The airspace over Syria is getting crowded. Two weeks ago, a Russian fighter executed a barrel role over a US tanker aircraft, prompting a Russian apology on the re-established air space hotline. The Middle East airspace radar looks like an alphabet soup that’s one airtraffic control mistake from Defcon 1. But there is a massive geopolitical and economic pivot underway.
While Russia continues to rain cruise missiles on Syrian ISIS targets from the Caspian Sea, something curious is happening. In the rapidly melting Arctic, Russian ice breakers are now sporting the same cruise missile configuration used in the Middle East. According to military analyst Tyler Rogoway, “Russia’s Ministry of Defense claims the ships will have the fighting capabilities of a Navy surface combatant, as well as those of an ice breaker and tug, and that there are ‘no analogues in the world’ for the unique concept.” This is part of a great enhancement of Russian capabilities, including bases, equipment, and submarines in the Arctic theater.
Smashing the Methane Champagne Bottle against the Titanic
Meanwhile, last month, China and Japan’s the first exploratory efforts to extract methane hydrate from the ocean floor was successful. From economic journals to Brietbart, boundless enthusiasm abounds. Forget solar, wind, or geothermal renewable energy–the last great fossil fuel bonanza is on our front doorstep. “Combustible Ice” will be the raw material that will power our future; peak oil will be a mute point, and why not rip up the Paris Accords? The methane burn outputs will blow the roof off of any caps anyway.
That’s right, methane hydrate–the same raw material that is only a Blue Ocean Event away from naturally delivering a potential repeat of the Paleocene-Ecocene Thermal Maximum–is now going to be actively harvested by Homo Sapiens. We are now officially poking a stick in a hornets nest that would more likely deliver the Permian Period than the PETM. Such hubris of tumbling deeper into geologic time is a true Darwin Effect. The concern of some early economic analysis of the methane mining breakthrough fretted about igniting a seafloor eruption from “Peru to Hawaii” by accident. That’s the least of our worries.
In my recent interview with Jennifer Hynes on Extinction Radio, we discussed how the geopolitics of energy would pivot to the Arctic exactly when uninhabitable zones bloom in the Middle East. In a region where wet bulb temperatures would be consistently greater than 35 degrees celsius, the resulting ugly conflicts will be too cumbersome to engage in. Video synposis is below thanks to the fantastic Rick Siegenthaler:
Why not save cruise missiles for the Arctic and harvest its precious methane, once the technology is cost effective? It is shrewd and ruthless pivot in an Abrupt Climate Disruption threat environment.
The Darwinian Footrace
But is there enough time to perfect the technology to yank methane from the sea floor before enough of it is discharged by a rapidly-advancing ice free Arctic? As the most eloquent Kevin Hester has stated, “We could have a sea ice free Arctic this year, the much vaunted IPCC predicted that would happen in 2050. If we have an ice free Arctic this year or the next, or next, the 50 gigaton methane release that has been hypothesized by Shakova et al from the University of Fairbanks in Alaska could in a week double the entire mean temperature increase that humans have caused in 200 years of fossil fuel addiction.”
So we are in the telling moment of what Jennifer Hynes calls the “Blue Sea Watch.” Every cyclone, high pressure system, and temperature anomaly in the Arctic Ocean now counts as we advance towards peak melt season. With a nod to Nevin from the Arctic Sea Ice Blog and the superb work of Torstein Viddal, a “dipole” of high and low pressure is currently setting up in the Arctic. If it digs in for a couple of weeks, we will be on the edge of our Blue Ocean Event seats. And with a further hat tip to Paul Beckwith, ugly Arctic set-ups could be plucking the jet stream like a violin string. This week, when the dipole sets in, the jet stream runs backwards over eastern North America–an image that should give every disaster manager chills.
Mash-up of pre-Blue Ocean Event troubles the week of June 7, 2017. High-low dipole that could gyrate ice out of the Fram and Neres strait, massive temperature anomalies on consecutive days, and a jet stream running backwards.
In the end, cruise missiles are coming to the Arctic, and the last fossil fuel bonanza is now underway. By the time US Coast Guard cutters arrive with their hardware in 2023, that precious methane may already have gone skyward.
Programming Notes and Shout Outs
My podcast series has been quiet for the past several months. I’m working on a parallel disaster management project that has redirected my ReliefAnalysis time, but I hope to publish an interview with Tim Spalla, President of Agile Analytics on humanitarian intelligence in the Horn of Africa. Target release date is this month.
David Korn continues to support me in a tremendous way on a variety of projects. An exceptional human being, coach, and thinker. I would recommend him to anyone dedicated to serious transformation and achieving major creative and professional goals.
Congratulations to the most impressive Tiffany her new blog, International Resiliency – Changing Our Changing World. She is quite the analyst and a highly recommended must follow.
Speaking of launches, big congratulations to Wolfgang Werminghausen on the relaunch of his podcast series, Faster Than Expected. It is wonderful to hear Wolfgang’s heart-centered and present interview style.
Jennifer Hynes interviews in one Extinction Radio show include the fantastic Lisa White, insightful Carolyn Baker, as well as Peter Wadhams and Paul Beckwith. What incredible creative work–well done Jennifer and team!
Speaking of Paul, the violin string jet stream videos I’ve watched many times and they are brillant. Hat tip to Tiffany of International Resiliency for being able to run with these operationally in our collaborative work.
I set my phone to push notifications anytime Sam Carana and Harold Hansel post on Arctic issues. I have recently discovered Torstein Viddal’s Arctic Sea Ice FB forum, and with each post I stop what I’m doing and read carefully. Tremendous work.
Kevin Hester’s prolific work continues. His insights have a way of conveying the bottom line as only a true gentleman and scholar can. A year ago Kevin and I promised to check in with each other what the world would look like in 6 months–suggest we do that again for certain!