Tag: Methane Hydrates
Arctic sea ice extent during the first two weeks of August continued to track below 2007 record low daily ice extents. As of August 13, ice extent was already among the four lowest summer minimum extents in the satellite record, with about five weeks still remaining in the melt season. Sea ice extent dropped rapidly between August 4 and August 8. While this drop coincided with an intense storm over the central Arctic Ocean, it is unclear if the storm prompted the rapid ice loss. Overall, weather patterns in the Arctic Ocean through the summer of 2012 have been a mixed bag, with no consistent pattern.
Overview of conditions
Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for August 13, 2012 was 4.90 million square kilometers (1.9 million square miles), 450,000 square kilometers (173,745 square miles) below the same day in 2007. The orange line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. Sea Ice Index data. About the data
Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
Arctic sea ice extent on August 13 was 4.90 million square kilometers (1.9 million square miles). This is 2.81 million square kilometers (1.08 million square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average extent for the date, and is 450,000 square kilometers (173,745 square miles) below the previous record low for the date, which occurred in 2007. Low extent for the Arctic as a whole is driven by extensive open water on the Atlantic side of the Arctic, the Beaufort Sea, and—due to rapid ice loss over the past two weeks—the East Siberian Sea. Ice is near its normal (1979 to 2000) extent only off the northeastern Greenland coast. Ice near the coast in eastern Siberia continues to block sections of the Northern Sea Route. The western entrance to the Northwest Passage via McClure Strait remains blocked.
Conditions in context
Figure 2. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of August 13, 2012, along with daily ice extent data for the previous five years. 2012 is shown in blue, 2011 in orange, 2010 in pink, 2009 in navy, 2008 in purple, and 2007 in green. The gray area around the average line shows the two standard deviation range of the data. Sea Ice Index data.
Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
The average pace of ice loss since late June has been rapid at just over 100,000 square kilometers (38,000 square miles) per day. However, this pace nearly doubled for a few days in early August during a major Arctic cyclonic storm, discussed below. Unlike the summer of 2007 when a persistent pattern of high pressure was present over the central Arctic Ocean and a pattern of low pressure was over the northern Eurasian coast, the summer of 2012 has been characterized by variable conditions. Air tempertures at the 925 hPa level (about 3000 feet above the ocean surface) of 1 to 3 degrees Celsius (1.8 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1981 to 2012 average have been the rule from central Greenland, northern Canada, and Alaska northward into the central Arctic Ocean. Cooler than average conditions (1 to 2 degrees Celsius or 1.8 to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) were observed in a small region of eastern Siberia extending into the East Siberian Sea, helping explain the persistence of low concentration ice in this region through early August.
The Great Arctic Cyclone of 2012
Figure 3. This subsection of the surface weather analysis from the Canadian Meteorological Centre for August 6, 2012 (at 0600 Greenwich Mean Time) shows a very strong cyclone over the central Arctic Ocean north of Alaska. The isobars (lines of equal pressure) are very tightly packed around the low pressure system, indicating strong winds. Greenland is on the right side of the figure while Canada is at the bottom.
Credit: Canadian Meteorological Centre
A low pressure system entered the Arctic Ocean from the eastern Siberian coast on August 4 and then strengthened rapidly over the central Arctic Ocean. On August 6 the central pressure of the cyclone reached 964 hPa, an extremely low value for this region. It persisted over the central Arctic Ocean over the next several days, and slowly dissipated. The storm initially brought warm and very windy conditions to the Chukchi and East Siberian seas (August 5), but low temperatures prevailed later.
Figure 4. These maps of sea ice concentration from the Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder (SSMIS) passive microwave sensor highlight the very rapid loss of ice in the western Arctic (northwest of Alaska) during the strong Arctic storm. Magenta and purple colors indicate ice concentration near 100%; yellow, green, and pale blue indicate 60% to 20% ice concentration.
Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center courtesy IUP Bremen
Low pressure systems over the Arctic Ocean tend to cause the ice to diverge or spread out and cover a larger area. These storms often bring cool conditions and even snowfall. In contrast, high pressure systems over the Arctic cause the sea ice to converge. Summers dominated by low pressure systems over the central Arctic Ocean tend to end up with greater ice extent than summers dominated by high pressure systems.
However, the effects of an individual strong storm, like that observed in early August, can be complex. While much of the region influenced by the August cyclone experienced a sudden drop in temperature, areas influenced by winds from the south experienced a rise in temperature. Coincident with the storm, a large area of low concentration ice in the East Siberian Sea (concentrations typically below 50%) rapidly melted out. On three consecutive days (August 7, 8, and 9), sea ice extent dropped by nearly 200,000 square kilometers (77,220 square miles). This could be due to mechanical break up of the ice and increased melting by strong winds and wave action during the storm. However, it may be simply a coincidence of timing, given that the low concentration ice in the region was already poised to rapidly melt out.
During the COP17 spectacle (17th Conference of Parties, the UN summit on Climate Change) in Durban, South Africa, in December 2011, La Via Campesina, the International Peasants Movement, issued a statement declaring certain actions be taken and conditions be met in order to prevent, forestall, or otherwise derail climate catastrophe. Because several of the actions do not appear to be copacetic with scientific reality, we endeavored to contact the organization, and sent the following email on December 7:
Dear Boa Monjane:
I write to you today with grave concerns about your recently publicized statement at
COP17, and hope this will bring a fruitful dialogue.
Your statement exclaims a set of solutions seeking to limit “further” temperature
rise to 1 degree. Given that the planet is currently up .8 by all relevant
calculations, your statement leads a reader to believe you are seeking a ceiling at
1.8. If so, this is an incredibly dangerous number to stand behind, given the
mathematical reality that we are, at a minimum, locked into 1.8 due to inertia,
hydrates, and other feedback mechanisms. If not, and your statement purports an
argument that we can and should stay below 1.0 total, it is an unachievable dream
and must be clarified as such.
Returning to 1.8 and the best case reality of that number, it is only achievable
with immediate and irreversible 100% reductions, yet your statement calls for a
minimum of 50% to achieve your solution set. I believe it is irresponsible to
promote 50% as a solution to climate crisis when anything less than 100% locks us
into the scientific reality of inertia and systems betrayal through feedback
mechanisms. It also comes nowhere close to making 1.8 – where we are already
committed assuming 100% emissions reduction today – achievable, even with an
unlikely assumption that methane hydrates are completely negated by nature.
I would very much like to understand why you claim 50% is part of the solution.
Another point of contention is your stated reliance on capitalism in the developed
world for various funding mechanisms. It should be well understood that reliance
upon any functional component of industrial capitalism for mitigation, adaptation,
and reparation for any length of time lends credence to the mechanism, perpetuates
it, and demands the growth of it, ironically, as the world condition grows more
dire. Making statements where the world utilizes the very economic machinery
responsible for the planet being on the brink of collapse in order to prevent the
collapse is more than troubling. It is criminal.
Do you really believe the patriarchal industrial north has the means, the motive,
and the benefit of planetary reality to stem the tide through finance?
Many of us in developed countries know what it means to call for, and succeed in
getting, 100% reductions. It means the end of nearly all we know, save maybe the
planet. Those of us who understand the demands of Mother Earth in that context also
recognize more people must rise up and fight for 100% all over the globe. Will La
Via Campesina do so?
I very much look forward to your responses and the ensuing dialogue. I have cced my
dear colleague and friend based in Canada, Cory Morningstar.
We received no response. On January 5, Cory Morningstar again sought feedback from the Via Campesina representative. No response. And now we are at the eve of Rio+20, where most of the same players will convene and further deteriorate any reasonable chance we have, as civil society, to stem the tide of climate change. As expected, the usual troop of NGOs will attend, claiming to speak for all of us while clamoring for cozy seats and sharp cocktails amongst the global elite. La Via Campesina will be there, too.
Climate justice allies would like to continue to convince us that an inside-outside strategy is to our advantage. That it is tenable. Yet the historical results state otherwise. This culture of compromise where lesser-evilism prevails and excuses for maintaining the status quo flow eloquently from the lips as well as the pen must end. From the Tongass in the north, to Durban in the south, the mechanisms we have employed collectively and individually have done nothing but render a trail of tears and destruction for all peoples, and all ecologies. The time for strategic charades and whimsical hopes is over.
It starts with one entity willing to say no, loudly, to the nefarious players (NGOs, governments, and corporations) creating the Green Climate Fund (GCF). We understand the fraudulent nature of the participatory process, the criminal dependence upon industrialized capitalism, and the woefully inadequate reality of yet another false solution. We say no.
It continues with another entity joining in the refusal, and rejecting the corporate tradeshow that is Rio+20. Canadians for Action on Climate Change so declares.
And the movement grows with you. Individuals and organizations are needed to rise above the fray, side by side, against the struggle of recidivist pursuits. Will you join?
We, the undersigned, reject in full your process, and are not, in any form, represented by any entity or organization claiming to represent civil society at Rio or any other fraudulent gathering related to the global condition. In fact, we boycott Rio and hereby issue a call of no confidence in the process and the participants.
The Spin Doctors | Spinning the Potential for Abrupt and Catastrophic Climate Change
“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley
It is now beyond obvious that those who control the world’s economy are hell-bent on burning all of our planet’s remaining fossil fuels – including those that not long ago, were considered impractical to exploit. Corporate-colluded states, corporate-controlled media and corporate-funded scientists will be red-lining the well-oiled engine of the propaganda machine as it works overtime.
They will try to convince you the methane hydrates in the world’s oceans are deep enough that the inevitable increased temperature will not affect them. (Think again. Take a look at the map – the methane hydrates, even outside of the Arctic, are almost all located on shallow continental shelves.) And if that doesn’t work they will try to convince you that mysterious bacteria will rapaciously devour all methane gas.
In the following paragraphs, the danger that this misinformation presents is outlined. Layered upon the aforementioned spin, at the same time they will try to convince you that because the methane hydrates are now destabilizing and melting (because governments have done nothing for decades to halt global warming), we have no choice but to extract the methane and burn it – for the safety of humanity. If the misinformation contradicts itself, this in itself is of little to no importance – as long as the key message is allowed to weave itself into the collective subconscious. The key message being: “There is no emergency. Methane risks are non-threatening.”
The truth is, there is one option, and one option only. We must stop burning fossil fuels. Completely.
“In an energy hungry world any new fossil fuel resource will only lead to additional carbon emissions.” – Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at the Tyndall Centre at Manchester University, January 2011
Corporatized states, media and scientists who have pledged allegiance to protect the current economic system will try to convince us that methane hydrates will provide society with a “clean,” “sustainable” fossil fuel.  Make no mistake – they are not clean or sustainable. Nor are they renewable.  The burning of fossil fuels – including natural gas/methane – creates CO2. All the spin in the world will not make this fact any less true. On 14 January 2001, Dr. Gideon Polya explains that a further phony approach that is now being implemented on a massive scale around the world is a coal-to-gas transition on the basis that natural gas is “clean”. He states, “The reality is that gas burning seriously threatens the Planet because (a) humanity should be urgently decreasing and certainly not increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution; (b) Natural Gas (mainly methane, CH4) is not a clean energy greenhouse gas-wise; and (c) pollutants from gas leakage and gas burning pose a chemical risk to residents, agriculture and the environment.” The asserted “clean-er” status of gas as a fossil fuel is contradicted in the recent analysis by Professor Robert Howarth of Cornell University, who has concluded that ” A complete consideration of all emissions from using natural gas seems likely to make natural gas far less attractive than oil and not significantly better than coal in terms of the consequences for global warming. ” It is grossly negligent to spend billions of tax dollars on a dangerous scheme that will lock humanity into what is essentially a promissory note for the annihilation of our children, grandchildren and all life. Polya states: “Top climate scientists state that we must urgently reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration from the current damaging 392 parts per million (ppm) to a safe and sustainable 300 ppm for a safe and sustainable planet for all peoples and all species.” This is absolutely true. It is also true that only zero carbon can achieve any reduction in atmospheric CO2; only zero carbon can reduce ocean acidification.
