Arctic time-bomb

Tundra methane releases could have huge economic consequences

The release of large amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from thawing Arctic permafrost could result in a huge global economic impact of about $60 trillion, a new study reveals.

Developing countries in particular are poised to take a massive hit financially as a result of the climate-related effects of these increased methane releases, such as sea-level rise, flooding, and damage to human health and agriculture, according to BBC News, citing research published in the journal Nature.

While the thawing of the Arctic is seen by some as an economic boon—as much as 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered gas, for instance, lies beneath its waters—the potential costs of methane emissions would far outweigh the benefits.

“That’s an economic time-bomb that at this stage has not been recognized on the world stage,” said Gail Whiteman, a professor at Erasmus University in the Netherlands, and one of the study’s authors.