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Gender: Female
Hometown: London
Home country: USA/UK/Sweden
Current location: Stockholm, Sweden
Member since: Sun Jul 1, 2018, 07:25 PM
Number of posts: 14,535

Journal Archives

Why Many White Men Love Trump's Coronavirus Response

More than 80 percent of Republicans think the president is doing a great job with the pandemic. Here’s why.


Kurtis, a young accountant in McKinney, Texas, likes the thing that many people hate about Donald Trump: that the president has left the pandemic response almost entirely up to local officials. “He left it up to each state to make their own decision on how they wanted to proceed,” Kurtis told me recently. Most experts think the absence of a national strategy for tackling the coronavirus has been a disaster. But Kurtis argues that North Dakota, for example, shouldn’t have to follow the same rules as New York City. Kurtis voted for Trump in 2016, and he plans to do so again this year. Some 82 percent of Republicans approve of Trump’s coronavirus response—a higher percentage than before the president was diagnosed with the virus. This is despite the fact that more than 220,000 Americans have died, and virtually every public-health expert, including those who have worked for Republican administrations, says the president has performed abysmally. Experts offer a few different explanations for the spell that Trump has cast over his supporters. The simplest is that Trump voters like Trump, and as is often the case with people we like, he can do no wrong in their eyes. “We might just as easily ask why Trump opponents think he is doing a horrible job with the pandemic,” says Richard Harris, a political scientist at Rutgers University.

In academic terms, this is called “my-side bias”—objective reality looks different through the lens of your home team. (Sometimes literally: A famous 1954 psychology study found that undergraduates at Dartmouth and Princeton Universities had completely different perceptions of a football game played between the rival schools.) In fact, this tendency to approve of one’s own side might become self-reinforcing. If someone doesn’t support Trump and all that he does, they might stop considering themselves a Republican, and thus stop showing up as one in surveys, says Robb Willer, a sociologist at Stanford University. Other wrinkles of our current political moment could further explain why so many Trump supporters approve of the president’s pandemic response. Katherine Cramer, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, says the most consistent theme on the right-wing talk-radio shows she’s been listening to is a desire to trust people to make their own decisions, rather than trusting the government to make decisions for people. Shana Kushner Gadarian, a political scientist at Syracuse University, pointed out that understanding the failures of Trump’s pandemic response might require intimate knowledge of other countries’ public-health systems—a tall order for the average person.

But another prominent scholar of the American right believes Trump support among men, in particular, is rooted in something more psychological. Many white men feel that their gender and race have been vilified, says the sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild. Their economic prospects are bad, and American culture tells them that their gender is too. So they’ve turned to Trump as a type of folk hero, one who can restore their sense of former glory. Exposing themselves and others to the coronavirus is part of that heroism. Or as Kurtis told me when I asked him how he felt about Trump getting the coronavirus, “Trump’s willing to accept that risk to win for the American people. And Joe Biden is sitting in his basement.” This hero theory of Trump is a continuation of Hochschild’s earlier work. A professor at UC Berkeley, Hochschild soared to the best-seller lists with her 2016 book Strangers in Their Own Land, which came out before the election but proved timely in its focus on the minds of Trump voters. For the book, Hochschild interviews an array of characters across Louisiana in an attempt to unearth what she calls their “deep story”: the emotional, feels-as-if truth of their lives.

Hochschild describes her subjects’ deep story in a metaphor of a long line of Americans standing on a hill, waiting to get over the top, to the American dream. But as they stand there, tired and eager, they see that certain people are cutting the line in front of them. Women, African Americans, and immigrants are getting ahead, boosted by the government and its affirmative-action programs. As Hochschild writes, they feel “your money is running through a liberal sympathy sieve you don’t control or agree with.” Many white men, in particular, feel “shoved back in line,” she writes. Unable to draw confidence from their wealth, which is in many cases nonexistent, or their jobs, which are steadily being moved offshore, they turn to their pride in being American. “Anyone who criticizes America—well, they’re criticizing you,” she writes. Trump, meanwhile, has allowed his male supporters “to feel like a good moral American and to feel superior to those they considered ‘other’ or beneath them,” she writes. Trump might not always represent his supporters’ economic self-interest, but he feeds their emotional self-interest. Trump is, in essence, “the identity politics candidate for white men.”


