Will Undersea Methane Kill Us or Save Us?

It could be worse than CO2 or viable source of energy
By Victoria Floethe,  Newser User
Posted Dec 14, 2008 12:46 PM CST
In this July 29, 2008 file photo large pieces of ice are seen drifting off after separating from the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf.   (AP Photo/Sam Soja, The Canadian Press)
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(Newser) – If warnings about undersea methane are true, we can "kiss our winter boots goodbye," Kirsten Weir writes in Salon. In the doomsday scenario, vast stores of undersea gas deposits will melt and send heat-trapping methane into the atmosphere. But such a crisis would require a 10-to-15 degree Celsius shift, others say, and much methane would simply dissipate in ocean waters.

A bigger concern for some is how to extract methane. Many countries, the US included, want to turn the gas into usable energy. Methane hydrates could "become a viable commercial source for natural gas" by 2018, one geophysicist said. But scientists still worry about emissions—of carbon dioxide. "We don't need methane hydrates in order to be very reasonably frightened about the future of our climate," one expert said.