Runaway warming

Runaway Global Warming

Runaway warming


Earthquakes can dramatically accelerate global warming, by causing huge amounts of methane to be released from hydrates, making it imperative to look at geoengineering methods to reduce emissions, bring down atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and further reduce the risk of runaway global warming. Post written in 2011 and preserved as is for archival purposes. 

By: Sam Carana

Arctic temperatures

Thermal expansion

As mentioned in the 2007 post Ten dangers of Global Warming, one of the biggest dangers is that, without dramatic action, the atmosphere will reach certain tipping points beyond which sudden dramatic and catastrophic changes will take place.

As the Earth warms up, tectonic plates will expand and some areas will come under increasing pressure, especially along fault lines where tectonic plates collide. This could lead to earthquakes. Thermal expansion of land and water could put more stress on areas prone to seismic activity, triggering earthquakes that can make the greenhouse effect much worse. The danger is that such seismic activity will cause slope failure in regions with unstable methane hydrates.

Ice and glaciers melting away

Links between climate change and geological and geomorphological phenomena were the theme of this 2009 conference. Several speakers addressed the danger that, as ice and glaciers in the mountains melt away, a substantial weight is disappearing, changing pressures that act on the Earth's crust and contribute to seismic activity. This link was confirmed in several scientific studies, such as this one dating back to 2003.

Hydrates disturbed by drilling and fracking

There is also an indirect risk. Melting of Arctic sea ice may open up sea routes to hydrates. Drilling and fracking in these hydrates could trigger earthquakes, especially if they're already under extra stress, resulting in the release of huge amounts of methane. This is particularly worrying in the Arctic, where waters can be very shallow, leaving less opportunity for methane to be broken down in the water.

Deep Ocean Warming


  1. We have already gone too far. This is the beginning of the end.
    1000 days. Just in time for the next presidential election in the USA.

  2. I fear you may be right, bwind. Humanity, if it is to survive, must change its anthropocentric views of life, the same ones that have supported and contributed to much of our current controlling cultural infrastructure. It will not be easy.

  3. Runaway warming section- Paragraph 1... Do you mean "exacerbated" where you wrote ameliorated?

    1. You are correct, thanks for spotting that, Rick. The page has meanwhile been changed accordingly.

  4. The situation has gone exponential since this link was first posted, it is now much worse.

  5. We are the Human race!!!
    I've been telling as many people as possible since I discovered what is going on.
    Get the word out. My girl and I boycotted independent FF transport, always buy local organic produce, constant water awareness, and I attended a protest against a coal plant. Everything we buy is either 2nd or American made. We should all be using biogas in the most carbon and nitrogen negative ways possible. Tell other people what's going on, and don't stop telling people.