Topics in Catalysis

, Volume 32, Issue 3–4, pp 95–99 | Cite as

Global warming and the mining of oceanic methane hydrate

  • Chung-Chieng A. Lai
  • David E. Dietrich
  • Malcolm J. Bowman


The impacts of global warming on the environment, economy and society are presently receiving much attention by the international community. However, the extent to which anthropogenic factors are the main cause of global warming is still being debated. There are obviously large stakes associated with the validity of any theory since that will indicate what actions need to be taken to protect the human race’s only home—Earth. Most studies of global warming have investigated the rates and quantities of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution. In this paper, we focus on the earth’s carbon budget and the associated energy transfer between various components of the climate system. This research invokes some new concepts: (i) certain biochemical processes which strongly interact with geophysical processes in climate system; (ii) a hypothesis that internal processes in the oceans rather than in the atmosphere are at the center of global warming; (iii) chemical energy stored in biochemical processes can significantly affect ocean dynamics and therefore the climate system. Based on those concepts, we propose a new hypothesis for global warming. We also propose a revolutionary strategy to deal with global climate change and provide domestic energy security at the same time. Recent ocean exploration indicates that huge deposits of oceanic methane hydrate deposits exist on the seafloor on continental margins. Methane hydrate transforms into water and methane gas when it dissociates. So, this potentially could provide the United States with energy security if the technology for mining in the 200-mile EEZ is developed and is economically viable. Furthermore, methane hydrate is a relatively environmentally benign, clean fuel. Such technology would help industry reduce carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere, and thus reduce global warming by harnessing the energy from the deep sea.


global warming methane hydrate greenhouse gases methane carbon dioxide methane oxidation methane bubbles ocean warming heat content 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chung-Chieng A. Lai
    • 1
  • David E. Dietrich
    • 2
  • Malcolm J. Bowman
    • 3
  1. 1.Earth and Environmental Sciences DivisionLos Alamos National LaboratoryLos AlamosUSA
  2. 2.AcuSea, Inc.AlbuquerqueUSA
  3. 3.Marine Sciences Research CenterState University of New YorkStony BrookUSA

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