Massive amounts of carbon are locked away in permafrost — for how much longer?


Click to enlargeUniversity of Laval

Researchers have confirmed the widespread release of ancient carbon from melting Arctic permafrost in what could be the lit fuse on a climate-change bomb.

A paper published this week in Nature Geoscience has released the first measurements of greenhouse gases from permafrost under Arctic lakes. But while the study confirms those gases locked away in ice for thousands of years are seeping free, it concludes the amounts are not yet large.

Scientists have long known that permafrost contains vast quantities of carbon in dead plants and other organic material, about twice as much as the entire atmosphere. Now, that permafrost is melting more quickly as the Arctic warms up faster than anywhere else on Earth…

Researchers looked at lakes in Alaska and Siberia, as well as data from Canada. They used aerial photographs and other information to measure how the area had changed over the last 60 years.

They found that, across the Arctic, the amount of gas being released from a lake was directly related to its expansion. The more permafrost was melted around the water’s edge, the bigger the lake became, and the more greenhouse gases were released.

The team captured some of those gases and subjected them to radiocarbon dating. They found the gases had been generated from carbon stored for anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000 years…

Models suggest that over the next 90 years, greenhouse gas releases from permafrost will be 100 times higher than the levels Walter Anthony measured.

That hasn’t begun to happen, yet. No accelerated rate. No “explosion”, yet.

Devotees of philosophical and political systems embracing sophistry will welcome the news. Sit around doing nothing, whining about folks who see a need for responsible action.

Know-nothings, especially the Congressional flavor, won’t even be that concerned.

OTOH, folks who comprehend the predictive aspect of scientific research will continue the fight to mobilize political and social response to climate change.

Feds barred from prosecuting medical marijuana cases

A federal appeals court has banned the Justice Department from prosecuting medical marijuana cases if no state laws were broken.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the federal agency to show that 10 pending cases in California and Washington state violated medical marijuana laws in those states before continuing with prosecutions…

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but Congress has barred the Justice Department from spending money to prevent states from regulating the use or sale of medical pot.

Federal prosecutors argued unsuccessfully that Congress meant only to bar the department from taking legal action against states and that it could still prosecute individuals who violate federal marijuana laws. The court rejected that, saying that medical marijuana-based prosecutions prevent the states from giving full effect to their own measures…

Federal prosecutors could ask the 9th Circuit to reconsider the case or petition the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the issue. Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said officials are still reviewing the decision.

Marijuana activists and lawyers representing medical pot suppliers say the ruling is a significant addition to the growing support for broad legalization of the drug. Marijuana is legal for medicinal or recreational use in 25 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, ten states have marijuana legalizations measures on the November ballot…

Hey, it’s a HUGE election year. So, we have at least four choices among the two old parties: Liberals who support freedom to choose to partake of Freedom Weed; Liberals who fear the religious conservatives in their district and will cop out as usual; Conservatives enlightened sufficiently to consult scientists and physicians on matters of the Demon Weed; Conservatives in bed with every demented religious fundamentalist who promises to deliver a churchload of votes – and forgiveness for decades of corruption and fraud.