Methane Booms Could Make Economy Go Bust

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Lauren Admire:
snikt

Hey, you're back :D

Does this mean we might get the Science! column back as well? Please :)

OT: Only 59,900,000,000,000 to go. I can pitch in... lemme check... $23

Lauren Admire:

Source: Nature

I'm sorry, but nature.com frequently writes alarmist bullshit news like this so I doubt this "study" was very scientific. They also wrote stories about how Gardasil actually didn't "cure" anything and claimed it was a completely unnecessary drug that can harm people. Naturally, it was complete crap and they were twisting well established facts and leaving out important details. That's what happens when a news organization caters specifically to one type of audience, in this case people into "natural" stuff

lacktheknack:

I'm fully aware of the ramifications of trying to downsize, and the reasons it's not feasible.

I'm mostly directing my anger at the newest buzztopic of "WE NEED TO LEAVE ALL REMAINING OIL RESERVES IN THE GROUND RIGHT NOW". Seriously. That's the newest hot topic everywhere I look.

And trust me, I'm aware of these things. I live in Alberta. We've literally had insane anti-tourism campaigns launched against us (from - surprise! - California) because we have the gall to supply North America with oil. Everything around here is all about oil. Our economy lives and dies on oil. So I'm aware of the arguments for and against oil, I've heard them ad infinitum.

I would absolutely die of happiness if nuclear plants became common or solar energy became cheap. I don't want us to be as oil-dependent as we've become, but realistically, we have to work with what we have, not what we want. And thus I'm stuck working for a business that services the oil drillers. The irony of life hurts a bit sometime.

Fair enough I guess there was some miscommunication there. I don't think everyone who works for oil companies are evil. Like you said some people just get stuck working for them others have to provide for their families and at the end of the day most oil company employees lack the kinds of power to have any say over the things people are really upset at oil companies for. I also agree that people from oil based economies have been thrown under the bus a bit. Really, the more serious problems related to climate change are fairly newly discovered and given how ingrained oil and petrol dependence is on our way of life the vilification has generally exceeded practical fairness. That said there are some people at the very top of these companies that make questionable ethical decisions regarding energy that is aimed at short term profiting without regard to the long term consequences. These people pretty much exist in every business but given the reach of these problems it's hard to blame people for focusing on them. They do have some accountability to this problem and should be called out for it.

Wasn't there a German study that did serious, in depth, fieldwork up in the Artic Circle? And didn't they conclude last year that as far as they can tell, the methane emissions are probably not linked to the decrease in ice in the Arctic Circle? I guess "Arctic methane won't kill and bankrupt everyone!" isn't such an attention grabbing headline.

Their statement is here http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:L5pTcyExlGQJ:www.geomar.de/uploads/media/pm_2012_67_MSM21-4_Fazit_en.pdf

EDIT: broken link replaced with Google's cached version

Loki_The_Good:

CrazyCapnMorgan:
So, I read the title, and instantly...

..and then, I continue on my day.

Damn ninja'd. Oh George Carlin man did you get out just in time. Then again both he and I and entropy buffs so I can't help but think he'd have the same interest that I have watching us actively take our species life. It's like a train crash in slow motion you know it's a tragedy but there's a disquieting poetry about the whole thing too.

When I read the bolded part...

...and then, I continued on my day.

Andrew_C:
Wasn't there a German study that did serious, in depth, fieldwork up in the Artic Circle? And didn't they conclude last year that as far as they can tell, the methane emissions are not linked to the decrease in ice in the Arctic Circle? I guess "Arctic methane won't kill and bankrupt everyone!" isn't such an attention grabbing headline.

You haven't worded this very clearly so it's hard to be sure what you mean, but the primary driver of climate change is currently CO2, methane emissions currently have a fraction of the effect on climate and as a result less effect on polar ice. On the flip side it's primarily the terrestrial and oceanic permafrost that are holding frozen methane and methane hydrate, not ice.

