Sunday, December 21, 2008

Methane meltdown, global warming will accelerate

The most brief way to synthesize progress in World governmental climate change policy is to quote an NGO representative attending the recent United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC):
We can now expect only procedural movement out of Poznan, with almost no progress on substance.
Most governmental efforts (especially those with a number of players involved) in climate change read something like "we'll start in a few years from now, and do what we should have done years ago by 2050." Players clamor on about the financial impacts. Questions are asked about who will finance such efforts. Goals are watered down and dates are pushed back.

Yet Global Warming has hit a critical threshold which has made even some thought leaders in the space wonder if it's still reversible. Troubling new signs of a collapse are occurring, beyond the periodic reports of large disappearing swaths of ice. Now, boosted by increasing temperatures, frozen methane is thawing. Note that the further from the equator, the more extreme warming has become:

"Springtime air temperatures on the East Siberian Arctic shelf [have] increased up to 5 degrees Celsius [9 degrees Fahrenheit]," Semiletov said. "It's a hot spot."

In comparison, the world as a whole has warmed about 1.25 degrees Fahrenheit (0.7 degrees Celsius) since pre-industrial times.

Why do we care about methane? For one, it's about 21 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2. And there's a lot of it in a frozen state in areas which have crossed or are near a threshold temperature. As well, there are other greenhouse gases we need to worry about, including Nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), which ironically results from the manufacturing of thin-film photovoltaic cells. NF3 is 17,000 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2!

The short story -- Global Warming is here and there's nothing on the horizon which will remotely stop it's spiraling effects. This will have tremendous implications which will drive many new trends which should not be ignored. Examples of affected areas and trends would be:
  • insurance industry
  • travel
  • renewable energy
  • carbon credits and trading
  • carbon footprint based taxes
  • floods
  • heat-waves
  • droughts
  • food and water shortages
  • agricultural
  • volatility in nearly all markets
  • weather derivatives
  • migration of population
  • multi-national tension and conflict
For a window into the future, look at the island nations which live close to sea level. Indonesia is preparing to do mass relocation due to rising sea levels over the next three decades. Even worse, in the same time frame, "Island countries like Saint Lucia, Fiji and the Bahamas would likely disappear". Get prepared for the new trends. Volatility and crisis will be part of life going forward.

Disclosure: no positions

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