by Taetske | 2:00 pm
(Last Updated On: February 2, 2019)

Old fossil fuels reservoirs release Methane

When permafrost is disappearing from the Arctic greenhouse gases are released.

 

snow landscape

Snow Landscape

 

The difference between Carbon Dioxide and Methane

Carbon Dioxide: When animals and humans breathe, carbon dioxide (CO2) is released. Whenever you burn something organic, carbon dioxide is made. Huge fires worldwide cause a rise in carbon dioxide. This makes the quality of the air we breath deteriorate. Add in all the pollution we make on top of that, no wonder it is difficult to stay alive.

Plants use the carbon dioxide to make food, that means they clean the bad air. The same applies to trees, they are the earth air purifiers. How come we destroy nature when actually plants and trees help us to survive. It is a mystery to me. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas which changes the weather on our planet and causes global warming. Seeing the number of people, how many animals we keep for food and the way we treat nature are you surprised it is getting warmer?

Methane: Methane is normally a gas but under extreme cold (-183 degrees C), it can be a solid. Its generally assumed that methane is produced in the absence of oxygen in the process of decomposition of carbon-based organic matter. This is very different from the combustion of organic matter which as mentioned earlier, creates CO2. If you burn methane in a pure oxygen environment, you get CO2 and water.

Now we need to introduce a new term. CO2-equivalent. There are quite a few greenhouse gases in our atmosphere but CO2 and methane (CH4) are the most significant global warming chemicals in terms of volume and concentration in the atmosphere. The heat absorbing potential (Global Warming Potential (GWP)) of all greenhouse gases are given in terms of an equivalent amount of CO2. CO2 has a value of one to establish a reference point. Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas and over a 20-year timeline, it has a GWP that is 84 times that of CO2, so methane (in that 20 year period) has a CO2-e of 84. The Earths atmospheric methane has increased 150% since 1750 (the start of the Industrial Revolution) and It is 20 % of the worldwide greenhouse gases.

Natural methane exists below the ground, under the sea floor and as a solid in the ocean’s depths. methane gas is not too toxic but in closed spaces, it can make breathing difficult and even deadly if it displaces the oxygen in the room. You may get a headache, feel dizzy and can lose your coordination. It is dangerous as it is extremely flammable and can explode if the concentration is 5% or greater.  Methane can be produced by the natural decay of organic matter under bodies of water, by the natural decay of grasses and leaves that have been covered over to produce an oxygen-free environment, or the digestive processes of mammals (be it humans or animals). Having so many animals as food source does produce a lot of methane.

Can one blame cows for global warming? Well, I think it is us humans who eat too much meat to start with. When you realize there are some 1.5 billion cows and bulls in the world who produce around 2 billion metric tons of CO2-e per year, perhaps it is high time to think about eating alternatives to meat.

 

polar bear and cubs in the snow

Polar Bear and Cubs in the snow

 

An Arctic expert and her findings

I read an interesting but also worrisome article these days. Greenhouse gases are leaking from lakes in the Arctic. Katey Walter Anthony is an Arctic expert that has been studying more than 300 lakes and has come across one which showed an unusual behavior. This lake, which is situated close to the Western Brooks Range and is about the size of 20 football fields, looked like a boiling cooking pot. There were huge bubbles on the surface, some the size of small melons. These bubbles were methane coming from the depth of the lake to the surface.

 

aurora borealis

Aurora-Borealis

 

Strange things are hidden in the permafrost

We have all heard that because of rising temperatures, the permafrost is melting in the Arctic. This poses a problem because things that have been frozen for many millennia are being set free. It has been reported that in Siberia, strange viruses previously thought to be extinct, have made a comeback and pose a danger to animals and humans. Katey Walter Anthony had observed gases rising from different lakes, but never had she witnessed such a huge release of methane. The University of Alaska had posted a video in 2010 which got nearly 500 thousand views on YouTube. On the video you see her standing on a frozen lake where she lit a methane stream which caused a flame as tall as her.

 

team with dog-sled on the ice

Team with Dog-Sled on the Ice

 

The good and bad of methane

She now came back to the lake with a small team and wanted to see if there were any changes. Her belief is that these lakes are releasing old sources of methane, speeding up climate change, and causing an acceleration of permafrost thaw. It is like a vicious circle as one incident causes the speedup of the other. She had been asked by the NANA Regional Corporation (previously known as The Northwest Arctic Native Association) to look for lakes which ooze methane. Even if it has a negative side the positive would be as a fuel source for far away communities which would have no other access to gas.