If we do not stop burning all fossil fuels, the runaway greenhouse scenario will be upon us. The global scheme to drill methane hydrates ensures that there will be no real transition to clean, safe, renewable energy alternatives. Arctic carbon feedbacks are heating the oceans – enough to melt the slightly deeper methane hydrates on all of the continental shelves. Today, there are methane hydrates (for example, off of California) emitting methane gas into the oceans. Methane seeps have been identified along many passive and active continental margins. It will take very little additional warming (perhaps even no additional warming is needed) to add more methane emissions via methane hydrate feedback into the oceans. It is true that in relatively deeper water, much more methane will be dissolved and relatively less will be emitted to the air. (Yet this also produces catastrophic results in the form of further ocean acidification.)
This is why the stability of Arctic methane hydrates is so critical; they do not have this depth of water, therefore they are able to emit far more easily into the atmosphere. The East Siberian Arctic Shelf represents 25% of the Arctic Shelf and 8% of the total area of the World Ocean’s continental shelf. Of this shelf, 75% is shallower than 50 metres in depth (the mean depth of the continental shelf is 130 m); this provides a very short conduit for methane to escape to the atmosphere with almost no oxidation. The Arctic shelf methane hydrates are more vulnerable because they have naturally been experiencing warming by as much as 17°C, while deep oceanic hydrates have been warmed by less than 1°C.  Methane hydrates are only stable under specific pressure and temperature conditions.
Most scientists continue to ignore the oceans. Scientist David Archer, who has been pivotal in minimizing methane risks of late, proposes that increased leaking of methane will all dissolve in the oceans for a hundred thousand years – therefore inferring that destabilizing methane hydrates should not be considered a high risk “within our lifetime”. Yet, methane is oxidized in ocean water to CO2 – which acidifies it. It is a possibility that the increase in ocean acidification could be attributed to the melting of methane hydrates.
More acidic oceans must exchange additional CO2 to the atmosphere. Yes, methane-consuming bacteria will digest methane, however, this further depletes oxygen from the oceans and causes further acidification. The result of this is dead oceans. Dead oceans can be imagined as sewers spewing toxic gases like hydrogen sulphide into the air and onto an unrecognizable landscape void of life. Scientists continue to observe critical aspects of climate in a reductionist fashion – failing to acknowledge (or at least convey) that all elements of nature are interconnected. There will be no free lunch.
A 2010 paper addressing new constraints on methane fluxes in the Gulf of Mexico suggests that deep methane hydrates may leak vast amounts of methane into the ocean water, thus raising the concentration of methane in surface waters and ultimately the atmosphere. All of these fluxes and ocean-air exchanges are happening today, and will continue to increase. The report states: “A significant release of methane into the atmosphere could ultimately lead to a catastrophic greenhouse effect; this mechanism has been invoked as an explanation for past deglaciation [global warming] events.”
If we link this information to Archer’s suggestion that methane hydrates will continue to leak into the oceans for 100,000 years, we are looking at a creeping ocean catastrophe that has already commenced. Based on results of many recent studies, it appears there are now ocean regions where ocean water is supersaturated with methane, the result being more methane emitting into the air above. In one such 2010 study, scientists suggest that future sea-ice retreat may decrease the residence times of methane and nitrous oxide in the surface Arctic Ocean and thus enhance the sea-air flux of these climatically active gases.
The video below shows a large plume of methane-rich gas continuously bubbling in a tundra lake in Alaska. (2010 | 0:40)
There is no precedent in the past for the abrupt and extreme rate of global climate forcing that this fossil fuel-based industrial civilization has created. Though the scientists are silent (except when justifying ongoing research), the fact is that we are now, most definitely, in an abrupt global climate change event, which is most likely unsurpassed in the history of life on the planet. Scientists condemn humanity by failing to call for the absolute ending of the current fossil fuel economy, as well as an ending to burning all fossil fuels – the only way to achieve zero carbon emissions – and the only way to stabilize the planet (recognized by IPCC).
Any science or policy that is accepting of any fossil fuels – inclusive of conventional oil and gas – condones and legitimizes current coal plants and drilling to continue and to expand, while ignoring the fact that nature cannot compromise. Therefore, those who accept false solutions such as CCS (carbon capture and storage) (already proven to be a spectacular failure) are complicit in protecting the current suicidal “business as usual” economic model that will bring us to a complete collapse of civilization.
Simply stated, it does not matter where methane carbon feedbacks come from. What matters is that these feedbacks will cascade and multiply – at some point causing a mass extinction event. Imagine a domino effect. It takes just one carbon feedback to add to our current state of global warming to trigger all other carbon feedbacks – this is definite. As world governments absolutely refuse to stop burning fossil fuels, continued accelerating warming of our increasingly fragile planet, caused by rising greenhouse gas emissions, will ensure such feedbacks are dead certainties.
Feedbacks that further amplify global warming (creating additional CO2 and additional feedbacks which are mostly unaccounted for in climate models and not reported as greenhouse gas emissions) include:
- warming soil (CO2)
- increased ground level ozone. (which reduces photosynthesis, making it toxic to all green growth)
- warming peatlands (methane)
- warming wetlands (methane from sources such as lakes, ponds, rivers, etc.)
- forest fires (CO2 and methane)
- forest die back (CO2)
- thawing permafrost (methane)
- melting methane hydrates (methane)
- warming ocean water (dissolves less CO2)
- ocean acidification (draws down less CO2)
- plankton die-off (less effective ocean biological carbon pump)(CO2)
- loss of sea ice (less cooling albedo)
The slightest risk/possibility of methane being added to the atmosphere from carbon feedbacks today – from any source – leaves no doubt that an absolutely expedient transition from fossil fuel energy to zero carbon energy is imperative for our survival. Yet, methane releases continue to accelerate. The fact that methane is 100 times more powerful than CO2 in the first 5-10 years after it’s been emitted creates an unparalleled world emergency of massive scale. State governments, media and scientists who minimize, ignore or deny methane risks condone the massive risk to civilization’s survival from methane carbon feedbacks.
Scientists and governments have known for decades that climate change accelerates the warming temperature in the Arctic far faster than anywhere else on Earth. Resulting warming of the Arctic Ocean will result in the destabilization, melting and venting of the methane hydrates. It is not surprising that we now find ourselves in a situation where we are “beyond dangerous atmospheric interference” (DAI) with the climate – as the world has done nothing to stop it. This situation will continue to accelerate even if we stop burning all fossil fuels today. This is why the emergency is unprecedented and unparalleled in magnitude.
The “laws of ecology” established by biologist Barry Commoner are essential in understanding the carbon cycle and the solutions we must seek for our climate crisis:
1. Everything is Connected to Everything Else. There is one ecosphere for all living organisms and what affects one, affects all.
2. Everything Must Go Somewhere. There is no “waste” in nature and there is no “away” to which things can be thrown.
3. Nature Knows Best. Humankind has fashioned technology to improve upon nature, but such change in a natural system is, says Commoner, “likely to be detrimental to that system.”
4. There Is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch. In nature, both sides of the equation must balance; for every gain there is a cost, and all debts are eventually paid.
All life on Earth is connected by carbon. The burning of carbon – carbon that has been sequestered over millennia by the accumulation of animal-based petroleum and plant-based coal – over the course of a few hundreds of years has proven not to be a “free lunch”. The relentless rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not going to stop and the relentless rise in temperature will continue. The only answer – which we resist, deny, refuse and are unwilling to accept – is that we must stop burning ALL fossil fuels. Not a reduction and not less. All. The Burning Age is over. And just as the Stone Age ended before they ran out of stones, so the Burning Age must end before we run out of fossil fuels.
Governments and global society as a whole continue to ignore safe, renewable energy sources – sentencing humanity and all life to a hell on Earth. Until we acknowledge why, nothing will change. A new foundation for a global society built on principles of sharing and the simple premise of “living well, not better” is the greatest threat to the current economic system and the current global power structures. Such a revolution is not about to be embraced by any major greenhouse gas-emitting, developed, obstructionist state who has clearly demonstrated in Cancún that the protection of economy is clearly more vital than protection of life. Make no mistake – everyday that our current global economic system is allowed to continue as is brings us one step closer to irreversible climate catastrophe and complete exhaustion of the planet’s last remaining natural resources. Our current economic system will lead us, in no uncertain terms, to our own annihilation.
Those who protect the current economic system – scientists in general, and “big green” co-opted environmental groups – are silent on what now constitutes a clear, unequivocal planetary climate emergency. They have played their role. Their funding is immense and secure.  Their professions and elite status remain secure. Ask yourself … why do environmental groups not disclose to their global audience what MUST happen if we are to avert catastrophe? Why do they ask us to buy t-shirts and high definition camcorders instead of telling us the danger that lies right outside our window? Is it so we can videotape our own demise? Ask yourself … why are those who claim to speak for civil society, who claim to represent us, not telling us we must fight for the lives of our own children? If society at large understood the unequivocal, unparalleled climate emergency about which wealthy states and key environmental groups remain silent, what would happen?
Universities as Bedfellows | Moral Nihilism
Education is …
“…one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.” – Bertrand A. Russell (1872-1970), English philosopher, mathematician, and writer
“…a state-controlled manufactory of echoes.” – Norman Douglas (1868-1952), British writer
Universities have been transformed into modern day brothels, where corporations can hire prostitutes under the guise of scientific research. Play nice = get rich. On 1 February 2007, BP announced an agreement with University of California, Berkeley for $500 million to research biofuels at a new Energy Biosciences Institute. In return, BP was given access to the university’s researchers and technology, built by decades of public investment.
Why would BP or any other corporation choose to pay for their own research institutes when they can, instead, essentially hijack a publicly funded one? BP will own all intellectual property rights of all resulting science, which it will use to effectively expand corporate profits. Such agreements most always ensure that any and all data from funded research is also owned by the funding corporation. This ensures that scientific research results that the corporations wish to be known to the public are divulged – and the scientific research results that could interfere with or even destroy corporate profit potential are buried from the public.
As neoconservative governments and governments straining under economic collapse continue to cut social programs and education, competing universities become more and more dependent on corporate funding. A brief and ultraconservative glimpse of other oil funding for university research: BP funds Princeton $15 million; Chevron funds University of California, Davis $25 million, Georgia Institute of Technology $12 million and Texas A&M, undisclosed; ConocoPhillips funds Iowa State University $22.5 million and Duke University $1 million; DuPont funds Iowa State University $1 million; and ExxonMobil funds Stanford $100 million (2007 figures). Funds provided by BP in June of 2010, after the oil spill, were dispersed to universities as follows: $5 million to Louisiana State University; $10 million to the Florida Institute of Oceanography hosted by the University of South Florida; and $10 million to the Northern Gulf Institute, a consortium led by Mississippi State University.
In June 2010, under mounting public pressure, BP agreed to provide research money to independent institutions in the Gulf region that could allocate the funds through a peer-review process – apparently with no strings attached. Writer Naomi Klein states that this is a model for research in the Gulf: paid for by the oil giants that reap the massive profits from oil and gas, but with no way for them to influence outcomes. However, BP had a back-up plan – and fortunately, there are still certain professors, scientists and perhaps universities who uphold ethics and are unwilling to compromise. On 22 July 2010, Cary Nelson, head of the American Association of University Professors, accused BP of trying to “buy” the best scientists and academics to help it contest litigation after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. “This is really one huge corporation trying to buy faculty silence in a comprehensive way,” said Nelson. “Our ability to evaluate the disaster and write public policy and make decisions about it as a country can be impacted by the silence of the research scientists who are looking at conditions…. There is a problem for a faculty member who becomes closely associated with a corporation with such powerful financial interests.” Russ Lea from the University of South Alabama stated that some clauses in the contract “were very disturbing.”