What Liberals Don't Understand About Pro-Trump Latinos

They all have one very important thing in common.


Abraham Enriquez speaks with the clarity of a levelheaded TV anchor. The 25-year-old Latino from Lubbock, Texas, was the first in his family to be born in the United States, after his grandparents immigrated from Mexico in the 1980s and brought his then-2-year-old mother with them. He visits his family across the border at least once a year for service trips with his grandparents’ church. When we talked recently about the state of American politics, I recognized the air of authority I had heard in clips of his eponymous web show and his public speeches rallying Latinos in Texas to vote—for Donald Trump. Enriquez is one of millions of Latinos who will (or already have) cast a ballot for Trump this year. Nearly a third of Latinos routinely vote for Republicans in American elections, and the Trump campaign’s appeals to them show an understanding of their unique worldview, one rooted in deeply held beliefs about individualism, economic opportunity, and traditional social values. Across nationality, class, immigrant experience, and age, Trump-voting Latinos have one thing in common: a different vision from other Latinos of what it means to be American—and they believe their liberal counterparts and the broader public just don’t understand that.

“It all boils down to understanding that you are in charge of your own kind of predicament,” Enriquez told me. “America, we’re really at the crossroads of either self-governance or being dependent on the government—and Hispanics know very well which decision they need to be making.” Liberals may accuse these Latinos of voting against their own interests, given Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic, attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and restrictions on immigration—all issues that affect millions of Latino lives. But many pro-Trump Latinos told me they simply define their interests differently than their more progressive cousins do. They don’t necessarily feel solidarity with Latinos as a whole, and many identify themselves as American first. (Some reject “Latino” or “Latinx” labels as well.) Many are lifelong Republicans not eager to abandon their party, and Trump’s economy-first message and opposition to abortion rights resonate with them. Democrats shouldn’t be surprised if Trump matches or improves on his 2016 showing among Latinos on November 3, or if their votes help him hold battleground states such as Arizona and Florida. Republican Latinos have always existed, and the Trump campaign has dedicated significant resources to winning over more of the Hispanic community this election cycle.

Election-year conversations tend to flatten voters into stereotypes, but there is no one kind of Latino voter: They aren’t all of Mexican or Cuban descent, nor are they all Catholic or connected by a shared immigrant experience—even though these subgroups dominate national attention. Though 60 to 70 percent vote for Democrats, according to the Pew Research Center, Latinos aren’t a reliably partisan voting bloc and need to be persuaded, in culturally competent ways, to vote. Their differences in national identity, immigrant background, experiences with discrimination, and religious beliefs make Latinos just as complicated as any other demographic group, though they aren’t always portrayed that way. Take immigration, an issue commonly identified as the central Latino priority because many Americans assume that all Latinos hold the same pro-immigration view. The first time Enriquez heard Trump speak about politics was during the future president’s campaign-launch speech in 2015, when he said Mexico was “sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime.” Enriquez told me he could forgive the president’s comments. “I know exactly the status of Mexico, and how crime has completely just taken over the beautiful country that is Mexico.

So when President Trump was talking about what Mexico is sending, I immediately knew—I understood [what he meant],” Enriquez said. “Did he word it correctly? No, but he did emphasize that, you know, it wasn’t all Mexicans.” (Enriquez told me that he first learned about Trump when he wrote a paper on The Art of the Deal in ninth grade.) Some pro-Trump Latinos told me they understand why immigrants seek new lives in America, but they want them to come to this country “the right way.” They don’t necessarily identify with the plight of Latin American immigrants today. “You can’t really compare immigration in 2020 or 2016 to immigration like when my grandparents immigrated to America,” Enriquez said. Some support Trump’s border wall, some support limits on immigration generally, but almost all pivoted to the economy when the subject came up, arguing that unregulated immigration could have a negative effect on their own well-being. “We recognize that open borders would not be good for the economy, for our families,” Ray Baca, the founder of the El Paso–based activist group Border Hispanics for Trump, told me. “Illegal immigration hurts employment as far as wages are concerned. And who are the people that get hurt? People at the bottom … and many times that is still the Hispanics.”