To find these type of lakes, which because of these methane seeps do not freeze completely, she asked for the collaboration of the local people. A pilot contacted her with information that in the Noatak region, not far above the Arctic Circle, such a strange lake had been sighted.

 

frozen lake

Frozen Lake

 

A reservoir thousand of years old

The sounding devices which were taken to the lake showed it had huge holes in the bottom. The lake is very shallow for the most part but has 2 significant drops of 50 feet deep. It was also discovered that the methane coming to the surface of the lake had a geologic origin. It was like a huge reservoir thousand of years old. This finding cause reason for concern. If there were many more of this type of places in the Arctic it could pose a huge extra risk to our planet.

 

 

2 tons of methane a day

A bigger team came to the lake, more checks and measuring were done. A scientist who came from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies at the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico also took measurements. His instruments, in addition to methane, detected ethane, butane, and propane, indicating the gasses were of fossil origin. When his data had processed the findings it showed a release of 2 tons of methane per day. That represents the gas emissions of 6000 cows. You can imagine if there are many more lakes like this it could have catastrophic consequences.

When Methane gets released it easily mixes with the atmosphere.  In the atmosphere, it has an estimated lifetime of 12 years but in this relatively short time, it augments global warming at an accelerated speed.

Carbon Dioxide is less potent but its lifetime is estimated to up to 95 years or even much longer.

If the Arctic starts melting at a faster speed it will not be possible to stop global warming anymore.

 

All the things we will lose

Global warming will change a lot of things. Many things we know nowadays and take for granted will not be visible anymore. Cities, landscapes and whole countries will disappear. Try and go and visit before it is only a photograph and memory. We are the main culprits and it is a sad legacy we leave to our future generations.

 

 

Source: Wikipedia and NDTV, Chris Mooney on September 25, 2018

Photo Source: Pixabay

 

Perhaps you would like to also read the following post.

Global Warming: some unsettling Happenings in our World

 

 

 

Comments

Micheal

I think everything in this article is 100% true but i was surprise as to how in dept this article went with explaining the different aspects of Methane. so much that i have learned in just one read of this article. I definitely think that there will be a global warming also and the section that you mentioned that it will change a lot of things that true base on the different gasses that are being relese in the atmosphere these days. very detailed information covered all the possible aspects of what is currently taken place now and what will happen years to come. 

Oct 06.2018 | 04:53 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Micheal,

    Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment.

    I am happy to hear you found the article interesting. I have to confess something. My better half is an Environmental engineer so he put the dot on the I for me. It is very sad that because of the pollution we cause global warming is accelerated and therefore many beautiful places on our planet will disappear.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 07.2018 | 01:35 pm

Marchelle Leandra Davies

Alkane gases such as methane, ethane, propane, butane, pentane and many others are often the silent killers of many natural occurrences without the world even realizing it. Many people are aware of global warming and the effect it has on the North and South Poles, but very few actually know what the causative agents are.

There are so many ways that we can minimize the emission of CO2 and CH4 if only the world would pay attention. It really is a pity that our offspring generations down the line will probably not see many of the natural occurrences like hot springs, natural lakes and lagoons, nature reserves or even ice glaciers. Hopefully someone somewhere will come up with a solution to minimize the emission of fossil fuels in a manner that benefits both man and nature to make sure that we can still have the planet as we know it now a 1 000 years from now as well.

Oct 06.2018 | 04:54 pm

    Taetske

    Good evening Marchelle,

    Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment.

    Yes, it is very sad that a lot of people have no clue about the cause and effect of methane and carbon dioxide.

    The fact is that the mechanism behind global warming is understood by 95% of the scientists and denied by the other 5%. The politicians are not willing to acknowledge the human contribution to global warming because of the financial support fossil fuels provide to the communities they represent.

    The solution already exists in the form of going green. There are some countries already which are completely green so it is only a question  of when will the other countries follow?

    I fully agree and also hope that all the beauty of our planet will still be visible in a thousand years from now.

