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 Limits to Growth and Greece: Systemic or Financial Collapse?

Could it be that the ongoing Greek collapse is a symptom of the more general collapse that the Limits to Growth model generates for the first two decades of the 21st century? Author Ugo Bardi (Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth is Plundering the Planet) examines the correlation between what is unfolding between Greece […] Read More..

Wild Edibles: 5 Tips for Beginner Foragers

Ever spotted a dandelion growing in your backyard and wondered, can I eat that? According to wild plants expert Katrina Blair, the answer is a resounding yes. And there are plenty of other commonly found weeds that fall into this category as well. In her book The Wild Wisdom of Weeds, Blair introduces readers to […] Read More..

10 Books to Celebrate the International Year of Soils

Beneath our feet lies a resource that is critical to our future. It’s the first thing we think about when it comes to farming and gardening – and yet, one of the last things considered when thinking about the long-term preservation of our earth. It’s the basis for healthy food production, is a crucial tool […] Read More..

5 Shareable Strategies for Creating Climate Action

Frustrated about climate change? You’re not alone. Most people in our society find themselves somewhere on the spectrum of depressed about our climate situation to flat-out denying that it exists. In fact, the more information about global warming that piles up, the less we seem to do to combat it. What is the reason for this […] Read More..

A Permaculture Approach to Managing Hedge Bindweed

As Permaculture Month continues, we are making our expert authors available to answer your burning permaculture questions. If you have a question to submit, fill out this form. In the below Q&A, Tao Orion, author of the new book Beyond the War on Invasive Species, discusses how she approaches weed management. Orion believes invasive species are good ecological […] Read More..