An article published on 14 January 2011 in Nature reports that “[a]t least as far back as September, BP began issuing a standard letter to independent researchers who requested samples, stating ‘Requests for source oil will be delayed…’.” Independent research has been the thorn in the side of BP and BP’s allies, correcting the “official narrative” over and over again. BP’s humiliation began with the oil-flow estimates and continued through to the “all clear” on seafood contamination. BP has effectively slammed the door on independent research by refusing to supply official samples of the Deepwater Horizon oil.
Corporate funding effectively silences dissent and buys legitimacy where none is deserved. The corporate influence and domination, like a virus, crushes imagination, strangles creativity and kills individual thought. Education pursued for the collective good is dead. Transcendent values – dead. The nurturing of individual conscience – dead. Ethical and social equity issues are framed and accepted as “passé.” Political silence reigns. Moral independence within educational institutes is being effectively decimated. It is of little surprise that empathy has declined by 40% in college students since 2000.
“In England … education produces no effect whatsoever. If it did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and would probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square.” – Oscar Wilde
In 2010, James Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers warns that we need to defend professors and graduate students against powerful corporations – and their own universities. He calls this The Canadian Corporate-Academic Complex. He writes: “As universities more aggressively embrace corporate values, corporate management practices, corporate labor-relations policies, and corporate money, faculty associations face troubling challenges. The new reality is particularly hostile to academic freedom, and we see that hostility in the actions of corporate funders and university administrators, often simultaneously.”
Indoctrination starts early. Our children’s minds are vastly deteriorating in our current education system. Ken Robinson believes that “we shouldn’t be putting them asleep, we should be waking them up to what they have inside themselves. But the model we have is this: I believe we have a system of education that is modelled on the interests of industrialism and in the image of it.” Robinson points to a test of 1,500 individuals – all tested for divergent thinking to show genius level. The individuals were kindergarten children and 98% of the children tested were genius level divergent thinkers. Five years later, the same children tested at 50%. His brilliant lecture is here and the transcript is here.
Economy is Sacrosanct
“How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.“ — Adolf Hitler
To understand why it is vital for the globally elite plutocracy to protect the current power structures that exist today, pretend you have been told that you only have a short time left to live. What would you do? Most people would work far less and probably stop working altogether if they could. Our children would become our focal point, as would time with other loved ones, and with nature. Consumer purchases and shopping would be the furthest thing from our mind. This would be the greatest threat to the global economy. If you can translate these ideas into a global society that actually understands that fossil fuels are literally killing us – that we are in a planetary emergency – would a similar shift in priorities not occur? Would our priority not become a full fledged effort to prepare our children for the future, indeed to try to ensure them a future? A complete boycott of all unnecessary consumer products. Unparalleled bank runs that would bring the entire system to its knees. All of these things that would likely happen if people were made to understand the magnitude of the climate emergency are the greatest threat to the global economy, driven and dominated by fossil fuels and the plutocracy that reaps obscene amounts of monetary wealth. Keep in mind the silent fact that the wealthiest 15% are responsible for 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Self-appointed environmental groups can claim all they like that the people cannot be told “the truth” as the fear will paralyze them into further inaction. We know this is not true. Yet NGOs continue to downplay the catastrophic risks of global climate change, even now as those risks are rapidly increasing. A paper for the Four Degrees and Beyond conference in September 2009 titled Psychological Adaptation to the Threats and Stresses of a Four Degree World, written by Clive Hamilton (Charles Sturt Professor of Public Ethics in the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the Australian National University) and Tim Kasser (professor of psychology in the Department of Psychology at Knox College, Illinois, USA) states: “At present most governments and environmental organisations adopt a ‘don’t scare the horses’ approach, fearful that exposing people fully to the scientific predictions will immobilise them. With climate scientists now stressing the need for extremely urgent action and spelling out more catastrophic impacts if action is inadequate, this now seems to us a dangerous approach to undertake.”
In every natural disaster observed and every emergency laid in front of us, we bear witness to the deeply entrenched quality of humanity that surfaces. Although our humanity has been beaten down and crushed, it still lurks under our bar-coded, desensitized skin. And in the darkest hours, history shows that ordinary citizens have over and over again come together to help one another, often risking their own lives in the process. It is clear that people are not being told the dire reality of the climate emergency in order to protect the economy. Clean, safe, renewable and perpetual zero-carbon energy independence is the greatest threat to the status quo powers that be. Yet clean, safe, renewable and perpetual zero-carbon energy independence is the greatest key to freedom for regular people and the only chance our children have to live a full, decent life.
Ignoring the Necessity of a Plant-Based Diet at Our Own Peril
“I speak the truth not so much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little more as I grow older.” Michel de Montaigne, 1533-1592
This is the section that outlines a necessary resolve, which in a healthy society most citizens would easily embrace. However, I won’t delude myself with such false illusions. Knowing of the displaced anger this issue creates, I will continue writing with no illusions that such solutions that such solutions will be embraced on a global scale. And we can thank the tobacco industry for this – the industry that brilliantly created the spin of “personal rights and freedoms” to such magnitude that we can’t get the monster back into the cage.
Today’s corporatized society consists of consumers (formerly known as citizens) who have been told – until they believe it – that it is their “right” to pollute our shared environment … their “right” to destroy our shared environment … and their “right” to poison our children, including their own. And disturbingly, our corporatized society fights for these rights whenever corporate media signals that such “rights” are about to come under threat. We have witnessed corporations in the US – a country with one of the worst health care systems in the world – successfully convince masses of followers to fight against their own healthcare reform. In Canada, instead of fighting for the right and respect to raise and nurture our own children, we demand daycare, where the lowest paid people in society raise our children. Recently in Canada, parents fought for the right to enroll their children in school at the exceptionally tender age of three.
Also in Canada, industry mobilized Canadians across the country to “fight for their right” to continue the use and expansion of the unnecessary drive-thrus at fast food joints (the lowest possible hanging fruit). The billion dollar restaurant industry convinced Canadians and politicians that it is better to leave our vehicles running than to turn them off. Tim Hortons led the battle. Who is Tim Hortons? A corporate coffee chain that uses the branding technique of patriotism, convincing consumers to wave their coffee cups like Canadian flags. Approximately one quarter of the province of Nova Scotia’s landfill is Tim Hortons garbage (2005).
The staggering number of asthmatic children (which continues to climb) and the staggering number of deaths due to air pollution were of no concern. Convenience and personal “rights” to convenience were all that mattered. And as the citizens in vulnerable countries literally die from temperatures of 52ºC, the self-entitled wealthy sit in their air-conditioned SUVs ordering McHeartAttacks and KillerCokes for their children who are now subject to an escalating health crisis of obesity and diabetes. Perhaps it is time to redefine what constitutes child abuse.
What is rarely discussed is the fact that as much as half of the annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change are now being attributed to the lifecycle and supply chain of domesticated animals raised for food. The livestock industry also contributes to massive deforestation, causing further acceleration of climate change. Due to the fact previously stated, that methane is a powerful greenhouse gas 72-100 times more powerful than carbon in the short term (5 to 20 years), how can it be that this issue is barely being discussed? Like heart disease – denying this issue constitutes a silent killer.
Livestock now accounts for up to 51% (Worldwatch Institute) of all greenhouse gas emissions.  Methane accounts for a vast amount of these emissions. Meat counts for more damage than all transportation combined on our finite planet. In June 2010 the United Nations issued a second urgent plea for a global united transition to a meat-free and dairy-free diet: “A global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty and the worst impacts of climate change.” Yet despite urgent warnings from the United Nations (the first in 2006) that countries must reduce meat consumption, this is just another lifestyle change the well-off would rather not discuss, even when this massive dent in emissions would cost nothing – we could all do it today, at our next meal. We could at least begin a transition today. Especially in light that this is one of the few solutions in the mitigation of climate change where citizens are free of government-asserted control over our decision of choice. The fact that it would be more effective in the fight to prevent catastrophic climate change to eliminate animal products from our diets than it would be to eradicate the entire globe of all vehicles of transportation combined is nothing less than incredible.
The fact that we dismiss such a simple action at the cost of future generations is revealing. What it sadly reveals is an increasingly unenlightened society that is effectively becoming more and more corroded by unadulterated individualism.
The Right to Destroy Ourselves
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” – Albert Einstein
But why give fair and just transition programs and subsidies to independent farmers for making the critical transition to organic plant-based agriculture when we can just keep giving the billion dollar multinational corporations the vast subsidies to keep destroying our planet? And why give our children – who are at the mercy of our poor decisions – a healthy and compassionate diet when we can slowly kill them with an escalating epidemic of obesity and diabetes, costing the health care system billions? But hey, as long as the cost belongs to the taxpayers while the profits from disease line the pockets of the rich, what’s the problem?
Let’s face it, there is too much money to be made by the multinational corporations, who view our families, and especially our children, as nothing more than neon-flashing dollar signs. There is just too much money to be made on drugs, treatment and disease. Prevention is the enemy of corporate profit. And why even consider transitioning to a healthy plant-based diet when, instead, corporations can set another unknown disaster into motion – in this instance, cloned meat. Our “brilliant” species can do anything – except change the very patterns that destroy our own habitat and ultimately ourselves. Burn baby burn. Drill till we’re dead. Message from corporations to consumers (formerly known as citizens): Stuff yourself with meat, hormones and additives until you explode (or the planet explodes – whichever comes first).
As an exporter of meat, dairy and wool, New Zealand’s highest climate gas emission is methane, despite having a per capita car ownership that rivals California’s. How to fix this? Simple – like the IPCC, the government simply accounts for greenhouse gas emissions but doesn’t add in agricultural methane, even though methane is far more potent than CO2. Presto! Methane is no longer a problem.
There is no choice – if we want to continue living, there must be generous subsidies to assist a global conversion from industrial livestock farming to organic, primarily plant-based, small-scale agriculture rich in biodiversity. Intensive livestock production and the intensive food production for livestock contributes to massive deforestation and loss of biodiversity. Much of the cleared land for livestock could be reforested or returned to grassland – becoming lush carbon sinks rather than degraded lands that emit deadly methane. Conserving biodiversity, as well as feeding humanity, must be a global priority over sustaining factory-farmed livestock.
Like fossil fuels, states must eliminate the massive livestock and dairy subsidies. Such subsidies continue to be accepted and relatively unchallenged as states vie for export dollars by selling meat to other nations. Trade is set to be the number one sector of all fossil fuel consumption by 2030. Further, both the fossil fuel industry and the livestock industry must internalize the full costs of all pollution, including water pollution, CO2 from deforestation, methane from decaying animal parts (among other sources) and nitrous oxide from animal waste.
Will governments create such legislation? Not likely. For behind the red velvet curtain, the corporations run the greatest puppet show on Earth. This certain cause of CO2 and methane is the easiest (and most affordable) one to tackle – yet, almost five years after the initial UN warning we are not even discussing it.
October, 2010: Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food states unequivocally:”There is currently little to rejoice about,” and “worse may still be ahead…. Current agricultural developments are… threatening the ability for our children’s children to feed themselves,” he said. “A fundamental shift is urgently required….” He continued that “giving priority to approaches that increase reliance on fossil fuels is agriculture committing suicide.” Today agriculture continues to decline because of accelerating climate change. Feeding factory-farmed livestock rather than feeding people is just one more slap in the face to human rights and social equity.
