Worrying news from the Nikkei this morning as the august organ reports that Japan has made concrete plans to exploit methane hydrate deposits on the ocean floor 1km down in a wide area off its coast [Subscription link].
It says dryly, “Japan will conduct experimental production of methane hydrate from nearby ocean sites starting in fiscal 2012, with the goal of completing research and development by fiscal 2018.”
We’re told: “The main area of study in Japan is the coastal region stretching from Shizuoka Prefecture to Wakayama Prefecture. This region alone is thought to hold enough reserves to supply all of Japan with natural gas for nearly 14 years.”
Going on to give a tiny sliver of information on what this means, the paper says that, “Methane hydrate is a sherbet-like substance consisting of methane trapped in water ice.”
That may be so (well, not really), but at what cost? Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that has the potential to wreak havoc with the planet’s ecosystem. It makes carbon dioxide look like child’s play.
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