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Gas Race to Arctic: Methane an Economic "Time Bomb"

Here's bad news for people who prefer good news: the international gas race to the Arctic to tap into the world's undiscovered gas and oil reserves could cause a $60 trillion dollar economic "time bomb." A team of researchers analyzed figures and created models (which were published in the journal Nature) predicting that the rising temperatures on the permafrost paired with the tremendous amounts of the semi-solid methane concentrated in the tundra of the frozen but thawing Arctic could be costlier in impact than the entire world economy of 2012. The impact could cause serious flooding, damage to agriculture, increased sea levels, and significant harm human health.

In waters over the East Siberian sea, researchers have determined that plumes of methane extend up to one kilometer (or 1/6 of a mile) in diameter rising from where the diminishing ice cover is quickly melting. Researchers believe that if all of the Arctic ice follows the same suit as that which was once in the East Siberian sea, the release of the methane on a scale that large could increase global world temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius in as little as 15 years or as long as 35 years.

Professor Gaile Whiteman of the Erasmus University and one of the article's authors offered: "That's an economic time bomb that at this stage has not been recognized on the world stage. We think its incredibly important for world leaders to really discuss what are the implications of this methane release and what could we indeed do about it to hopefully prevent the whole burst from happening."

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