Climate Progress blogger Joe Romm is one of the best there is at breaking down climate science, which is to say that he is one of the best there is at dropping reams of data in your lap that he can demonstrate add up to the apocalypse. Yesterday, when you weren't looking, he dropped a ton of data in your lap in a post whose title ends in an exclamation point. So, you know. It's serious.
For a long time, climate scientists have been concerned about the effects of melting permafrost. By way of quick refresher, permafrost is the layer of frozen ground that is a hallmark of the Arctic. Since the region is usually below freezing, the soil stays frozen to varying depth, which has been a boon for development. Rock-solid soil makes it simple to build towns and roads. Until the permafrost starts to melt -- which it is -- causing some serious problems for those towns and roads.
That's actually the least troubling problem. Of far more concern is methane release. As layers of soil and vegetation that have been frozen solid for centuries thaw, they start to release methane that's been trapped. And, worse, that vegetation starts to decompose, releasing newly created methane. Methane, as we've noted, is far more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, creating a massive negative loop of warming and permafrost thaw and more warming and so on.
What's the U.N. going to do about the problem? Nothing. As Romm notes, a key U.N. report won't even acknowledge it exists.