Tea Bag protestors pledged to bring 50,000 people to Sacramento August 28 to call for repeal of the state’s climate protection law, AB 32. They claim the law--along with other environmental measures--is crushing the state’s economy. “Industries from mining to construction, transportation to ranching, and farming to concrete are suffering,” stated Mark Meckler, national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, in an announcement by the rally organizers. The protestors--organized by numerous groups, including the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture & Business of Santa Barbara County, and Families Protecting the Valley--plan to rally at the Capitol Building from noon to 5 p.m. with people arriving by bus, truck, or tractor. The groups also are pressing for greater releases of water to Central Valley farms and protesting AB 19, the Carbon Labeling Act of 2009, a pending bill to require the California Air Resources Board to develop a standardized label to indicate the carbon footprint on a variety of manufactured goods. They bill their struggle as the “Green Giant” meets “Paul Bunyan.” * * * * * British Customs agents stormed 27 properties around London August 26 and arrested nine people suspected of European carbon market fraud, reported the Associated Press. The nine are suspected of “carousel fraud” in which traders collect a value added tax on carbon credit sales and pocket the money rather than paying it to the government. The complicated scheme involves importing credits across national borders value added tax free, selling them domestically to collect the tax from the buyer, and then disappearing with the tax money. The arrests came after the British Treasury warned that tax theft would become common in the carbon market. In this particular case, authorities say millions of dollars were involved. * * * * * The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced August 24 that it is tracking the level of carbon dioxide and methane above the Alaskan tundra, particularly south of the Brooks Range where it is melting. Billions of tons of carbon are buried in the frozen Arctic tundra, now heating up because of human-caused climate change, NOAA said. The agency wants to help find out if future warming will dry out tundra, exhaling large amounts of heat-holding carbon dioxide, or will melt it to form pools and lakes, allowing microbes to feast on buried organic matter, burping up huge amounts of methane. “It’s important to locate natural sources and measure how much methane and carbon dioxide are being released now so we can watch for signs of increasing emissions,” said Colm Sweeney, of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory. “Methane is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, though its lifetime in the atmosphere is significantly shorter.” * * * * * Scientists at the University of Birmingham in Britain--working with other European researchers--have found more than 250 plumes of methane gas bubbles rising from the seabed of the West Spitsbergen continental margin in the Arctic, in a depth range of 150 to 400 meters. Methane released from gas hydrate in submarine sediments has been identified in the past as an agent of climate change, they said in an announcing their findings August 20. “It appears that the warming of the northward-flowing West Spitsbergen current by one degree over the last thirty years has caused the release of methane by breaking down methane hydrate in the sediment beneath the seabed,” stated Graham Westbrook, University of Birmingham professor of geophysics. “If this process becomes widespread along Arctic continental margins, tens of megatonnes of methane per year--equivalent to five to ten percent of the Earth’s annual atmospheric methane budget--could be released into the ocean.” Methane hydrate is an ice-like substance composed of water and methane which is stable in conditions of high pressure and low temperature. At present, methane hydrate is stable at depths greater than 400 meters in the ocean off Spitsbergen, which lies north of Norway. However, thirty years ago it was stable at depths as shallow as 360 meters. The data were acquired from the research ship RRS James Clark Ross as part of the Natural Environment Research Council’s Arctic Initiative. The bubble plumes were detected using sonar and then sampled with a water-bottle sampling system over a range of depths. The team is carrying out further investigations of the plumes.