October, 2010: Scientists warn of a livestock greenhouse gas boom: “Soaring international production of livestock could release enough carbon into the atmosphere by 2050 to single-handedly exceed ‘safe’ levels of climate change.… The livestock sector’s emissions alone could send temperatures above the 2 degrees Celsius rise commonly said to be the threshold above which climate change could be destabilising.” They also make a more conservative estimate: “The sector will contribute enough greenhouse gas emissions to take up 70 per cent of the ‘safe’ 2 degree temperature rise.” The authors of the study called on governments to prioritize the reining in of the livestock sector, adding that “mobilising the necessary political will to implement such policies is a daunting but necessary prospect.” They suggest the world will have to reduce emissions by roughly 87 per cent relative to performance at a global scale in 2000.
And again, remember that 2ºC was never considered safe. From the 1990 United Nations AGGG report: “Temperature increases beyond 1°C could trigger rapid, unpredictable and non-linear responses that could lead to extensive ecosystem damage.” The absolute temperature limit of 2°C in the same report was motivated as the limit beyond which the risks of grave damage to ecosystems and of non-linear responses are expected to increase rapidly.
We Can’t Run Away from Runaway
Non-linear in this case means runaway climate change. Why was the extremely dangerous (now catastrophic) 2ºC “target” chosen? The adoption of 2ºC enabled the economic system to continue business as usual – further destruction will continue until the Earth reaches her maximum limit where catastrophe becomes unavoidable. It is now quite evident how scientists identified their role in the international climate change negotiations – to provide policymakers a danger limit rather than a limit for safety. (This race-to-the-bottom reasoning has become typical of government environmental health policymaking. Hazardous pollution and chemicals suspected of causing cancer are deemed innocent until it can be proved with virtually total certainty that they are dangerous.)
To date only James Hansen and Stephen Hawking have stated that a runaway greenhouse effect is in our realm of distinct possibility. “Runaway greenhouse effect” is a scientific term very different from the “runaway climate change” term frequently referred to. “Runaway climate change” implies an uncontrollable, rapid acceleration event – an event too extreme for humans to survive it. The scientific term “runaway greenhouse effect” means a dead Earth.
Yet scientists continue to miss the main point on what constitutes global climate catastrophe for humanity when it comes to rapid global warming and climate disruption. For humanity and animals, our survival depends on agriculture – not the Greenland ice sheet. Global climate catastrophe is already tipping agriculture into decline – yet the critical tipping point is never mentioned. All focus should be on protecting agriculture. Even the IPCC climate model ensemble states that at 3°C, our agriculture goes into decline for all crops in all regions. Even so, these ultra-conservative IPCC models do not capture approximately half of the adverse impacts. The IPCC makes the mistake of plotting crop yield change against transient temperature change rather than the full, long-term temperature change. 3°C is deadly. Therefore 2°C is deadly, because a global average temperature increase of 2ºC, along with carbon feedbacks, will lead to 3ºC. This is what makes the Arctic climate feedbacks so critical to understand. Further acceleration of global warming, coupled with the warming the planet is already committed to, sets us on a path to a certain extinction event for humanity.
A growing number of concerned scientists are now calling for urgent action to be taken on reducing methane emissions, recognizing that methane has, by far a greater and more immediate effect on the speed of temperature rise than CO2. In a world of open minds, these emissions could be dealt with in a far easier and far more expedient manner. Unfortunately, if history is any indication, instead of embracing positive change, our minds will deny the need for it – having swallowed the corporate philosophy that “personal rights trump environment” no matter what – no matter what such rights destroy in our shared environment and no matter what such rights destroy in our children’s increasingly bleak, dark future.
Turning a Blind Eye to Unintended but Entirely Predictable Consequences
Instead of realizing and embracing an opportunity for cleaner water, cleaner air and healthier bodies, we would rather risk the onslaught of new viruses cropping up due to our grossly inhumane treatment of animals. Nature has come back to bite us with foot-and-mouth disease, bird flu, avian influenza (with cases reported in the Jeolla and Chungcheong provinces of Korea caused by H5N1 virus), mad cow disease, and all other diseases related to over-consumption of meat by humans. In January 2011 it was reported that South Korea was burying thousands of pigs alive due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. As many as 34,000 pigs have been killed in a single day. Not to mention health issues related to growth hormones and antibiotics. In the US, an estimated 70 percent of all antibiotics are fed to pigs, chickens, and cattle. American livestock consumes eight times the amount of antibiotics that humans do.
Meat production has increased a staggering 500 percent since 1950 to meet the ever-expanding demand. Factory farms supply 43 percent of the world’s cows and more than half of the world’s pigs and chickens for consumption. So ugly is the industry that we keep it behind closed doors, leaving the dehumanizing task for the most exploited workforce, the immigrant workforce. We do not use the language of the animals; rather we use palatable words that diminish the reality – beef, pork and poultry.
As well, the livestock industry is a primary contributor to deforestation. Since 1970, twenty million hectares (50 million acres) of tropical forest in Latin America have been cut down for livestock production. Meat production’s environmental toll on wilderness destruction, soil erosion, energy waste, and pollution is of such unbelievable scale and magnitude, it can be difficult to comprehend. Yet, it is barely even discussed let alone acted upon.
More False Solutions
In 2011, the giant agribusiness corporation Cargill announced its plan for a bacteria-based system to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous released into a river by its Fort Morgan, Colorado beef processing facility. Consider that Cargill corporation saw its profits soar 86% during the worst of the 2008 food crisis – tallying more than $1 billion in the second quarter of 2008 alone. During this same time, pesticide and seed seller Monsanto doubled its earnings. False solutions do not address the root cause of problems – they only add sensational profits to the bottom line of the corporations. Cargill’s bacteria system is certain to be a test-run for global distribution and patents. Destruction + pollution = corporate profit. Corporations serve to further enhance and expand their portfolios by effectively obtaining/creating government contracts that “clean up” the very destruction and environmental degradation they create. Climate degradation and climate-change-induced disasters will prove to be the ultimate shock doctrine for corporate profit.
And while our corporatized society dangerously distracts itself – by developing false-solution technologies and seeking grant money for further studies – the real issues, the root causes, remain unresolved. In Canada, rather than addressing the root of the problem – the massive environmental degradation and methane resulting from factory farmed pigs – the University of Guelph, heavily funded with corporate dollars, has created a genetically engineered “enviropig.”
An accepted example of the status quo “solution” is recycling. We neglect to critically examining the root cause – which is the production of the waste in the first place. We reject real solutions such as cradle to cradle life cycle analysis and zero waste/zero emissions (ZERI) concept principles, coupled with legislation that would demand that we achieve zero waste. Rather, we recycle. Yet, even if 100% of all private households in the US recycled 100% of their solid waste, this would add up to 1% of all the solid waste produced in the US.  This is what happens when you have the world’s largest waste management systems funding big greens such as Rockefeller’s lovechild, WWF. Of course, only if we evolve to a level of enlightenment where we are able to separate our wants from our needs while flat out rejecting consumerism and green capitalism, even meticulously critiqued production will fail us.
Next: Part IV:
- Compromised Science | Serving the Propaganda Machine
- The Seafloor is Teaming with Recently Discovered Life – A Vital Component of Earth’s Carbon Cycle that Governs Climate
- Coconut Revolution
- While We Sleep | Corporate Greed – How to Create a Market
Cory Morningstar is climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on Canadians for Action on Climate Change and The Art of Annihilation site where you can read her bio. You can follow her on Twitter: @elleprovocateur
References | Part III:
 Sustainable Development: ConocoPhillips: “Our company has been working on natural gas hydrate extraction technology since 2003 and is dedicating significant research and development resources to a field trial on Alaska’s North Slope. This well will be drilled to gain scientific knowledge and test a patented production technology which was developed by ConocoPhillips and the University of Bergen (Norway). ConocoPhillips and the University have been developing this technology since 2003. This trial represents the first experiment outside a laboratory of this production technology in which a carbon dioxide molecule is exchanged for the methane molecule locked up in the hydrate’s structure. The methane gas is produced, and the carbon dioxide is sequestered inside the hydrate structure. Methane hydrates hold a significant potential to supply the world with clean fossil fuel. This trial is an important step in developing a promising production technology to access this potential and ultimately to produce methane from gas hydrates while sequestering carbon dioxide.”
 The formation of methane hydrates takes a very long time, so they cannot be considered as a renewable energy source: the present deposits have probably been formed over a period of several million years (Davie, M. K., and B. A. Buffett, A numerical model for the formation of gas hydrate below the seafloor, J. Geophys. Res., 106, 497–514, 2001)
 Further information presented on 30 November – 2 December 2010 in Washington, US, by leading scientists Natalia Shakhova (University of Alaska, Fairbanks, International Arctic Research Centre, USA) and Igor Semiletov (Russian Academy of Sciences, Far Eastern Branch, Pacific Oceanological Institute, Vladivostok, Russia) is briefly as follows: 80% of the total area of sub-sea permafrost is in the East Siberia Arctic Shelf (ESAS) with shallow hydrates underlain in more than 80% of the ESAS area. Observational data suggest 80% of the ESAS sea floor serves as a source of methane to the water column. Arctic warming affects the ESAS the strongest: Observed warming on the ESAS is the strongest in the entire Arctic and the region is now 5°C warmer compared with average springtime temperatures registered during the 20th century. During the last two decades areas of flaw polynyas in the ESAS increased 5 times (flaw polynyas allow atmospheric methane emissions during the ice-covered period). One additional factor serving to enhance permafrost destabilization in the ESAS has been the warming of bottom water – up to 3°C during the last three decades. Considering the significance of the ESAS methane reservoir and enhancing mechanism of its destabilization, this region should be considered the most potential in terms of possible climate change caused by abrupt release of methane.
 D Nicolsky and N Shakhova, Modeling sub-sea permafrost in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf: the Dmitry Laptev Strait: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/5/1/015006/
 Together, the top six big greens in the US received nearly $2.1 billion in total revenue from all sources in 2008. But not to worry, the average of $160 million per group that was government funded using your tax dollars wasn’t critical to the financial health of the six. This is just a drop in the bucket in the elitist non-profit industrial complex; Frederic Krupp, President of Environmental Defense Fund, $496,17; Cater Roberts, President of World Wildlife Fund, $486,394; Frances Beinecke, President of Natural Resources Defense Council, $432,959; David Yarnold, Executive Director of Environmental Defense Fund, $365,773; David Festa, V.P. West Coast Environmental Defense Fund, $360,872; Stephanie Meeks, Acting President of Nature Conservatory, $349,873; Larry Schweiger, President, National Wildlife Federation, $345,004; Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Centre on Global Climate Change, $335,099; Roger Shlickeisen, President, Defenders of Wildlife, $312,896; William Meadows, President, The Wilderness Society, $308,465.
 The United Nations FAO calculates the total greenhouse gas emissions attributed to livestock to be 18%: The FAO states that “livestock-related deforestation as reported from, for example, Argentina is excluded ” from its GHG accounting. Second, the FAO omits farmed fish from its definition of livestock and so fails to count GHGs from their life cycle and supply chain. It also omits GHG emissions from portions of the construction and operation of marine and land-based industries dedicated to handling marine organisms destined to feed livestock (up to half the annual catch of marine organisms). Read a further explanation on why the UN calculation is lower here.
 C & J Plant (1991). Green business: hope or hoax. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers.
