Permafrost Melt Soon Irreversible Without Major Fossil Fuel Cuts
By Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Feb 17, 2011 (IPS) – Thawing permafrost is threatening to overwhelm attempts to keep the planet from getting too hot for human survival.
Without major reductions in the use of fossil fuels, as much as two-thirds of the world’s gigantic storehouse of frozen carbon could be released, a new study reported. That would push global temperatures several degrees higher, making large parts of the planet uninhabitable.
Once the Arctic gets warm enough, the carbon and methane emissions from thawing permafrost will kick-start a feedback that will amplify the current warming rate, says Kevin Schaefer, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. That will likely be irreversible.