White American men without college degrees present a grave threat to the future of the Republic.

We can't let them win again.

Win Or Lose, 'White Idiocracy' Isn't Going Anywhere Soon


by Bob Cesca

WASHINGTON, DC -- America has a white idiocracy problem. Here’s what I mean by that. There’s a significant population of white, mostly Republican voters who’ve allowed themselves to be thoroughly deceived by one of the most ridiculous con-men in the history of ridiculous con-men. These are the idiocrats -- the disciples of Donald Trump who are on the verge of transforming the American republic into a fascist state helmed by an alliance of professional nincompoops and flimflam artists. While I was sitting here today like many of us, frantically refreshing the polling aggregators for the latest change in their election forecasts, I noticed the results of the latest CNN poll appear on Twitter via Jake Tapper’s account. The topline set of numbers continue to look solid for Joe Biden, even though I’m intensely concerned the legitimate results will be overturned through Trump’s ongoing theft and disruption. However, I noticed something else in the numbers that further calcifies one of my worst fears about the future of our country.


Among white men without college degrees, Trump leads Biden by 38 points. Among white women without college degrees, the race is tied 49 to 49. Among all white voters without college degrees, Trump leads by 18 points. Yeah, yeah, I know. We’ve seen this before. The “poorly educated” vote. I hasten to note, however, that I’m not necessarily criticizing people who didn’t go to college -- that’s not the point. After all, there are still quite a few people without higher educations who support science and smart policymaking, and I know more than a few people without degrees who are smarter than all of us combined. That being said, the non-college voters who support Trump by such astronomical margins are likely doing so because they don’t know any better, making them easy targets for professional con-artists who market in disinformation and propaganda. And ultimately, we don’t need pollsters to tell us this. We see it every day in the video clips from Trump’s rallies. We see it in Frank Luntz’s focus groups. We see it playing out among some of our family members. Idiocracy is all around us, and I don’t think it’s going away.

There was a time when I thought maybe if Donald Trump gets publicly spanked in the election, not to mention during the subsequent investigations into his crimes, some of his loyalists would start to peel off out of sheer embarrassment and disappointment. I thought maybe if he and his Trumpism movement was humiliated enough, they’d skulk away. Clearly, that’s not going to happen. I underestimated the resilience of the Trump cult, and I only came to that realization after Trump recovered from COVID and began doing his rallies again. It’s quite obvious to anyone seeing the clips from Aaron Rupar and others that these people are willing to die for their master. Hell, he and his campaign staff left thousands of them stranded in the middle of an airport tarmac in Nebraska for hours and hours -- many of them had to be rushed to the hospital due to hypothermia. And I assure you, even the people who were hurt the most will gladly vote for him again.

The white idiocrats aren’t going away, win or lose. In fact, if the 2009 rise of the tea party was any indication, we’ll be hearing from the dingus brigade with even greater volume if Trump loses. You might recall how the tea party rallies emerged from the proto-Trump rallies held by Sarah Palin during the 2008 election. I wouldn’t be surprised if this gaggle of suckers stole the “Resistance” label, too, just to own the libs. And while it’ll be fun to mock their poorly-spelled signs and while we’ll all retweet clips of Fox News’s ongoing empowering of their defiant ignorance, the Red Hats still represent a formidable voting bloc that we’ll have to contend with during the 2022 midterms and especially the 2024 general election (if free elections still exist by then). Indeed, in 2024, there will be someone with the last name “Trump” on the ballot. If Trump wins next week, it’ll be his name because he won’t step aside. And if Trump loses, it’ll either be one of his doofus children or it’ll be Donald Trump himself who, if he’s not in prison, could try to run again. Sure, anything can happen and there aren’t any guarantees one way or another. But the Republican Party won’t give up its new voting base, and the idiocrats will continue to wield some power, hopefully as a marginalized opposition party, but almost certainly in state and local elections as well as the online shovel fights.


These Are the Best Beers & Breweries in 2020, According to Drinkers

This year's list looks a lot like last year's list.


