So the U.S. climate change envoy thinks going to a conference on climate change and getting the people there to agree to talk about climate change is "a significant achievement." Nice to see that sense of urgency, huh?
Washington — The U.S. special envoy on climate change is calling the two-week round of talks in Durban, South Africa, a "successful conference," saying the United States is satisfied with the agreement reached by negotiators from almost 200 participating nations.
In a conference call with reporters December 13, Todd Stern said the Durban Platform commits nations to pursue talks on another accord for the reduction of greenhouse gases linked to climate change, an agreement that "would apply to all parties" from both developed and developing nations. For most of the history of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, developed countries bore greater responsibility to work toward emission reductions, a responsibility arising from the belief that their emissions were the principal source of the problem. In the Durban Platform, developing countries agree that they too will be committed to contribute to the solution to climate change in the future.
"That was notable," Stern said. "That's the first time we've seen that kind of thing." He called the change in position a "significant achievement."
I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a lot better, knowing that such bold and immediate action is in the eventual future. In the meanwhile:
The Russian research vessel Academician Lavrentiev conducted a survey of 10,000 square miles of sea off the coast of eastern Siberia.
They made a terrifying discovery - huge plumes of methane bubbles rising to the surface from the seabed.
'We found more than 100 fountains, some more than a kilometre across,' said Dr Igor Semiletov, 'These are methane fields on a scale not seen before. The emissions went directly into the atmosphere.'
Earlier research conducted by Semiletov's team had concluded that the amount of methane currently coming out of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is comparable to the amount coming out of the entire world’s oceans.
Now Semiletov thinks that could be an underestimate.
The melting of the arctic shelf is melting 'permafrost' under the sea, which is releasing methane stored in the seabed as methane gas.
These releases can be larger and more abrupt than any land-based release. The East Siberian Arctic Shelf is a methane-rich area that encompasses more than 2 million square kilometers of seafloor in the Arctic Ocean.
'Earlier we found torch or fountain-like structures like this,' Semiletov told the Independent. 'This is the first time that we've found continuous, powerful and impressive seeping structures, more than 1,000 metres in diameter. It's amazing.'
'Over a relatively small area, we found more than 100, but over a wider area, there should be thousands of them.'
Semiletov's team used seismic and acoustic monitors to detect methane bubbles rising to the surface.
Scientists estimate that the methane trapped under the ice shelf could lead to extremely rapid climate change.
Current average methane concentrations in the Arctic average about 1.85 parts per million, the highest in 400,000 years. Concentrations above the East Siberian Arctic Shelf are even higher.
Some scientists think a massive methane release previously triggered mass extinction, but hey, at least we're going to talk about it! Eventually.