Edit:
Ok, having read your source they are basically saying that these particular gas vents have been emitting methane for some time, and they do not know why exactly but probably due to long term temperature rise or due to seasonal temperature shifts, or I would imagine temperature shifts due to changes in currents and salinity. Given that the area studied is at roughly the temperature and pressure you would expect methane hydrate to become gaseous it's not exactly hugely surprising.

Zykon TheLich:

Andrew_C:
Wasn't there a German study that did serious, in depth, fieldwork up in the Artic Circle? And didn't they conclude last year that as far as they can tell, the methane emissions are not linked to the decrease in ice in the Arctic Circle? I guess "Arctic methane won't kill and bankrupt everyone!" isn't such an attention grabbing headline.

You haven't worded this very clearly so it's hard to be sure what you mean, but the primary driver of climate change is currently CO2, methane emissions currently have a fraction of the effect on climate and as a result less effect on polar ice. On the flip side it's primarily the terrestrial and oceanic permafrost that are holding frozen methane and methane hydrate, not ice.

Sorry to put it more clearly last year the GEOMAR survey announced their preliminary conclusion that as far as could tell from their observations at several sites around the Arctic Circle, the Arctic methane emissions are not a new phenomenon or caused by the warming of the Arctic. Thus the Arctic methane emissions are not probably not increasing and not a cause for concern.

Her is the Google cache of thier press statemwent http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:L5pTcyExlGQJ:www.geomar.de/uploads/media/pm_2012_67_MSM21-4_Fazit_en.pdf

Andrew_C:
SNIP

That isn't what they say at all. They say the area they studied off the coast of Spitsbergen had been active for longer than expected.

The rest of that is purely your inference. They made no comment on future methane emission scenarios.

See my edit. Helpfully quoted here.

Zykon TheLich:

Edit:
Ok, having read your source they are basically saying that these particular gas vents have been emitting methane for some time, and they do not know why exactly but probably due to long term temperature rise or due to seasonal temperature shifts, or I would imagine temperature shifts due to changes in currents and salinity. Given that the area studied is at roughly the temperature and pressure you would expect methane hydrate to become gaseous it's not exactly hugely surprising.

edit: further rearrangement for clarity.

Ironside:
The temperature of the earth has been hotter than it is today and would have risen to a higher point some time in the future regardless of whether human civilisation was present or not. If the prediction turns out to be true that all the methane will escape into the atmosphere then there is nothing we can do to stop it, but I have my doubts considering there have yet to be any cataclysmic events (as far as we know) that have revolved around the mass release of methane. If it somehow causes damage to the economy rather than life (again I have no idea why it would) then we have no problem since the economy is going to implode in on itself before that happens anyway.

Funny enough, a large methane eruption was a contributing factor in the Permian extinction event.

If the economy crashes does that mean there will be no new Iphone?!?!?!?!?!

Who is that $60 trillian being payed to? I have to know! Who's paying? Who's being payed? Are we going to be crying over all the money we've lost and then suddenly wonder "wait... where did all that money go?"
Is there some kind of methane god that releases the methane and then demands pament for doing so?
I'm not trying to be snarky, I just want an answer, who is this $60 trillion going to?

Shuu:
Who is that $60 trillian being payed to? I have to know! Who's paying? Who's being payed? Are we going to be crying over all the money we've lost and then suddenly wonder "wait... where did all that money go?"
Is there some kind of methane god that releases the methane and then demands pament for doing so?
I'm not trying to be snarky, I just want an answer, who is this $60 trillion going to?

I think it's what economists call an 'opportunity cost'. As in, the opportunity cost of not investing in ways to reduce methane emissions means that $60 trillion dollars will be wiped off the global economy. So it doesn't go to anyone.

Shuu:
Who is that $60 trillian being payed to? I have to know! Who's paying? Who's being payed? Are we going to be crying over all the money we've lost and then suddenly wonder "wait... where did all that money go?"
Is there some kind of methane god that releases the methane and then demands pament for doing so?
I'm not trying to be snarky, I just want an answer, who is this $60 trillion going to?

