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Methane spike from Siberian permafrost

Arctic permafrost leaking methane at record levels, figures show
Experts say methane emissions from the Arctic have risen by almost one-third in just five years, and that sharply rising temperatures are to blame

David Adam, environment correspondent, Thursday 14 January 2010 19.00 GMT Article history

Permafrost in Siberia. Methane emissions from the Arctic permafrost increased by 31% from 2003-07, figures show.

Scientists have recorded a massive spike in the amount of a powerful greenhouse gas seeping from Arctic permafrost, in a discovery that highlights the risks of a dangerous climate tipping point.

Experts say methane emissions from the Arctic have risen by almost one-third in just five years, and that sharply rising temperatures are to blame.

The discovery follows a string of reports from the region in recent years that previously frozen boggy soils are melting and releasing methane in greater quantities. Such Arctic soils currently lock away billions of tonnes of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, leading some scientists to describe melting permafrost as a ticking time bomb that could overwhelm efforts to tackle climate change.

They fear the warming caused by increased methane emissions will itself release yet more methane and lock the region into a destructive cycle that forces temperatures to rise faster than predicted.

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Here is one of the comments, which I very much agree with:

IF these thousands of scientists and scientific institutions are wrong, and the world won't warm up, yet we have taken all the measures to address this apparently non-existent problem, ie switched 100% to renewable energy and cleaned up the planet (something we have to do eventually anyway, as oil and coal etc will one day run out), there's no harm done... In fact, we will have made a head start in saving our economy from the effects of peak oil and so on, and making us independent of all sorts of unsavory governments...

However, IF the scientists are right, and we do nothing, it's the end of civilization as we know it and billions will die...

And please in response don't give this nonsense that switching to renewables is not possible, or that it will destroy the world economy or that it's all a conspiracy by world governments to raise taxes... the green movement has had to drag the governments through this...

I know what way any sane and responsible person would hedge his or her bets. I for one would like my children to have a future, and I think there are many like me. Anyone who proposes ignoring the whole (possible) problem is dicing with the future of my kids, and in fact with the future of all kids alive... So please give one good reason not to switch to renewables and in general clean up our act...