The earth warms faster than models expect: Permafrost melting causes strong warming gasses

By Joris Voorhoeve, Professor Emeritus International Organizations, Former Cabinet Minister of The Netherlands


There are reasons to expect that the climate will change faster than expected. First, the Paris Agreement to curb CO2 emissions is not kept. All states violate it. Current knowledge shows that average temperatures will rise by 3.5 degrees Centigrade, while the agreement is that countries take measures to limit the rise to less than 2 degrees.

But there is more. The models did not adequately take into account that the permafrost tundras, which cover most of northern Russia and Canada, are melting and cause a large increase in methane (CH4), which is 28 times as strong as CO2 in its warming effect, and laughing gas (N20) which has a 250 times more heating effect than C02. Already now,  40 % of damages to gas pipelines and buildings in Russia are due to sagging of melting permafrost, which makes much additional CH4 escape from the pipes. Permafrost melting is accelerating climate change due to the increase in the temperature of the Arctic seas. (Thawing Permafrost, Prof. Ko van Huissteden, 2020)

The consequences are tremendous: acceleration of polar melting, acceleration of sea water rise, increasing migration of coastal populations, stronger suppressing actions by rich countries against immigration, less respect for human rights, and more spread of tropical diseases.

For a country like The Netherlands, the messages is inescapable: much of the  reclaimed land and polders near the  Coast will in due course disappear under water. A vast increase in collective expenses and taxes is to be expected in the government’s effort to save the thousands of billions of Euros invested in the past  in the city complex of Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam (The Randstad).

When many Dutch citizens become aware of this trend, some may be wise enough to move to higher locations, like in the East of the country, the Belgian Ardennes and the German hills and mountains. Smart people will do this soon, before it becomes an expensive mass rush.

Humans do not get anxious about disasters that move slowly; they are obsessed by  sudden disasters. But how slow is slow? Ten years is already a long time in human life to change course. But ecologically and in terms of history, it is just like a second. Pay attention and try to expect what you did not like to think.