Claim: Arctic methane release a ‘time bomb’ that could cost $60 trillion!

Reuters reports:

A release of methane in the Arctic could speed the melting of sea ice and climate change with a cost to the global economy of up to $60 trillion over coming decades, according to a paper published in the journal Nature.

Researchers at the University of Cambridge and Erasmus University in the Netherlands used economic modeling to calculate the consequences of a release of a 50-gigatonne reservoir of methane from thawing permafrost under the East Siberian Sea.

They examined a scenario in which there is a release of methane over a decade as global temperatures rise at their current pace.

They also looked at lower and slower releases, yet all produced “steep” economic costs stemming from physical changes to the Arctic.

“The global impact of a warming Arctic is an economic time-bomb,” said Gail Whiteman, an author of the report and professor of sustainability, management and climate change at the Rotterdam School of Management, part of Erasmus University.

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8 responses to “Claim: Arctic methane release a ‘time bomb’ that could cost $60 trillion!

  1. Then the methane should be captured, sequestered, and oxidized into the less-powerful climate agents carbon dioxide and water vapor. Might as well do that in a boiler and generate electricty. Or sequester it into people’s homes so they can keep warm while they reduce the risk of climate change.

    • Or simply burn it for fun! (having fun is healthy, doncha know?)

      Every time I visit a river with any amount of silt (like, say, Delaware near the Gap), I wade in it, lighting the bubbles raising to the surface.

      This game is addictive. I can’t stop doing it, until there is no more gas rising. Another thing I noticed, if there are people around to see me do it, they start doing the same, and they carry on until their spot runs out of gas. But they don’t normally start it — somebody needs to show them.

      On one touristy-busy Saturday morning by the Gap, I sparked the blaze on my way to NYC. While crossing the bridge into PA the same day’s evening, I could still see flashes in the distance. Endless fun.

      • Huh. Never heard of this sport. Are methane bubbles like this really so commonplace in silt? I should see if there’s a YouTube of this.

        • Hey Geoff, I guess it depends on the king of silt (which doesn’t vary that much) or what lives in it (that varies somewhat). Sometimes the gas that emanates from the silt is difficult to ignite (too much CO2, I guess). But most of the time it is flammable. I’d say, if it smells rotten, even a little bit, it will be flammable. It can also be difficult to ignite when there is too little of it. But as a rule, if there is more than a couple inches silt on the bottom, you’ll get plenty of fun.

          • That may be the origin of the phrase, “That one’ll set the river on fire.” I have access to a slough off the Yellowstone where I might be able to try this…

  2. “…as global temperatures rise at their current pace”? Do they mean cool at their current pace? Or is that just more model-proven warming, regardless of what’s happening in the real world?

    Where do they find these loons?

  3. “a 50-gigatonne reservoir of methane from thawing permafrost under the East Siberian Sea”, if warmed slightly, will form methane hydrate clathrate – an ice-like compound of methane and water that can be used as fuel.

  4. Permafrost is a carbon sink. Thaw the plants and they will grow and absorb carbon. Otherwise, where did the big pile of frozen plant matter come from? You know, the plant matter that is emitting the methane? It didn’t accumulate while the pants were frozen.

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