There probably isn't any kind of "best of" list that gets created without complaint and debate. That's part of the ritual, especially when the list is created through a survey. Still, one that's usually worth a glace is the American Homebrewers Association's "Best Beers in America." It's an annual list that compiles the opinions of Zymurgy magazine readers (who are AHA members) on the best beers and brewers in the US. In 2020, there aren't many surprises, unless you expected something to change, in which case, surprise! They didn't. For the fourth straight year, Bell's Two Hearted Ale is perched atop the summit. Additionally, just like last year, Bell's Brewery is the top brewery in the land. It's also the only brewery with more than one beer in the top ten. Its Hop Slam finished fifth. For now, Zymurgy has released the top ten in both categories, with the full top 25 to be revealed in the magazine's next print issue. Inside both top ten lists (there are actually 11 breweries listed), the vast majority qualify as "small and independent craft breweries" with the exception of Founders Brewing and New Belgium Brewing, which was acquired by Lion Little World Beverages, a subsidiary of Kirin, in a deal struck late last year.

"Being honored with this again, is beyond words," Larry Bell, President ad Founder of Bell's, said. "With the year we’ve all had, this is a huge win we can all celebrate. To my staff, to our partners, to the homebrewers, to everyone who celebrates this beer; thank you from the bottom of my heart." Prior to Two Hearted taking the crown, it sat behind Pliny the Elder, which held the top spot for seven years. It now sits second on the list. The top three spots remain unchanged from last year. However, inside the top ten, there's a fair amount of change with four beers getting displaced. Last year, Founders Brewing had four beers inside the top ten. A year after it settled a racial discrimination lawsuit that prompted boycotts, it has just one among those ranks. Its Canadian Breakfast Stout, Breakfast Stout, and All Day IPA have all been bumped out, as has WeldWerks Juicy Bits. The newcomers, listed below, are beers from North Coast, Deschutes, Boulevard, and Three Floyds. Here are the best beers and breweries in the US as selected by the AHA membership. Only one of which appeared in Thrillist's 25 Beers That Changed America. (Though, when the full list is unveiled, there most likely be more than that.)

Top-ranked beers
1. Bell’s Two Hearted Ale
2. Russian River Pliny the Elder
3. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
4. The Alchemist Heady Topper
5. Bell’s Hopslam
6. Three Floyds Zombie Dust
T7. Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
T7. Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
9. Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA
10. North Coast Old Rasputin

Top-ranked breweries
1. Bell’s Brewery
2. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
3. Russian River Brewing Co.
4. Founders Brewing Co.
5. Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
6. Tree House Brewing Co.
7. Deschutes Brewery
8. The Alchemist Brewery
9. New Belgium Brewing Co.
T10. Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
T10. Stone Brewing


my own add

the best US brewery, IMHO, is (and it is not even close, it is close to the best in the world)

Hill Farmstead Brewery

Greensboro Bend, Vermont


The World Is Trapped in America's Culture War

America won the internet, and now makes us all speak its language.


London—Sharing the internet with America is like sharing your living room with a rhinoceros. It’s huge, it’s right there, and whatever it’s doing now, you sure as hell know about it. This month, Twitter announced that it would restrict retweets for a few weeks, and prompt its users to reconsider sharing content which has been flagged as misinformation. The reason for this change, of course, is the U.S. presidential election. The restricted features will be restored when its result is clear. Anything that makes Twitter fractionally less hellish is welcome, as is the recent crackdown by Facebook and YouTube on QAnon conspiracy groups and Holocaust denial. But from anywhere outside the borders of the U.S., it is hard not to feel faintly aggrieved when reading this news. Hey guys! We have elections too!

After all, according to an anguished 6,000-word memo by Sophie Zhang, a departing Facebook data scientist, the political situations in Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras, Ukraine, and elsewhere have all been negatively influenced by online manipulation. “In the three years I’ve spent at Facebook, I’ve found multiple blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse our platform on vast scales to mislead their own citizenry,” she wrote, adding that interference in Western Europe and the U.S. was taken more seriously than that in smaller, non-Western countries. (In a statement, Facebook told BuzzFeed: “We investigate each issue carefully, including those that Ms. Zhang raises, before we take action or go out and make claims publicly as a company.”) Every country using the English-language internet experiences a version of this angst—call it the American Rhino Problem. With so many dominant tech companies headquartered in Silicon Valley, the rules of the web are set there—and by politicians in Washington.

