Whitley's Journal

The Methane Danger

This is a journal entry I hoped I would never have to write. For most of my career, I have been fighting to prevent this, to slow it down or at least to plan for it.

What is happening is that methane hydrates are melting in the Arctic Ocean and along the US Atlantic seaboard. The methane they are releasing is adding to that already pouring out of tundra in Siberia, Alaska and Canada.

While methane releases have been taking place for the past 10 years, there is no precedent for what is happening now, and it isn’t reflected in global warming models. If the melt of methane hydrates commences an exponential expansion, which is what previous interglacial climaxes suggest will happen, we are could be dealing within less than a generation with a situation that will not be survivable for civilization, and possibly even not for our species.

The reason for this is that the temperature spike that is going to take place will profoundly disrupt things like rainfall, growing seasons, and even the viability of the human body. Summer temperatures across southern China, central and southern India, the middle section of the United States, southern Europe and North Africa could reach into the 130s Fahrenheit. (Many other areas would also be affected, and there would be no part of the globe without very substantial temperature increases.)

This is not a livable temperature for human beings, not for long, and there is not a single global warming model that predicts this.

However, if a methane spike takes place, it will happen.

Now that it has started, the methane release will not stop. How fast it will build is anybody’s guess, but it will build.

It’s a great tragedy that the debate about this was between the left, which took the position that pollution was entirely the problem and the right, which claimed that there was no problem.

Sadly, the reality, which is that carbon dioxide emissions generated by human activity was dangerously speeding up a natural process, was never part of the debate at all.

The result of this is that we have wasted too much time, and now it’s too late. Whatever cards nature deals us, those are the cards we are going to have to play. Unfortunately, those are going to be some very ugly cards indeed.

The most immediate problem in the Americas is likely to be drought. The eastern Pacific has warmed to record levels, and unless tropical rains roll over the US southwest, it’s likely that the drought presently taking place there will not be relieved this winter. In that case, areas of California and Arizona are going to be without water. Should the drought continue for another year, which is far from impossible, it will become the greatest environmental catastrophe in American history.

Indeed, drought is going to be a problem in much of the world, as increasing temperatures intensify evaporation. For example, it’s likely that the drought in the western US will extend into the Midwest next year, resulting in crop disruptions that could become extensive and, ultimately, catastrophic.

The reason for all this is that methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas, twenty times more efficient at retaining heat than carbon dioxide. However, unlike carbon dioxide, methane dissipates in a relatively short period of time, with the result that, twenty or so years after the outgassing, the methane will be gone.

At that point, human activity will be far less than it is now, so we won’t be causing much in the way of emissions of any kind. When the methane dissipates, all of that retained heat will be released into space and there will come a year in which the snow cover in northern latitudes survives the summer. From then on, a substantial ice cover will begin to grow until it becomes a new glacier.

By that time, this civilization will be a distant memory, a legend, no doubt, of a golden age in which the future will find difficult to believe.
How I wish that it had been different. I feel that I could have done so much more, but I simply could not break through into the center of the debate, which was where I needed to be.

Now, planning no longer matters. It might help a little to reduce our CO2 emissions, but I would be surprised if it mattered all that much.
What we have done is to hasten the end of the interglacial during which our whole history has unfolded. Instead of planning for the inevitable, we have made it worse.

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare has Puck say of the young Athenians, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

Oh, Puck, you were wiser than ever you dreamed.

it seems strange to me that none of the prophets down through the ages spoke about this.
Did they see the result of human trajectory as if we were left ONLY to our own accord?

But nature has its own plan for us.

I can feel and see it happening.
It will heat, and then freeze us to a stand still, and the few people left in the habitable places will be forced by mere circumstance, to seek life together as One. With no more borders and flags. No more monkey shit slinging.
Where will the great Jehovah and Allah be? Those demiurges will have not much left of their great creation to plot and fight over. Those beasts have sold us a fools dream.

We only ever have had each other and our own private, silent centers.
We are each mirrors of God.
Peace and Love to you all, brothers and sisters.
Help each other as much as you would help yourselves and family.
Create...and laugh much.


“Great ideas, it has been said, come into the world as gently as doves.

Perhaps then, if we listen attentively, we shall hear amid the uproar of

empires and nations, a faint flutter of wings, a gentle stirring of life and

hope.  Some will say that this hope lies in a nation; others in a person.  I

believe rather that it is awakened, revived, nourished by millions of

solitary individuals whose deeds and works every day negate the crudest

implications of history.  As a result, there shines forth fleetingly the

ever-threatened truth that each and every person, on the foundation of his

or her own sufferings and joys, builds for all.” 

