Permafrost paranoia

The New York Times stokes fear because the permafrost is not so permanent.

In a lengthy front-page article, the Times reports,

… A recent estimate suggests that the perennially frozen ground known as permafrost, which underlies nearly a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere, contains twice as much carbon as the entire atmosphere.

Temperatures are warming across much of that region, primarily, scientists believe, because of the rapid human release of greenhouse gases. Permafrost is warming, too. Some has already thawed, and other signs are emerging that the frozen carbon may be becoming unstable.

“It’s like broccoli in your freezer,” said Kevin Schaefer, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. “As long as the broccoli stays in the freezer, it’s going to be O.K. But once you take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge, it will thaw out and eventually decay.”

If a substantial amount of the carbon should enter the atmosphere, it would intensify the planetary warming. An especially worrisome possibility is that a significant proportion will emerge not as carbon dioxide, the gas that usually forms when organic material breaks down, but as methane, produced when the breakdown occurs in lakes or wetlands. Methane is especially potent at trapping the sun’s heat, and the potential for large new methane emissions in the Arctic is one of the biggest wild cards in climate science.

Scientists have declared that understanding the problem is a major priority. The United States Department of Energy and the European Union recently committed to new projects aimed at doing so, and NASA is considering a similar plan. But researchers say the money and people devoted to the issue are still minimal compared with the risk.

For now, scientists have many more questions than answers. Preliminary computer analyses, made only recently, suggest that the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions could eventually become an annual source of carbon equal to 15 percent or so of today’s yearly emissions from human activities…

Read the Times article.

8 thoughts on “Permafrost paranoia”

  1. Climate Change ( Warming AND Cooling ) has been occurring for the past 4 1/2 Billion years on earth…Man is not now nor has he ever been the cause…

  2. What ever happened to the known logrithmic effect of the Co2? When did the physics change? Inquiring minds want to know.

  3. Permafrost has always thawed out during the summer to a depth of one or two feet, then freezes over the next winter. I suspect that they are using this natural cylce for propaganda.

  4. Since man-caused CO2 is only .03% of all the CO2 released into the atmosphere, 15% of that is 0.0045% – that should really sound the alarm, maybe I’m off a decimal point, or these people are nuts. Since they are so alarmed by the .03% I guess if only 15% of that must have to by hyped even higher to cause alarm and to scare our children into yelling at their parents to stop driving real cars, and trade them in for foot-pedaled ones. Maybe Fred Flintstones car will do, I think I’ll start manufacturing them, only lighter, so that a 5 mph wind can help push them over, er along.

  5. Is it not true, that life on earth started some 600 million years ago, when due to a very warm tropical era, the level of CO2 rose to 7,000 p.p.m.? Why then are those doomsayers so afraid of the current level of just 392 p,p.m.? They should ask the hundreds of thousands of green-growers why they turn up the heat in their glass-houses so that the level of CO2 reaches at least 1,000 p.p.m., so that they can grow very rich crops? CO2 has been ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court in June of this year to be totally harmless and vital to life on earth (http://opinion.financialpost.com/2011/06/23/lawrence-solomon-supreme-skeptics/). So why do these so-called “educated” professors persist in their hare-brained ideas. But there again, many “academics”, like those law-professors during the 1960’s and 1970’s, who slavishly kow-towed to the communist ideology (an ideology that has killed sofar 110 million people), managed to brain-wash tens of thousands of gullble young students into aiding and abetting the mass-murders committed by the communists. So, I should not be surprised at all. I have learned that people with many degrees and higher than average I.Q.’s (like Stalin, Hitler, Mao tse Tung and others), more often than not, lack integrity and common sense.

  6. No mention is made of how the carbon got INTO the permafrost in the first place.
    12,500 years ago the entire permafrost area was beneath a sheet of ice. Then the ice melted and the ground was left bare and as barren as the face of El Capitan. There was no soil, and there was no carbon in or on the ground.
    The carbon was placed into the ground by plants that can survive in cool climates – cool but not freezing cold. It was too warm for permafrost. No plants can grow in ice.
    Those plants took the carbon out of the air, reducing atmospheric CO2 levels even as they built the carbon reserves in the tundra.
    The ‘permafrost’ zone was ENTIRELY created in far less than 12,500 years, before it refroze.

  7. “….contains twice as much carbon as the entire atmosphere.”

    The atmosphere contains very little CO2. The ocean is a much bigger store of CO2. Twice the atmosphere of CO2 is small compared to all other known carbon sinks.

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