The West once sent missionaries to bring Christianity to Africa; in 2013, Mark Zuckerberg promised to “bring the world closer together” by providing internet access to millions in the developing world. (That particular project failed, but there are now more Facebook users in India than anywhere else.) Britain, where i live, cohabits particularly closely with the American rhino, because of our shared language and history. Brits watch Friends. We read John Grisham novels. We know what a sidewalk is, even though it should be called a “pavement.” The website of the BBC, our national broadcaster, is always plastered with stories about the U.S., while Ireland, which was under British rule until a century ago and with whom we share a border, might as well be the moon. Ask 100 Britons to name the current Taoiseach, and you’ll see 99 blank faces (and one inevitable smart-ass). Ask 100 Britons to name the U.S. president, and—well, I envy anyone who draws a blank there. Please give me directions to the rock under which they’ve been living.

The British political elite loves the United States: Every political adviser here goes to sleep hugging a West Wing box set. Our pollsters and political scientists become feverishly excited when they can switch from talking about our own elections—which have six-week campaigns, and have been tediously designed so the party with the most votes gets to be in charge—to the byzantine madness of the Electoral College. (Right now, everyone here has strong opinions on Florida.) And so the nonstop reality-television show that is the Trump White House has been inescapable in London, to a degree that is disproportionate even considering America’s undoubted global influence. China makes our toys, our clothes, and our anti-COVID personal protective equipment, but occupies a fraction of our mental bandwidth. Nowhere is the American rhino more obvious than in social-justice activism. “Over the past couple of months, many Britons have imported American discourse on race wholesale,” the British writer Tomiwa Owolade argued at Persuasion, a newsletter edited by my colleague Yascha Mounk, in the aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests this summer. “When asked to analyse the experiences of Black people in the United Kingdom, we now talk with an American accent.”


The Press Is Giving Trump a Free Pass, Again

Media outlets appear to be operating on the assumption that Trump will lose, and are covering his latest scandals accordingly.


You can teach old journalists the occasional new trick, but two? Forget it. The 2016 election persuaded the press to avoid publicly presuming that Donald Trump will lose and the Democrat will win. The very cautious news coverage about Joe Biden’s chances, despite his formidable advantage in polls, makes this plain. But even though reporters are loath to say that the president is a serious underdog, they are repeating another 2016 error. Trump is getting off easy for a series of recent scandals, most likely because press outlets have concluded that he is doomed and that coverage is largely pointless. From a radical reorganization of the civil service to sketchy Chinese bank accounts, the president has faced little scrutiny on what should be major topics of concern for voters.

Four years ago, the number of scandals swirling around the Republican nominee was too great for the average reporter, much less the average voter, to track. Yet with the possible exception of the October surprise of the Access Hollywood tape, few of them gained any lasting purchase. Observers who assumed that voters would never accept Trump’s past didn’t reckon with the fact that it would get such short shrift. Meanwhile, in the closing days of the campaign, Hillary Clinton’s emails were extensively covered. In part, that was because many reporters and editors assumed that she would soon be president, and that questions about her term as secretary of state would remain relevant for months or years to come.

Instead, Clinton lost the election—the late-breaking email story may have played a large role in that—and Trump waltzed into office. (The emails quickly moved off front pages, although the president continues to try to make them a topic of conversation.) It became clear within weeks that the same questions about Trump that had been broadly overlooked during the campaign, on his shaky company, for example, and his foreign financial entanglements, would be major issues during his presidency, and indeed, they have been. In 2020, it’s clear that most of the press is trying to be careful not to count the ballots before they’re cast. That has resulted in more sophisticated horse-race coverage over the closing weeks, even in places where the race doesn’t seem to be particularly close. But as outlets focus on that coverage (as well as the coronavirus pandemic), they are giving insufficient attention to the continued flow of important news coming from the Trump administration.

