The dangerous greenhouse gas methane is leaking, bubbling up from the bottoms of oceans and lakes around the world. Two places this is happening is in lakes in Washington State and Canada. Canadian researcher Rob Bowen says a tossed match would set the surface of these lakes on fire because "It's essentially pure methane."
Permafrost, which is frozen soil that covers one-fifth of the earth's land surface, is also found from 160 to 200 feet under water. Plant and animal matter have accumulated in this frozen soil for thousands of years, and global warming could release it all at once.
Some researchers think this is bound to happen within the next hundred years, while others say it may take many centuries, but all climate scientists agree that it WILL happen. And it's happening already: British scientists reported finding 250 methane plumes rising from the shallow seabed in Norway. Russian researchers have detected "methane chimneys" that are sending this greenhouse gas into the atmosphere from the bottom of the ocean near Siberia.
In the Seattle PI website, Charles J. Hanley quotes researcher Chris Burn as saying, "If we lost just 1% of the carbon in permafrost today, we'd be close to a year's contributions from industrial sources. I don't think policymakers have woken up to this. It's not in their risk assessments. I don't think it's a case of likelihood. I think we are playing with fire."
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