Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Earth Science

Rapid Arctic Melt Called 'Planetary Emergency' 757

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-cool dept.
Freshly Exhumed writes "Drawing on new data released Wednesday by the National Snow and Ice Data Center that the Arctic ice pack has melted to an all time low within the satellite record (video), NASA climate scientist James Hansen has declared the current reality a 'planetary emergency.' As pointed out by Prof. David Barber from the University of Manitoba, 'The thaw this year broke all the records that we had previous to this and it didn't just break them, it smashed them.' So, not sure why your mainstream press isn't covering this story? 'It's hard for the public to realize,' Hansen said, 'because they stick their head out the window and don't see much going on.' Thankfully, some people are noticing, as Bill McKibben's recent Rolling Stone article, Global Warming's Terrifying New Math has gone viral."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Rapid Arctic Melt Called 'Planetary Emergency'

Comments Filter:
  • Press coverage (Score:4, Insightful)

    by crazyjj (2598719) * on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:27AM (#41410025)

    So, not sure why your mainstream press isn't covering this story?

    Uh, I saw this on both the PBS Newshour and CNN yesterday. Not sure how much more "mainstream" you can get (unless you expect People magazine to do a story too). Now, if by "not covering" you mean "aren't running around like Chicken Little alarmists screaming 'WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!'" then that's true, yes. But in a world with much more present and pressing issues like war, hunger, unemployment, recession, etc. you can't very well expect every newspaper to lead with a "Average Global Temps Expected to Rise By 1-2 Degrees Celsius Over the Next 50-100 years" headline.

    Yes, it's noteworthy. Yes, we certainly need to address it. But, no, it's not the kind of thing that has people immediately scared or in present danger, nor the kind of thing that has the press running out with cameras to get the dramatic shot. It's more the long-term story that sort of simmers in the background.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572)
      I like the part about sticking your head out the window only to see that nothing is happening, while all my life I've been told that the ice caps will melt and sea levels will rise a meter or more immediately when it starts, and enough to flood out the US east and west coast for hundreds of miles in eventually. Why is some part of Florida not underwater?
      • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:43AM (#41410233)

        Archimede principle: ice occupy as much space in water as it does once it has melted. The level of the oceans will only raise if inland ice melt such as in Antartica or Groenland.

        • Re:Press coverage (Score:4, Informative)

          by i kan reed (749298) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:54AM (#41410383) Homepage Journal

          Whoops, you just misinformed everyone. Saltwater is more bouyant than freshwater, and due to the nature of how ice appears in the ocean(the evaporate, snow, accumulate cycle) the icebergs and ice shelves that are melting are made of freshwater. The impact is that they actually do raise the sea level more as water than the displacement caused by ice. Now, it is true that it's far less than 1:1 for visible melted ice:sea level rise, but to say there is none is misinformation.

          • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Informative)

            by Chris Mattern (191822) on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:04AM (#41410541)

            The difference between the density of saltware and freshwater is only 2.5%. The level rise would be miniscule; probably not even detectable.

          • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Informative)

            by rtb61 (674572) on Friday September 21, 2012 @11:12AM (#41411347) Homepage

            I assume you are pointing out that when water has salt in solution it is more dense than water without salt in solution. However shallow thinker when you add fresh water to salty water, you do not have fresh water plus salty water, you have slightly less salty water. Sea water while salty is far from saturation point, and salt will not automatically appear in the melty ice to balance out sea water, the two will mix and you will achieve balance, no change in sea level.

            So it has to be ice melt from land. The real problems the scientist are alluding to is a huge rise in methane as a result of thawing permafrost, rotting flood caused debris and rotting storm debris. Huge rises in methane have caused scientists to re-evaluate the nature of the end of the last ice age, rather than being gradual from start to finish. It was gradual in the beginning, the rapidly accelerated due to increased methane levels and the slowed again until it re-stabilised. So whilst the total remains the same rather than slow all the way through, slow, fast, slow is likely more accurately. That fast bit in the middle could be quite destructive as it allows significantly less time to adapt to the changes.

        • by Ecuador (740021)

          Actually. there will be a small rise due to the melting of floating ice: floating ice is mostly fresh-water ice and fresh-water has a higher density than ocean salt water.
          But you are right, most of the rise we are warned about would be due to the melting of grounded ice on Antarctica and Greenland.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by budgenator (254554)

            Except that Antarctic sea-ice [nsidc.org] is about as much above average as Arctic sea-ice is below average, they tend to run counter-cycle to each other; net change is probably nill.

            • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Informative)

              by riverat1 (1048260) on Friday September 21, 2012 @01:11PM (#41412823)

              Actually the Arctic sea ice melt is about three times greater than the increase in Antarctic sea ice. Antarctic sea ice has not increased because it's been getting colder in Antarctica because it hasn't. It's really kind of an interesting and complex explanation.

              One part of the explanation doesn't have much to do with global warming but rather the Antarctic ozone hole. Ozone is a greenhouse gas and the hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica causes the stratosphere to cool. This increases the strength of the circumpolar winds around the continent which pushes the ice around opening up polynyas exposing more open water to subsequently freeze thus expanding the ice area.

              The second part does have to do with global warming. "The Southern Ocean consists of a layer of cold water near the surface and a layer of warmer water below. Water from the warmer layer rises up to the surface, melting sea ice. However, as air temperatures warm, the amount of rain and snowfall also increases. This freshens the surface waters, leading to a surface layer less dense than the saltier, warmer water below. The layers become more stratified and mix less. Less heat is transported upwards from the deeper, warmer layer. Hence less sea ice is melted." The paper on that effect is (Zhang 2007) [washington.edu]

              One other interesting fact, the Antarctic sea ice melts (nearly) completely every year before reforming the next winter as opposed to Arctic sea ice which has multi-year sea ice (for a few more years anyway). The reason being is that the Arctic is an ocean surrounded by continents and the Antarctic is a continent surrounded by ocean.

      • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Informative)

        by hey! (33014) on Friday September 21, 2012 @11:29AM (#41411561) Homepage Journal

        As other have pointed out, melting ice that is is *entirely floating* (important proviso) does not alter the level of the water body it is floating in. Adding water to that body -- in liquid or solid form -- does. So sea level rise is produced entirely by water that is on land (mainly in glaciers or ice sheets) entering the sea.

        But melting sea ice can still raise sea levels through effects on land ice that are indirect but potentially dramatic. The greatest concern in the Arctic is sea ice loss leading to warmer summer temperatures as the Arctic Ocean reflects less summer sunlight back into space. Higher temperatures increase the rate at which land ice enters the sea, for example by glaciers calving icebergs. Since sea ice itself is affected by warmer summer temperatures, you have a positive feedback mechanism that can result in rapid, dramatic changes in the Arctic like we're seeing here.

        As for looking out your window, even a dramatic change in sea level like the half a meter might not look like much on a nice day. The beach that once stretched hundreds of yards from your door might only be ten yards wide. But the big change you'll see isn't in your routine daily view, it's in extreme events. The once-in-a-decade hurricane surge which once would have brought the sea to your doorstep now sweeps your house away. These events will have huge economic impacts. People take note of past flood events, and build right up to a line the reckon is unlikely to get flooded except maybe once in a hundred years. Move the hundred year flood line just ten or twenty meters back and suddenly a lot of stuff is routinely flooded every few years.

        Now I live in Boston, which has a rolling landscape and enormous three meter tides (the record high tide is almost exactly 5m). The way people have built here, ten or twenty centimeters in sea level rise will have little effect on us. A city that is built on flat terrain adjacent to an ocean body with small tides is more vulnerable. Cities like New Orleans or Galveston. On a day to day basis there things would look unchanged from present, but when a big ten year storm rolls through turning everything on its head, the area over which it does that is greatly increased.

    • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:33AM (#41410089) Journal

      But in a world with much more present and pressing issues like war, hunger, unemployment, recession, etc. you can't very well expect every newspaper to lead with a "Average Global Temps Expected to Rise By 1-2 Degrees Celsius Over the Next 50-100 years" headline.

      Or in short "people can't be bothered about long-term problems."

      And it's really too bad because an individual has far more power to do something about global warming than any of those problems you listed.

      • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bondsbw (888959) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:52AM (#41410363)

        And it's really too bad because an individual has far more power to do something about global warming than any of those problems you listed.

        Bullshit.

        You want to know why conservatives push back on global warming? Because the alarmists are claiming just what you are saying, that I (a hard working taxpayer who doesn't have the money to buy a new Prius) needs to go completely out of my way to do something that will make practically ZERO change to the current situation.

