Sunny Siberia

Speaking of methane, the UK Guardian reports frightening data on the thawing of Siberia.

The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world’s largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

The thaw may represent a “tipping point” of global warming both because of its scale and because of its role as part of a vicious cycle. The thawing is “undoubtedly” caused by human-driven global warming. But once triggered, the thawing itself spawns further warming.

“When you start messing around with these natural systems, you can end up in situations where it’s unstoppable. There are no brakes you can apply,” said David Viner, a senior scientist at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

So while humans take warming risks by scrambling to mine methane for energy from the briny depths, nature’s methane stock may release itself uncontrollably… as a result of other human energy production activities. A spiral reactor.

Via Weblogsky

Music: Steve Turre :: Andromeda

7 Replies to “Sunny Siberia”

  1. I’d be somewhat circumspect with this. There’s some good discussion over at Jerry Pournelle’s site about the validity of this report. While I can’t say if it’s true or not, I’m a bit suspicious that it hasn’t been more widely reported, with more references to the scientific literature.

    Worth keeping an eye on, but I dunno if I’d get too upset just yet…

  2. It’s especially questionable from a source that runs the headline:

    ‘Tenth planet’ may be bigger then expected

    The confusion of “then” and “than” is excusable in a 12 year old. It is not excusable in a professed journalist. And the fact it made it through the editorial process to land as a headline on the site is pathetic. Is a computer spell-checker their editor? (There editor? They’re editor? :) )

    When simple grammatical mistakes get through the editorial process it makes me question the ability of the staff to get more complex fact-checking tasks done. Harsh? I prefer “discerning.”

    Note: It may get fixed as I have sent them a scathing e-mail.

  3. Agreed, but doesn’t automatically invalidate the content of the journalistm. All software has bugs, but that doesn’t make all software unusable. All publications have errors, but that doesn’t mean all journalism is automatically suspect because of it.

    More bugs, worse software — fewer = better.
    More grammatical errors, worse publication — fewer = better.

    If such errors slipped through at the Guardian on a regular basis, it would make them look bad. I don’t think that’s the case with them.

  4. If such errors slipped through at the Guardian on a regular basis, it would make them look bad.

    Except the error I pointed out and linked to was not at The Guardian. It was at New Scientist, the original source for the Siberian methane story.

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