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Sometime in December we knew something was really wrong. With the economy in the gutter most people thought it a blessing that they didn’t have to go buy a new winter coat, but it was unnatural to hear white Christmas on the radio when it was 60 degrees outside.
I barely noticed the changing of the seasons. Mostly because they didn’t change. It was still hot; I was still poor, and just as single as ever. By now my obsessive data mining had me completely wrapped up in minutia. I saw all the pieces, but not the big picture.
My mother gave up trying to talk me into getting one of the stupid “new new deal” jobs set up by Bush. Who the fuck wanted to work for Homeland Security spying on your neighbors and keeping logs of people’s activities? It felt like a scene out of an old Communist spy movie.
You couldn’t even cross state lines without someone asking for “your papers.” I had been a bleeding heart liberal before, now I was a scared as shit bleeding heart liberal. The ACLU couldn’t file lawsuits fast enough. But everyone else didn’t care. They were just trying to get by on rice and beans, and figure out how to keep gas in their SUV.
We can’t know for sure, but the best information, showed that something “broke” around Christmas, something that would take a very long time to fix. North of the Canadian shield, deep under the now ice free Arctic Ocean was a time bomb that had finally gone off.
For eons the bodies of anything that died in the Arctic had been sinking to the ocean floor. This “marine snow” was made up of microscopic plants and animals, as well as every whale turd, and fish scale that managed not to be eaten on its way down. A hundred thousand years of corpses, all entombed in ice at the bottom of the ocean.
This great bio-matter land fill did what any landfill does, its contents rotted and produced methane. Because of the great pressures, and cold temperatures the methane got stuck in little ice crystal cages called clathrates. A giant crystal lattice storage network of natural gas. I am sure if we could have figured out a way to burn it we would have. Wikipedia says methane is 21 times more potent than CO2 as a greenhouse gas, and for millennium this stuff had been building up in giant quantities under the Arctic seas.
It could have been fresh water from Greenland’s melting ice cap that fucked up some vital current. It could have been the Russians submersibles planting their stupid little flag to secure oil drilling rights for the motherland. Hell, maybe it was the vengeful spirits of all those dead polar bears. But just as the Christian world was celebrating the birth of baby Jesus, tiny bubbles started to appear around the North Pole.
Something had happened at the bottom of the sea that caused the first of these water crystal prisons to break. Methane molecules started to spill out and rise. Imagine if the pyramids of Giza were made of sugar cubes, each delicate structure relying on the one next to it for strength and support. Now imagine taking a fire hose to the thing. What started as a trickle of bubbles was soon a torrent.
The ocean appeared to boil, satellite pictures showed vast swaths of the Arctic frothing with activity. Some jerk on FARK had the brilliant idea to photoshop the Goatse guys hands into the picture. One more thing to get excited about on Digg. CNN ran stories, but no one really did anything about it. What could they do?
Gigatons of methane poured into the air in a matter of weeks. As much carbon was released into the atmosphere in a couple of days as was released in the last 150 years of burning coal, oil, and gas. Al Gore couldn’t save us now.