A Killer in Our Midst | http://www.killerinourmidst.com/
Only Zero Carbon | http://www.onlyzerocarbon.org/
Media Education Foundation | http://www.mediaed.org/
Post Cancún: North America. The New Energy Kingdom
On 13 December 2010 directly following the disastrous Cancún conference (“one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War” ), a revealing post is found on the “oilprice.com” website. The article is titled North America: The New Energy Kingdom. From the article: “Beyond shale oil and shale gas, there’s the awesome energy promise of methane hydrates, frozen crystals of water and gas that lie beneath the northern permafrost and beneath oceans floors around the world in quantities that boggle the imagination.”
“Assuming 1 per cent recovery,” the US Geological Survey says, “these deposits [in US territory] could meet the natural gas needs of the country (at current rates of consumption) for 100 years.” The obstructionist corporate-colluded states – the ones responsible for climate change in the first place – have no intention of going to zero carbon in the single decade as direly warned by Hans Joachim Schellnhuber (director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) in 2009 – what is necessary for the world to avoid reaching and exceeding a global catastrophic 2ºC. They have no intention of going to zero, ever, until the Earth is literally drilled to death – or we annihilate humanity. Whichever comes first.
NASA Has Known All Along
As we work like the busy little worker proles we are, amusing ourselves with irrelevant trivia and nonsense, the global power structures that form the plutocracy have long understood our future demise at the expense of an insatiable economy – and have kept silent. In a 2007 NASA report titled Methane Hydrates: More Than a Viable Aviation Fuel Feedstock Option, NASA unequivocally states that it is not a matter of if the methane from hydrates escapes, rather it is only a matter of when: “The unabated release of methane sequestered in these hydrates could impact the planet to the point of extinction of life as we understand it. Considering the predicted Earth thermal events, the stability of methane hydrates, and the impact of methane on the environment, the question is not will this methane be released, but when. It is suggested in this report that enhanced efforts be placed on a comprehensive program to locate, assess, and recover the sequestered methane at surface levels to meet the energy demand rather than permitting natural release into the environment.” The report later states, “Still, the world energy producers and consumers are encouraged to turn to the Sun and learn to capture, store, condition, and transmit that energy to meet energy needs and to maintain planetary stability.” Fat chance. Corporations would only be interested in the sun if they could drill it.
Blinded by Addiction: Methane Hydrates – The Oil of the Future
The OECD originated in 1948 as the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC). In the early 1990s, intergovernmental negotiations soon transformed the vision of prevention into a more restricted mitigation/adaptation agenda. By 1992 it is clear that influential interest groups and powerful institutions had become heavily involved in the negotiations, including the OECD, OPEC countries, oil-importing developing nations and private industry/corporations. The OECD has been heavily criticized by several civil society groups as well as developing states. The main criticism has been the narrowness of the OECD on account of its limited membership to a select few wealthy states. 
An unclassified document was prepared in May 2003 by the OECD and the International Energy Agency (IEA) Secretariats at the request of the Annex I Expert Group on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The acknowledgements cite Cédric Philibert at the IEA who prepared the document while thanking the US’s Jonathan Pershing for the information, comments and ideas he provided.
From the unclassified document: Technology Innovation, Development and Diffusion – OECD/IEA Information Paper:
“No technology currently exists to use this enormous energy resource. Depressurisation, thermal stimulation and solvent injection are possible candidates for commercial exploitation – but a prerequisite would be to develop tools for identifying and characterising concentrated deposits. If a technology were to be developed, it could have, with respect to climate change, a kind of Janus’ double face. On the one hand, it could prolong the era of fossil fuels and ultimately add a supplementary 10 000 Pg of carbon into the atmosphere (on top of the 5 000 Pg from the combustion of the currently known fossil resource base). Absent associated developments of CO2 capture and storage technologies, such uses would imply an increase in atmospheric concentrations of up to 20-fold (substantially higher than the seven-fold increase projected with full combustion of current resources). On the other hand, such developments could stimulate the near-term replacement of coal and oil.” [Gas hydrates may contain three orders of magnitude more methane than exists in today's atmosphere. Because hydrate breakdown, causing release to the atmosphere, can be related to global temperature increases, gas hydrates may play an even more important role in global climate change.]
The introduction within this document correctly identifies that only zero carbon can stabilize our planet: “… the ultimate objective of the UN Convention on Climate Change: ‘stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.’ Such an achievement is likely to eventually require near elimination of CO2 emissions. Without radical changes in lifestyles, only a massive deployment of carbon-free (or close to carbon-free) energy technologies can power the world economy and satisfy growing energy needs, especially of the developing world, while making stabilisation sustainable over the long term.” Yet, the authors of this document cite the solution of “new technologies” as playing the critical role in achieving the UN objective of avoiding dangerous atmospheric interference — outlining pages of false solutions that will continue to line the bank vaults of corporate powers and keep the power structures intact.
The truth that few wish to acknowledge is that a radical change in our economic system must be the imperative central role and task of this ultimate objective, along with the existing clean, safe, renewable technologies we already possess – the ones that serve to benefit citizens throughout the world with energy independence but which are the greatest threat to the very foundation of corporate powers. A further truth is that we are already beyond dangerous climate interference in the climate system – made clear by John Holdren in 2006.
The OECD report says “without radical changes in lifestyles” – omitting the fact that the wealthiest 15% are responsible for 75% of global emissions. The remaining 85% of humanity emit only 25% of all emissions while the poorest 3 billion emit essentially nothing. Such brilliant tactics using language and framing have been essential in ensuring that current power structures remain unthreatened. Such tactics have thus far succeeded in keeping global citizens in the dark by essentially employing “big green” co-opted NGOs who reverberate the same messages and language. These co-opted groups serve their vital purpose – to successfully lend the illusion of democracy, which is critical in ensuring the public is kept passive, thereby ensuring the system will not be threatened in any meaningful way. The message is consistent and repetitive: place the emphasis on the individual, frame the climate issue around false solutions of green consumerism and symbolic actions, keep the dialogue successfully away from the root causes of climate change – thereby ensuring business as usual and uninterrupted profits.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), who wrote the unclassified document mentioned above:
- Fossil fuels account for almost 90% of the growth in energy demand between now and 2030. Energy trade between regions more than doubles by 2030, most of it still in the form of oil.
- Global emissions grow 62% between now and 2030.
- Global oil demand for transport increases very closely in line with GDP.
- World emissions increase by 1.8 % per year to 38 billion tonnes in 2030 – 70% above 2000 levels.
Make no mistake that world governments have no plans of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Global emissions are set to soar and no one disputes this. A MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) video filmed in September 2010 showcasing the views of Shell and ExxonMobil executives begins with the statement: “But the truth is that a civilization is largely defined by the energy technologies they use.” If this is true, we can easily and truthfully define, at minimum, our own ethically bankrupt society 1) by the unconcealed disrespect for our Earth, which graciously sustains us; 2) as a society that commits and condones infanticide, genocide, ecocide and now progenycide; 3) as a society that condones occupations and invasions; 4) as a socially bankrupt society that easily exploits others with no empathy; and 5) as a society that places economic value over the value of life. In the film, a comment follows: ” … powering the planet we actually possess.” The narcissistic tendencies of those at the centre of the energy dialogue are spectacular beyond imagination.
Below: Shell promotional video. November 2010 (3:32). Shell Arctic Exploration Program. The Next Chapter in Alaska’s Oil and Gas History:
Information not made public until July 18, 2007 in a working document by the National Petroleum Council’s Oil Shales and Hydrates Subgroup of the Technology Task Group of the NPC Committee on Global Oil & Gas Study showed that worldwide, only a few dozen boreholes have been drilled with most being drilled offshore Japan in 2004 and offshore India in 2006.  NPC further states that comprehensive reports of these campaigns are not in the public domain, so there is little public record available to assess the efficacy of exploration paradigms. NPC states it is unclear how much information from these tests will be made public.
Brief Timeline of Hydrate Drilling Development | Halliburton, ChevronTexaco, BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil and Friends
In 1970, Soviet scientists discussed the possibility that methane hydrates could exist in large volumes in the earth’s crust. By 1972 methane hydrates were recovered from the Black Sea. Once the presence of global hydrates was confirmed and it was proven that the volume of gas was massive, the next question, for states and corporations, was how to exploit it. The US Geological Survey estimates that globally, there is twice as much methane trapped in hydrates as there is carbon in all the world’s conventional fossil fuels. One can imagine that the sheer volume of these hydrates would have had corporations with corporate-colluded governments salivating over the potential profits of what will become our species’ greatest assault and most reckless exploitation of our Earth to date.
1982: A US Department of Defense report states that following the discovery of massive hydrate deposits off the coast of Guatemala in 1982, the US Department of Energy (DOE), in collaboration with other organizations, embarked on a ten-year program to establish a foundation on methane hydrate science.
March 1995: Chemical Engineering News: Gas hydrates eyed as future energy source: “An icelike material that occurs in underground deposits all over the world and is composed largely of water and methane may turn out to be an unconventional energy source for the future – if scientists can find a way to tap it. Global deposits of this material, known as methane (or gas) hydrate, are estimated to contain twice as much carbon as all other fossil fuels on Earth. But tapping this enormous potential energy resource may not be as easy as drilling for oil or natural gas. Nevertheless, scientists and engineers are now beginning to develop strategies to exploit methane hydrate. And some of their ideas were aired in late February in Atlanta at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.”
Canada, Japan, India, and the United States launched ambitious research projects. Canada has led with university-driven research since 1985, focused mainly on the west coast and the Arctic.
In 1997, the US Department of Energy initiated a research program with intent of commercial production by 2015. In 2000, US Congress would authorize funding via the Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act of 2000. The Interagency Coordination Committee (ICC), a coalition of six government agencies, has been advancing research on several fronts. President Clinton signed the act, which authorized approximately $50 million over five years for research.
1998: Three very quiet research programs have also taken place over the last decade at the Mackenzie Delta at the Mallik research site. In 1998, led by leading climate obstructionist Canada along with Japan, the 1150 metre deep Mallik 2L-38 well was completed. For the first time, cores were brought to the surface from an Arctic methane hydrate. In 2002 the second phase of this research project commenced, this time with a country partnership: Canada, Japan, Germany, USA and India. Three additional wells were completed and the first production test was completed. This was the first time gas would be flared from a drilled hydrate. Canada conducted its efforts under its “New Canadian Gas Hydrate Research Program” supported by the Geological Survey of Canada. The Canadian gas hydrate program focused on the marine region around Vancouver Island and Arctic region around the Mackenzie Delta.
2000: The US government passed the Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act. The Act authorized the expenditure of $43 million over five years and directs the US Department of Energy in consultation with the US Geological Survey, the Minerals Management Service, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Commerce to commence basic and applied research to identify, explore, assess and develop methane hydrates as a source of energy.
2000: From the Gas Methane Hydrates – Research Status, Annoted Bibliography, and Energy Implications Final Report, prepared for the DoE: “Theoretically, it appears possible that a single explosive methane release, such as may occur with a large seafloor collapse event, could cause a significant climate change over a short time period.”
2002: This marketing video (posted on vimeo 12 June 2010) chronicles the Mallik 2002 gas hydrate research well program. The video is courtesy of the Japan National Oil Corporation Technology Research Center (JNOCTRC) and the Geological Survey of Canada.
2002: The US Department of Energy and BP Exploration (Alaska), Inc. (BPXA), in cooperation with the US Geological Survey (USGS), initiated a research program on Alaska North Slope (ANS) methane hydrates.
2002-2006: Gulf of Mexico Bush Hill Project: The project consisted of two field expeditions having the acronym GHOST to research methane gas hydrates at and near the seafloor in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The first of two research cruises took place June 6-14, 2002 aboard the R/V Seward Johnson. Two sites, Green Canyon 185 (Bush Hill) and Green Canyon 234, were selected for study based on their well-mapped and well-characterized shallow gas hydrate outcrops.
