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I am petitioning to all global citizens throughout our world that switching from other forms of fossil fuels such as coal or petroleum to methane and natural gas could significantly reduce widespread disasters. The melting of methane hydrates and methane clathrates is probably the most significant global warming tipping point event ever. Methane is about 20 times more efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2) accounting for about 500 million tonnes of methane each year. There are billions of tons of methane trapped under the permafrost and if that methane starts leaking quickly, it would have a strong feedback effect—warming the atmosphere and oceans, causing more methane to leak, and on and on. Natural gas which is 95 percent methane can be used as our predominate fuel instead of fuels derived from petroleum. Our country has more natural gas as Saudi Arabia has oil. It’s time we put it to greater use for our nation’s economy, environment and security. We need reliable energy to meet our growing needs as well as clean energy to protect our health and that controls global warming. We also need methane as a domestic energy to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and bring jobs to our communities. As our government officials and communities across our nation strive to create jobs, reduce harmful emissions and ease our nation's dependency on foreign oil, vast domestic supplies of clean natural gas offer extraordinary opportunities to progress towards these important objectives. It's time for real change. Vote yes, to use natural gas as our next great fuel source.
The truth is, our waste creates pollution, pollution creates global warming, and global warming creates natural disasters; and all of these disasters could lead to our destruction. The time is now to decide whether we continue down this self destructive path or begin to stand up to heal the one thing that we all need to survive, the Earth.
Massive volumes of methane frozen in the earth’s soils are a time-bomb ticking under our feet. Twenty times more potent than carbon dioxide, methane is an asphyxiate, an explosive, a contributor towards global warming and a catalyst for natural disasters. It is the difference between heaven and hell for our human existence. We can either use the natural gas as a much needed fuel source or we can continue down this course to oblivion. So far we have idly let our government officials and big businesses alike manipulate environmental decisions. Our U.S. Congress with their own special interest continues to support negligent business practices. They have proven over and over again that business as usual is the only model that will be considered. How else can we explain the tar sands, oil shale development, deepwater oil extraction, and coal mines extending out under the sea floor?
Instead of supporting the interest of the people, our government officials blindside its people. While we are at work each day ensuring our futures our government officials had sold us out to the oil companies to ensure their futures with lots of money to line their pockets. When it comes to satisfying the world's energy lust, however, caution may be thrown to the wind. Powering down human society has never been an option put on the table when politicians and other leaders discuss energy policies and strategies.
By 2010, the methane concentration within the world’s atmosphere had reached an unprecedented level, three times higher than at any other time in the past 400,000 years. Historically, methane concentrations in the world’s atmosphere have ranged between 300 to 400 moles during our glacial periods commonly known as the ice ages and have reached as high as 600 to 700 moles during our warm interglacial periods. Now the methane concentration within the world’s atmosphere is at 1850 moles, continuing the warming effects from the greenhouse gas within the biosphere.
Twenty-five percent of all land surfaces in the Northern Hemisphere contains a staggering 2000 to 4000 gigatonnes of methane held within its permafrost. Permafrost currently stores more than double the amount of all carbon in the atmosphere. No matter where researchers now drill under the sea, they find methane, often in the form of a hydrate. Methane hydrates have been formed over millions of years on the floor of our oceans and seas from decaying organic matter. The problem is when the frozen hydrates melt; 170 times the volume of methane gas comes bubbling out. The pressure only stays locked up if the pressure of the sea floor remains high and the temperature stays low. If this balance changes, the methane will quickly escape. It is estimated that methane hydrates on our ocean floors hold an alarming rate of 250 trillion cubic meters of methane gas.
There is more than twice as much of methane than of all the world’s reserves of conventional gas, oil and coal deposits combined together. Global reserves of methane hydrates are estimated at 100 times greater than conventional natural gas resources. In the U.S. alone, the Department of Energy report that if just one percent of domestic hydrate reserves were recoverable, it would more than double the nation’s remaining natural gas supplies. Unfortunately, methane hydrate deposits are inherently unstable. Warming seawater could melt them, leading to rapid global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a partnership between the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Program, says that climate change during the 21st century has the potential to lead to future large-scale and possibly irreversible changes in Earth systems resulting in impacts at continental and global scales. One of the proposed mechanisms of climate change is the melting of methane hydrates.
Fifty-five million years ago spontaneous releases of carbon took global temperatures to a level perhaps 15 degrees higher than human beings have ever experienced. However we are choosing to repeat the same past. What took fifty-five million years to occur is happening now within the last 200 years. Not in the future but today, the Arctic as well as the Black Sea, the Eastern Siberian Sea and the Gulf of Mexico even before the BP incident are all showing signs that methane hydrate deposits are destabilizing, and if not re-stabilized will release in vast amounts of methane into the atmosphere and add acid to our oceans. The oceans will then become more acidified and could lead to the end of virtually all life on Earth. Today, the rate of ocean acidification exceeds anything witnessed in the past 65 million years. The increasing acidity reduces the amounts of calcium carbonate available to plankton, the organism responsible for every other breath we take, has been destroyed in a massive way. Studies show that phytoplankton have died off more than 40% since 1950 and continue to do so at an accelerating rate.
