Ice-free arctic in 23 years, and polar bear extinction?

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32 Responses to “Ice-free arctic in 23 years, and polar bear extinction?”

  1. Robert says:

    One thing which often gets overlooked…

    The single most effective way to combat global warming is simply to adopt a vegetarian diet, or at least limit meat consumption (particularly beef). According a study last year from the United Nations, more greenhouse gasses are created by raising animals for food than by all cars and trucks in the world combined.

    “Rearing Cattle Produces More Greenhouse Gases Than Driving Cars, UN Report Warns”
    http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=20772&Cr=global&Cr1=environment

    According to another study from the University of Chicago, a person who enjoys a vegetarian diet saves the equivalent of 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide per year from being dumped into the atmosphere. A person can do more for the environment by switching to a vegetarian diet than by switching from an SUV to a Prius (which saves about 1.0 tons of CO2 per year).

    “It’s better to green your diet than your car”
    http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/mg18825304.800-its-better-to-green-your-diet-than-your-car.html

  2. Lester Reales says:

    Robert, I think you may be mis-interpreting the articles that you linked to. Nowhere do they claim that going vegetarian is “the single most effective way” of reducing your carbon footprint, though from the way that they frame the issue, one might very well come away with that impression. The New Scientist article makes a comparison between the carbon reductions from switching to a hybrid car and going vegetarian. These are only two of many ways to reduce your personal carbon emissions. Many people can accomplish larger reductions more easily just by improving the energy efficiency of their home, or reducing their air travel.

    I agree with you on the issue of personal responsibility, but unfortunately no amount of evangelizing is going to get most people to change their habits. As long as people are able to cause environmental damage without personally feeling any repercussions, the tragedy of the commons is here to stay.

    The only way that change is going to happen on a societal level is to introduce policies that modify people’s incentives, so that the environmental costs are built into the costs they incur for everyday activities. So if the cost of beef or airplane fuel is increased to include the cost of the damage that they’ll produce by contributing to climate change, people will reduce their consumption.

    Some people think it should be a tax, and others say cap-and-trade, but I think that the best policy option here is pretty clear. We should feed all of the top carbon emitters to the polar bears.

    -lessreal

  3. liquis says:

    When the article says that the ice caps will melt in 23 years, i think it’s not taking into consideration the logarithmic acceleration that seems to be happening; the rate at which the ice is melting is increasing. Or, they dont have the right forumla down and are underestimating the self-feeding snowball effect that is happening due to the release and near-future release of methane in permafrost. So, for example next summer, theyll be saying 19 years, then the summer after, 15 years, etc.

  4. Thingamadad says:

    Does someone have an up-to-date projection of sea level elevation increases?

  5. Anonymous says:

    #2
    1) Could be, your bet to make. Scuentists not being paid by petro companies say it is real. Choose for yourself.

    * Actually scientist are being paid, and more:

    Scientists who use climate change to explain environmental changes improve their chances of getting research grants from foundations, corporations, and US government programs that budget $6.5 billion for global warming in 2007. They also increase the likelihood of getting headlines and quotes in news stories: “Climate change threatens extinction of rare frogs, scientists say.” Climate disaster skeptics face an uphill battle on grants, headlines and quotes.

    Politicians get to grandstand green credentials, cement relationships with activists who can support reelection campaigns and higher aspirations, transform $14-billion in alternative energy pork into ethical planetary protection, and promote policies that otherwise would raise serious eyebrows.

    http://www.townhall.com/columnists/PaulDriessen/2007/02/06/global_warming_ethics,_pork_and_profits?page=full&comments=true

  6. Anonymous says:

    Everyone here should search out and watch ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’. It was a BBC documentary and can be found in 8 parts on youtube.

    Credible science that strongly shows global warming is not man made in nature.

    Should we still do all we can to avoid pollution. Of course.

    But when people like Lester say things like:

    “The only way that change is going to happen on a societal level is to introduce policies that modify people’s incentives, so that the environmental costs are built into the costs they incur for everyday activities. So if the cost of beef or airplane fuel is increased to include the cost of the damage that they’ll produce by contributing to climate change, people will reduce their consumption,”

    we need to look to the issues covered in that documentary and realize that making such policies based on junk science is a very bad idea.

  7. Kayin says:

    Robert : The vegetarian diet argument is a fairly weak point. While it is true that food production has a heavy effect on the environment, food production will continue regardless of your individual diet. When you consider that there are perhaps 5 billion people in the world who rely on food manufacturing, minus those who are already vegetarians and those who are self sufficient in production, that’s quite a number to attempt to convert to a different diet, at least enough of a conversion to make changes in the way we produce food, not to mention production of other goods that end up sitting on shelves un-purchased.

  8. Anonymous says:

    If you’re reading the posts in order, this one comes right after the one on disaster capitalism… hmmm…

    Organic veggies anyone? Only 200% markup!

