Age old ice melting –
People all across the globe are worried about climate change. The scientific community paying attention to the phenomena stretches across borders, continents and oceans.
In one example of such a partnership, a cooperative effort between the U.S. and Germany detected that the size of the Antarctic ice sheet has decreased significantly.
According to the government site, (3/3/06) USINFO.STATE.COM, quote,
U.S, German Effort Detects Large Loss of Antarctic Ice Mass
NASA satellites help measure entire ice sheet for the first time
Washington — Scientists conducting the first gravity survey of the entire Antarctic ice sheet found the ice sheet’s mass decreased significantly from 2002 to 2005. The scientists based their findings on data from the joint NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE).
Isabella Velicogna and John Wahr, both from the University of Colorado, demonstrated for the first time that Antarctica’s ice sheet has lost a significant amount of mass since the launch of GRACE in 2002, according to a March 2 NASA press release.
“What is unique about what we’ve found,” Velicogna said, “is that for the first time we’re able to get a number for the entire ice sheet … [and] we’re able to say we are sure that the Antarctic ice sheet is losing mass, and at a significant rate.”
Because ice sheets are a large source of uncertainty in projections of sea-level change, the GRACE survey is an important step toward more accurate prediction.
The estimated mass loss was enough to raise global sea level about 1.2 millimeters during the survey period – about 13 percent of the overall observed rise in sea level for the same period.
Nature reacts to greenhouse gasses – In Canada global warming is having an effect on the forests. This is yet another example of what seems to be incontrovertible evidence that the earth is rapidly getting warmer. The (3/1/06) Washington Post has this report about the spread of a very destructive beetle associated with warmer temperatures. To quote,
Millions of acres of Canada’s lush green forests are turning red in spasms of
death. A voracious beetle, whose population has exploded with the warming
climate, is killing more trees than wildfires or logging. The mountain pine
beetle has infested an area three times the size of Maryland, devastating swaths
of lodgepole pines and reshaping the future of the forest and the communities in it.
“It’s pretty gut-wrenching,” said Allan Carroll, a research scientist at the Pacific
Forestry Centre in Victoria, whose studies tracked a lock step between warmer winters and the spread of the beetle. “People say climate change is something for our kids to worry about. No. It’s now.”
Scientists fear the beetle will cross the Rocky Mountains and sweep across the northern continent into areas where it used to be killed by severe cold but where winters now are comparatively mild. Officials in neighboring Alberta are setting fires and traps and felling thousands of trees in an attempt to keep the beetle at bay.
No easy answers – In a recent survey people in the United Kingdom said they would reluctantly accept more use of nuclear power if it would help to tackle the climate change problem. The United States will surely have to confront the same energy questions as the earth warming crisis gets worse. Medical News Today, carried an article (1/20/06) from which I quote,
The British public sees the need to tackle climate change: but only reluctantly accepts nuclear power as a part of the solution, overwhelmingly preferring renewables and energy efficiency. As the Government next week begins its major review on the future of energy, an extensive survey published today (17th January) of the British public’s attitudes towards future energy options shows that just over 50% may be prepared to accept new nuclear power stations if it would help to tackle climate change. But few actively prefer the nuclear option over alternatives such as renewable sources and greater energy efficiency. Most people believe that promoting renewable energy sources (78%), and reducing energy use through lifestyle changes and energy efficiency (76%) are better ways of tackling climate change than nuclear power.
Dire warnings – Someone near and dear to me recently sent me an e-mail with this article on climate change. His short accompanying message was this: “And this makes me feel even more happy with our gov. They are determined to destroy – oops – I meant rule the world.” Here is a quote from the Observer article he sent,
climate change will destroy us • Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war• Britain will be ‘Siberian’ in less than 20 years • Threat to the world is greater than terrorism.
by Mark Townsend and Paul Harris in New York. Sunday February 22, 2004\
Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters. A secret report, suppressed by US
defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.
The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.
‘Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,’ concludes the Pentagon analysis. ‘Once again, warfare would define human life.’
The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority.
The report was commissioned by influential Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall, who has held considerable sway on US military thinking over the past three decades. He was the man behind a sweeping recent review aimed at transforming the American military under Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Pentagon Report results – Suppressing the report was not successful, because it came out in the Observer. The best the administration could do was hope that the mainstream media would not focus on it for very long, and it seems that has worked pretty well. Here are a couple of stories about the aftermath of the Observer story.
MSNBC closes its February 26 article on the report with this,
The Pentagon think tank, for its part, paid $100,000 for the report but said it was not satisfied and would not forward it to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
The San Francisco Chronicle ran this story on February 25 which probably clarifies why the story has, for all practical purposes, died.
A Pentagon-commissioned report by two Bay Area futurologists has sparked an international brouhaha over possible climate change disasters. But both the authors and military officials say the study has been largely misconstrued by the media and environmentalists. . .
The U.S. news media picked up the story early this week. The result was headlines like this one in a Sacramento newspaper: “Pentagon Warning of a New Ice Age.”
All of which is annoying both to Pentagon officials and to Schwartz, who is best known as co-author of the 1999 book “The Long Boom,” which painted a rosy picture of the world’s future economy.
One big problem: both the Emeryville futurologists and Pentagon officials stress the report’s scary-sounding projections are highly improbable and extremely unlikely, as Schwartz said Tuesday. Singling out The Observer for criticism, Schwartz emphasized the report is “not a suppressed secret report, it is not a prediction of imminent (doom). … They got it all wrong.”
All that Schwartz and Randall did was to investigate the “worst-case” possible events, those that are highly unlikely to happen but, if they did happen, would be catastrophic, especially in their impacts on U.S. military operations — “low probability, high impact” events, as they are known in the futurological world.
Read it and weep – No matter how hard the current administration tries, the facts of climate change are there and mostly undisputed, except by our current president and his staff. Burying our collective heads in the sand will not make the problem disappear. Changing the name of the problem from “global warming” to “climate change” will not change the scientific facts. Dismissing predictions of what very bad things might come of global warming is a temporary fix.
So we will all be like Scarlett O’Hara, “I can’t think about that right now. If I do, I’ll go crazy. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”