The USGS estimates about 2.4Tm³ (85Tcf; 15Bboe) of undiscovered, technically recoverable gas resources within gas hydrates in Alaska. The area is mostly Federal, State, and Native lands covering 145,000 km² (the equivalent of some 25 North Sea quadrants). Photo: OilEdge.com
US Department of Defense
“The worldwide distribution of this energy resource has the potential for changing the balance of power.” – Brad Tomer, Department of Defense “Future Energy Resources” Workshops, May 2003
17 December 2003: The US Department of Defense (DOD) brings forth major recommendations from a workshop series: 1) That the DOD immediately conduct an in-depth study to identify the S&T (science and technology) and later the R&D (research and development) needed to assure that its future fuel and energy needs are met. The report states: “In this regard, consideration should be given to establish a position in the office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy that would be responsible for future DOD energy needs. This position would report directly to the Secretary of Defense and would coordinate with the energy and fuel offices in the individual services and with the office of the Secretary of Energy. The results of the in-depth DOD study would be reported to the Secretary of Defense, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, and the Secretary of Energy with the necessary information upon which to establish future programs.”
During the early 1990s it was recognized that more organic carbon is stored within hydrates than is present in all the world’s coal, oil and non-hydrate natural gas combined. The DOD report states that “Concerns were raised on the linkage of hydrate deposits to catastrophic instability of continental shelves and to the lack of understanding of the global carbon cycle. These preliminary findings also raised the question on the role of periodic and massive dissociation of methane from hydrates over geologic time in affecting the earth’s climate.” A structuring of a program plan was formulated from two workshops conducted by DOE in 1998 and 2000 with the Gulf of Mexico having been a focal point for extensive studies in partnership with industries such as ChevronTexaco, Schlumberger, Conoco Phillips and Halliburton. USGS, Center for Marine Resources and Environmental Technology (CMRET) and Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) were principal participants in this study. The other focal point in the Arctic fields, in collaboration with an international partnership, has been directed to drilling and tests at the Mallik well in the Mackenzie Delta of Canada.
Within the DOD report it is identified that energy corporations are short-term focused, as evidenced in the declining corporate support on energy research during the last decade. Any investment in research is driven only by expectations of short-term returns or prevention of losses in monetary profits. Investments made by Anadarko and BP on the North Slope of Alaska in pursuit of exploiting methane hydrates resulted from the Mallik well project in Canada and the US market for natural gas. A so-called “gas bubble” during the decade between 1985 and 1995 when it is said that an excess of natural gas on the market stabilized the gas price at $1.60 per thousand cubic feet (106 BTU), rapidly accelerated from 1996 to 1999 increasing to $2.35. It continued to increase during 2000 to an average price of $3.72, the price at the time of the Department of Defense workshop. And consider this – while the Earth burns, ecosystems collapse, species are decimated and people die – oil companies’ profits skyrocket. In 2007, the combined profits of Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, ChevronTexaco and ConocoPhillips skyrocketed to $123.9 billion. In 2008, Exxon Mobil alone posted a record $45.2 billion profit. Meanwhile, ordinary citizens are left to pay for the phenomenal externalized costs ( oil-related health and environmental damage) – in the range of $232 billion annually. The United Nations reported that in 2008 the world’s largest corporations caused $2.2 trillion dollars’ worth of environmental damage. If these corporations were not able to externalize these costs by way of destroying and poisoning the natural environment, at least one-third of their profits would be lost.
These are perfect examples of the fact that within the corporate world, where quarterly profits are sacrosanct, a simple pollution tax – to be taxed at the source – would effectively force the energy markets to transition to clean renewable technologies almost overnight. Remember – for corporations it is only the quarterly profits that matter – little else.
Unfortunately we no longer have governments of the people – but rather governments of the corporation, by the corporation and for the corporation. The US president may, for all illusionary purposes, be a man with the brand name of “Obama” – but he is certainly not the one pulling the strings in the greatest puppet show on Earth.
June 2004: The American Geological Institute, Tapping methane hydrates in the Gulf: “For decades, oil companies have punched through large deposits of icy hydrocarbons in the Gulf of Mexico to reach the regular oil and gas deposits that sit below them. Starting this fall, after some delays, an industry-government effort will finally begin to examine those methane hydrate deposits more carefully — for their stability during drilling and their potential as a future energy source…. Funded largely by DOE [US Department of Energy], the interdisciplinary project was first broached in August 2000. ChevronTexaco organized the research in 2001, and now more than half a dozen companies and agencies participate, including Japan National Oil Company, Halliburton, India’s Reliance Industries and TotalFinaElf.” [August, 2010: The Energy Vampires: "The global elite know that energy is paramount to life. Control over energy means control over people. Four giant companies are now making a play to own not just all the oil, but virtually all energy sources on the planet. Royal Dutch/Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco & BP Amoco."]
March 2005: An International Association of Drilling Contractors paper in reference to a the methane discussion at a conference in 2004: “To achieve the longterm goals of the US Federal Government in regard to energy supplies of the US, the Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to developing the knowledge and technology base to allow commercial production of methane from domestic hydrates deposits by the year 2015…. Under changing geological conditions hydrates can dissociate and be released gradually or explosively depending on how rapidly the pressure drops or on how the temperature increases. The magnitude of this previously unknown global storehouse of methane is staggering and has raised serious inquiries….”
The Mt. Elbert-01 stratigraphic test well, Milne Point Unit on the North Slope of Alaska, collected the first open-hole formation pressure response data in a gas hydrate reservoir. This test and reservoir simulations are some of the first steps that could lead to production of hydrate reservoirs. Photo: Tim Collett, USGS | OilEdge.com
February 2007: Petroleum News: “BP-operated Mount Elbert well confirms presence of gas hydrate accumulation and enables coring and testing of gas hydrate zone. A joint government, industry and university team investigating gas hydrate deposits under Alaska’s North Slope hit the jackpot in mid-February, when the BP-operated Mount Elbert stratigraphic test well successfully penetrated several hundred feet of hydrate bearing sandstone at Milne Point. The first ever retrieval of North Slope gas hydrate well cores and the second ever test anywhere in the world of the pressure response of gas hydrates.” The US DOE funded the $4.6 million test well. Due to the extraordinary amounts of hydrate, US Congress has taken a big interest in funding research, authorizing more than $200 million in spending since 2000.
2007 and 2008: Japan (JOGMEC) and Canada (NRCan) returned to the Mallik site to initiate a new testing program that focused on a full scale production draw down test. The 2007 tests were the world’s first gas production from exploiting methane hydrate.
Forbes 29 August 2008: Energy’s Most Dangerous Game: “Welcome to the final frontier in fossil fuels, the wild card in climate change theories and the dark horse in the scramble to secure access to clean energy. Meet methane hydrates, the world’s most promising and perilous energy resource…. A substantial amount of evidence suggests that weakening the lattice-like structure of gas hydrates has triggered underwater landslides on the continental margin. In other words, the extraction process, if done improperly, could cause sudden disruptions on the ocean floor, reducing ocean pressure rates and releasing methane gas from hydrates. A mass release of methane into the sea and atmosphere could have catastrophic consequences on the pace of climate change. More than 50 million years ago, undersea landslides resulted in the release of methane gas from methane hydrate, which contributed to global warming that lasted tens of thousands of years. ‘Methane hydrate was a key cause of the global warming that led to one of the largest extinctions in the earth’s history,’ Ryo Matsumoto, a professor at the University of Tokyo who has spent 20 years researching the subject, told Bloomberg in December.”
12 November 2008: USGS Director Mark Myers states that gas hydrates research has been going on for more than 25 years.
March 2008: The Mallik 5L-38 test produced the world’s first gas flare of methane from a hydrate reservoir. The test lasted six days producing 13,000 m³ of gas.
Photo: 2006-08 Canada-Japan Mallik Project - located in the Canadian Arctic off the Mackenzie Delta. Photo: OilEdge.com
2010: A small army of representatives from universities, scientists, oil executives and others write the 2005-page book titled Realizing the Energy Potential of Methane Hydrate for the United States. It includes a project summary table.
In 2010 “big green” organization WWF identifies on their website the fact that the extraction of methane hydrates from the Arctic region for energy use is banned by Arctic governments unless a comprehensive and verifiable legal agreement is in place to restrict their use to replace high carbon fuels like coal.
Video below (2010 | 0:55) created by PolarTREC teacher Bill Schmoker onboard the International Continental Shelf Survey. This was the first piston core that returned a gas hydrate sample in the core cutter. The hydrate was about 20 feet beneath the sea floor:
One of the largest landslides in Earth’s history occurred not on land, but underwater, off the coast of Norway during the Holocene epoch approximately 8,200 years ago. This event, known as the Storegga (big edge) Submarine Landslide, caused massive amounts of sediments to slide approximately 800 kilometres down the continental slope. This event triggered a massive tsunami, as high as 25 meters, that struck both Norway and Scotland. Afterwards, the seafloor was wiped clean of all life. Scientists suspect that the entire disaster happened in a very short time – a few weeks or perhaps a few days. Perhaps two hours. At the time of the Storegga slide, the hydrate was being melted by global warming. An earthquake possibly triggered the slide. More recently, in 1998, Russian scientists discovered an unstable hydrate field near the site of the Storegga slide. Scientists believe that a rapid decomposition of hydrates, related to temperature and pressure changes at the end of the last ice age, destabilized the sediments, causing the disaster. Methane hydrates should be considered as nature’s cement foundations. A frozen hydrate that cements sediments together – vital if you wish to keep ecosystems and lands intact. When you remove the methane hydrate, the seafloor destabilizes. Marine geologist James Kennett of the University of California suggests that bursts of methane from seafloor hydrates were synchronous with, and largely responsible for, virtually all the warmings the planet has experienced over the last 800,000 years. Other scientists suggest that changes in ocean currents triggered such methane bursts by channeling warmer water over continental slopes, as at Storegga.
A research paper published 21 June 2010 warns of a massive methane release triggered by seafloor erosion offshore near southwestern Japan: “Vast amounts of methane hydrate exist beneath continental margins, but whether this methane releases from sediment on a large scale and affects the oceans and atmosphere remains unclear. Analysis of newly acquired three-dimensional seismic images and drilling data from a large gas hydrate province reveal a recently eroded v-shaped depression. The depression sharply cuts through a relic bottom simulating reflection (BSR) and hydrate-laden sediments. The shape of the relic BSR indicates that the seafloor depression was once a large anticline that has recently been eroded and released an estimated 1.51 × 1011 m3 of methane. We hypothesize that erosion of the seafloor via bottom-water currents unroofed buoyant hydrate-laden sediments and subhydrate overpressured free gas zones beneath the anticline. Once triggered, gas-driven erosion created a positive feedback mechanism, releasing gas and eroding hydrate-bearing sediment. We suggest that erosive currents in deep-water methane hydrate provinces act as hair triggers, destabilizing kilometer-scale swaths of the seafloor where large concentrations of underlying overpressured methane exist. Our analysis suggests that kilometer-scale degassing events are widespread, and that deep-water hydrate reservoirs can rapidly release methane in massive quantities.”
By 2010 internet searches for the word “methane” are quietly exposing the very silent discussions, papers and investment data on the quietly emerging topic of drilling methane hydrates. No longer surprising, the most lethal component of climate change is now being viewed by multinational corporations and corporate-colluded governments as the ultimate in potential climate wealth. Most recently, in a bid to shore up its precarious energy security, Japan is to start commercial test drilling for frozen methane gas along its coast early this year. (Japan’s trade ministry has requested a budget of $105.6 million (US) for the drilling.) The issue is barely controversial as few are hardly aware of it. A corporate consortium led by the Japanese government including Japan Oil and Gas and Metals National Corporation (Jogmec) will be sinking several wells off Japan’s southeastern coast to assess the commercial viability of extracting gas from frozen methane. Surveys suggest Japan has enough methane hydrate for 100 years at the current rate of usage. Tokyo plans to start commercial output of methane hydrates by 2018.