I believe it's a mixture of loss of potential revenue and the cost of building the infrastructure to survive the changes (eg: levies, relocating towns and other expensive construction efforts). Ontop of that they are adding expected costs for more disasters that are either worse than before or happen in areas that never had them before and once again the costs of reconstruction.

Basically alot of assumptions and worse case scenarios, and while I agree we need to get our asses in line and stop allowing corporations to run riot and destroy whatever they want for more profit, I think their sensationalizing to get peoples attention too much and it's going to have a negative effect on gaining support.

Grouchy Imp:
I'm calling bullshit on this story.

Seconded. Nature apparently doesn't understand the decadal lifetime of methane in the atmosphere. Methane is a transient gas in the atmosphere. It oxidizes into CO2. The volume of methane produced by the melting of arctic ice is tiny compared to land sources of methane, like rice fields. At the speed that arctic ice is melting, the methane produce will oxidize into CO2 and dissolve into the rapidly expanding oceans long before it becomes a problem. More ocean = faster CO2 exchange rate.

Ummm... this is silly. Methane has always been released like this. And it goes right back into the ground in an 8 year cycle. Everybody needs to Google the methane cycle. Not going to cripple the economy.

And everybody who's blaming humans' reliance on fossil fuels, take a look at yourself. You're using electricity and computers to post on a gaming forum. Hypocrisy much?

Ummm... this is silly. Methane has always been released like this. And it goes right back into the ground in an 8 year cycle. Everybody needs to Google the methane cycle. Not going to cripple the economy.

And everybody who's blaming humans' reliance on fossil fuels, take a look at yourself. You're using electricity and computers to post on a gaming forum. Hypocrisy much?

EDIT: Double-post! Please delete!

Human beings are incredibly short sighted. Fossil fuels are currently cheaper than other forms of energy, if factor out things like local pollution, acid rain, and global warming of course, so people use it despite the long term consequences. Its why we get into so much credit card debt.

Steve the Pocket:

Lauren Admire:
Oil conglomerates are banking on the swiftly-melting Arctic to reveal 30 percent of the world's undiscovered gas and 13 percent of its undiscovered oil. However, even drilling these oil reserves for ten years would only amount to a paltry $100 billion, which would leave us $59,900,000,000,000 in debt. I guess we'd better start saving now.

Hold on. You're claiming that the oil companies have not only just suddenly accepted carbon-powered climate change as real, but are actively trying to cause it because they think it'll make new oil easier to obtain?

I'm gonna have to demand some sources on that one. That sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory to me.

Most of them deny it and at the same time know its true. its called lieing. and if lieing is making profit, they are going to lie to you with a huge smile on their face.

Capcha: sea change
thank you captain obviuos!

CoronaryThrombosis:

Grouchy Imp:
I'm calling bullshit on this story.

Seconded. Nature apparently doesn't understand the decadal lifetime of methane in the atmosphere. Methane is a transient gas in the atmosphere. It oxidizes into CO2. The volume of methane produced by the melting of arctic ice is tiny compared to land sources of methane, like rice fields. At the speed that arctic ice is melting, the methane produce will oxidize into CO2 and dissolve into the rapidly expanding oceans long before it becomes a problem. More ocean = faster CO2 exchange rate.

Yeah that's, err, not what I meant.

Like, at all.

In debt to what? How exactly is this going to cost us money? They never said why methane in the atmosphere is going to magically make us have to pay more stuff. Where is this coming from? Can someone explain it to me?

The Great JT:
Then you know how we fix it? GET A NEW POWER SOURCE. Wind power, fusion power, mass effect drives, I don't care! Just stop relying on fossil fuels!

You're thinking that the Greenhouse effect alone is causing this? It isn't, it contributes, but it isn't the sole cause. The sun is in a hotter period at the moment, causing temperatures on Earth to go up.

