Ask not for whom the methane melts.

A Russian research expedition found methane emissions in a far-north sea greater than anything measured there before. “Methane levels at the surface were four to eight times what would normally be expected and this was venting into the atmosphere,” according to The Guardian. [1]

Unfortunately, this is a sign of a worst-case scenario. Methane is a greenhouse gas with 80 times the heating power of carbon dioxide. It is frozen in solid deposits called “hydrates” in seabeds and permafrost near the Earth’s poles. Methane melting into the atmosphere will cause rapid global heating, which will melt more methane, which will cause more heating, in a self-reinforcing feedback loop that will lead to runaway climate change.

We are now face-to-face with a reality that climate scientists and activists have been predicting for years. In 2008, the United States Geological Survey listed methane release as one of four scenarios most likely to cause abrupt climate change. [2] “Abrupt,” in this case, means changes “so rapid and large in their impact that…they would pose clear risks to society in terms of our ability to adapt.” I.e. they will cause global collapse. [3]

So what does this mean to us as individuals? If we really have passed a global tipping point, then how are we to respond? That, of course, is a profound question with life-changing consequences. This blog and many other resources exist to answer it. The Deep Adaptation Facebook Group, for example, is full of thousands of people searching for answers.

The founder of Deep Adaptation, Professor Jem Bendell, compares the news about methane emissions to a diagnosis of terminal cancer, which may cause us to “reconsider everything in our lives.” [4] He suggests that we learn to live with a new kind of “hope” that does not count on things continuing as they are:

“Our hope in a time of climate chaos is that experiencing the fragility and impermanence of life can lead more of us to greater gratitude for the present and less involvement in the judgements and tactics of our minds. We can be freer to love and forgive each other and ourselves, and so do what we can to help, whatever may come.”

My approach is more broad: I think we need to reckon with death, both personal death and planetary death. The climate crisis and the pandemic and the evil men in charge of our governments are spiritual phenomena. They are part of the story of our growth as human beings and as members of the universal community. There are lessons here shrouded in deep mystery, which I will attempt to plumb and elucidate as time goes on. ⭐️

  1. ‘Sleeping giant’ Arctic methane deposits starting to release, scientists find; The Guardian; October 27, 2020
  2. Abrupt Climate Change – Summary and Findings; U.S. Climate Change Science Program – Synthesis and Assessment Report 3.4; U.S. Geological Survey, et al.; 2008
  3. Abrupt Climate Change – Final Report, Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.4; U.S. Geological Survey, et al.; 2008
  4. When the Methane News Stinks – let’s not forget to Breathe then Act;; October 28, 2020

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