False Permafrost Scare

Published September 7, 2006

Regarding “Study Says Methane a New Climate Threat” (Sept. 7), permafrost methane emissions equal less than 1 percent of methane emissions from human industrial sources. Even if permafrost methane emissions rise somewhat — or even dramatically — this is relatively insignificant and more than negated by ongoing dramatic declines in industrial methane emissions.

Moreover, the Russian Academy of Sciences debunked the permafrost myth last fall, when it concluded Siberian soil temperatures are remaining stable or are slightly cooling. For significant amounts of methane “to escape to the surface, it would have to melt at tremendous depths, which is impossible,” said the director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Climatology and Ecology.

This new alarmist claim, like so many others, flies in the face of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change data. Indeed, the IPCC has just lowered by more than 20 percent its “worst case” projected rise in global temperatures.

James M. Taylor

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Environment & Climate News.