We Still Have Time to Restore Our Climate. But the Climate Time Bomb Is Ticking

GR: The article below describes the current state of our changing climate, the disasters facing us, and the things we could do to save ourselves. Like David Wallace-Wells, Carlin leaves the sugar-coating off. There is some optimism here, but Carlin doesn’t minimize the difficulties. In fact, he makes it clear that the ticking has grown so loud it should be drowning out most other concerns. Recommended.

“A recent New York Magazine article about the climate ruin we are facing, by David Wallace Wells, has caused a furor for describing the catastrophes that could happen to our planet by the end of the century if we do not mitigate the harms to our climate and reverse course. This op-ed by guest contributor Alex Carlin contends that those crises could happen much sooner, and he details steps he believes could help forestall disaster.

“Yes, Virginia, we still have time to restore our climate. But the Climate Time Bomb is undeniably ticking–and Trump has pulled out of the Paris agreement.

What Should We Do To Restore Our ClImate?

“Trump climate policy is blind and deaf to the fact that the Climate Bomb can cause millions—or even potentially billions—of deaths by mid-century. I believe Trump’s rogue refusal to defuse the Bomb is an unfathomably heinous crime against humanity.

“While the Paris agreement focuses on lowering CO2 emissions, there is a second indispensable task we must also perform to defuse The Bomb: restoring the Arctic ice.

“For thousands of years, the frozen Arctic has been keeping our climate hospitable—until now. The Arctic is a critical part of the earth’s mechanism for controlling the planet’s temperature and climate.

“But ominously, the Arctic Ocean has nearly finished changing from a state of “perennial ice”–covered with sea ice in the winter and never substantially ice free in the summer–to a state of “seasonal ice”–substantially ice free in the summer.

“Completing this switchover would herald the biggest change in the global ecosystem since before the start of human civilization, and it would have a devastating impact.

“Billions of people will face the risk of death in this century from adverse climate change outcomes such as starvation, heat stress, resource wars and disease if we don’t restore the perennial ice.

Next: Mass Starvation

–Alex Carlin (Continue reading: We Still Have Time to Restore Our Climate. But the Climate Time Bomb Is Ticking).

Zero Arctic Sea Ice Very Likely By 2020 !

GR: Zero Arctic sea ice will have dramatic (no, dramatic isn’t strong enough) or should I say traumatic effects on weather. Learn more about what’s just around the corner with these educational videos by Paul Beckwith.

“There is a very high probability that the Arctic sea ice will essentially vanish by the end of summer melt in 2020 or earlier. The ice-free duration would likely be less than one-month in September for this first “blue-ocean” event.” –Paul Beckwith.

Antarctica Is Melting, and Giant Ice Cracks Are Just the Start

GR: Glaciers are melting at the North Pole, the South Pole, and in mountains around the planet. Sea level is rising. If we stop adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere now, melting might stop within a few centuries. At that point, sea level will be more than 30 feet higher than it is now. If we continue to add greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere, we can expect 70 feet of sea-level rise before stability is reached. Stability at that point will occur because we will have stopped producing greenhouse gases–we will have little working technology left. Cutting emissions immediately is the only way we might limit the rise to 30 feet.

In East Antarctica, Australian researchers probe for crevasses on Totten Glacier—another one that has begun to look vulnerable—before deploying instruments to measure how fast it’s moving and thinning (photo by Camille Seaman).

As you will see as you read this article, critical measurements are underway to determine how fast the ice is melting. It is expensive to make the measurements that will give us the ability to predict and plan for rising sea level. Less money than presidential trips to Florida to play golf, but substantial amounts nevertheless. This is just the type of necessary spending the Trump administration (actually the corporatists controlling Congress) is intent on ending. Isn’t this a crime against nature and humanity?

Melting Antarctic Glaciers

(The following story appears in the July 2017 issue of National Geographic Magazine.)

“The massive iceberg poised to break off the Larsen C Ice Shelf may be a harbinger of a continent-wide collapse that would swamp coastal cities around the world.

“Seen from above, the Pine Island Ice Shelf is a slow-motion train wreck. Its buckled surface is scarred by thousands of large crevasses. Its edges are shredded by rifts a quarter mile across. In 2015 and 2016 a 225-square-mile chunk of it broke off the end and drifted away on the Amundsen Sea. The water there has warmed by more than a degree Fahrenheit over the past few decades, and the rate at which ice is melting and calving has quadrupled.

“On the Antarctic Peninsula, the warming has been far greater—nearly five degrees on average. That’s why a Delaware-size iceberg is poised to break off the Larsen C Ice Shelf and why smaller ice shelves on the peninsula have long since disintegrated entirely into the waters of the Weddell Sea. But around the Amundsen Sea, a thousand miles to the southwest on the Pacific coast of Antarctica, the glaciers are far larger and the stakes far higher. They affect the entire planet.

A startling sunset reddens the Lemaire Channel, off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. The continent’s coastal ice is crumbling as the sea and air around it warm (photo by Camille Seaman).

 

“These are the fastest retreating glaciers on the face of the Earth,” says Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Rignot has studied the region for more than two decades, using radar from aircraft and satellites, and he believes the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is only a matter of time. The question is whether it will take 500 years or fewer than a hundred—and whether humanity will have time to prepare.

“We have to get these numbers right,” Rignot says. “But we have to be careful not to waste too much time doing that.”

“Getting the predictions right requires measurements that can be made only by going to the ice. In December 2012 a red-and-white Twin Otter plane skimmed low over the Pine Island Ice Shelf. The pilot dragged the plane’s skis through the snow, then lifted off and circled back to make sure he hadn’t uncovered any crevasses. After the plane landed, a single person disembarked. Tethered to the plane by a rope and harness, he probed the snow with an eight-foot rod.” –Douglas Fox–Photographs by Camille Seaman. (This story appears in the July 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine. Continue: Antarctica Is Melting, and Giant Ice Cracks Are Just the Start.)

The west side of the Antarctic Peninsula is warming several times faster than the rest of the planet. Ninety percent of its 674 glaciers are now in retreat and are calving more icebergs into the sea, like this one in Andvord Bay (photo by Camille Seaman).

Worrisome first quarter of 2017 climate trends – Yale Climate Connections

GR: Here’s a handy summary of global temperature, sea ice, and coral reef changes so far in 2017.

“With the first quarter of 2017 now past, the year is shaping up to be one of climate extremes: high temperatures, low sea ice, and coral bleaching.

“The year is shaping up to be one of #climate extremes: high temps, low sea ice, and coral bleaching.”

“Global surface temperatures continue to increase in-line with climate model predictions, and the world has now experienced an increased global temperature of about 0.8 degrees C (1.5 degrees F) since 1970. Temperatures for the first three months of the year were actually warmer than the 2016 average, and there is a reasonable chance that 2017 for a fourth consecutive year will be the warmest on record.

“Global sea ice extent is near historic lows in the Arctic and Antarctic, and Arctic sea ice volume has also been decreasing as it ages and thins, with less new ice to replace it. The Great Barrier Reef experienced an unprecedented second consecutive year of coral bleaching, the only major coral bleaching on record to have occurred other than in an El Niño year.

Temperature

“Global surface temperatures were surprisingly warm in the first quarter of 2017. Despite the end of the large 2015/2016 El Niño, temperatures remained high with January, February, and March each being the second warmest on record, after 2016.” –Zeke Hausfather (Continue reading: Worrisome first quarter of 2017 climate trends – Yale Climate Connections).