  9. Anonymous says:

    > 1) Could be, your bet to make. Scuentists not
    > being paid by petro companies say it is real.
    > Choose for yourself.

    Hey, the question is not whether global warming is real or not (well, it is easily provable that it is occuring – just like the ice ages and warmer periods between them).

    The real question is if the global warming is man-made or not. And there are some serious facts which don’t quite fit the current theories (well, maybe yet…).

    But let’s leave that aside.
    I know that journalists thrive on sensation, but alarmistic tone of these excerpts just goes too far.

    After all, there was a period in the Middle Ages when the Vikings were able to colonize south of Greenland, because it was FREE OF ICE!

    And the fact that there w2ere periods not so far in the past when the average temperature was actually higher than currently is confirmed by the Vostok ice core analysis.

  10. darkbhudda says:

    I find it funny with these stories coming out that at the same time we have people who believe these stories then set out to prove it and get their boats stuck in the ice which is supposedly not there or getting frostbite from the cold weather that’s supposedly not happening.

  11. 13enster says:

    I don’t think it really matters what we do in the U.S. at this point. I think it would require a reduction in greenhouse gases from present levels to save the polar ice cap. In other words, we need to scrub more CO2 from the air than we make. It would kill our economy even trying to balance out domestic greenhouse gas emissions, to say nothing of the amount being churned out by all those coal-burning power plants with zero pollution controls in places such as China.

    The best indication that the ice caps are toast is the rapid increase in entrepreneurial interest in arctic oil and shipping across the northwest passage. The environment is going to change. It is going to suck. A lot of people in 3rd world countries are going to die. As a species, we will survive, but the herd is definitely going to thin.

  12. waugsqueke says:

    Nick, as someone who firmly believes that global warming is a natural climactic cycle and not a human caused event, I agree with you that the lifestyle changes we as humans should make are worthwhile to do, regardless of their supposed impact on global warming. I can certainly see the benefits of reduced air pollution and cleaner fuel alternatives, less reliance on foreign energy interests, etc. We should be doing those things anyway.

  13. phasor3000 says:

    The worst case scenario if the world’s scientific community is wrong is that we make necessary changes to our lifestyles, changes any rational person would recognize as inevitable anyway, unless we want to live in a world that looks and smells like LA in Blade Runner.

    Nick, the magnitude of changes that would be required to truly arrest global warming in time, assuming that humans are causing this dramatic acceleration as these articles imply, would be so large (much larger than those required to simply reduce pollution) that they would very likely cause a worldwide economic depression. Which is still the lesser of two evils compared to total ecological collapse, but it’s not something that should be taken lightly, especially since they would involve some degree of coercion by the government, e.g. banning all vehicles with mileage less than X mpg, restricting home electric consumption to Y kw, not allowing air travel for non-essential purposes such vacations, book readings, TV appearances, etc.

  14. nick says:

    #2 “Scientists who use climate change to explain environmental changes improve their chances of getting research grants from foundations, corporations, and US government programs that budget $6.5 billion for global warming in 2007.”

    All funding is not the same. A university scientist or a scientist who has gotten a grant from some unaligned institution is very different from one who is funded directly by a gas company, don’t you think?

    But OK, point taken: everyone has to earn a living. The real question is, what about the fact that scientists who think climate change isn’t man-made are in the minority? Do you really feel confident enough in your opinion to buck the worldwide scientific community? They can’t ALL be bucking for space in the New York Times.

    #13 “The magnitude of changes that would be required to truly arrest global warming in time, assuming that humans are causing this dramatic acceleration as these articles imply, would be so large (much larger than those required to simply reduce pollution) that they would very likely cause a worldwide economic depression.”

    I don’t think that’s true. Economic imperatives shift, and economies adjust. It’s not possible to change entire economies overnight, as you’re seemingly suggesting, and even if it were, if a depression is the “lesser of two evils” as you say, wouldn’t logic dictate that we take that route?

    People are always predicting recessions and depressions whenever any change is suggested. Obviously, changes need to be made intelligently and judiciously.

    Why can’t the gas companies reinvest in new energy technologies? Given the fact that oil and gas deposits are going to run out eventually, why not start phasing them out now? Or should we wait for them to run out and then try to cope with all the unemployed oil company workers when that happens?

    Things ARE going to change. Are we going to be ahead of the curve, or behind it, that’s the question.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Dear American Press, welcome to 5 years ago

  16. Robert says:

    Kayin,

    Your point is taken, but the same reasoning could be used to abdicate any personal responsibility for any form of conservation.

    “Why shouldn’t I drive a huge SUV when there are billions of other cars on the road? Why shouldn’t I heat my home to 80 degrees in the winter when there are factories in China belching pollution and CO2 into the air? As one person I can’t do anything.”