Last week, for example, Trump issued an executive order that would radically reshape the federal workforce. As The Washington Post explains, the order “strips long-held civil service protections from employees whose work involves policymaking, allowing them to be dismissed with little cause or recourse, much like the political appointees who come and go with each administration.” This sounds dull, but it’s hugely consequential (and, historically, even lethal). Trump has already sought to make the executive branch his wholly owned political subsidiary, and this would extend his control. If you enjoyed the sidelining of Environmental Protection Agency scientists and the extortion of Ukraine via the State Department, you’ll love this.


These Comedies Are Way Better Than Their Rotten Tomatoes Scores


Perhaps more than any other genre, comedy is hard to evaluate. What's funny to one person is maybe not so to another, and it can be difficult to describe what it is that makes a joke hilarious. That's why so many genuinely great comedy films often don't get the appreciation they deserve upon release. From sweet rom-coms like One Fine Day to stone-cold masterpieces like Step Brothers, these movies were received tepidly when they came out, but are now beloved. So the next time you're looking for something to make you laugh, smile, or even cringe, take a gander at these once under-appreciated selections.


Classic Swedish fish gratin

Klassisk fiskgratäng


A wonderful creamy fish gratin with au gratin mashed potatoes topped with shrimp and dill. Fantastically good both for weekdays and weekends. Tip! Feel free to thaw the fish in the fridge overnight.


the temp is in C, 200C is around 400F


krm kryddmått ie. a pinch (technically a millilitre)

st stycke piece or unit 1 st lemon = 1 whole lemon (citron in Swedish)

dl decilitre around 3.4 ounces

A Message From The Terrible American Id

Know this one thing: I’ll be back.


You think you have me figured out, but you’re not even close. You send pollsters to my owner’s phone and compile statistics on likely voters, but you’ve never bothered to interview me directly. Here I sit buried deep inside my host, yet I control both his life and yours. Of course, you know a little something about me. For instance, I don’t wear a mask during a pandemic. Do you know what else I don’t do? I don’t wear a helmet when I ride my motorcycle. Like the mask, the helmet is a shackle that infringes upon my inalienable right to complete freedom and autonomy at all times. So-called law and public pressure only make me more resolute. But one day when I flip my Harley, my head hits a curb, and I lie comatose in an ICU on a ventilator paralyzed from the neck down, you will pay my multimillion dollar medical bills.

Hillary Clinton runs a paedophile ring. Running red lights and blowing by your four-cylinder Prius on a side street are what I call breathing. All rules are made to be broken, especially traffic rules. When my GPS gives me a 2.4 mile as-the-crow-flies distance between the beer distributor and the firing range, I am the crow. The notion of abiding countless lights, stop signs, and dainty turns at intersections is an insult to my God-given liberty. It is my innate righteous desire to drive my Ford F-250 straight over fences and through yards to negotiate the shortest distance between two points. Jews eat babies. Speaking of guns, I’ve never seen anything I didn’t want to shoot, preferably dozens of times.

Life for me is a game of Mortal Kombat with Nancy Pelosi in my crosshairs. I am Rambo without the remains of a conscience. Every shell not used is a deep wound to my pure spirit. Ideally I fire these rounds while riding helmetless through courtyards. Gravity is a hoax. As far as the environment is concerned, mine does not extend beyond the length of my arm. My bodily fluids are all precious, and so they may be ejected anytime, anywhere. In fact, nothing that emanates from me or from any product I might use must be restricted from waterways, airways, causeways or driveways. This is natural law. My never ending joyride over shrubs—shouting, spewing, wind in my unprotected face—is an American prayer. The earth is flat.

There is no greater good. There is only my good, and I am insatiable. I was granted a president—a viral shedding, pussy grabbing, fearmongering, threat issuing tower of a man—who outwardly embodies all that I am. He gives license to my basest urges and validates my deepest primal yearnings. I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. I am the walrus. Coo coo kachu. Now I’m told evil, freedom hating forces of the ego and superego are poised to remove my president from his throne, leaving me to flounder alone in the primordial soup of my man cave as part of some inevitable psychopolitical correction. But as I shelter in place in my lair of crystal meth, paintball, and masturbation, know this one thing: I’ll be back.


