Siberia About to Beat Cars in Race Towards Global Warming

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I would like to start this with a disclosure and admit that I've never been a global warming skeptic, but I've always promoted the fact that cars aren't the main culprits, and petrolheads shouldn't be demonized by the latest waves of tree-hugging greenies. Heck, you'd be an idiot to actually think that nature sucks and that it's not up to you to make a difference. It always is, no matter how small of a change your actions result in.
That said, putting the entire blame on folks who live and breath cars with internal combustion engines is a bit misconstrued if you ask me. Yes, cars do pollute, some more than others, but there are plenty other, more important, reasons for increased global warming besides the blown Charger that sometimes paints the street with tire marks down the block.

I've already talked about planes, diesel-powered cruise ships and factory farming, but life on Earth might have an even bigger problem on its hands, and most of that may be coming from Siberia, of all places.

Yes, climate change is real and, according to NASA, the primary anthropogenic global warming baddie is CO2, with a lot of it being spewed by human activity, including the usage of cars with internal combustion engines.

But, and this is a big “but” (pun somewhat intended, at least phonetically), other harmful gasses are making their way into the atmosphere of our beloved planet. Another bad boy that's directly responsible for climate change is methane (CH4), which is approximately 30 times more potent than CO2 at trapping heat over a course of a century and 84 times more potent over a 20-year timeframe.

Sure, there is a lot less methane coming from human activities compared to CO2, but according to the EPA over 60 percent of the total CH4 emissions do come from industry, agriculture, and waste management activities. The last time I checked, those were mostly run by humans.

On the other hand, there still isn't enough methane emitted into the atmosphere to make all the tree-hugging hippies change course and target CH4 instead of CO2. Yet. Because Earth is a rather complicated planet, with a bunch of intricate ecosystems that work in mysterious ways.

As it happens, the number one atmosphere killer may actually come from under the soil, and it's so efficient that it could overshoot all global warming targets made recently by scientists around the world.

I'm talking about the degradation of Arctic permafrost, which, according to a somewhat recent study, could release billions upon billions of tons of carbon emissions if global warming continues at the current rate.

To give you an idea of its potential, current statistics say that permafrost soils on Earth contain approximately 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon thanks to the frozen organic matter that comprises it. That is almost twice as much carbon than is currently in our atmosphere, so we're talking about a potential planetary calamity here.

There are two huge problems with permafrost. The first one revolves around the fact that once global warming starts melting Arctic permafrost, it transforms it into wetlands that start to emit abnormally large quantities of methane into the atmosphere. The CH2 then increases the rate of climate change because of its heat-trapping quality, making the permafrost melt even more, thus creating a loop with a very scary ending. For us, at least.

Yes, I'm talking about the so-called clathrate gun hypothesis, which is a runaway process that is as irreversible, once it starts, as the firing of a gun. In case you haven't noticed yet, 2016 is beating all global heat records.

The year-to-date temperature across the Earth was 1.05 degrees Celsius (1.89 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the entire 20th-century average. To put things into an even bigger perspective, this year we had the warmest six months that have been recorded since the start of the industrial age.

Some scientists are saying that the clathrate gun may have already fired, and a bunch of freaky happenings in Siberia could be proof of that. In the adjacent video, you can see for yourself how a methane bubble looks under the soil. Now imagine hundreds or thousands of these bubbles bursting and letting out tons of one of the most potent greenhouse gas out there.

This possible and even probable planetary event is thought to be the main culprit behind the Permian-Triassic extinction event, also known as the Great Dying, when up to 70 percent of land animals and up to 96 percent marine species became extinct. We may be heading towards living the plot of Waterworld a lot sooner than some were expecting, and it will all start from Siberia, not from your wealthy neighbor's Lamborghini.

What does all this have to do with cars, you ask? Nothing and everything at the same time. There isn't necessarily a point to what you have read above, and I haven't changed overnight into a guy that prefers the swoosh of an electric motor over the growl of a naturally aspirated V8 or V12, or inline-six, or inline-eight, or… you get the point. All I'm saying is that life - as we know it, for that matter – is too short to live a boring life, so you might as well enjoy the ride.

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About the author: Alex Oagana
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Alex handled his first real steering wheel at the age of five (on a field) and started practicing "Scandinavian Flicks" at 14 (on non-public gravel roads). Following his time at the University of Journalism, he landed his first real job at the local franchise of Top Gear magazine a few years before Mircea (Panait). Not long after, Alex entered the New Media realm with the project.
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