                                    Albert Camus

I am in mourning. I was recently intuitively, just out of the blue, prompted to look up methane and quickly found the latest research results of a joint American/Russian/Swedish Arctic team this summer. They witnessed and documented massive outgassing of methane hydrates directly from the Leptev sea. One of the researchers in an interview from 2012 has a very revealing moment at the end of this clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kx1Jxk6kjbQ Her moment of revelation at about 8:12 scared me deeply and prompted me to look further. Methane's global warming potential is even worse than Whitley suggests. Initially, before it begins to breakdown (to 37% of its warming potential after 12 years) its global warming potential is not 20 times but 130 times that of CO2. In a catastrophic release, this is the only number that needs to be used to calculate methane's GWP. Let it in. 130 times that of CO2. That's the only number that will matter soon. The methane veil, the blanket of methane developing over the arctic, is growing and spreading south towards the equator at the rate of 1 kilometer a day. We have triggered 26 identifiable warming feedback loops in the Arctic so the chance that this next part will go slowly is really a pipe dream. We only need a release of 1% of the methane hydrates in the Arctic to reach the end of this train and there are thousands of gigatons available. The last time there was an ice age we could return to a hunter gatherer existence, but not this time. We've seen the releases from one nuclear disaster kill the pacific ocean in three years. When the ionizing radiation is released from thousands of abandoned nuclear power plants I am afraid Whitley, that there will be no pockets of life left anywhere. We are all in hospice now. Treat each other kindly. Forgive the fools who brought us to this point. Hope fervently that the coming massive irradiation of the planet doesn't lead to the destruction of life at the soul level as well.

This is a searing read. The question of predicting and preparing for climate change has always rightly been a scientific question, not a political one. But willful blindness, greed and ignorance prevented us from seeing the truth and prompted us to view the issue through the egomaniacal prism of modern politics. We may very well take to our graves the sneering and mocking comments on global warming those on the right have made for so long.

So what now? I can't think of a thing except to do my best to walk with God and create a state of joy within myself.

Like Joel Peter, I am in mourning. After reading Whitley's entry last night, I learned
from the link below that the warming potential of methane is, as Mr. Peter already
knew, far greater than 20X that of carbon dioxide.


Do not blame yourself, Whitley, that the public and TPTB would not listen to you.
Other voices crying in the wilderness tried to explain that climate disruption is due to a
combination of manmade and natural factors. Even if you had not lost, unfortunately
and however unfairly, credibility in many people's eyes with the publication of
Communion, the naysayers would not have listened. Many will scoff, for now, at the
words coming from the stricken face of Dr. Natalia Shakhova, the scientist alluded to
by Mr. Peter.

The words that follow are the English translation of the final verses of
"Die unstillbare Gier" ("The Insatiable Greed," German lyrics by Michael Kunze) a song from the stage musical Tanz der Vampire. The protagonist, a conflicted vampire, is lamenting his many hapless victims and his own unending bloodlust. The words seem apropos of what is transpiring:

Many believe in humanity
And many in money and glory
Many believe in art and science
In love and heroism

Many believe in gods
Of many different kinds
In miracles and in signs
In Heaven and Hell
In sin and virtue
And in the Bible and breviary

But the true power
That rules over us
Is the disgraceful
And eternal, insatiable greed

You mortals of tomorrow
I prophesy
Here and now:
Before the next millennium begins
The only God, whom everyone serves
Is the insatiable greed

Only it's not the next millennium we speak of, most likely not even the next century.
Terrible and different from the current world's hedonistic greed will be the greed of
desperate people scrambling to survive in a world created by, but not for, humans.
Eventually that greed will fade, calmed in the new existence predicted by More Light,
or perhaps, subsiding into the silence of human extinction.

I will be focusing on the New Earth.

From what I can read, the likelihood of catastrophic warming from arctic methane release is still a subject of considerable debate among reasonable scientists, including whether or not methane levels in the arctic are rising to any significant degree. This isn't an Exxon vs. good science story, like the CO2 "debate" might be reasonably viewed, but really a lot of uncertainty and differing opinions among real scientists (when it comes to methane hydrate release) without an obvious agenda one way or another.

Basically, I'm not going to start planning for rapid onset climate Armageddon because Whitley Strieber has decided we're past the tipping point and civilization is headed over a cliff. For God's sake it seems most of the readership is lighting candles and quoting poetry because Whitley told another really scary story. But what data is presented here? Going back over this journal entry, I didn't see any. There IS a related story on UC based on recent findings about previously undiscovered methane vents along the Atlantic seaboard in the news lately, but it's important to highlight that the methane released from that depth does not make it to the atmosphere. That, and the fact that scientists aren't sure these vents have been similarly active for a very long time, got kind of glossed over in the UC story. I've read related material on the internet that does present data, and again I think we should take it seriously and have some level of concern, but not start telling our children they're doomed! Here's a related article I suggest from Mother Jones:

So my humble advice is to stay calm and keep fighting the good fight. We're not finished yet, in fact there's no compelling reason to think that way in my opinion. I am very concerned about the serious impacts of mankind on our climate and environment, I don't think I'm under any illusions. I drive an electric car. I've replaced most light bulbs in our household with LED, and so on. Like Whitley, I have long believed that we need to take this whole subject seriously. But this journal entry IMO borders on panic mongering, I'm sorry to say, unless I'm reading it wrong.

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