Sunday, 10 August 2008

Global Warming - methane clathrates

May I contribute as a scientist with some relevant expert knowledge.

During my time working for Shell Research in California I studied and obtained patents in the use of clathrates for purifying oil products.

Clathrates are chemicals that trap others in their crystals when they form.

Global warming is taking place for many reasons. However it is my belief that methane clathrates will have a significant effect on Global warming. This is because methane trapped within ice crystals will be released as the temperature rises.

Water, when it freezes, will trap other gases that are present in the atmosphere in a very unstable form. These gases are any that fit well inside the cavities of the ice cystals as it forms.

When, it is estimated 800 thousand years ago, the Antartic ice was forming and deposits were being laid at the bottom of the sea , methane gas was present. This molecule fits beautifully into an ice crystal and remains locked in the ice until the ice melts.

The problem is that when the Antartic ice starts to melt not only will methane be released but this methane itself will aggravate the global situation by trapping even more of the sun's heat.

The consequence is that if the Antartic temperature rises enough we will get an even faster rate of temperature climb because of the Methane that is released

This will, I believe, be a situation which will be almost unstoppable.

It will be like an explosion and we don't want one of these:

In no way must we allow the temperature to rise this much or a global crisis will result.

We therefore need to persuade everyone that global warming is disastrous and needs containing NOW. This means in the next 5-10 years.

We will know that we are winning the battle only when the temperature starts to rise less fast and shows clear signs of coming down.

We need to focus on this problem with everything we can as it will effect us and our children.

We must not be reassured by people that do not understand the science above.

Whenever possible alert others to this situation!


Gladys Hobson said...

VERY well put. I can't recall anyone telling it that way, though likely they have. Trouble is, most ears are closed to hearing the message. And, I suppose with natural order of things heating up the atmosphere, our individual puny efforts may seem pointless. It seems to me that world governments must respond, but there is too much concern of those in power to hold on to what they have got. But they are only reflecting the desires of those they govern, otherwise others (who care about these things) would be voted in. (Speaking here of democratic countries)
I expect 99% (or more) of voters do not understand the problem, or they want others to do something about it, as long it does not affect them.
But in fact, can we, as individuals, do anything about it? This is the problem: many initiatives look good but actually do little apart from giving folk an unrealistic 'feel good' factor.
Let's face it, folk will not wake up to things they PREFER to be blind about (drinking, smoking, overeating, drugs etc) and the effect on their health. Is it likely then that there will be an awakening to what WE are doing to the health of the world?
But your article is excellent. It explains things simply.

Kirti said...

You have explained it very clearly,Geoff. Also, I do agree with Gladys Hobson - most people do not care. I attended a marketing seminar where the speaker joked that " these days, the only way to get people moving in any direction is to appeal to the seven deadly sins. If we cannot offer some kind of instant gratification, people don't care". So perhaps, that's the angle to take, if we want to convince the mass populace to do something about the issue. But here is where I don't agree with Gladys - every bit helps. In fact, during my research on green living terminology for a blog, I know of several things we can all do. Example, Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL) is the one-step of going green that is the easiest to do. These may seem three times as expensive compared to incandescent bulbs but last approximately ten times as long and use one-fifth of the energy. There are other steps we can take, depending on how much involvement we can afford. In any case, with this article you are certainly doing your bit as a world citizen, and a caring human.

Geoff Dellow said...

A belated thanks to both Gladys and Kirti