More Reasons To Worry
When the earth was much warmer about 35 million years ago, according to this article, a swamp gas, known as methane, was trapped under miles and miles of ice in the arctic. These microbes were isolated from the world and have been in the ice ever since. Because the microbes have been there so long it has been digesting organic matter and producing even more methane. If this greenhouse gas were to be released it would amp up the warming by a ton because methane is a much more effective gas than carbon dioxide. To everyone’s fear this might actually happen. If the current warming continues than it will melt the already melting ice in the arctic. How does the methane escape, so we can stop it? This is how.
The methane that has been made seemingly can’t escape at first. Thousands of feet down in the sediment, geothermal heat keeps things warm enough for the microbes to keep producing methane. As the gas diffuses upward, however, it enters a zone where it feels not only the pressure but also the cold of the overlying ice sheet. The combination transforms it into methane hydrate: a solid, ice-like substance in which each methane molecule is trapped in a cage of water. Hydrate is strange, fragile stuff. If the pressure drops or the temperature rises enough to take it out of its comfort zone—for instance, because the ice above it melts—it falls apart. The methane escapes to the atmosphere. You might think that we still have time because it’s been trapped for a while, so we can figure out a solution. But don’t put your faith in the ice because a lot of it has been melting and going away. And it’s precisely the glaciers covering former marine basins that are receding the fastest because their leading edges are being eaten away by a warming sea. It’s conceivable that before the century is out those glaciers could recede enough to release whatever hydrates they’ve been covering.
If you know what a snowball earth is then this argument is all the more worrying because of this information. The snowball earth theory was a hypothesis that the earth used to be covered in ice that stretched all the way to the equator. According to recent studies, the last snowball earth, which was 635 million years ago, was melted rapidly by released methane. All ice except the regular arctic ice was melted in that year. Imagine what would happen if another one of these “attacks” were to happen today. All the ice would melt and Al Gore’s increasing sea levels theory may even become a reality. Not only do man-made carbon dioxide and natural carbon dioxide increase warming, but we also have methane to worry about.
Even without the methane we have tons of reasons to fear the effects of what global warming can do. The warmth will contribute to the spread of disease, more hurricanes, and increased intensity of of droughts and heat waves. We have to take the movement in Everything’s Cool to a global level.