The Widdershins

Are We Playing with Fire?

Posted on: June 9, 2011

When it comes to “fire-ice”, aka methane hydrates or methane clathrate, we literally are. We have been funding and researching the possibility of utilizing methane hydrates as an energy resource for over a decade. The DOE actually has a part of their website dedicated specifically to “Fire in the Ice” and the latest news in the exploratory drilling and expeditions. They have pretty much already deduced where the best deposits are around the world. Those are easily accessed on the site as well. It really is hard to say that our government has not been and is not transparent in this regard.

Are liberals, environmentalists, and Gulf Coast working class conservatives alike, all still fuming over the gulf, waiting for the mainstream media to pick up the story first? Do they watch C-Span? Watch committee and subcommittee hearings on issues they are concerned about? Check in occasionally on what folks are saying on the Senate Floor? Read the national commission BP final report?

Though the report offers both industry and government a scathing slap on the wrist, “The root causes are systemic and, absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur,” the words Methane Hydrates are never mentioned.

In mid may Obama opened up leases for exploratory drilling for the deepwater Gulf, Arctic Ocean and permafrost regions, and off the Atlantic coast. Understand that he is not talking about drilling for oil in the Arctic permafrost and off the Atlantic coast. And, when they say natural gas, know they are talking about extracting gas from the methane hydrate deposits in those two areas. Ken Salazar gave it away by professing a bit too much as to why they were going to the Atlantic.

“The fact of the matter is we know very little about the Atlantic because the information we have is 30 years old,” Salazar told reporters today. “One of the things we owe to the American people is to make our decisions based on good information. Right now there is very little information on the Atlantic.”

Guess Ken failed to check up on the DOE website.

Blake Ridge is a bathymetric high located on the Atlantic continental rise approximately 400 km east from Charleston, South Carolina. The sedimentary feature is situated in water depths between 2,000 to 4,800 meters and is approximately 500 km in length. Over the past 30 years, the Blake Ridge has become perhaps the best-studied occurrence of methane hydrate in the United States.

They lie, and I say, let’s confront the Mother Nature raping corporatist hubristic pigs sooner than later. Don’t mean to fear-monger, but I intend to get my tax payer’s moneys worth from all our government agencies we have been funding for over a decade to tell us what lurks beneath the ocean floor.

I began exploring the depths off the East Coast more than 30 years ago, and reported the first findings of these slump scars. Evidence suggests that these scarring events have happened in the past; some of the scars look fairly recent. Since we now know that some tsunamis can be caused by these slumping events, it makes sense to learn more about the activity of the sea floor just off our coasts. Currently, scientists do not have enough information to envision the possibility of a major tsunami engulfing the Atlantic City Boardwalk, but we do know that the East Coast is not as static as we once thought. (My emphasis.)

We have to figure out how to force the public debate on drilling for methane hydrates. If not the debate will be framed for us. Energy from Methane Hydrates: Better to Burn Out than Fade Away.

Maybe Neil Young’s lyric “It’s better to burn out than fade away” captures the odd paradox of methane hydrates best. Better to burn some of their methane in the short run, and suffer a CO2-driven aggravation of greenhouse problems en route to a more sustainable energy solution, than to continue with the energy status quo and wait for melting hydrates to worsen the climate problem for us.

Though the piece does offer some good research, I really don’t think Obama’s teleprompter could have framed the wave of framing that is going to come our way when it comes to us getting closer to Methane Hydrate production. And screw anyone that uses Neil Young to sell such a wave of crap (and especially use that particular line). Hey, I’m all in for a JFK, “We choose to go to the moon” moment of innovation, but at this point, I’m still convinced we are vampires sucking blood from the earth.


30 Responses to "Are We Playing with Fire?"

Holy Crap so we are gonna inundate our east coast fro what reducing or dependence on foreign oil by 5% ?? When will they learn when the Oceans start burning like some of the tap water here in the US??

The really dangerous clathrate beds are in the Gulf. There are some not unreasonable doomsday scenarios which follow from a rapid release of the methane.

The end of the last ice age era Storegga* slide, which was on a slope, produced a tsunami that was probably 20-30 feet higher than the recent and murderously lethal Indonesian tsunami.

It was likely a clathrate/rapid warming collapse along a coastal slope.

Deepwater Horizon’s well is not only on a slope, it’s part of a system of human caused methane release that is, well, unprecedented. It’s not only contributing to the depletion of Gulf oxygen, it poses a not inconsiderable risk of pressure build up and rapid warming.

* –

I’m reading the background information — seems like one fall out from harvesting frozen methane could be earthquakes.

So far the east coast has missed living in an active earthquake zone — not fun at all. Japan got the really big one that they have been preparing for. The ring of fire of the Pacific Ocean — the plates are slipping and the coastal ranges need to move up higher to release the stress on Mother Earth.

Gee — does anyone think to ask Mother Earth’s opinion?

We are just speeding along to our own self destruction.

We may as well get adjusted to the fact that “the dumb shall inherit the earth”. Or whatever is left of it when the environmental bandits are through raping and reaping profits in the interim.

Florida is on a techtonic plate that has thus far been silent, Please spare us from any further problems – we have a sufficient number of ecologic disasters. We’re thinking of moving the state a little further up the coast………

Excellent post, LTD! So glad you’re back.

We East Coasters have indeed been spared from earthquakes so far, but freak heat waves and insane pollen counts have been happening this spring. The air quality is terrible and the heat is very hard on the sick and elderly who do not have working air conditioners.

i wonder if any of this can be attributed to the BP Oil Spill(s) and its accompanying methane releases? I had thought it was” just” general global warming….