UNEP Climbs in Bed with Shell and EDF Energy
25 February 2010: United Nations Environment Programme announces the “UNEP Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates” initiative: “UNEP/GRID-Arendal, a collaborating center of the United Nations Environment Programme, announces the launch of a new initiative dedicated with bringing to the attention of the general public, the media and decision makers the latest knowledge research and development being conducted in relation to occurrences of methane gas hydrates.” On March 4 and 5, 2010, 24 delegates from Norway, the United States, Canada, Germany, Japan, Korea and India, representing government, academia, industry and the NGO community, gathered at the offices of UNEP/GRID-Arendal in Arendal, Norway to discuss the development of the Global Outlook on Methane Gas Hydrates. Who was representing the NGO community? It was the consultant and former director of the WWF Arctic. In the 2007 Report to Congress, Richard Charter, representative of NGO Defenders of Wildlife, is listed as a member of the Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee.
Highlights of key decisions made by the steering committee in the first UNEP meeting held in March 2010 include:
• Engage with and include environmental NGOs and the media early on in the process.
• Develop a FAQ section that can be used both for marketing purposes and as a volume guide.
• Develop project material toolkits based on the different target audiences (government and industry toolkit, media toolkit, NGO toolkit, education system toolkit)
• General consensus is that a broad spectrum of the expert community needs to be engaged in the process to ensure its robustness to scrutiny.
August 2010: UNEP: “Expertise from 7 national research groups (US, Canada, Germany, Norway, Japan, India, Korea), industry (Statoil, Schlumberger) and NGOs (Forum for the Future) has been assembled to guide the development of the report. As a first milestone, a project website has now been launched.” So while your favourite big green NGO continues the symbolic echoing that “we need to work harder than ever!” (never telling us the truth of what we really must do or achieve – or how much time we have to do so), and while your favourite big green works to convince you that you merely need to keep hoping, while using other strategic language that is meaningless in the face of climate catastrophe – “Forum of the Future” NGOs are and will be partnered with “some of the best-known brands in the world” including giants like Royal Dutch Shell, EDF energy and many others. [The late Godfrey Rockefeller (1924-2010) was the WWF Executive Director. Godfrey Rockefeller played a vital role in the founding and creation of WWF, which has become the wealthiest "conservation" group in the world.]
January 2011: Canada’s Globe and Mail reports the UN Environment Program describes methane hydrates as “the most abundant form of organic carbon on Earth.”
Sampled and inferred gas hydrates occur world wide in oceanic sediment of continental margins and in permafrost regions. Inferred gas hydrates are from bottom simulating reflectors (BSRs) on seismic profiles. The Mt. Elbert and Mallik test sites are located at the top of the map. ©USGS | Photo: OilEdge.com
Burn Baby Burn
“The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences….” – Sir Winston Churchill
Countries have been exploring how to exploit methane hydrates for years, some for decades. These countries include: Russia (1969), U.S. (DoE has sponsored some research on methane hydrate since at least 1982), Canada (1985), Japan (1995), New Zealand (1997), Germany (2000), Chile (2001), South Korea (2000), Ireland (2003), China (2004), Mexico (2004), Taiwan (2004) and India (2006). United Kingdom, Norway and France also are participating in hydrate methane research though it appears they are not focusing on exploration. China and South Korea are seeking to develop the extraction technology, and each is now exploring the mining of methane hydrates from their own sea beds. In 2010, at a cost of $37 million, South Korea hired a deep-water drilling ship to sink 32 holes in a sea basin south of the Dokdo Islands, which are disputed with Japan. Japan has spent more than $260 million since 2001 on research into methane hydrates.
Recently (17 October 2009), Beijing (AsiaNews) reported that a huge methane reservoir was discovered under the tundra of Tibet. A representative of the Chinese Ministry for Land and Resources stated “The secret to energy independence for China is hidden, opening up the road to environmentally sustainable development without oil,” adding “Under the ice of Tibet and Qinghai our geologists have found the largest underground reservoir of methane hydrates. Immediately after the announcement, the Shanghai market witnessed the value of the energy company shares sky rocket.”
A recent study of the Indian continental margin has confirmed the presence of methane hydrates in four offshore basins. They found one of the richest methane hydrate accumulations yet documented as well as the thickest and deepest methane hydrate stability zone near the Andaman Islands, both in the Bay of Bengal.
The US Department of Energy is spending at minimum $12 million to help ConocoPhillips test an experimental extraction technique on Alaska’s North Slope, which will incorporate the false solution of CCS (carbon capture and storage, as with shale drilling, has already proven to be a spectacular failure). Although these Arctic hydrates could become commercially viable as soon as 2015, the US and corporations are currently enjoying massive profits from shale gas (fracking) on the backs of poisoning the people. In 2009, US available natural gas resources increased by 11 percent due to shale gas mining – the biggest single-year jump in history. But, as history shows, corporate greed is unapologetic, deadly and insatiable and the thirst to dominate this industry will soon rear its ugly head.
In 2009 Russia warned of war within a decade over “Arctic oil and gas riches”. In Canada, the Harper minority government has the propaganda machine working overtime, selling the lie of “Climate Prosperity” to Canadian citizens while investing 16 billion tax dollars to friends at Lockheed Martin for F-35 stealth fighter jets. Will Korea and Iran be the next Iraq and Afghanistan – to be decimated and occupied under imperialist countries such as US and Canada? Will Japan and South Korea go to war over the disputed Dokdo Islands? Future wars over waters that hold methane hydrates, in the midst of a global water crisis, are not implausible. The Caspian Sea (a basin) is a land-locked body of salt water bordered by Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. Not only does it harbour oil reserves (that could exceed $5 trillion, according to some estimates), the sea also holds massive amounts of natural gas (up to 325 trillion cubic feet) as well as an immense amount of methane hydrates. The dangers of drilling in the Caspian Sea have been made clear.
Naïveté is Deadly
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – Lord Acton
A scientific paper on methane hydrates in the Caspian Sea was prepared for presentation at the Offshore Technology Conference (Houston, Texas US, 6-9 May 2002) using Chevron’s internal reports and samples from 1998. From the report: “The gas hydrates of the South Caspian region prove to be widespread features of the deepwater of the South Caspian Sea, buried deposits well beneath the seafloor, and accordingly, they may represent significant and previously underestimated geo-hazards….From a structural viewpoint, the Absheron gas hydrates appear to control a large (~200 m2) zone of recent and possibly ongoing deformation on the continental slope of the South Caspian Sea. Such attributes make these gas hydrates important, and perhaps previously underestimated, geohazards of the South Caspian region. Primary among these are uncontrolled release of free gas trapped beneath the hydrate seal, or disruption of the gas hydrate stability field leading to either explosive dissociation of the gas hydrate, or reduction in sediment strength, slope instability, and mass sediment transport. Association of gas hydrates with active mud volcanoes in the South Caspian Sea increases the potential for offshore flaming eruptions, as attested to in historical records.”
There was a reason why the Cancún set of “agreements” was nothing more than an agreement to do nothing. Melting permafrost and venting methane hydrates – the greatest accelerating threat to all life on Earth – are seen to those blinded by stupidity, greed and psychopathic tendencies as nothing less than the ultimate climate wealth jackpot with global warming having opened up the Arctic.
Burn baby burn. Keep raping and pillaging our Earth to burn ever more earth-locked hydrocarbons as we apparently have not suffered enough to learn. And as we continue to burn the fossil fuels, burn with them the dreams of the children of those most vulnerable whose lives will be annihilated for short-term monetary wealth. The insanity is breathtaking.
Lying hundreds of metres below the sea and deeper still below sediments, frozen methane gas is exceedingly difficult and extremely dangerous to extract as the pressure is enormous. If Japan “succeeds,” it will have a massive impact, equivalent to the use of shale gas now being witnessed in the United States.
Global fossil fuel subsidies amount to hundreds of billions of dollars per year ($558 billion in 2008 – the year of the stealthily planned financial crisis). To be clear, our corporate-controlled states have no intention of abandoning fossil fuels. On the contrary – in brilliant stealth – they have plans to expand fossil fuels even further. No one plans on stopping them. In contrast, union workers, citizens and activists who challenge corporate profit and power in developing countries are brutally assassinated – by the hundreds.
Without a mobilization of unparalleled magnitude to a zero carbon economy in greenhouse gas-emitting developed states such as the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia – within years, not decades – the world will not avoid a catastrophic 2ºC rise in global average temperature. It’s that simple. Nature will not compromise nor negotiate these terms.
Yes, Virginia – There is a Santa Claus | BP, A&M University and Corporate Media
“If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it… In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons … who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” – Edward Barnays American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda. Combining ideas of crowd psychology with the psychoanalytical ideas of his uncle, Dr. Sigmund Freud, Bernays was one of the first to attempt to manipulate public opinion using the subconscious.
Drilling for frozen methane will undoubtedly destabilize the methane beds, which contain enough gas worldwide to diminish most complex life on our increasingly fragile Earth. Drilling methane will also undoubtedly result in landslides and advance devastation of marine life and stressed ecosystems. Further, drilling creates heat, which turns the frozen methane into gas, which will undoubtedly leak uncontrollably through the sea into our atmosphere. Such disasters will make the BP oil spill look like child’s play. After the 2010 BP oil spill, methane dead zones in the Gulf constituted gas levels as high as one million times normal.
Gulf shrimp make for exotic and quite intoxicating salad garnish now that they are self-oiling … and small miracles do appear in corporate media. During this writing, corporate media have saturated mainstream media outlets with an anomaly – that all the methane has been eaten up by bacteria.
On 6 January 2011, the Washington Post publishes an article titled Bacteria devoured methane gas from gulf oil spill, scientists say. From the article: “Besides providing some good news for the gulf region, the finding has potential implications for climate change science, too. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and, as the earth warms, climate scientists worry that much more methane will be released from the oceans. ‘What this tells us is that natural releases of methane from the seafloor with similar characteristics will not make it up to the atmosphere, will not influence climate,’ Kessler says.” Kessler is a Texas A&M University oceanographer. Preliminary studies from both academia, including key work at Texas A&M working with and funded by industry, have supported the methane hydrate drilling project. Thomas Blasingame of Texas A&M University serves on the Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee – an Advisory Committee member to the Secretary of Energy in the US.
The fictionary has been scoured over for the most persuasive phrases and words – carefully chosen for maximum effect. Words and phrases such as ‘devoured’, ‘gobbled up’, ‘totally disappeared’, ‘incredible disappearing methane’, ‘massive microbial munching’, etc. The stealthily chosen list of words to appease all concern is endless. Corporate media has been unrelenting in pumping out falsehoods from both BP and the Obama administration that the Gulf of Mexico is safe from the effects of the BP oil disaster.
The impression is that ‘yes Virginia, miracles do happen and even the most destructive assaults on our natural environment are nothing to be concerned about’. BP’s disastrous oil spill is cleaned up – shiny and new.