    Regards, Taetske

    Oct 06.2018 | 06:06 pm

Babsie Wagner

Super interesting article about methane, global warming, and CO2.  So much buzz and discussion on this these days, but sometimes I have to think that if the darned world never warmed, we would still be living in the ice age.  I think this rock has been warming and changing over all the millions of years since it was created, and it will continue to do so long after we are gone from it.  I’m just not sure how much of what is happening on the planet is really caused by man.  Not to say that we shouldn’t be good stewards, and I’m personally not a big meat eater, but I probably drive too many miles in my old car which isn’t great for pollution.

Always fun to read these types of articles and improve my brain.  Thanks!

Jan 19.2019 | 05:55 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Babs,

    Thank you for your visit to my website and leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    I agree with you, our earth has gone through many long lasting cycles. Take for example the Sahara, some 6000 years ago it was juicy grassland. 

    I do believe that we, with our actions, are accelerating the melting of the ice with all the following consequences.

    There are still thing we can do individually and on a global level which might save our necks but time is running out. 

    Regards, Taetske

    Jan 20.2019 | 08:27 am

phranell86

I am an enthusiast of environmental sustainability and I found this article very informative. It is true that Carbon dioxide and methane are polluting our earth leading to global warming. However, it comes to me as a surprise that natural processes which occurred thousands of years ago are also responsible for producing huge sources of methane, a leading greenhouse gas. The earth is really in grave danger if man does not cut down on his own emission of greenhouse gases. This is especially worrisome in developing countries were efforts by government to control dangerous emissions is very insignificant.

Jan 19.2019 | 06:06 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Phranell,

    Thank you for your comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    Yes, we make the ice melt and then you have these surprises. Actions have consequences one way or the other. I will send you the link of a post I wrote about solutions, you might like to read it. If we all would work together then we could make a positive change. https://motherearthstreasures.com/80-solutions-global-warming-hope-for-our-planet

    Regards, Taetske

    Jan 20.2019 | 08:31 am

Sandra ehinomen

Thank you for this article it is very educative, l love the way you explained them all, you went as far as bringing out every details of carbon dioxide and methane,about the permafrost, and the global warming , they were all very educative, a good way to give out such information. Keep up the good work. 

Jan 19.2019 | 06:07 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Sandra,

    Nice to see you again. Thank you for your comment.

    It is nice to hear you found my article interesting. That is why I like to write about these things. To make people aware that we only have this planet to live on so we should take better care of our habitat.

    Regards, Taetske

    Jan 20.2019 | 08:35 am

Norman

The world Al Gore warned us about is nigh. I must admit I am shocked at how quickly things have deteriorated so far. Unfortunately, I don’t see that any significant actions will be taken in time to stave off disaster. The technological advances we have engineered over the past 50 years dwarf whatever was accomplished in all the previous 1000 years. Yet we cannot leverage that immense technological capability to drastically reduce CO2 emissions? It’s a shame the state of the world we are going to leave our children, and subsequent generations, if humankind is lucky enough to make it that far. 

You’ve written a great article, and the examples you have highlighted are impressive. I hope it’s not too late to make some headway with this intractable human-made challenge.

Jan 19.2019 | 06:12 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Norman,

    Nice to see you again. Thank you for leaving this good comment.

    I sometimes get the impression there is an ongoing battle between good and bad. Lots of people try to protect our environment and then again there are some who destroy it. You are right, going at this rate one wonders if there will be a habitable planet for future generations.

    Let us not give up hope yet. On Monday I will publish a post on my website http://www.healthyantiagingalternatives.com which talks about a planetary diet, following that idea we might just make it. Question is how many people sacrifice their bad diet for a good one saving the planet at the same time?

    I will also give you the link to another post where you can read that there are many very good and helpful ideas out there but one has to implement them. https://motherearthstreasures.com/80-solutions-global-warming-hope-for-our-planet

    Regards, Taetske

    Jan 20.2019 | 08:47 am

Clement

Thank you for this great piece of post, this article is easy to comprehend and well detailed. I find it really content filled. I can’t agree less with you that pollution is causing a lot of hazard in our present world. We must take every possible measure to preserve our planet lest we lose some amazing places due to effects of global warming. 

Jan 19.2019 | 06:22 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Clement,

    Thank you for visiting my website and leaving a comment. I hope you downloaded your free PDF?

    With all the knowledge and technology the human race still does stupid and destructive things. I hope we wake up before it is too late. Even if there are many positive movements in our world there also are stupid leaders who go against our environment just because they are greedy. I hope for the best but it does not look good.

    Regards, Taetske

    Jan 20.2019 | 08:39 am

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