Nature has winners and losers too

For an economic system to function there must be winners and losers. In order for an ecosystem to function on a continuing basis there must be a constantly evolving and dynamic balance within and between the populations of animals living in it.

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What they said about us – has it changed?

Chief Sitting Bull, at the Powder River Conference, 1887

Hear me people: We now have to deal with another race—small and feeble when our fathers first met them, but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough they have a mind to till the soil and the love of possessions is a disease with them. These people have made many rules which the rich may break but the poor may not. They take their tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich and those who rule.

 

Greenhouse gasses that look like ice

We been hearing and reading about greenhouse gasses for years now. Gasses that come from our power-plants, cars, farm animals and permafrost to name a few. There’s one place that we seldom think about or get a chance to see but it covers about 70% of the earth – the ocean bottom.

There is a compound called methane hydrate or methane clathrate, known better as “fire ice”. It forms under the high pressures and cold temperatures of the deep sea where methane is forced into the crystalline structure of ice. The hydrates can exist there for millions of years continuing to build up.

Hydrate compounds were first discovered in the early 1800s in the laboratory of two scientists, Humphrey Davy and Michael Faraday, who were experimenting with chlorine-water mixtures. They noticed that ice was formed at temperatures higher than the normal freezing point of water. Hydrates were thought to not occur naturally so they were only interesting to scientists. That is until the 1930’s when they were found to form in and clog natural gas pipe lines in colder climates. Until this discovery methane hydrate was thought to occur only in the outer regions of the solar system where temperatures are low and ice is common.

We all remember how the “Deep-water horizon’s” first cap and piping was plugged by ice – this was a hydrate.

Major deposits of methane hydrate were later discovered in the 1960’s in Siberia as part of drilling operations in a natural gas field. The were also discovered in the ground below the permafrost on the northern slope of Alaska in 1972. Large deposits of methane hydrate were and are being discovered under oceans sediments as oil drilling operations and scientific exploration work increases all over the world. It’s distribution is worldwide but the largest deposits are found in the arctic and along the margins of continental shelves.

Worldwide the amount of methane in gas hydrates is conservatively estimated to contain twice the amount of carbon found in all the known fossil fuels on Earth.

As global warming continues to progress the permafrost and shallow water methane hydrates will start to melt. This will release their methane gas which will accelerate the warming cycle. The role of methane gas from the methane hydrates in global warming is increasing.

These links tell you more about it. Naturally occurring methane releases are called “cold seeps” and entire ecosystems have formed around them. This video link will explain it in more detail.


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Greenhouse gasses in the Artic

In 1997 the United Nations held a meeting in Kyoto, Japan. As part of that meeting industrialized countries agreed to reduce their emission of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gasses are produced by industries and naturally by volcanoes, animals and plants. The excess generation of these gasses through human use of fossil fuels has lead an increase in the greenhouse effect. These man generated gasses act like a blanket, which traps heat inside the atmosphere causing a general increase in global temperature. The results of this has been a rise in ocean temperature, shifts in animal, plant distributions and changes in global weather patterns.

One thing that wasn’t considered in detail was at the conference was the billions of tons of methane gas is locked up in the permafrost in the arctic. Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas that contributes 21 times more to global warming than CO2.

The permafrost is composed primarily of partially decomposed plant material that is melting for the first time since it was frozen more than 11,000 years age. A frozen permafrost peat bog covers the entire sub-Arctic area of Western Siberia and northern Canada. It’s about twice the size of France and Germany combined. The permafrost is now melting at an alarming rate.
There are places in Canada and Alaska where the methane is collecting under the ice on lakes. Researchers have cut through the ice in places on various lakes and the methane bubbles right to the surface from pools of gas just under the ice. Just in case you were wondering if methane is explosive and if an open flame were present whether science might be minus a few Arctic researchers if they weren’t careful – the answer follows. The following videos will give you an idea how this works. 
and .

The release of methane gas from the permafrost is increasing and will accelerate global warming. Unfortunately, scientists can find nothing to date to stop the release of the methane or negate its effects on global warming.

It is all the more important to reduce CO2 emissions to help offset the methane release from the permafrost.

Think Global – Act Local!

Flu pandemics for fish

As the weather has gotten colder we are once again faced with the not so pleasant prospect of coming down with the flu. The flu is a virus that seems to walk its way around the world every year making a lot of people’s lives miserable. With way the viruses’ have of changing very year one flu shot will not do it like it does for polio or the mumps – we need to have one every year. In the US alone the flu kills around 38,000 people every year. As much as we humans like to think of ourselves as special even right down to our diseases other animals also suffer from the wrath of viruses.

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