But yes, driving Electricity as a sole power source would be good, especially if combined with Fusion power plants (Not Deuterium-Tritium plants like the test plant at the Max Planck institute, but rather a Protium plant. Tritium is radioactive, which isn't going to inspire much confidence in that kind of reactors. They're also not fit for starships because of this.

On another note, every day the idea that Earth's fucked gets reinforced in my brain. We really should build a bunch of Generation ships and make our way to Gliese 667Cc/f/e (This'd also solve the overpopulation issue, since all three planets are bigger than Earth). Also, putting a heavy greenhouse effect on 667Ce would only benefit us, since temperatures are pretty cold there at the moment (about as cold as on Mars, if no greenhouse effect is present).
Engines for those starships would very much need to be invented, along with a way to "fold" space behind the ship for faster travel times (travel time at light speed is around 22000 years... yes TWENTY-TWO THOUSAND YEARS).
Life support is suprisingly easy: Good Lighting and all of the Earth's Biomes. Because of this, the ships need to be very large, considering that the Life support part would be both Ark and about 2/3rd 3/4th of the ship.
Gravitation is also doable, just by making the ships spin around the axis that they're moving on (Main Engines and associated Tech should be mounted dead center in this case).
Shielding is an issue, as the speed is tremendous (under normal circumstances, no human could actually, much less continuusly, live at that speed) and shouldn't be feelable at all inside the ship. Hard to do, but possible.

Strazdas:

Steve the Pocket:

Lauren Admire:
Oil conglomerates are banking on the swiftly-melting Arctic to reveal 30 percent of the world's undiscovered gas and 13 percent of its undiscovered oil. However, even drilling these oil reserves for ten years would only amount to a paltry $100 billion, which would leave us $59,900,000,000,000 in debt. I guess we'd better start saving now.

Hold on. You're claiming that the oil companies have not only just suddenly accepted carbon-powered climate change as real, but are actively trying to cause it because they think it'll make new oil easier to obtain?

I'm gonna have to demand some sources on that one. That sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory to me.

Most of them deny it and at the same time know its true. its called lieing. and if lieing is making profit, they are going to lie to you with a huge smile on their face.

So all we have to do is make up whatever accusation we want and claim they're lying when they deny it because they're the bad guys? Geez, this is easier than I thought! Why did we ever bother with all that "finding evidence" baloney?

Loki_The_Good:

It's not so much what we want that matters as what needs to be done if humanity wants to survive. I don't want to live with less comfort but that doesn't really matter because we need to. As for blaming everything on "consumer consumption" that's a bit misleading. Most of these "demanding" consumers grew up in an infrastructure that depends on these substances. Unless you have the financial independence to circumvent our societies infrastructure at your leisure your kind of stuck having to use them in order to survive. It's easy to flippantly say they should just stop demanding but the truth is that's usually not a practical choice. Most jobs in first world countries require computers many require commuting. That's not an option that's to make enough money to live. Your also ignoring another thing that's growing and that's population numbers. Even if the demands of the average person were to remain the same, hell even if they decreased but not substantially the overall global demand would increase because there is more people demanding. With our growth rate it will become impossible to demand little enough to make much of a difference without basically not having enough to survive. It's not like we can just go back to the middle ages either. Lie it or not humanity has change the world to such an extent it would not be a viable option unless nearly everyone agreed to simultaneously and even then the natural areas that made such a life style possible back then would take a long time to regenerate.

What we need are options and alternatives. As long as these companies stonewall the growth of any real viable alternative and instead insist on pinching every last penny out of us with the status quo then they are the ones to blame. If people had the viable option to use other alternatives and chose not to then you could argue that consumer demand was at fault. This is not the case and anyone who thinks it is really has a very myopic view of the world.

Well thought out response! And dead on accurate if you ask me.

My own take?
Something has to be done about those-with-the-most-money and their ability to decide what route the rest of humanity has to take through life. This doesn't necessarily mean violence or forceful removal of these companies. But if we could hedge out or reduce their influence in the decision making, we'd all be better for it. Too bad policy makers are already deep in the pockets of the rich and corrupt.