    Lifestyle change is hard. The problem with global warming is that it’s a classic “tragedy of the commons.” Individuals have little direct incentive to change their behavior when everyone else can continue to act wastefully with impunity.

    At the same time, I believe that we each have a personal responsibility to act responsibility. When the ice caps do melt, I want to be able to tell my grandkids that I did what I could.

    Going vegetarian is one way — and, according to these articles, the single most effective way — of minimizing our individual contribution to greenhouse gasses.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I will miss Polar Bears :(

  18. imipak says:

    If you’re reasonably au fait with the scientific background to these and similar stories, here’s a very interesting paper by Hansen, Sato, Kharecha, Russell, Lea and Siddall:

    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2007/2007_Hansen_etal_2.pdf

    (If you don’t recognise the names, suffice to say they’re not cranks.) The paper summarises the case for the IPCC having incorrectly discounted the probability of major ice-sheet loss and hence sea-level rise, due to their neglect of an important feedback loop. (Melting ice is much darker than frozen ice, so as soon as the surface of a glacier starts to melt, it absorbs more of the incoming solar radiation, which leads it to melt more…) If you’re allergic to the science you can skim the technical paragraphs, just watch for words like “catastrophic” or “unprecedented”.

    I seem to have forwarded this paper to dozens of people since I read it. Scary stuff, and spooky that I read it last week, then all this stuff about ice-sheet melting turns up… :o

    Oh yeah, an RealClimate is very good as well:
    http://www.realclimate.org

    …although their concept of what the intelligent layperson can cope with in terms of science is a little over-optimistic.

  19. imipak says:

    Re: #22:

    “The Great Global Warming Swindle” was the biggest troll perpetuated by the mass media since Orson Welles.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/03/swindled/

  20. Anonymous says:

    The most definite solution to these problems is a significant reduction in the human population. Slow the birth rate until it is lower than the death rate. Only then will we have a chance for continued survival & the planet may finally have an opportunity to heal itself. Fewer humans = fewer resources needed to feed/house them & fewer pollutants created as a result. Pretty much any problem caused by humans can be solved by having less of them around. ~ Evil Jim

  21. Anonymous says:

    Polar bears survived the last super-hot era, back when the Sahara was a jungle.

    The term “global” warming is simply crazy, since some places are getting hotter (arctic) while others are getting colder (antarctic). Tropical rainforests as well as forrest cover in the USA are INCREASING, partly due to fertilization with the world’s best plant fertilizer: carbon dioxide.

    If the ice melts, we can take plastic waste and mold it into millions of city-block sized floating islands so the poor little monsters who kill people for sport and so must be hunted to stop kids in small towns from getting malled. Their population is RISING.

    http://blog.davidjanes.com/:entry:davidjanes-2006-11-19-0000/

    If the oceans rise, for 1/100 the cost of cutting carbon dioxide emissions before we finally develop fusion energy, huge solar or nuclear powered pumps could move water from ocean to Sahara quite easily in 100 years. [New nuclear designs are much safer...they use pellets that a simple lever can disperse if anything goes wrong and they are easier to store since the pellets wont corrode or leak...ever.]

    It’s *so* weird how the public’s trust of the media and academic establishment (now highly Leftist) waxes and wanes, just like skirt lines. It’s like we’ve swung back to the 1950s when both left and right simply believe what they are told by their leaders and various left or right slanting media.

    The carbon dioxide concentration LAGS the temperature record. Why? It takes time for the ocean to heat up and thus release carbon dioxide, just like a bottle of beer.

    Why were there dinosaurs that flew which were the size of jet airplanes? Because there was massive amounts of oxygen in the air compared to today. That’s animal fuel (“fertilizer”). Now that there is increasing carbon dioxide, a few genetically optimized fuel crops or things like hemp (what the original American flag and the constitution were made from) could be planted which suck up twice as much carbon dioxide, and provide all manner of resources.

    It’s obvious that cutting *back* on CO2 output is very political, for that is the unabashed goal of the Far Left, who wants us to turn back to nature, away from industrialization itself. I mean look at what the marxist academia did to the Art World. Literal piles of junk placed next to Rembrants in museums with mumbo jumbo explanations. What they did to the art world they want to do to the rest of the world. Destroy it! Why do dreadlocked and multi-pierced stoners hate SUVs? It’s isn’t to save the world. It’s envy!

    - Nik, Ph.D. (Chemistry, Harvard/Columbia)

  22. Ken Snider says:

    Seriously.

    Let’s assume for the moment that some event transpires that removes all credibility from “deniers” that global warming is occurring, and that it will have significant impact on civilization (due to climate patterns, sea level, etc).

    This is independent of whether or not it’s “manmade”. Let’s further postulate that the majority of scientists believe we can *do something* about it.

