Although they’re gone now, we were surrounded by dairy farms for some 12 or so years. On several occasions as we drove past one of the larger dairy farms, the odor made me physically ill.
So I have some experience with methane. But frozen methane is something most of us know very little about. By most accounts, there’s more than “a thousand billion (“giga”) tons of carbon — locked into the tundra and the peat bogs, and frozen at the bottom of the ocean in the Arctic region.” That methane has been frozen below the Arctic ocean for millions of years. And that’s a good thing–not that it’s there necessarily, but that it’s stayed there.
Unfortunately, it’s being released into the atmosphere as the arctic ice that’s covered it melts. Those of us who aren’t science deniers understand that climate change is causing more and more of the Arctic ice to melt, and as that ice melts, the methane beneath it enters the atmosphere. Increased levels of methane will result in rising temperatures which in turn will result in more methane being released as more Arctic ice melts. And the process will continue until the ice is gone and the gigatons of methane clog our atmosphere.
The process is clear. What scientists don’t yet know is how fast the ice will melt and therefore how fast the methane will be released, and therefore how fast the planet will heat up.
What they do know is that there isn’t any Gas-X Extra Strength to deal with this ancient methane, and thus far, no once has an effective prescription for addressing the root of the problem: carbon emissions.
But those most responsible for the production and release of those emissions show little interest in doing anything to address the problem.