        Yet removing one container ship from the shipping industry would be the equivalent of removing 50 million automobiles [gas2.org].

        I heard the other day that our oil exports now exceed our oil imports. My question: why aren't we just using the oil we have, instead of shipping it across the ocean? Economics aside for a minute... this is having a huge impact to global warming, yet I'm the one being blamed?

        • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Insightful)

          by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:00AM (#41410467)

          I as a pretty far lefty must agree. It is like water conservation, consumer water use is practically negligible. This is the only utility I know of the more you buy the cheaper it gets, agriculture pays next to nothing for the water and yet uses the vast majority of it. This means in the end the only lettuce I can buy is the stuff from what should be deserts or the local hydroponic. I do buy the 4x the cost hydroponic stuff because they reuse the water and I am in an area with lots of water. I can understand how you could not afford to buy that food or just would not want to pay that price.

          The problems are even real solutions will involve you paying a little more or waiting a little longer I am ok with that are you?

          Are you ok with paying another $10 on an smartphone or waiting another week to get it because the container ship was wind powered? Or just keeping your "old" phone 1 year longer?

          That is what real change would look like. I am fine with it are you?

          • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Insightful)

            by bondsbw (888959) on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:23AM (#41410791)

            That article I linked talks about wind powered ships. It claims what is probably obvious, that most of the fuel is used near the ports to get the ships up to speed and to slow them down. Another reply below mentions kite-based "hybrid" ships [treehugger.com] that claim to reduce 20% of fuel consumption emissions.

            I'll put these numbers together: 20% savings over 90,000 ships is equivalent to taking 18,000 container ships out of the ocean. That is the equivalent of 900 billion cars. Since there are just over one billion cars in the world [huffingtonpost.ca], I'd say there couldn't be a more obvious solution.

            And these hybrid ships don't cost any more or take longer to sail across the ocean. With $2000 in fuel savings, we could see the price of shipped goods reduced instead of increased.

          • by Zordak (123132) on Friday September 21, 2012 @11:51AM (#41411831) Homepage Journal

            or waiting another week to get it because the container ship was wind powered

            I am interested in this new-fangled "wind" shipping you are championing. How would the ship capture the wind power and convert it to momentum? I'm thinking you could have huge sheets of canvas that could pick up wind pretty easily, but I'm stymied where you go from there. Funnel it into some kind of huge turbine or something? Maybe we'll have the technology for this in 10 to 20 years, but I'm not convinced we have it today. And when we get the technology, doesn't that mean that the ship will be at the mercy of the winds? What will happen if the wind stops? You could have a ship sitting in the middle of the ocean for days, "becalmed" to coin a term, with no way of making forward progress. And what if the Somali pirates got their hands on this cutting-edge technology? Ships could be vulnerable to attack on the high seas. You would almost have to arm the ships with some kind of heavy weaponry to fend off hostiles. Also, what are you going to do about scurvy?

        • Re:Press coverage (Score:4, Insightful)

          by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:13AM (#41410657) Journal

          So you don't like my ideas of individual responsibility and you want to regulate shipping vessels Mr. Conservative? I'm all for it. I'd heard early news of that study on the large container ships and now that the results are in, I agree something has to be done right now.

          As an individual though you have no power to do that, you can only vote and hope a majority supports you, or vote with your dollars which is a good token effort but may be a complete joke in effect.

        • Re:Press coverage (Score:4, Informative)

          by afidel (530433) on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:14AM (#41410677)

          We're exporting finished oil goods and importing crude. One of the biggest reasons for the recent change is that we have VERY cheap natural gas from shale. Mexico is sending crude to US refineries where they are using cheap natural gas to crack the crude into the useful components like gasoline and then they are shipping the finished products back to Mexico. This is more efficient than using some fraction of each barrel to power the cracking process. Since natural gas produces less CO2 per BTU it's also better for the environment even when you account for the transportation. In some instances the invisible hand really does lead to a better solution =)

        • Re:Press coverage (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Burz (138833) on Friday September 21, 2012 @12:14PM (#41412175) Journal

          If you take a little time to read science journals and environmentalist sites on this subject, you'll see that the "alarmists" are actually some of the most respected researchers in climatology. And note they are not focused on telling people to "buy a new Prius". Policy wonks create rebates for things like hybrid cars in large part because they know a huge chunk of their constituency won't reconsider the consumer "growth" lifestyle they inherited from 100-year-old industrial technology.

          yet I'm the one being blamed

          You and I are part of the problem, but the only place I see climatologists and enviros blaming the average consumer is in the results at the polls. The solution requires collective responsibility and so it has to be done in the political sphere. But we keep voting for people who scarcely ever mention the greatest environmental problems.