    Do you really think the economy would collapse as the world changes directions? You don’t think that there would be an *explosion* of new development, high-skill manufacturing, and industry refit, all creating jobs, as the world wakes up to this new reality?

    I don’t know about you, but if *I* lived in New York in that new reality, and came to the realization that yes, large swaths of Manhattan could be underwater soon, I’d be willing to support green initiatives, green power, etc.

    Up here in Toronto, I’ve changed over to Bullfrog Power, a company that provides carbon-free power (from wind and low-impact hydroelectric). Does it cost more? Some. Would this be mitigated by economies of scale if projects like theirs exploded in popularity? Probably.

    I was shocked to find out how many materials are easier to recycle and reuse, than remanufacture from raw materials – the problem, again, is scale – if this was a global effort, the amount of energy and funds required to think “cradle to cradle” would eventually be less than the old “cradle to grave” thinking method.

    The economy didn’t collapse when the Western world shifted to making weapons of war and rationing during the world wars. But it *did* collapse when people/corporations/governments were unprepared for the change brought on by the end of those wars. I postulate that the same could be said of the global economy in this case – preparedness will result in *more* economic activity, not less, and getting caught with our collective economic pants down *is* a very possible result if the change isn’t made in time.

  23. mpb says:

    It doesn’t much matter why the drastic environmental changes have been happening out here for the past 10-15 years or why no one else has noticed.

    It does matter why we have not been able to get the tundra-tea roots perspective to meet up with resources to continue adaptive communities.

    If you would like to monitor the ice
    Where is… Bethel ice pack – http://ykalaska.wordpress.com/2007/03/26/where-is-bethel-ice-pack/

    or Where is… next transport hub of the world – http://ykalaska.wordpress.com/2007/07/26/where-is-transport-hub-of-the-world/

  24. Rod says:

    Our problem is not one of awareness, but one of recalcitrance. On the one hand we have unabated demand for products which create harmful emissions (from high-polluting cars to excessive beef and dairy consumption) by consumers to self-absorbed to believe that even their role as a single individual is contributing to the problem. On the other hand we have suppliers of said products who either refuse to contemplate reducing their profits (as carmakers do) or refuse to learn a new trade or skill (as in dairy and beef farmers). The result is the inevitable need for regulation, and increasing elimination of the problem through legal means. Sadly, for all the complaining the Heartland does about candidates not doing enough for them, the supply problem begins there. Equally sad is the fact that for all the complaining that the Coasts engage in about the assault on the Middle Class, the demand problem begins there.

    Unless the government requires farmers to switch to organic farming, carmakers to have better fuel economy standards, and Americans make it a point not only to use less energy, but drive less, and stay away from beef and dairy, we are doomed to failure.

    It’s a very sad age indeed…

  25. yurei says:

    I’ve got two lines of thought on this:

    1. Global warming could just be part of the natural cycle of environmental changes on this planet [a planet which we still know very little about despite scientific claims].

    -and-

    2. If global warming is man-made, who’s willing to give up their plush, luxurious automobiles to save the polar bears? For that matter who’s willing to halt production of products which contribute to *possible* man-made global warming elements through pollution and greenhouse gas? Products which would likely include plastics used in the construction of the computer you’re reading this on.

  26. Anonymous says:

    - Nik, Ph.D. (Chemistry, Harvard/Columbia)

    IDIOT!

  27. Anonymous says:

    Great, lots of Global Warming Deniers. And what do they site? One, a “Townhall.com” article. Anyone whose ever been t that site should know not to take anything written there seriously. As for “The Great Global Warming Swindle” (which aired on Channel 4, not BBC) much of that has been discredited as well. I suggest downloading this article from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

    http://www.csiro.au/resources/pfxg.html

  28. Anonymous says:

    Yurei-

    1) Could be, your bet to make. Scuentists not being paid by petro companies say it is real. Choose for yourself.

    2) I suspect nobody is. We’re doomed (as a civilization, not as a species).

  29. nick says:

    I never understood the “what if global warming isn’t really happening?” argument.

    The worst case scenario if the world’s scientific community is wrong is that we make necessary changes to our lifestyles, changes any rational person would recognize as inevitable anyway, unless we want to live in a world that looks and smells like LA in Blade Runner.

    Whereas the worst-case scenario if climate change IS happening and we do nothing about it involves a lot worse than the extinction of polar bears, as tragic as that would be. Care to gamble on that, for the sake of your SUV? I wouldn’t.

  30. Spenser says:

    Here’s the part I find interesting:
    “..levels of sea ice in the region now stand at a record low”

    Record low. Hmm, so we have records for sea ice since sea ice has existed?

  31. nick says:

    I think “since records have been kept” was clearly implied here. You know, like when presidential approval ratings are discussed, everyone understands that Gallup polls didn’t exist in 1789.

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