More frightened.

This is a few days old, I was too dismayed to bear posting about it. But it has gotten remarkbly little attention.

The world’s largest frozen peat bog is melting, which could speed the rate of global warming, New Scientist reports.

The huge expanse of western Siberia is thawing for the first time since its formation, 11,000 years ago.

The area, which is the size of France and Germany combined, could release billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

This could potentially act as a tipping point, causing global warming to snowball, scientists fear.

“This is a big deal because you can’t put the permafrost back once it’s gone. The causal effect is human activity and it will ramp up temperatures even more than our emissions are doing.”

The intergovernmental panel on climate change speculated in 2001 that global temperatures would rise between 1.4C and 5.8C between 1990 and 2100.

However these estimates only considered global warming sparked by known greenhouse gas emissions.

“These positive feedbacks with landmasses weren’t known about then,” Dr Viner said. “They had no idea how much they would add to global warming.”

Back in June, I wrote on some related frightening news. I’ll point again to this six years old Atlantic article, which is dated, and by a layman, but I think very informative, a good primer.

This New Yorker series (1, 2, 3) was quite gloomy and unsettling, but is already dated; things are looking bleaker now.

Odd, But Interesting

Gregg Easterbrook of the New Republic writes:

MOSCOW LOST THE COLD WAR, BUT DREAMS OF WINNING THE GLOBAL WARMING WAR: Why won’t Russia ratify the Kyoto Treaty? It would seem very much in Moscow’s interest to do so.

The United States has dropped out of Kyoto negotiations, but most other Western nations remain in. Russia now holds the swing vote on whether Kyoto goes into effect for most Western nations except the United States. If Kyoto actually did take effect, requiring most Western nations to make dramatic reductions in greenhouse gases, Europe would inevitably end up involved in “carbon trading” with Moscow. The European Union would invest in modernization of Russian industry, in order to reduce Russian greenhouse-gas emissions; then Europe would buy the reduction credits so created. The European Union also would reduce its use of greenhouse-offender coal, substituting lower-carbon natural gas from Russia. Thus it seems Moscow and its industries would come out a winner under a Kyoto regime. Yet the Duma has been resisting ratification of Kyoto for two years, and yesterday, Vladimir Putin said he is also opposed.

Possible reason for Russian resistance–Moscow wants global warming! Much of the world might suffer, but the freezing former Soviet states might be better off. The agricultural region of Russia might expand significantly, while Siberia became reasonably habitable. If Siberia and other ice regions became reasonably habitable, global warming would effectively be expanding Russian territory by climate change, not war. And what government doesn’t want more territory?

Sidelight: Why does Germany favor the Kyoto Treaty? Not so much for greenhouse reasons but so that Berlin can shut down the country’s subsidized, politically powerful coal-mining industry. German leaders have wanted for decades to cut subsidies for coal production–even the presumably pro-labor current government wants this–because coal mined in Germany costs more than twice the world price, mainly owing to featherbedded work rules. Every move to reign in the German coal industry has been greeted by public howls. But if Berlin could blame a coal shut-down on an international obligation, and polls show the Kyoto accord is very popular among Germans, the equation would change.

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The sidelight is even odder and even more interesting. Hmm.