Climate crisis: Plumes of methane stretching 'hundreds of kilometres' rising from Arctic seabed

First documented evidence of large-scale release of potent greenhouse gas from region may have ‘serious climate consequences’


Scientists have found alarming new evidence that large quantities of previously frozen methane deposits on the Arctic seabed are beginning to be released into the sea and the atmosphere - a process which could rapidly speed up global heating. Scientists aboard the research vessel Akademik Mstislav Keldysh on the International Siberian Shelf Study Expeditions 2020 have reported “hundreds of kilometres” of bubble clouds erupting from the continental slope off the East Siberian coast.

The preliminary research, carried out by teams still on the ship, indicate large amounts of methane are bubbling up from part of the Laptev Sea slope, with some of the potent greenhouse gas dissolving into the water, and some being released into the air. “We documented bubble clouds rising from about 300 m depth along 150 km of Laptev Sea slope, and confirmed high methane concentrations by hundreds of onboard chemical analysis,” the scientists said in a Facebook post.

“This may be the first comprehensive observation of active release from methane hydrates on the Siberian-Arctic slope system,” the team added. When methane is released into the atmosphere, it is 86 to 105 times as powerful as carbon dioxide at disrupting the climate over a 20-year period. Vast amounts of methane are stored in the Arctic in natural gas deposits, permafrost, and as undersea clathrates - a solid compound of water and methane similar to ice.

Like the permafrost on land, clathrates degrade on warming, releasing the stored methane which then causes further warming. This in turn can stimulate both the production of methane (through the rotting of organic material), and its release, in a heating feedback cycle. Temperatures in the region are already well above average, with global warming having a greater impact at the planet’s poles - particularly in the northern hemisphere. This is known as the Arctic amplification phenomenon - temperatures in northern polar regions have risen at least twice as fast as other parts of the globe amid the climate crisis. The shelf sediments of the Laptev and East Siberian Seas, are “actively venting bubbles and strong methane signals”, the researchers said.


'Sleeping giant' Arctic methane deposits starting to release, scientists find

Exclusive: expedition discovers new source of greenhouse gas off East Siberian coast has been triggered


Scientists have found evidence that frozen methane deposits in the Arctic Ocean – known as the “sleeping giants of the carbon cycle” – have started to be released over a large area of the continental slope off the East Siberian coast, the Guardian can reveal. High levels of the potent greenhouse gas have been detected down to a depth of 350 metres in the Laptev Sea near Russia, prompting concern among researchers that a new climate feedback loop may have been triggered that could accelerate the pace of global heating.

The slope sediments in the Arctic contain a huge quantity of frozen methane and other gases – known as hydrates. Methane has a warming effect 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide over 20 years. The United States Geological Survey has previously listed Arctic hydrate destabilisation as one of four most serious scenarios for abrupt climate change. The international team onboard the Russian research ship R/V Akademik Keldysh said most of the bubbles were currently dissolving in the water but methane levels at the surface were four to eight times what would normally be expected and this was venting into the atmosphere.

“At this moment, there is unlikely to be any major impact on global warming, but the point is that this process has now been triggered. This East Siberian slope methane hydrate system has been perturbed and the process will be ongoing,” said the Swedish scientist Örjan Gustafsson, of Stockholm University, in a satellite call from the vessel. The scientists – who are part of a multi-year International Shelf Study Expedition – stressed their findings were preliminary. The scale of methane releases will not be confirmed until they return, analyse the data and have their studies published in a peer-reviewed journal.

But the discovery of potentially destabilised slope frozen methane raises concerns that a new tipping point has been reached that could increase the speed of global heating. The Arctic is considered ground zero in the debate about the vulnerability of frozen methane deposits in the ocean. With the Arctic temperature now rising more than twice as fast as the global average, the question of when – or even whether – they will be released into the atmosphere has been a matter of considerable uncertainty in climate computer models. The 60-member team on the Akademik Keldysh believe they are the first to observationally confirm the methane release is already under way across a wide area of the slope about 600km offshore.

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