Daily Archives: 07/30/2010

This Is America, I Keep Thinking « The Erstwhile Conservative: A Blog of Repentance

This Is America, I Keep Thinking « The Erstwhile Conservative: A Blog of Repentance.

The Gulf’s Invisible Villain: Natural Gas | Mother Jones

For some time I’ve wondered about this.  The gas had to be a major part of the gulf spill.  After all the drilling rig was apparently destroyed by a gas explosion.  The gas has been an invisible partner of the oil roaring into the golf.

Surely that couldn’t be a good thing could it?  Here’s some confirmation of my fears.

At the point of exit from the well, the gas and oil are combined, but in the water they quickly separate. While BP has asserted that most of the gas surfaces and dissipates into the atmosphere, the research of John Kessler, a professor of earth system science at Texas A&M University, shows otherwise. Kessler has found that at the surface, levels of methane—the primary component of the natural gas—have remained normal, but they’ve skyrocketed at lower depths, indicating that most of the gas is still in the water.

In the 10-mile radius around the well site, research teams have measured methane levels in the water averaging 100,000 times normal levels. Kessler says levels are up to a million times normal in parts of the Gulf immediately surrounding the spill site. “This is the highest concentration I’ve ever seen in ocean waters, easily,” says Kessler. He believes it could take years—possibly decades—for the gas levels in the ecosystem to return to normal.

In the meantime, the leaked gas could dramatically change the chemistry of the Gulf. When natural gas is present, certain bacteria that digest it flourish out of control and can quickly deplete the oxygen in the surrounding waters, creating “dead zones” where little can exist.

via The Gulf’s Invisible Villain: Natural Gas | Mother Jones.

Global Warming and Luggage Stealing Robots: Beneath The Waves, Ctd – The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Global warming is like a scary movie.  It may be most scary when you fear that something MAYBE is going to happen.  The anticipation is the worst part.

On the daily dish, this was explored.  Particulary worrisome:

The ocean absorbs 40% of the CO2 humans emit. Phytoplankton, in turn, convert that CO2 into oxygen or die and bury it at the bottom of the ocean. If the phytoplankton are disappearing, Richardson says, “the ocean as a carbon sink is declining, and what that means is ultimately more CO2 will stay in the atmosphere instead of being dissolved in the ocean.” That will translate into a warmer world, which will wipe out even more phytoplankton.

Its hard not be in the back of your mind be uneasy.  Many of the feedback loops may make the problem worse than we think, and the research is still in progress.  But does that say throw resources against this threat as opposed to others?  Maybe not.

There maybe a serious problem.  But there are a lot of possible scary problems like nuclear terrorism, acidification of the oceans, effects of hormones in the water supply, and so on.  Certainly, we know that eventually a large meteorite will again strike the earth.  The cause for throwing resources against these things is likely as good or better than for global warming.  Also using resources for more mundane issues like clean water may have a higher ratio of cost to benefit than reducing carbon emission.

I’m not sure that Global warming is trumped by these issues.  But the great Steve Martin once mused that he feared his luggage was being stolen by robots.  I don’t know that that isn’t true either, but I’m not doing anything about it.

At this point, I don’t think that warming temperatures take priority over other concerns, but because of free floating anxiety that it is worse than we know.

We need to take climate change seriously.  It is getting warmer, and total denial of that is undeniable, but our actions must reflect what we know not fear of the robots.

Beneath The Waves, Ctd – The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan.