August 3, 2010

Warming Arctic oceans could result in devastating methane release

US researchers now estimate climate change is accelerating the likely melt of frozen, deep-sea methane hydrates, leading to the potential discharge of an overwhelming 16,000 metric tons of methane annually.

Although the methane would initially be consumed by marine microbes, these would release CO2 with a resulting imbalance that could result in numerous dead zones, where the water would lose as much as 95% of its life-sustaining oxygen.

In addition, the microbial production of CO2 would increase ocean acidity, jeopardizing the survival of many species and disrupting marine ecosystems. As a further side effect, key nutrients such as nitrate, copper and iron that are useful to organisms would also be depleted due to the activity of the microbes.

Experts have detected large seafloor methane stores beneath waters throughout the Arctic as well as in the North Pacific Oceans, with some lakes and seas already showing the bubbling of methane plumes and similar microbial processes.

Study co-author Dr. Scott M. Elliot, a marine biogeochemist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, USA, stated, “This will be a truly big environmental pollution problem in the next few decades. This problem is not going to go away.”

Our appreciation, Dr. Elliot and colleagues, for alerting us to this destructive scenario being formed beneath our oceans. Let us quickly adopt more sustainable lifestyles to avoid such dire outcomes to the planet.

During a September 2008 interview on the US-based Environmentally Sound Radio, Supreme Master Ching Hai addressed the threat of methane release in the context of global warming, while highlighting the way for human prevention.

Supreme Master Ching Hai: You look all that and you see already because the methane gas and hydrogen sulfide are resulted from animal raising, and that produces a lot of toxic gas into the air and it warms the atmosphere, and then the atmosphere melts the ice and the ocean will be warm, and then more methane and other toxins will be released from the bottom of the ocean and permafrost and all that. And then it will be like a devil’s circle. I hope we stop it quick.

If we do not do anything, then we will go to the point of no return. But luckily, because due to many new vegetarian people joining the vegetarian diet, now we have delayed the point of no return.

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/60831/title/Methane_releases...

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