Gregory Ryskin a bio-chemical engineer at Northwestern University has theorized that oceans periodically produce massive eruptions of explosive methane gases. He has documented the scientific evidence that such an event was directly responsible for the mass extinctions that occurred 55 million years ago with the demise of the dinosaurs. To help you understand the implications take into account the dangers of stagnant water that continuously leaks methane gas into our atmosphere. We already know that certain volcanic lakes can burst forth producing clouds of choking gas as was the case with Monoun and Nyos lakes in the central African nation of Cameroon. Many lakes in the tropics have become stagnant and over the years the bottom waters of Nyos and Monoun grow supercharged with gas. In 1984 Monoun erupted like a champagne bottle uncorked and brought forth a thick froth of carbon dioxide. The dense gas flowed over the crater wall and down the mountainside, suffocating 37 people. In 1986 Nyos did the same, killing some 1700 people. The warning signs of an impending planetary catastrophe are on the horizon. As our planet continues to warm, a feedback cycle is set into motion. As the warming increases within our atmosphere that warming increases methane release which in turn increases warming which then releases more methane and the cycle continues.
We as a society rather sooth our consciences by recycling materials which continuously contribute to the global climate change. Consider aluminum which is one of the many materials said to be a good material for recycling. However, aluminum produces sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide during its smelting process, and this is something that actually contributes heavily to such things as acid rain and fog. Even paper which many consider a good material for recycling is surprisingly not as positive as many may think. This is because paper is collected, cleaned, shredded, and treated chemically before it can finally be turned into a paper that is of lesser quality. This treatment of the recycled paper actually uses more chemicals than the original paper did, which is releasing more substances into the atmosphere. Much more could be said about our plastic disposable lifestyles the effects of which end up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Further, our contribution to our own demise is to walk our trash to the street curb, flush our toilets with little concern and recycle what we can. We never think twice as to what has become of the waste. Take for instance the effects of landfills which contribute twenty-one percent of our atmospheric methane. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acknowledged in 1996 in its “Final Air Regulations for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills,” that as the waste in a landfill decomposes, it breaks down to form landfill gases, such as methane, smog-causing volatile organic compounds, and air toxins, pollutants known or suspected of causing cancer and other serious health effects. As these chemicals mix and decay in our landfills, they seep into our atmosphere causing greenhouse gasses. Methane also leaks into our underground water caverns causing the potential for even deadlier destruction. All methane needs to ignite an explosion is air and deep within much of our land surface is permafrost ridden with methane. In addition to this, scientists have deduced that nearly one third of all the life on this planet is the multitude of microbes that live under the seafloor where there is absolutely no light or oxygen. These masses of microbes create enough methane gas and its seepage into the warm waters directly results in underground earthquakes resulting in huge tsunamis, contributing to inevitable global warming and the mass extinctions of many species. Yet we flush our toilets never thinking that the sewage sludge along with several volatile gases found in the sewers is headed to some unforeseen ocean.
During the 111th Congress, a number of proposals had been introduced that would reduce our nation's carbon emissions, keep Americans free from pollutions and move America towards a clean energy economy. The Safe Chemicals Act would require chemical manufacturers to develop and submit an analysis for every chemical they produce. The EPA would then have the authority to determine the safety of each chemical and institute protections for consumers. So far, the EPA has only been able to test about 200 of the more than 82,000 chemicals used today. By the end of the 111th Congress, the EPA could only require industries to have safety testing after evidence have demonstrated that a chemical is dangerous and they do not have the authority to address any dangerous substances or regulate any greenhouse gasses. Take a look at a single coal plant which produces a large amount of carbon, mercury, and other pollutants that threaten human health and the environment. Burning coal leads to smog, acid rain, global climate change, and air toxics. A typical coal plant produces 200 pounds of mercury every year, when just 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury in a 25-acre lake will make the fish unsafe to eat.