I really wish I had answers. Smarter people just need to step up and say no when the wealthy try to buy their minds and souls. More martyrs, please lol

theultimateend:

lacktheknack:
They fulfil demand.

Everyone in first-world countries demands.

Stop demanding and they'll stop fulfilling.

I've always thought of this world view like I do people who depend rapists. [The She was asking for it crowd.]

I know that sounds hyperbolic but honestly "profit for the sake of profits without any consideration for humanity" is one of the most perverse beliefs that people have ever accepted.

I figure the reason most people accept it is they think that belief means that someday they'll be rich too.

Capitalism is (to me) the world's most destructive and perverse religion.

I love you for this Capitalism comment. I've felt this way since I got into college out of highschool.
I'm 29 now, and my view on this has evolved a little. Although I would love to move onto a Star Trek type society in a heartbeat, I don't believe Capitalism is inherently evil on its own.

NO... It's just all wrong in it's current form. In its current form, it's only motivation is PROFIT. That is extremely dangerous because it doesn't take ANYTHING else into account. It has no other goals and it's built on continual growth (which has already been proven to be unsustainable)

Capitalism might not be so bad if it was built on parallel/equally important goals. The Health and Prosperity of Mankind as a whole, protecting the rights of the individual, and then also profit. If an action breaks any of the first two goals in the name of profit, then an alternative action needs to be taken.

LostintheWick:

theultimateend:

lacktheknack:
They fulfil demand.

Everyone in first-world countries demands.

Stop demanding and they'll stop fulfilling.

I've always thought of this world view like I do people who depend rapists. [The She was asking for it crowd.]

I know that sounds hyperbolic but honestly "profit for the sake of profits without any consideration for humanity" is one of the most perverse beliefs that people have ever accepted.

I figure the reason most people accept it is they think that belief means that someday they'll be rich too.

Capitalism is (to me) the world's most destructive and perverse religion.

I love you for this Capitalism comment. I've felt this way since I got into college out of highschool.
I'm 29 now, and my view on this has evolved a little. Although I would love to move onto a Star Trek type society in a heartbeat, I don't believe Capitalism is inherently evil on its own.

NO... It's just all wrong in it's current form. In its current form, it's only motivation is PROFIT. That is extremely dangerous because it doesn't take ANYTHING else into account. It has no other goals and it's built on continual growth (which has already been proven to be unsustainable)

Capitalism might not be so bad if it was built on parallel/equally important goals. The Health and Prosperity of Mankind as a whole, protecting the rights of the individual, and then also profit. If an action breaks any of the first two goals in the name of profit, then an alternative action needs to be taken.

Do you think it is possible to redefine what profit means (not just the word - but in practise) so that profit would equal or aim at the betterment of the world automatically?

Grouchy Imp:

Yeah that's, err, not what I meant.

Like, at all.

I echo only your call of bullshit. I'll let you elaborate your own points

Alar:
In debt to what? How exactly is this going to cost us money? They never said why methane in the atmosphere is going to magically make us have to pay more stuff. Where is this coming from? Can someone explain it to me?

Presumably it means the cost to repair damages. Global temperature increases, or the greenhouse effect in general, tends to throw climactic trends out of whack, most relevantly in the forms of devastating storms. Thus, the cost of damages caused to infrastructure, and maybe human life, I'm not sure what they calculated exactly, would total somewhere in the trillions.
It may also be referring to a loss in profits since a number of population centers are on coasts that would be devastated/eliminated, and a number of corporate headquarters and manufacturing centers as well as great economic markets, and even active farmlands now that I think about it, tend to be within those areas to be destroyed; and so at least some of those were probably considered in the cost estimate.

Ill just give my standard response that I have to all global warming alarms.

When we are 60 trillion in debt, and New York is completely under water, I will the the first to grant you a sincere apology and call you king of the Internets. Once the sky actually falls, everyone will tell Chicken Little how wise he is and how they regret not listening to him. Until the sky falls however, I don't think we should hold our breath.

