Lighting the fuse

Most of us have been hearing about mankind-induced global warming for some months now. There is growing realization that something must be done about our production of CO2 in the very near future. Or else all sorts of undesirable events will occur, with increasing frequency and intensity, globally. Despite the fantasies of the naysayers to the contrary, the scientific evidence is mounting that this is the case. There is a long trail of evidence that the natural sources of CO2 began to be surpassed in the mid 18th century, coincident with the start of the industrial revolution. At that time the atmospheric CO2 level was about 280ppm (parts per million). Now the concentration of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is closer to 430ppm. The result is that the earth’s atmosphere is warmer by more than half a degree (Celsius).

Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Yet that small-appearing warming has already had serious effects, too many to repeat here.

Worse, there’s another effect that may have even larger impacts, sooner than we thought. Methane (CH4). There are huge stores of methane in arctic regions. Methane is at least 20 times more powerful than CO2 as a warming agent. The concentration of atmospheric methane in 1750 was about 680ppb (parts per billion). Now it’s about 1790ppb. According to Katey Walter, of the University of Alaska, in a February 22nd article in the Los Angeles Times this methane is a “time bomb” waiting for a trigger.

Here’s why.

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