Cassandra has moved. Ugo Bardi publishes now on a new site called "The Seneca Effect."

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Greatest Crime in History: How it is Being Perpetrated in Front of Your Eyes.

The Danger of Methane Hydrates and how Some Idiots are Planning to Extract Them as Fuels.

Methane hydrates may be the most dangerous thing existing on this planet. They won't do any damage until they stay where they are, underground, but some idiot is proposing to extract them as fuels. Great idea: like warming yourself by pouring gasoline onto your body and lighting a match. If it were ever done, it would be the greatest crime in history. Actually, the last one.

A few years ago, I was sitting in the audience of a conference on energy. There appeared a Japanese researcher who spoke for half an hour on how they were exploring the possibility of extracting methane hydrates from the Pacific Ocean. For a while, I thought it was a joke. Then it was clear that he was speaking seriously. His company had obtained grant money from the Japanese government to do exactly what they were doing: studying how to extract hydrates from undersea deposits.

When the time for questions came, I thought to rise up and tell him something like, "you are a criminal. You are worse than Hitler, Saddam, and Genghis Khan, all together. You should be arrested and shot." But I didn't do anything like that, after all, this guy had simply used some of his grant money to take a tourist trip to Europe. I think other people in the audience thought the same because he was asked just a couple of trivial questions. Then he left, not to be seen around again.

You may have heard about methane hydrates: they are an enormous reservoir of methane created long ago by bacterial activity and stored underground at low temperatures in the Northern permafrost and under the ocean floor. And you know that methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, fortunately present in minute amounts in the atmosphere today. But the carbon in the stock of hydrates is probably at least twice as large as the amount of carbon in the whole atmosphere. And, obviously, if this methane were to be released into the atmosphere . . .  If it were done for real, it would be the final crime against humankind. The past exterminations carried out by the great dictators of the past would be just jokes in comparison.

How can people be so disconnected from reality? It seems just one manifestation of a basic problem of the human mind: it can tackle only one problem at a time. When we are worried about something specific, all the rest fades in the fog. So, the city of Florence declared the climate emergency and then lobbied hard to build a larger airport nearby (they failed, at least some good news, but they are insisting). Not the only example, of course: when mad ideas such as extracting fuels from methane hydrates are proposed, nobody seems to be overly incensed.

Right now, there is a moment of frenzied activity of the mining industry in telling us what they are going to do to solve the problem of mineral depletion. How they are going to exploit marine resources to produce all sorts of minerals, how they are going to develop nuclear drills to go deeper in the search for oil, gas, and whatever. And the old idea of getting minerals from space continues to be proposed.

It all smacks of desperation and that's good: but never underestimate the craftiness of the clever monkeys that populate this planet. They can still do a lot of damage.

A note from Ugo Bardi's personal troll, Mr. Kunning-Druger

So, professor, now you are revealing your true colors of warmunist. You wanted to kill your Japanese colleague just because you think you are right and he is wrong. It shows how you warmunists are part of a cult that admits no different opinion. And, in passing, you also confessed that you scientists spend the money that we taxpayers give to you to take vacations with the excuse of "scientific meetings." One day, you'll get what you deserve for this!



  1. "Never underestimate the craftiness of the clever monkeys that populate this planet" is a marvelous warning. It is true, the cleverness of the human monkeys is an extraordinary, absolutely unimaginable phenomenon. It has no limits. The odds are that these monkeys will manage extracting those methane hydrates.

  2. >never underestimate the craftiness of the clever monkeys

    John Gray wrote an entire book on that, a good read.

  3. If you look at methane hydrates as a potential reserve the economics are horrible from what I have read for years now. There is a huge resource of coal under the North Sea too and it has not been touched. There are energy resources all over the world that will likely never be considered a reserve in an economic sense. Methane Hydrate talk is almost as bad as Nuclear fusion talk.

  4. J’aime bien votre troll ! 😂

  5. Someone: "Don't worry, they'll think of something"
    Me: "That's what I'm worried about"

  6. Imagine a meeting in a council filled with a sentient virus that depends on humanity to survive. Some would argue for sustainable growth so that there will still be humans to infect, others would argue to exist without killing the host, and there will always be the "we won't ever run out of hosts" viruses.

  7. Don't be too hard on that Japanese researcher. Japan originally never wanted to embark on any industrialization or that sort of thing, only to be left in peaceful isolation. It was the Western world that forced her to industrialize during the 19th Century.

    There's incidentally also serious evidence that Hitler has been unjustly demonized in history (so it would be unfair to him to use his name when calling anyone a criminal). If anything it's Winston Churchill who's the real asshole. Check this out.



Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)