ARCTIC SEA ICE —Tundra Wonder, Methane Blunder—

Smoking HillsSometimes, as my mind’s eye wanders over the Arctic Ocean, I am drawn ashore to contemplate wonders of the Tundra. I try to avoid politics, as the wonders are more wonderful when simply appreciated in the light of Truth, but Climate Alarmism is a sort of whirlpool that sucks you in, even when it is basically a comical shtick.

For example, along the coast of the Northwest Territories are the “Smoking Hills” of Franklin Bay, which appear over and over in the Facebook images sent by sailors attempting the Northwest Passage.  The sailors always seem jarred by the image (and scent). Often they have been cluttering their log with editorial comments about how beautiful the arctic is, and what cads humans are to destroy the pristine beauty of nature with Global Warming caused by burning coal. Then they come across a stretch of coast which is in essence Mother Nature’s Strip Mine, miles and miles of exposed lignite, black stripes in the sedimentary stripes of seaside cliffs. In places the lignite has spontaneously ignited and has been burning for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, without the slightest effort on the part of Mother Nature to install smokestacks or put scrubbers in those stacks.smokinghills 2In the above picture the red areas are stone after the coal has been burned out, and the black is unburned lignite. Besides the current fires there is evidence of fires that burned long ago and went out. This is not a geologically recent occurrence, so don’t try to blame Eskimos who were careless with campfires.

In any case, even if you went to the arctic to get away from ever having to even think about the issue of coal fired power plants, the issue gets shoved in your face, and you find yourself forced to rethink some of the ideas doled out like pablum in the Alarmist shtick. In this case the simplistic idea is that man burns fossil fuels and nature doesn’t.

In another case one might think man leaks oil and nature doesn’t, and then see natural slicks in the Gulf of Mexico or tars oozing up from earthquake faults off the California coast.

Even as I type my daughter has bought a new “pink” salt, which is supposedly more healthy as it is from up in the Himalayas, and that makes me think about how that salt got way up there, and what happened to all the fossil fuels when the subcontinent of India was sent smashing into Asia by continental drift.

The problem with some people is they don’t think very deeply about the lollipop shticks they get handed and asked to suck upon. It doesn’t take much thought to realize Nature is the original recyler,  plowing the ocean floor down in geological subduction zones, and creating huge mountain ranges with fossil seashells at the tops.

Over at “Watts Up With That” there was a guest essay by Larry Kummer about the Alarmist shtick involving Methane. Initially I wasn’t interested because the alarmism involved is so soundly refuted that not even the IPCC thinks it is worth freaking out about, (and the IPCC freaks out about stuff grandmothers laugh at).  (I couldn’t ever take the Methane Fear seriously, because I have seen plenty of evidence it was much warmer in the arctic in the past, and if there weren’t uncontrollable methane releases back then I don’t see why they should occur now. )

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/08/24/the-easy-solution-to-the-looming-monster-methane-apocalypse/

Ordinarily I would have skipped the post, as the issue usually bores me, however the Alarmist cartoon at the start intrigued me, for it suggested that some Alarmists are so sold on the idea of a “Methane Monster” that they even see the pro-Global-Warming IPCC as “deniers.”  .

ipcc-methane-monster

I fully intended to only skim the article, but discovered a portal to another tundra wonder, found in this paper: http://www.nature.com/ismej/journal/v9/n8/abs/ismej201513a.html

In a nutshell the paper states there are two sorts of arctic soil, one which is frozen ooze that is rich in carbon and might be expected to burp up some methane if warmed, but a second more-common soil which holds little carbon, as it is the sort of till one associates with glaciers and glacier-scraped landscape. (Glaciers largely transport topsoil far away to terminal moraines and out-wash streams. After a glacier departs the landscape is usually denuded of topsoil. This means it holds no organic carbon and can brew no methane. It also is devoid of compost, and can’t grow much. However a bacteria inhabits the surface of such soil that can snatch methane from the air, and enrich its own habitat.

That was what grabbed my mind’s eye. Perhaps it was because as a farmer I’m interested in enriching soils, but my mind highlighted the paper’s suggestion that, where the soil lacks carbon, nature has found a way to enrich the soil, using bacteria that gobbles methane. The paper went on to to state that the warmer it gets, the livelier that bacteria gets, and the more methane it gobbles. (IE: warmer temperatures mean less methane in the air; the exact opposite of what Methane-hysteria predicts.)

This shows how little the more hysterical Alarmists understand the Earth they claim to be the protectors of.

The old time farmers knew of two basic ways to enrich soil. The first involved sweat and toil, and lugging manure from the stables and spreading it in the fields. The second was a heck of a lot easier, because all you needed to do was give the field a rest. It was called a “fallow” field.

A fallow field shows nature’s ability to enrich a landscape without any help from humans. You’d think Alarmists would get this concept, considering they portray man as the raping, robbing bad guy, and nature as the giving good guy. However they don’t see nature will not allow a natural thing like methane to go to waste. Nor will nature allow a natural thing like crude oil seeping up from earthquake faults in California to go to waste. Nature gobbles the substances up, and they becomes part of the food chain, which involves all sorts of stuff eating, being eaten, and, in the end, turning to manure which enriches the soil.

Nature can take a most sterile landscape and make it verdant. The second a glacier recedes nature gets busy on the barren landscape, starting with lichen and progressing through tundra to taiga to the rich farmlands of Ohio.

In essence nature is guilty of altering its environment even more than man. Nature does not care a hoot about the current ecosystem. It improves upon it. However Progressives fail to understand this natural progression.

The arctic landscape is amazing, for it shows nature tested to its limits, and how nature will not stand for the status-quo of a sterile ecosystem, but enriches it. Besides the micro-critter in arctic soil that craves methane, there are some amazing micro-critters that live out on the even more hostile environment of the sea-ice. Not only is there a sort of slime that discolors the bottom of sea-ice, but there is a micro-critter that loves extremely salty brine.

When the ice flash-freezes in the fall, salt is exuded from the ice and sinks down through the ice as little teardrops of very salty water, boring wormholes downwards. Within these extremely salty down-elevators are micro-critters who are not satisfied with the brine, and adjust it to their liking. Unlike Alarmists, they do not want to make a Natural Park of the status-quo, and fundamentally alter the brine, so it is chemically different when it exits the ice at the bottom of the sea-ice.

Not all these micro-critters make it down into the sinking brine. Some are sucked up by the brine on top of the ice, which is sponged up by a phenomenon called “ice-flowers”, and then pulverized by winds and blasted to powder.  This powder is whipped about by winds so cold nothing melts or sticks, and the powder winds up as a sort of haze in dark, arctic midwinter skies, and some is swept to the top of the stratosphere. There, because the bromine in micro-critters turn into bromine-monoxide, it contributes to ozone depletion, and  to ozone holes.

Now, if an Alarmist hears of a ozone hole in the arctic, do you think they will blame micro-critters, or man?  It makes me wonder. Alarmists want to be the protectors of nature, but  if you actually don’t have a clue how nature works, how can you protect it?

I don’t want to continue down this path. It is too political. Instead I’ll turn my face to the sunrise, and contemplate some ice flowers on flash-frozen ice.Ice flowers IMG_1496.

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