Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

The species that smelt it, dealt it

In other words, we humans are now discovering massive emissions of methane from under Siberian lakes, emissions resulting from the global warming we’ve caused. I first read of the permafrost-methane issue in Stephen Harding’s new, and totally awesome, Animate Earth. I’m not just plugging this because it’s the latest of Chelsea Green’s terrific books. I’m plugging it because Harding writes well and explains stuff well, and his book is a great introduction to Gaia theory. Objectively speaking, I am a huge fan of this book and hope that all of you will read it. (Btw, Harding will be at Bioneers by the Bay. Will you?)
Study Says Methane a New Climate Threat Sep 06 8:06 PM US/Eastern By SETH BORENSTEIN AP Science Writer WASHINGTON Global warming gases trapped in the soil are bubbling out of the thawing permafrost in amounts far higher than previously thought and may trigger what researchers warn is a climate time bomb. Methane _ a greenhouse gas 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide _ is being released from the permafrost at a rate five times faster than thought, according to a study being published Thursday in the journal Nature. The findings are based on new, more accurate measuring techniques. “The effects can be huge,” said lead author Katey Walter of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks said. “It’s coming out a lot and there’s a lot more to come out.” Scientists worry about a global warming vicious cycle that was not part of their already gloomy climate forecast: Warming already under way thaws permafrost, soil that has been continuously frozen for thousands of years. Thawed permafrost releases methane and carbon dioxide. Those gases reach the atmosphere and help trap heat on Earth in the greenhouse effect. The trapped heat thaws more permafrost and so on. “The higher the temperature gets, the more permafrost we melt, the more tendency it is to become a more vicious cycle,” said Chris Field, director of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, who was not part of the study. “That’s the thing that is scary about this whole thing. There are lots of mechanisms that tend to be self- perpetuating and relatively few that tend to shut it off.” Some scientists say this vicious cycle is already under way, but others disagree. … Scientists aren’t quite sure whether methane or carbon dioxide is worse. Methane is far more powerful in trapping heat, but only lasts about a decade before it dissipates into carbon dioxide and other chemicals. Carbon dioxide traps heat for about a century. …
What I don’t understand is how there could be any debate over the relative badness of methane and CO2. If methane acts like a worse greenhouse gas while existing as methane, and then decays into CO2, then how could CO2 be worse overall? CO2 is as bad as itself. Methane adds a decade of super-badness to the century of CO2’s badness. 10+100 is more than 100, especially when really what they’re saying is that it is (10X23)+100. Not that any of this really matters in a philosophical sense, but the supposed debate strikes me as odd.

The End of Stationarity

Welcome to the End … of Stationarity. And what is “stationarity”? We’re glad you asked.Scientists have devised a new term to explain the turmoil caused by climate change: the end of stationarity. It means that our baselines for rainfall, water flow, temperature, and extreme weather are no longer relevant—that making predictions based on past experience […] Read More

Bullshit. *Charisma, Icon, Intelligence, Empty Sandwich

How does the word “bullshit” connect to Charisma, Intelligence and the notion of The Empty Sandwich?To find out the answer to this question we meandered through David Fleming’s Lean Logic. A dictionary unlike any other, Lean Logic encourages readers to actively and intellectually engage with its entries. These entries are often cross-referenced so that you […] Read More

The Miracle of Farming: Toward a Bio-Abundant Future

Charles and Perrine Hervé-Gruyer’s Le Ferme du Bec Hellouin is a celebrated model of innovative, ecological agriculture in Europe, connected to national and international organizations addressing food security, heralded by celebrity chefs as well as the Slow Food movement, and featured in the inspiring César and COLCOA award-winning documentary film, Demain (Tomorrow).In this excerpt from their […] Read More

Three Principles to Survive the Future

What guiding principles will you need to not just survive the future, but imagine a better one? Surviving the Future is a story drawn from the fertile ground of the late David Fleming’s extraordinary Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It. That hardback consists of four hundred and four interlinked dictionary entries, […] Read More

Sow Seeds: Stop Walking Around Doing Nothing

“In the last one hundred years, 94 percent of seed varieties available at the turn of the century in America and considered a part of the human commons have been lost.”That’s one of the key takeaways in award-winning author and activist Janisse Ray’s book, The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food. In her book, Ray […] Read More
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