Finally in our 112th Congress, EPA issued in 2009 its endangerment finding that greenhouse gasses (GHGs) are a threat to human health and welfare. The announcement was thought to be the final step in the April 2007 Supreme Court ruling in which found that under the Clean Air Act (CAA), the EPA must regulate greenhouse gas emissions if they endanger public health and welfare. The bill would have paved a way for new regulation of emissions for power plants, factories, and automobiles. The initial thought was that EPA action would prompt Congress to exert its authority and pass comprehensive climate legislation. That hasn't worked out and with Republicans in control of the House the exact opposite has taken place. In February of 2011, the EPA came under fire from House Republicans who charged that the proposed emissions rules would mean "higher prices and fewer jobs”. This is simply not true. California passed a clean energy bill that will create 500,000 green collar jobs for its state. Their wind industry already employs more people in the United States than the coal industry does. According to a press released in February 2011, the Ceres.org, reported that 1.46 million skilled green collar jobs would be created through the EPA’s CAA. The power sector will grow and there are plans to invest almost 200 billion in capital improvements. These jobs will range from maintaining and installing modern pollution controls to building new power plants. The EPA estimates that the proposed rule will yield more than $120 to $290 billion in annual health and welfare benefits, including the value of avoiding 14,000 to 36,000 premature deaths.
Now the Republicans are seeking to amend the CAA to specifically block the EPA from having any authority to regulating any greenhouse gasses. They have chosen to enact the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011 with 1.7 million members demanding that EPA reverse their findings that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping GHGs are a danger to human health and the environment. This explains the Climate-gate fiasco what Newsweek and The New York Times described as a "highly orchestrated" and “manufactured controversy” in which it is a tactic used by ideological and corporate groups in order to "neutralize the influence of academic scientists" in public policy debates. Look at it this way, leaders throughout history have lead their people to destruction as long as they remain in power. This can be seen clearly in Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who vowed to "die a martyr." He is a dictator who is prepared to do anything including killing his own people to keep in power. This tactic has been the normal for partisan Republicans who routinely used delay and disruptive methods to sway their own special interests. The Republicans want to defund the EPA and are focused on spreading doubt and portraying scientific facts as being in dispute.
Drew Shindell, a NASA climatologist testified in 2007 before the Committee on House Oversight and Government Reform. The committee’s chair, Henry Waxman, questioned Shindell about how the Bush administration had altered scientific reports to downplay the threat of global warming. The administration was accused of misleading the public over the threat of global warming and of interfering with the work of government scientists studying climate change. Hundreds of government scientists say they were forced or personally experienced pressure from the Bush administration to eliminate phrases such as “climate change” and “global warming” from their reports and public statements. One-third of these scientists said officials at their agencies had made statements on climate change that misrepresented their findings.
Some 70 scientists led by Drew Shindell reviewed all the available research on possible climate benefits from a list of 2000 control measures for the United Nations Environment Partnership. The group concluded that the climate would benefit with just 16 of the measures, limiting emissions by about 90 percent. The group also agrees that limiting methane emissions would save lives as well as play an important role in fighting global warming. He also said that all of the technologies already exist. There is no technological barrier whatsoever to reducing methane from our environment. But as usually, a majority of Senate lawmakers voted in some way to block the EPA, whether permanently or for a couple of years from regulating any GHGs. Nine bills were filed in the Congress that would gut the CAA and block the EPA from regulating GHG emissions. These bills would hinder EPA rulemaking authority by either requiring the reevaluation of the endangerment finding, providing that GHGs are not subject to the CAA, limiting EPA’s ability to regulate GHG emissions from motor vehicles or temporarily suspending the Agency’s ability to regulate some stationary sources of GHG emissions. Let’s just hope that President Obama uses his veto rights to ensure that the EPA has the authority to regulate GHGs.
It is absolutely shameful and unconscionable that in the year 2011 the U.S. Congress is still debating the CAA of 1970. Forty years later, our U.S. Congress would rather argue over a budget that supports the rising of U.S. oil imports, widened our deficit, increasing the gap between our imports and exports. This is but one example that our economic recovery and long-term growth is inescapably linked to our reliance on foreign oil. The United States is spending approximately $1 billion a day overseas on oil instead of investing the funds at home, where our economy sorely needs it. Burning oil that exacerbates global warming also poses serious threats to our national security and the world’s security. For these reasons we need to kick the oil addiction by investing in clean-energy reform to reduce oil demand, while taking steps to curb global warming. Methane is a combustible gas, which can easily be extracted from the earth’s crust in the form of natural gas, or from waste sludge and biological waste as biogas. Carbon dioxide emissions are about 25% lower for methane than when compared to coal or oil; natural gas is the least worst. While of course, the wind and the sun are the sweethearts of climate-change-fearing environmentalists, the renewable energy idealists understand that there needs to be a bridge between where we are now and where we need to be. What is very clear to me is that there is far too much methane in our atmosphere, within our land surfaces and within our seas and oceans. If we don’t use the methane as a much needed fuel source it could mean the difference between heaven and hell for human existence. Why should we end our civilization with a methane burp? – When we can green up our fuel and use methane as our next great fuel source. It's time for real change. Vote yes, to use natural gas as our next great fuel source.