Why don't we just used compressed methane as a fuel? or swap to liquid Hydrogen as there are cars that run on it now?

That being said, these "predictions" are more often than not highly inaccurate.

The Great JT:
Then you know how we fix it? GET A NEW POWER SOURCE. Wind power, fusion power, mass effect drives, I don't care! Just stop relying on fossil fuels!

If there's something you should take away from this article, it's that the amount of pollutant released into the atmosphere by humans is a minuscule drop in the bucket compared to how much nature pollutes itself. It's not like humans are even capable of producing 60 gigatons of methane, even if we tried.

Legion:
Forgive me if I take this with a pinch of salt given how often these kind of predictions turn out to be accurate. Although a part of me does find the idea that the economy and potentially society might be taken down by methane gas rather than an asteroid or a zombie apocalypse to be kind of amusing.

I also like the fact you have a Madoka Magica avatar.

SO what you're saying is, the world ends not with a bang, but with a fart?

We need to ensure that, should humanity have a tombstone, "Died by farts" is NOT what will be engraved upon it.

Quazimofo:

Alar:
In debt to what? How exactly is this going to cost us money? They never said why methane in the atmosphere is going to magically make us have to pay more stuff. Where is this coming from? Can someone explain it to me?

Presumably it means the cost to repair damages. Global temperature increases, or the greenhouse effect in general, tends to throw climactic trends out of whack, most relevantly in the forms of devastating storms. Thus, the cost of damages caused to infrastructure, and maybe human life, I'm not sure what they calculated exactly, would total somewhere in the trillions.
It may also be referring to a loss in profits since a number of population centers are on coasts that would be devastated/eliminated, and a number of corporate headquarters and manufacturing centers as well as great economic markets, and even active farmlands now that I think about it, tend to be within those areas to be destroyed; and so at least some of those were probably considered in the cost estimate.

Thank you! That's much better than just, "Climate change is coming! Methane will be released! It'll cost us a TON of money!" which was essentially all they seemed to say.

Steve the Pocket:

Strazdas:

Steve the Pocket:

Hold on. You're claiming that the oil companies have not only just suddenly accepted carbon-powered climate change as real, but are actively trying to cause it because they think it'll make new oil easier to obtain?

I'm gonna have to demand some sources on that one. That sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory to me.

Most of them deny it and at the same time know its true. its called lieing. and if lieing is making profit, they are going to lie to you with a huge smile on their face.

So all we have to do is make up whatever accusation we want and claim they're lying when they deny it because they're the bad guys? Geez, this is easier than I thought! Why did we ever bother with all that "finding evidence" baloney?

Yep. thats the basic of being a rich asshole that gets away with everything. Like Steve Jobs.

cthulhuspawn82:
Ill just give my standard response that I have to all global warming alarms.

When we are 60 trillion in debt, and New York is completely under water, I will the the first to grant you a sincere apology and call you king of the Internets. Once the sky actually falls, everyone will tell Chicken Little how wise he is and how they regret not listening to him. Until the sky falls however, I don't think we should hold our breath.

"When we are 60 trillion in debt, and New York is completely under water" noone will care for your apoligy, as it will be too late by then. When i drop an atomic bomb on your town, and then see you die, i will apologize to you for causing you pain. and that makes it ok to drop the bomb for me, yep, totally ok.

Legion:
Forgive me if I take this with a pinch of salt given how often these kind of predictions turn out to be accurate. Although a part of me does find the idea that the economy and potentially society might be taken down by methane gas rather than an asteroid or a zombie apocalypse to be kind of amusing.

I also like the fact you have a Madoka Magica avatar.

yeah, can i kinda remember that there wasnt any climate change in the last 16 years? even the more alarmist adept of global warming had to admit that

Oh look, more shady enviro-science to go with all the older, disproven fear mongering typical of green politicos like the living now-public-joke that is Al Gore.

And this has what to do with gaming or nerd culture? Once more, the very name of the website "The Escapist" totally escapes an author.

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