Originally posted by Andrew Hamilton
This is an article about tapping clathrates on the sea floor to extract the methane from them and use it as a fossil fuel:
I particularly like the part where it says:
“…There might in fact be a safer way of tapping clathrates which, if successf ...[text shortened]... fect, a carbon-neutral fossil fuel! -I think this possibility is definitely worth looking into!
that same article also has this:
"So methane clathrate extraction seems to be imminent, in Asia at least. Whether it is desirable is another matter. Some argue that the world shouldn't be tapping a new fossil fuel while we are pledging to build a low-carbon economy. Methane might be less carbon intensive than fuels such as coal, but switching to methane would not help countries to reach ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions of up to 80 per cent by 2050.
To make matters worse, the methane itself could exacerbate global warming if it starts leaking from the reserves. Methane is, molecule for molecule, 20 times as powerful at warming the air as CO2. Rising sea temperatures could melt some undersea clathrate reserves even without extraction projects disturbing them, triggering a release of this potent greenhouse gas. A decade ago, Peter Brewer of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California, showed how clathrates on the seabed just off the coast of California disappeared after an El Niño event raised ocean temperatures by 1 °C.
Exploitation of clathrate reserves might exacerbate this problem, but it could also have far more immediate adverse effects. Clathrates exist in a delicate balance, and the worry is that as gas is extracted its pressure will break up neighbouring clathrate crystals. The result could be an uncontrollable chain reaction - a "methane burp" that could cascade through undersea reserves, triggering landslips and even tsunamis. "Extraction increases the risk of large-scale collapses, which might have catastrophic consequences," says Geir Erlsand from the University of Bergen in Norway."