  

[2]. David Spratt and  Phillip Sutton, “Climate Code Red”.

[3]. David Spratt, “Mind-blowing February 2016 temperature spike a “climate emergency” says scientist , as extreme events hit Vietnam, Fiji and Zimbabwe”, Climate Code Red, 14 March 2016: http://www.climatecodered.org/2016/03/mind-blowing-february-2016-temperature.html .

[4]. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Trends in atmospheric carbon dioxide”: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/gr.html ).

[5]. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Trends in atmospheric carbon dioxide”: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/index.html  ).

[6]. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Trends in atmospheric methane”: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends_ch4/index.html .

 [7]. Gideon Polya, “2011 climate change course”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/2011-climate-change-course .

 [8].    Drew T. Shindell , Greg Faluvegi, Dorothy M. Koch ,   Gavin A. Schmidt ,   Nadine Unger and Susanne E. Bauer , “Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions”, Science, 30 October 2009: Vol. 326 no. 5953 pp. 716-718: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/326/5953/716  .

[9]. IPCC, “Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report, Approved Summary for Policy Makers”, 1 November 2014: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_SPM.pdf ).

[10].  Ron Prinn, “400 ppm CO2? Add other GHGs and its equivalent to 478 ppm”, Oceans at MIT, 6 June 2013: http://oceans.mit.edu/featured-stories/5-questions-mits-ron-prinn-400-ppm-threshold .

[11]. “Are we doomed?”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/are-we-doomed .

[12]. “Nuclear weapons ban , end poverty & reverse climate change”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/nuclear-weapons-ban

[13]. "Too late to avoid global warming catastrophe": https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/too-late-to-avoid-global-warming .

[14]. Gideon Polya, “2011 climate change course”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/2011-climate-change-course .

[15]. Gary Wockner, “The hydropower methane bomb no one wants to talk about”, EcoWatch, 6 October 2015: http://ecowatch.com/2015/10/06/hydropower-methane-bomb/ .

 [16]. Robert Goodland and Jeff Anfang. “Livestock and climate change. What if the key actors in climate change are … cows, pigs and chickens?”, World Watch, November/December 2009: http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf .

[17]. “Gas is not clean energy”: https://sites.google.com/site/gasisnotcleanenergy/ .

[18]. Gail Whiteman, Chris Hope and Peter Wadhams, “Vast costs of Arctic change”, Nature, 499, 25 July 2013: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v499/n7459/pdf/499401a.pdf  and http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v499/n7459/full/499401a.html  .

[19]. WBGU, “Solving the climate dilemma: the budget approach”: http://www.ecoequity.org/2009/10/solving-the-climate-dilemma-the-budget-approach/  

[20]. Australian Climate Commission, “The critical decade 2013: a summary of climate change science, risks and responses”, 2013, p7: http://climatecommission.gov.au/wp-content/uploads/The-Critical-Decade-2013-Summary_lowres.pdf  .

Some useful compendia about climate change information, requisite actions & expert opinions:

 

“1% ON 1%: one percent annual wealth tax on One Percenters”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/1-on-1 .

 “2011 climate change course”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/2011-climate-change-course .

300.org: . https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/300-org .

“300.org – return atmosphere CO2 to 300 ppm CO2”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/300-org---return-atmosphere-co2-to-300-ppm .

“Carbon Debt Carbon Credit”: https://sites.google.com/site/carbondebtcarboncredit/ .

"Climate Revolution Now": https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/climate-revolution .

“Cut carbon emissions 80% by 2020”: https://sites.google.com/site/cutcarbonemissions80by2020/ .

“100% renewable energy by 2020”: https://sites.google.com/site/100renewableenergyby2020/ .

“Climate Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/climategenocide/ .

“Gas is not clean energy”: https://sites.google.com/site/gasisnotcleanenergy/ .

 “Biofuel Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/biofuelgenocide/ .

“Divest from fossil fuels”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/divest-from-fossil-fuels .

“Climate Justice & Intergenerational Equity”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/climate-justice .

“Science & economics experts: Carbon Tax needed NOT Carbon Trading”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/sciennce-economics-experts-carbon-tax-needed-not-carbon-trading/ .

“Stop climate crime”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/stop-climate-crime .

“Stop air pollution deaths”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/stop-air-pollution-deaths

“Are we doomed?”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/are-we-doomed .

“Methane Bomb Threat”: https://sites.google.com/site/methanebombthreat/ .

"Too late to avoid global warming catastrophe": https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/too-late-to-avoid-global-warming .

“Nuclear weapons ban, end poverty and reverse climate change”: https://sites.google.com/site/drgideonpolya/nuclear-weapons-ban .

“Stop state terrorism” : https://sites.google.com/site/stopstateterrorism/  [state and corporate complicity in worsening climate genocide and 7 million annual air pollution deaths from carbon fuel burning].

"State crime and non-state terrorism": https://sites.google.com/site/statecrimeandnonstateterrorism/  [state and corporate complicity in worsening climate genocide and 7 million annual air pollution deaths from carbon fuel burning].

“Climate terrorism: 400,000 climate change-related deaths globally annually versus an average of 4 US deaths from political terrorism annually since 9-11”: https://sites.google.com/site/statecrimeandnonstateterrorism/climate-terrorism .

“Carbon terrorism: 3 million US air pollution deaths versus 53 US political terrorism deaths since 9-11 (2001-2015)”: https://sites.google.com/site/statecrimeandnonstateterrorism/carbon-terrorism .

 

Some key analyses by Dr Gideon Polya (Melbourne scientist):  

Gideon Polya, “Expert Witness Testimony To Stop Gas-Fired Power Plant Installation”, Countercurrents,  14 June, 2013: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya140613.htm .

