August 12, 2007

GW Alert: Russia Plants Flag Under North Pole

Here's a chiller of a story for you from the Los Angeles Times: Russian submarines planted the national flag on the seabed two miles beneath the North Pole, claming the land as an extension of Russia's continental shelf—and therefore within their domain for oil and gas exploration.

It turns out that Global Warming, which is melting the ice, made the move possible. And rich petroleum reserves are believed to be located in the region. More oil to burn means more warming means less ice means more access to oil, and so on, leading credence to those who believe we humans are going to burn every last drop of oil on the planet and damn the consequences.

If that's not enough good news for you, the article goes on to note that huge sections of the Russian north's permafrost are now melting. As these vast deposits of biomass thaw, they degrade, releasing huge quantities of methane, which is according to the article 23 times more potent a greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide.

A sudden, massive release of Methane has been on the doomsday scenerio books for a while, even if you've never heard about it before. I read a Sci-Fi book over ten years ago about such a scenario, which led to a sudden season of killer hurricanes that nearly destroying human civilization ("Mother of Storms" by John Barnes). This is yet another of those 'tipping point' threats that could lead to a much warmer future than expected. Well, we'll know soon enough, won't we?

Andy Lewicky

ANDY LEWICKY is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who enjoys good books, jasmine tea, long walks in the rain, and climbing and skiing the big peaks of the California Sierra. email | follow


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