Since we’re all in a cheerful mood, I’d like to take a moment to talk about snow.
I love the stuff. The local economy where I live is based on the stuff. It lets me snowboard in the winter and stops my house from burning down in the summer. Currently it’s dumping where I live and closing major interstate traffic. This is awesome.
Which is to say that the recent findings, as discussed in the 2019 Arctic Report Card, that the artic is now an enemy in the fight against global warming instead of a valued ally is not great.
The arctic has traditionally been a huge source of carbon sequestration. Specifically the permafrost traps “1,460-1,600 billion metric tons of organic carbon, about twice as much as currently contained in the atmosphere”. That’s a lot. For comparison, the US annually releases around 5 billion metric tons.
Now, that’s not to say that this is all going to get released in one huge burst and we’re all going to die. I still think Yellowstone has a better chance of instantly killing us all. But what is going to happen is it’s going to accelerate the rate of warming. And the more we warm the more it’s going to accelerate. It’s a harsh cycle.
Fortunately there’s still time to fix things. If we really work hard globally, we can start producing negative emissions and stop this cycle. Or invent a time machine and fix it thirty years ago. Or suddenly get really good at sequestration.
In a related note, I’m selling a house in a very nice Colorado ski town.