Gideon Polya,  " Doha climate change inaction. Only 5 years left to act", MWC News, 9 December 2012: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/23373-gideonpolya-climate-change.html .

Gideon Polya, “Australia 's Huge Coal, Gas & Iron Ore Exports Threaten Planet”, Countercurrents, 15 May 2012: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya150512.htm .

Gideon Polya, “Country By Country Analysis Of Years Left Until Science-demanded Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions”, Countercurrents, 11 June 2011: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya110611.htm

Gideon Polya , “2015 A-to-Z  Alphabetical List Of Actions And Advocacies For Climate Change Activists”,  Countercurrents,  14 January, 2015: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya140115.htm

Gideon Polya, “100 Ideas For Climate Change Activists Trying To Save The Biosphere And Humanity”,  Countercurrents, 10 August, 2013: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya100813.htm .

Gideon Polya, “Biochemical  Targets Of Plant Bioactive Compounds”: moral & utilitarian reasons to stop ecocide, speciescide, omnicide & terracide”, Countercurrents, 22 February, 2015: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya220215.htm .

Gideon Polya. “Polya's 3 Laws Of Economics Expose Deadly, Dishonest  And Terminal Neoliberal Capitalism”, Countercurrents, 17 October, 2015: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya171015.htm . Polya's 3 Laws of Economics mirror the 3 Laws of Therrnodynamics of science and are (1) Price minus COP (Cost of Production) equals profit; (2) Deception about COP strives to a maximum; and (3) No work, price or profit on a dead planet. These fundamental laws help  expose the failure of neoliberal capitalism in relation to wealth inequality, massive tax evasion by multinational corporations, and  horrendous avoidable deaths from poverty and pollution culminating in general ecocide, speciescide, climate genocide, omnicide and terracide.

“Climate change articles by Dr Gideon Polya”: https://sites.google.com/site/drgideonpolya/climate-change-articles .

“Climate change websites created by Dr Gideon Polya”: https://sites.google.com/site/drgideonpolya/climate-change-websites .

“Gideon Polya”: https://sites.google.com/site/drgideonpolya/home .

 “Gideon Polya Writing”: https://sites.google.com/site/gideonpolyawriting/ .


Gideon Polya, “Revised Annual Per Capita Greenhouse Gas Pollution For All Countries – What Is Your Country Doing?”, Countercurrents, 6 January, 2016: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya060116.htm

Open Letter to Australian Federal MPs: young betrayed & climate revolution now: https://sites.google.com/site/gideonpolyawriting/2015-9-6 .

Gideon Polya, "Corporate terrorism is state sanctioned, kills  over 30 million people annually and dooms humanity by lying", State crime and non-state terrorism: https://sites.google.com/site/statecrimeandnonstateterrorism/corporate-terrorism

“Free university education”: https://sites.google.com/site/freeuniversityeducation/ .


Carbon Debt:

Carbon Debt reflects the inescapable future cost in today's dollars of fixing the remorselessly increasing climate damage. Carbon Debt  is the historical contribution of countries  to the carbon pollution of the atmosphere and can be variously expressed as Gt CO2-e (gigatonnes or billions of tonnes of CO2-equivalent) or in dollar terms by applying a Carbon Price. Thus leading climate economist Dr Chris Hope from 90-Nobel-Laureate Cambridge  University has estimated a damage-related Carbon Price in US dollars of $150 per tonne CO2-e (see Dr Chris Hope, “How high should climate change taxes be?”, Working Paper Series, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, 9.2011: http://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/fileadmin/user_upload/research/workingpapers/wp1109.pdf  ).

The World added 350 Gt C (1285 Gt CO2) to the atmosphere in 1751-2006 (see James Hansen, “Letter to PM Kevin Rudd by Dr James Hansen”, 2008: http://www.aussmc.org.au/documents/Hansen2008LetterToKevinRudd_000.pdf ) and currently adds a further 64 Gt CO2-e annually (see Robert Goodland and Jeff Anfang, “Livestock and climate change. What if the key actors in climate change are … cows, pigs and chickens?”, World Watch, November/December 2009: http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf ).

The World  has a 1751-2006 Carbon Debt of     350 Gt C x (3.67 Gt CO2/Gt C) x $150 per tonne CO2-e = $193 trillion plus a 2007-2015 Carbon Debt of (64 Gt CO2-e /year) x  ($150 /t CO2-e) x 8 years  = $76.8 trillion or a total 1751-2015 Carbon Debt of $270 trillion (about 3 times the annual world GDP of $85 trillion)  that is increasing by about 64 Gt CO2-e/year  x ($150 /t CO2-e)  = $9.6 trillion/year or about $10 trillion each year.

By way of a national example, Australia is a world-leading annual per capita  GHG polluter with a 1751-2006 Carbon Debt of 5.9 Gt C x (3.67 Gt CO2-e/Gt C) x ($150 /t CO2-e) = $3.2 trillion plus a 2007-2015 Carbon Debt of  2 Gt CO2-e/year  x ($150 /t CO2-e) x 8 years  = $2.4 trillion i.e. a total 1751-2015 Carbon Debt of $5.6 trillion (A$7.2 trillion) that is increasing at 2 Gt CO2-e /year x ($150 /t CO2-e) = $300 billion (A$385 billion) per year. Thus Australia (population 24 million) with 0.34% of the world's population has 2.1% of the world's Carbon Debt. The Australian Carbon Debt will have to be paid by the young and future generations and for under-30 year old Australians is increasing at about $30,000 (A$38,500) per person per year, noting that the annual Australian per capita income is about $65,000 (A$83,000) (see Gideon Polya, “2015 A-to-Z  alphabetical list of actions and advocacies for climate change activists”,  Countercurrents, 14 January, 2015: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya140115.htm ).