Beyond such spin, the tragic state of the Gulf of Mexico is revealed by the oil and dispersants samplings on the Mississippi Coast. On 7 January 2011, federal and Louisiana officials took a boat tour of an area in southern Louisiana that remains contaminated with oil from the BP disaster. Barataria Bay is one such area where the oil continued to eat away at the fragile marshland. No cleanup crew could be found. Affected areas varied with some measuring up to 100 feet wide. “This is the biggest cover-up in the history of America,” Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser told reporters. Nungesser was angered by the claims of the Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials present who claimed that a plan was under development to clean the area. “It’s like you’re in bed with BP,” Nungesser chided officials. “Don’t tell me I got a voice in the way you put together that crappy document … It ain’t worth the paper it’s printed on. That is bullshit.” Nungesser also told one of the federal officials, “You cover up for BP.” And one could safely assume that many, including Stuart Smith, an internationally recognized attorney in New Orleans, believe that Nungesser is absolutely right. Smith’s opinion is that the NOAA Claims: “Gas-Gobbling” Bacteria Consumed Nearly All of the Estimated 200,000 Tons of Methane Spewed into Gulf – is mere junk science.
There is more.
Gregory Retallack a leading scientist with the University of Oregon (cited below) has been a leading voice on methane gases for decades suggesting that methane from below the seafloor produced a postapocalyptic greenhouse event that drained oxygen from the atmosphere, leaving animals gasping.
Now look at the instantaneous ‘about face’ below:
(From the article Methane Spill from the Deepwater Horizon Cleaned Up By Bacteria) “In April 2010, a drill column of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig hit a methane bubble, causing it to catch fire and sink, which allowed oil and gas to churn into the Gulf of Mexico for 83 days. Scientists predicted that the dissolved methane would stay in the gulf for years to come. But within four months, the methane had disappeared. John Kessler of Texas A&M University took three trips out to the gulf to find the methane, but made a discovery – he couldn’t find any substantial amount because it had been eaten by bacteria. The bacteria in question, aptly named methanotrophs, are able to use methane as their only source of energy. Kessler found millions of these bacteria, which appear to have eaten all of the methane from the spill. This discovery can tell us more about earth’s natural processes regarding methane bubbles that rise from the deep ocean. Methane naturally escapes from methane clathrates (cages of ice on the ocean floor) on a regular basis. If this methane, a potent greenhouse gas, got into the atmosphere, it could have serious negative effects on the climate. However, this gas does not appear to regularly reach the atmosphere, which Kessler attributes to these bacteria. Some researchers have hypothesized that this natural methane from clathrates might have played a major role in some of the great extinctions in Earth’s history, but this is seeming less and less plausible because of these new bacterial studies, according to Greg Retallack from the University of Oregon.”
The article ends with: These methane-eaters “have the ability to degrade over 300 other compounds,” according to Hazen, and can help clean-up efforts for methane contamination across the world.
In a separate article: “Some scientists have suggested that methane freed from clathrates could have contributed to the climate upheavals behind some of Earth’s greatest extinctions events, including the day when life nearly died – the Permian-Triassic extinction. * Greg Retallack from the University of Oregon initially backed this idea, but his mind has since changed. “I love this paper as it signals the final break with my long love affair with methane clathrate release as a cause of [the Permian-Triassic] mass extinction,” he says. “It seems that marine methane cannot even make it out of the ocean because it’s rapidly consumed there.” ** Richard Camilli, who has studied the Deepwater Horizon oil plume, agrees. He says that Kessler’s conclusions probably apply to natural methane leakages, as well as to other oil spills too. “[It] is likely to become a classic reference,” he says.
At the very end of the article under footnotes it states: ** It’s possible that the Permian-Triassic event might have involved methane in such large amounts that it “would have overwhelmed the methanotrophs capable of handling the small Gulf spill.” But Retallack can’t find enough methane clathrates in the ocean to account for such a large plume. He still thinks that methane was still involved in the Permian extinction but now he suspects it came from disturbed coal seams. 
The spin is intoxicating.
Such messages are not embraced by all scientists: “I despise that message—it’s blindly simplified,” says Ian MacDonald, a celebrated oceanographer at Florida State University. “The gulf is not all better now. We don’t know what we’ve done to it.” MacDonald’s views would be supported by scientific findings in December 2010, uncovered on an expedition led by David Hollander, marine geochemist at the University of South Florida. Such findings and opposing views are not just those of Hollander, but also of other independent scientists.
In the article published 13 January 2011 in The Nation titled The Search for BP’s Oil, Naomi Klein writes that in mid-December the joint government-BP body formed to oversee the spill response, released a fat report that seemed expressly designed to close the book on the disaster. Mike Utsler, BP’s Unified Area Commander, summed up its findings like this: “The beaches are safe, the water is safe, and the seafood is safe.” Klein reminds us that just four days prior, more than 8,000 pounds of tar balls were collected on Florida’s beaches —and that was an average day. Klein states by the end of 2010 investors were celebrating BP’s stock rebound. The corporation feeling so emboldened that it then revealed plans to challenge the official estimates of the amount of oil gushed out of its broken wellhead, claiming that the figures are as much as 50 percent too high. Klein reports that if BP succeeds, it could save the corporation as much as $10.5 billion in damages. Adding insult to injury the Obama administration has just given the go-ahead for sixteen deepwater drilling projects to resume in the gulf. Klein outlines the current state of the Gulf and the dire consequences of the gulf spill as conveyed by independent scientists here.
Klein states that “perhaps not coincidentally, the most outspoken scientists doing this research come from Florida and Georgia, coastal states that have so far managed to avoid offshore drilling. Their universities are far less beholden to Big Oil than, say, Louisiana State University, which has received tens of millions from the oil giants. Again and again these scientists have used their independence to correct the official record about how much oil is actually out there, and what it is doing under the waves.”
In the video below (2008 | 10:01) Roger Sassen from Texas A&M University tells us unequivocally that “when we run out of conventional oil and gas this [gas hydrate] is going to power the planet”. Sassen goes on to state, “I can’t escape from gas hydrate, it’s like my fate, my destiny at this point, I got to go along that road – I can’t escape from it.”
Today, we have already reached the worst case scenario of the IPCC (IPCC 2007 AR4), which assumes that global CO2equivalent emissions (CO2e = CO2 + methane + nitrous oxide + halocarbons) will grow from the current level of about 40 billion tons CO2e per year to near 130 GtCO2e/year through the 21st century. The consequences of this IPCC Special Report on Emissions Scenarios is a mean global temperature rise as high as 6.5°C by 2090-2099 relative to the period 1980-1999. However, the report takes only limited account of carbon cycle feedback effects and ice/water interaction feedback effects in raising global temperatures. It also acknowledges limited information regarding ice sheet melt and breakdown dynamics. Methane is excluded. The last time mean global temperatures reached 2-3°C above present levels, in the mid-Pliocene (3 million years ago) – an event associated with CO2 levels of about 400 ppm – polar regions were heated by nearly 8°C, and sea levels had risen by 25 metres relative to the present. This represents near-total melting of Greenland and West Antarctica Ice Sheets [Robinson et al, 2008, Pliocene role in assessing future climate impacts].
With large methane releases, most methane would reach the surface before bacteria could metabolize it. This is certainly what science tells us happened during the PETM extinction event 55 million years ago. And no magic wand appeared to create magical bacteria to eat the methane that caused such extinctions. Today, corporate forces using their furtive media techniques would like us to believe magic microbes can vapourize our stupidity. And all the corporate media reporting such wishful thinking will not make it so. The bacteria in the Arctic Ocean certainly do not appear to be as effective at gobbling up the methane that is now releasing into the atmosphere in the Arctic. Shall we cross our fingers that the Arctic Ocean will warm to the temperature to that of the Gulf of Mexico, hoping magical bacteria will be the solution to our madness everywhere? The way we are going, one need not hope. Of course, methane in the Arctic Ocean will have reached a runaway state long before the bacteria are warm enough to eat up our self-imposed nightmare, however, these are mere inconveniences – the type that Shell, BP, Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil and friends do not contemplate. And as Arctic temperatures continue to accelerate, the warming of our dying world’s oceans will continue to acidify.
What corporate media powerhouse CNN et al does not report:
Next: Part III:
- The Spin Doctors | Spinning the Potential for Abrupt & Catastrophic Climate Change
- Universities as Bedfellows | Moral Nihilism
- Economy is Sacrosanct
- Ignoring the Necessity of a Plant-Based Diet at Our Own Peril
- The Right to Destroy Ourselves
- More False Solutions
Cory Morningstar is climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on Canadians for Action on Climate Change and The Art of Annihilation site where you can read her bio. You can follow her on Twitter: @elleprovocateur
 COP16, Cancún, Mexico. The largest economic conference in history was an epic failure for humanity. And as the world burns, the wealthy elites stuffed their custom gold-lined Brioni pockets with dreams and promises of unsurpassed wealth predicated upon climate catastrophe in the 21st century. Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist who is co-chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group III on Mitigation of Climate Change, stated in an interview on 14 November 2010: “The climate summit in Cancún at the end of the month is not a climate conference, but one of the largest economic conferences since the Second World War.… [I]t’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization…. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.…”
 In 1997–1998, the draft Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) was heavily criticized by developing states. Many argued that the agreement would threaten protection of human rights, labour and environmental standards, and the most vulnerable countries. Critics argued (correctly) that the MAI would result in a “race to the bottom” among countries willing to lower their labour and environmental standards to attract foreign investment. The OECD’s actions against harmful tax practices has also raised criticism. The primary objection is the sanctity of tax policy as a matter of sovereign entitlement. Saudi Arabia played a key role in interferingin and shaping international climate policy since international negotiations began in the 1990s in order to ensure that the billion dollar oil industry would not be affected. As a consequence of such interference by many powerful players who sought to ensure the economic and political power structure would not be threatened, adaptation surfaced as the primary goal in international climate science and policy, effectively replacing the goals of prevention and mitigation from the 1980s.
 In Japan, the “National R&D Program for Methane /Hydrate Resources” is sponsored by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and the Japan National Oil Corporation (JNOC). Japan launched its program in 2001 for a 5-year study of methane hydrate deposits at the Nankai Trough and Okhotsk Sea. Additionally, it has also embarked on a comprehensive plan to be conducted over a period of 16 years in three phases focused on research areas related to exploration, modeling, field testing, development technology and health-safety-environmental assistance. Japan’s investment is perhaps the largest of its kind in this field of research. India has initiated its National Gas Hydrate Program (NGHP) under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in 1997. This program was reconstituted in 2000 with the direction of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH). Efforts addressing issues of drilling, production, geoscience, and environment are under the auspices of the Office of Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and the issue of transportation is under the guidance of Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL).
 India has completed a preliminary survey of the prospective regions with high gas hydrate concentrations beyond the 700 metre water depth using geologic and thermodynamic data and expected to complete its resource estimates by the end of 2003 and initiate assessment of realities through various laboratory studies, deep water coring and drilling operations development of gas hydrate production pilot and economic studies.
Since 1999 the Department of Energy has designated the National Energy Technology Laboratory to develop a comprehensive R&D plan in collaboration with MMS, NOAA, NRL, NSF and USGS.
Studies: 3/4/2002-3/3/2006: Final Technical Report on: Controls on Gas Hydrate Formation and Dissociation, Gulf of Mexico: In Situ Field Study with Laboratory Characterizations of Exposed and Buried Gas Hydrates (DOE Award Number: DE-FC26-02NT41328 – Dates: 3/4/02 – 3/3/06)
 The paper on coal seems proposes a thesis that igniting planetary coal deposits, triggered by the extreme volcanic action of the Siberian Steppes was the major factor in the end Permian extinction event. This paper supports extreme global warming as the cause of the end-Permian extinction event with the initial trigger being massive amounts of CO2 emitted by extreme volcanic activity in the region of the Siberian Steppes. It cannot and does not exclude the contribution to extreme global warming by destabilized methane hydrates.
A Killer in Our Midst | http://www.killerinourmidst.com/
Only Zero Carbon | http://www.onlyzerocarbon.org/
Media Education Foundation | http://www.mediaed.org/