farting can kill us all

Neat title huh? A little misleading though. It's the farting of the earth that I'm referring to. Little "e" here since I'm not talking about the planet but rather small portions of it in artic regions.

According to Dr Katey Walter, lead author of a study being published in the Thursday, Sept. 7 issue of the journal Nature, "The effects can be huge. It's coming out a lot and there's a lot more to come out." Dr Walter is referring to the methane embedded in the soil beneath lakes in the tundra regions of Siberia, Alaska, and northern Canada.

That's her over to the left. Kinda cute, huh? She's testing for released methane over in Siberia in that picture. Looks too damn cold there for me!

The reason this is a concern is that methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Methane traps 23 times more heat per molecule. Until recently the ain source of methane in the atmosphere was assumed to be rotting vegetation and cow farts. Damn those flatulent cows! However it appears that methane is being released from the permafrost at a rate five times faster than thought, according to Dr Walter's paper which was published today in Nature.

This is a serious concern because the methane released may trigger what researchers warn is a climate time bomb. As the methane is released from the thawing permafrost, or more accurately the yedoma (ice-rich Pleistocene soils with a high labile carbon content), the accelerated greenhouse effect warms the tundra even more thus releasing even more methane which continues to worsen global warming situation. The one caveat is that methane isn't as stable a molecule. It only lasts about 10 years in the atmosphere versus 100 years for carbon dioxide, however in 10 years a lot of damage can occur and since new methane is being released the entire time--and it's main breakdown product is carbon dioxide--that's not much of a consolation.

The methane in these artic and semi-artic regions is limited in a sense because it was formed eons ago by rotting vegetation and there's no new vegetation to renew the supply of methane. But the methane supply was created in the same time period as oil and look at how long that's lasting us. The total amount of methane hidden in yedoma isn't known but it could be a staggering amount. Interesting times ahead of us...it might be time to invest in potential beachfront property in Kansas.

Comments

Michelle said…
Brrrrr, the photo looks freezing. Hmmm i wonder if Australia has specific tundra regions.......lucky i live at the beach!
kenju said…
And here I thought all the methane came from cows and husbands!

Michele sent me this time.
srp said…
So this sounds like something that is a self-perpetuating problem. Global warming may be a natural process and would happen with or without humans being present. Great. Another thing to worry about.

Here from Michele.
MissMeliss said…
Here from Michele's this time - we both posted at the same time, and I didn't want you to be skipped, plus, I meant to visit anyway.

Methane makes me think of some Australian woman (Helen Caldicott, maybe?) who always pronounces it "mee-thane", and tried to get an entire room of NPR listeners to take their plastic and styrofoam meat trays back to the store.
Kim said…
Yikes! I always knew farts, from the Earth or otherwise, might be the downfall of us. ;>)

This was very interesting to learn about, by the way. Thanks for an informative post!

Michele sent me!
Tamara said…
See. Regardless. Farts bad.

Happy Friday from Michele's meet and greet.
Carmi said…
I'm starting to think that EVERYTHING has the capability to kill us at some point.

I think I'll start being surprised when I hear about things that absolutely, positively won't ever be able to wipe out life on our planet.

Head hurting. I neet a root beer float.
Midori said…
Hi from Michele`s.

I agree with Carmi!
Anonymous said…
Some days I can give cows a run for their money. And Katey Walker is not just cute, she's beautiful. And I really like your favorite pet (in your profile) - too funny.
rampant bicycle said…
Global warming is easily one of the most terrifying things. But I'm with Carmi. Seems like EVERYTHING means we're going to die these days. :)

Hello from Michele's!
barbie2be said…
i thought i smelled something funny....

Michele sent me.
Melanie said…
Hi from Michelle's

You certainly got me thinking. I also agree with Carmi that it seems everything has the potential to harm or even kill us at some point these days. Makes you sad for our kiddos and our kid's kiddos and what they will have to deal with and clean up!
sol said…
I rather liked that something was contributing to global warming and for once it wasn't people.

Which leaves me with one question. Is it possible that this is an issue that normally happens periodically but had previously never been studied? Therefore, it's possible the problems seem more dire than they truly are because they are brought to our attention? Just a thought..

Came from Michele's..Have a good weekend.
Tia said…
Thank you for the hearty belly-laugh I had reading this! I mean, I know it is serious, but GOOD GRIEF! Now the EARTH is farting??!??!?!

In New Zealand they actually have considered a fart tax on cows and sheep! I'll have to research if that is actually happening when I get there. The tax, I mean. I don't want to get too close to know about the farting....

OK, now I'm having fun just writing "fart".....

Thanks for stopping by! =)
jsdaughter said…
how interesting... and scary!
Jean-Luc Picard said…
All that methane!

Michele sent me here.

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