by Gareth Hughes
If you needed proof we are in the post-peak oil, extreme energy age one need just look at where the Government is going for their next fix.
The Government has recently announced the first tranche of the MoBIE Science and Investment Round which included $3.2 million funding for gas hydrate exploration.
Gas hydrates, also called clathrates, are crystalline solid deposits of mostly methane that exist naturally on the ocean floor. Gas hydrates trap massive quantities of greenhouse gases in the cold, dark pressure of the ocean depths. New Zealand’s waters alone potentially contain hydrate deposits in the order of 20 trillion cubic feet. The US Geologic Survey estimate the worldwide amounts of carbon bound in gas hydrates is conservatively estimated to total twice the amount of carbon to be found in all known fossil fuels on Earth.
I can’t believe it. With all we know about climate change, with the disturbing news from the Arctic, it is outrageous the Government could consider resorting to this extreme step. The scientific community is extremely worried about the possible impact of hydrates naturally releasing GHGs as the world warms – we shouldn’t be speeding the process up by mining them. We already have identified enough recoverable fossil fuels to heat the planet more than two degrees without resorting to the extreme proposals like scrapping the ocean floor for gas hydrates, melting the tar-sands or underground coal gasification.
If New Zealand and other countries go down this path we will have almost no hope at avoiding runaway climate change.
But we have a choice. Imagine what we could achieve if the money, focus and support the Government is giving to drilling, mining and fracking was provided to clean energy?