A scientific study published in the prestigious journal Palaeoworld
in December issued a dire -- and possibly prophetic -- warning, though
it garnered little attention in the media.
triggered by the massive release of carbon dioxide may be catastrophic,"
reads the study's abstract. "But the release of methane from hydrate
may be apocalyptic."
The study, titled "Methane Hydrate: Killer Cause of Earth's Greatest Mass Extinction," highlights the fact that the most
significant variable in the Permian Mass Extinction event, which
occurred 250 million years ago and annihilated 90 percent of all the
species on the planet, was methane hydrate.
a lake, plumes of gas, most likely methane from the breakdown of carbon
in sediments below the lake, keep the water from freezing in spots,
outside Fairbanks, Alaska, October 21, 2011. As the Arctic warms, the
threat of abrupt methane releases is rising, too. (Photo: Josh Haner /
The New York Times)