@2 That’s what I thought too, Jack, about the Gulf, until I started looking more into the Atlantic continental shelf. They now know through their own research that it is not as stable as they though but are going in anyway! Shocking.

LTD – you have mail at your TW account re: how to Twitter your posts. Forgot to give you that info.

For today, I’ve done it for you. 🙂

LTD (#7),

I’ve spent a chunk of me morning following your research chain. Consider me convinced.

@6 Oh, that’s just silly, MB. All that bacteria ate that huge underwater methane plume. the Amebas that eat them should have grossly evolved to two cells with horns sticking out of two heads by now.

I actually did just read a scientific piece that all the plume did not go away. It’s probably in the Gulf Stream like some initially said it would be.

Perhaps we should call Thursdays, Doom and Gloom Thursdays. I have things to share about Japan’s program off their continental shelf next week. Good times.

Sorry I forgot to put. “Morning TW”. Thanks for doing the twitter thingie for me.

@9 Thanks, Jack. Will you help me sort through all my bookmarks? 🙂

There’s another piece, I think last Wed, that talks about the methane hydrate related to the BP oil spill. It is when I first got interested and have been harboring suicidal ideations ever since.

I have a sick sense of humor, btw, and I’m really pissed that the author of the last piece used that lyric from Neil Young as the title of his piece. Kurt Cuban used it in his suicide letter. That is just so wrong.

@3 Northwestrain. Keep your ears peeled. When and if they announce they are going to open up exploratory drilling off the Oregon coast, know that will be for methane hydrates too. A huge deposit is out there lurking on the ring of fire.

We can do this! Please someone tell me we can! My fierce protection of the Mother earth that bore us is only growing. We can start this public debate. It is environmental activism that has kept them out of the Pacific so far.

Sorry for the multiple post. I get up two or three hours after everyone else here. Az time where we don’t even know what time you all think it is.

One more thing. I so wanted to insert this pic into the thread, but it said, “It might have copyright issues” on the sidebar. What do you think, MB.

Someone there is paying attention. “Lithium crystals” are the result of dry ocean beds which AZ is. Therefore I do not need to even take Lithium. 🙂

MB @13. Sorry I forgot the link.

I understand only enough of this to be afraid, very afraid.

@4 And yes Pat, dumb and dumber are inheriting the earth.

Not on topic.

The Midright Ride of Paul Revere (revised) Thank you Sarah.

MB@6: Take a look here:

I had gotten a letter from the ins. agent on the rental apt. where she said she noticed I didn’t have earthquake coverage. I had read somewhere there’s a fault somewhere in the G.O.M. and thought “what the hell” so I called the office. Got coverage for contents for $3.75. I said what the hell and added it.

LTD re the picture (HILARIOUS!), if you link to it and credit the blog where you found it, you’re okay…and the picture has the link in it. So you should be good.

I’ve found that with most searches, you get a warning that the picture might be copyrighted.

“Gloom and Doom Thursday” sounds great to me too, but I’ve got a dark sense of humor.

Oh my. Looks like Hillary really doesn’t want to run for Prez again.

@20: I was just reading that. Imagine all the good that she could do, though.

@20 and 21: Wow. Hillary with that much power?


I hope that other other woman from Europe gets the IMF job. Two women!! One running IMF and the other the World Bank!!!

@23 – Can you imagine the earthquake that would shake the patriarchy?!

Politico agrees:

@26 – Chat, I want to read your link but it’s all messed up. 😦

@27 – Yes, that is quite the article!

@27> That’s a funny article; it’s a couple of months old. And I still think that chances of Hillary Clinton primarying Obama are zilch.

You leave yourself an enormous margin of safety. You build a bridge that 30,000-pound trucks can go across and then you drive 10,000-pound trucks across it. That is the way I like to go across bridges.
—Warren Buffet, Berkshire Hathaway
On estimating risks and margins of safety

Public policymakers and legislators need a margin of safety to make good decisions (which they have a hard enough time making in non-gridlock times). Right now scientists are not providing them with that margin of safety.

We just knocked out another record 30.6 gigatons of greenhouse gases and China didn’t even break stride during the worst economic collapse in 80 years.

And get a load of this from the new NSIDC GHG forecast just published and while the ink is still wet, study authors acknowledge that it has an enormous gaping hole in the findings because it doesn’t include methane outgassing from permafrost:

“As catastrophic as all this is, [Kevin Schaefer, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado] acknowledges his study underestimates what is likely to happen. The model does not measure methane releases, which are 40 times as potent in terms of warming as carbon. Methane could have a big impact on temperatures in the short term, he says. “There would be a lot of methane emissions. We’re working on estimating those right now,” he said. The model also does not include emissions from the large region of underwater permafrost. IPS previously reported that an estimated eight million tonnes of methane emissions are bubbling to the surface from the shallow East Siberian Arctic shelf every year. If just one percent of the Arctic undersea methane (also called methane hydrates) reaches the atmosphere, it could quadruple the amount of methane currently in the atmosphere, Vladimir Romanovsky of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks previously told IPS.” (Stephen Leahy, “Permafrost Melt Soon Irreversible Without Major Fossil Fuel Cuts,” IPS, Uxbridge, Canada, February 17, 2011 reporting findings in Kevin Schaefer, Tingjun Zhang, Lori Bruhwiler, Andrew P. Barrett, Amount and timing of permafrost carbon release in response to climate warming, Tellus B, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0889.2011.00527.x, article first published online on February 15, 2011)


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