As the planet heats up and global warming becomes more and more a worrisome phenomenon, despite head in the sand tomfoolery from climate denialists and skeptics, Alaska stands at the forefront of the right against climate change and possible climate chaos in the distant future. Not now. Now everything is fine, so drive your SUV as far into the wilderness as you want, there's still time to enjoy the views.Recently, Jim Laughter released a cli fi novel, pure fiction, titled "Polar City Red." It's a warning, a wake up call, an alarm bell in the guise of fiction. The story takes place in the Fairbanks area of Alaska in 2075, and you might call it sci fi if the term cli fi does not suit you. People are living in polar cities then. The future of humankind might, well, there might not be a future for mankind. But the book ends on a happy, positive note, so read it in that light.
Laughter's book is about CO2 emissions in overdrive, methane gas releases in the Arctic and the collapse of the Lower 48 and millions head north to Alaska and Canada and Norway.
About the same time Laughter's book was published, with a tweet by sci fi writer Margaret Atwood calling the novel "cli fi",'
the University of Alaska Fairbanks released a report on how methane
in the Arctic may add to a warmer planet. According to a recently published study by pioneering UAF researcher Katey Walter
Anthony, geologic methane seeps in Alaska may contribute about 250,000
metric tons of the gas into to the atmosphere each year.
According to Katie Medred, writing in The Alaska Dispatch magazine, Walter's study, the first of its kind, found that widespread terrestrial
sources of geologic methane in the Arctic is contributing heavily to
receding glaciers and may endanger what’s known as the “cryospher
''Previous research has found that warming permafrost releases methane
as the ground softens and decaying organic matter thaws. Walter
Anthony’s research is the first to confirm the source of geologic
methane emissions," Medred noted. "Methane is escaping through fissures in the Earth’s
crust, adding on to the organic methane production above ground.
According to Walter Anthony's findings underground geologic sources of
the greenhouse gas roughly equal the above-ground organic sources.
It’s not unusual to see methane released in the Arctic, but excessive
leaking is not a good sign. Repeat: not a good sign! In Laughter's novel,
three chapters are devoted to fictional accounts of the dangers of methane releases in the far north.
Is art imitating life? You bet it is!
While CO2 drives 80 percent of the warming caused by greenhouse gases,
methane poses an outsized threat. Some scientists warn that widespread
thawing of Arctic permafrost or warming of frozen hydrates on the
ocean floor could trigger massive methane releases and dramatically
accelerate the rate of climate change.
"Pound for pound, methane is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas
than carbon dioxide, but there's less of it in the atmosphere," according to
NOAA. Ever heard of NOAA's Ark? We might need something like this in the future.
Meanwhile, also at the same time that Laughter's book was published in late spring of 2012,
Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press press release agency in Washington rewrote
a government press release for his wire service saying that for the first in human history the
PPM levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have hit the 400 mark. That spells trouble, big trouble,
and nations do not work together to get the PPM levels back down to 350 the human species
may very well be doomed. Doomed! As in "the end of human life on Planet Earth."
Are you ready for that in 500 years? Could it happen sooner? If you want to read a novel about
all this that presents a good old fashioned yarn in a non-threatening way, read Jim Laughter's engrossing
page turner called "Polar City Red". The book might serve as a good dress rehearsal for what's coming
Alaska's way in the next 100 to 200 years.
All I'm saying here is: You've been warned. Don't say you weren't warned.
Okay, everyone, carry on! Back to business as usual. Keep driving your SUVs here and there. Nothing
to worry about now.