At this COP 20 Presentation on Arctic Methane Emissions and the global warming effects on Earth, by Mr Stuart Scott of UPFSI (United Planet Faith & Science Iniative), he introduces the subject matter with reference to a New York Times article dated Nov. 30 2014, headlined : ‘Optimism faces grave realities at Climate talks’ by Coral Davenport, and hails it as a “watershed event” for the newspaper in terms of allowing it to go to print, stating, as quoted: ‘that it signifies a new level of realisation of the problem in the human imagination’, unquote. He further went on to state that we are currently seeing not a negotiation between the Global North and Global South, as it is often framed, but a worldwide negotiation occurring between two parties, i.e. Those who would protect Life on Earth, and, Those who would protect financial interests.
The area in the North pole known as ‘East Siberian Arctic Shelf’, a shallow ledge of submerged (prev. above water land) sea shelf, is estimated to contain between 500-5000 GT (gigaton = 1 billion tons) of methane as estimated by the Arctic Methane Research Team. Methane is created when organic matter decays in the absence of oxygen (anaerobic conditions) and is 86 x as powerful a GHG as CO2.
Mr Scott made reference to two past interviews, viz; Dr Natalie Shakova (Arctic Methane Research Team, University of Alaska) in Nov. 2013, who have estimated that the volume of methane currently being released is approximately 50 gigatons, which translates to 10 x the methane content of Earth’s atmosphere today, and would more than double Earth’s burden of greenhouse gases. Also, Professor Peter Wadham (Prof. of Ocean Physics, at University of Cambridge in Dec. 2013), who is of the opinion that civilisation would not survive a 50 gigaton release of methane, as existing predictions of global warming rates, i.e. ‘business as usual’ projections (by IPCC) predicting 4°C increased warming by end of the century and 2°C by middle of the century. The general conclusions are ‘dire’ if earth reaches 4°C increase in temperature, resulting in the Collapse of civilisation, Chaos, Food Shortage, Warfare, etc, and with Arctic methane added to existing conditions, would bring forward the significant possibility of “catastrophic warming” by another 20 years, i.e. mid century.
Mr Scott referred to a quote from Dr. Ira Leifer (Atmospheric Scientist, University of California, Santa Barbara), Dec. 2013, who is part of a joint research team doing research on Methane Release in the Arctic. Dr Leifer’s opinion on the issue summarised as follows, ‘Of 7-9 billion souls on earth, if a 40°C hotter world became a reality, we should make plans to adapt, while prudent action the question begs to be asked :
What portion of the population could adapt to such a world?
In his view – ‘just a few thousand people would be seeking refuge in the Arctic or Antartic!