          (OTOH, someone who believes the solution to global warming is primarily one of individual responsibility then get going and buy that Prius!)

          The statistic you cite refers to refined petroleum products (the US has a very large refining capacity), not crude for which we are still very much in the negative. The problem you point out is one of the downsides of globalization, and enviros are very much in conflict with big industry over the tendency toward excessive shipping.

        • Re:Press coverage (Score:4, Informative)

          by radio4fan (304271) on Friday September 21, 2012 @12:25PM (#41412289)

          Yet removing one container ship from the shipping industry would be the equivalent of removing 50 million automobiles [gas2.org].

          This claim is about SOx and particulate matter, so is concerned with acid rain and smog, not global warming.

        • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Informative)

          by fnj (64210) on Friday September 21, 2012 @12:55PM (#41412637)

          I heard the other day that our oil exports now exceed our oil imports.

          If what you heard is talking about CRUDE oil, which is what counts, then what you heard is WRONG. It is astonishing that anyone would believe such an absurd claim.

          For the 4 week period ending September 14, crude oil trade was:
              imports, 8.986 million barrels per day
              Exports, 0.040 million barrels per day
              Net, 8.946 million barrels per day IMPORTS

          What you heard was probably talking about oil PRODUCTS, which were indeed a net outflow:
              Imports, 2.206 million barrels per day
              Exports, 2.838 million barrels per day
              Net, 0.632 million barrels per day EXPORTS

          reference [eia.gov]

          Oil products are gasoline, blending components, distillates, kerosene, jet fuel, propane, and so on. Almost the entire volume of these products comes from, you guessed it, crude oil. So the USA imports crude oil, processes it, and exports a large proportion of the resulting products. Corporations are making money by importing the raw material (crude oil), refining it and processing it into various products, and selling these products overseas. Economics 101, to be sure, but what it means is that some substantial portion of the USA crude oil imports (far from the major portion, however), are not necessitated by domestic use.

      • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Insightful)

        by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Friday September 21, 2012 @11:34AM (#41411613)

        But in a world with much more present and pressing issues like war, hunger, unemployment, recession, etc. you can't very well expect every newspaper to lead with a "Average Global Temps Expected to Rise By 1-2 Degrees Celsius Over the Next 50-100 years" headline.

        Or in short "people can't be bothered about long-term problems."

        And it's really too bad because an individual has far more power to do something about global warming than any of those problems you listed.

        Yes, but nobody wants to do the one and only thing that we can do to help the situation.

        Because the solution is NOT to use less energy. The solution is to have less kids and lower the population. Individually, I hope that we're all using twice more energy than we use now in the future. Because it'd be great to have that flying car and robot maids. That's the nature of technology, we use more energy to increase our quality of life.

        Environmentally, that's not a problem if the population has decreased to 10% of the current population. Total energy usage will be down.

        Do you want to help the environment and lower your carbon footprint? Stop having kids.

    • Re:Press coverage (Score:4, Informative)

      by arpad1 (458649) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:38AM (#41410153)

      There is another polar ice cap. Anyone know what's happening there with regard to ice coverage?

      Seems to me that if you're telling only half the story you can't possibly be telling more then half the truth.

      If that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rockoon (1252108)
        Well, it sure looks to me like the amount of ice at the other pole has been growing. [uiuc.edu]

        ..the graph, however, only goes to 2008. I am sure someone will reply with data on only part of Antarctica (West Antarctic, or the Antarctic Peninsula) that shows it shrinking rather than growing, but that was also true before 2008, which the graph covers.

        Cherry picking? The world is never short on records being broken. To convince others of your beliefs, simply trumpet those records that support you and dont mention th
        • Well, it sure looks to me like the amount of ice at the other pole has been growing. [uiuc.edu]

          Has the amount of ice on Antarctica doubled in area and doubled in thickness? Has the reflection rate of the ocean there changed from 8% to 98%? Is the growth in Antarctica exponential?

        • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:44AM (#41410999)

          That graph shows that "SEA ICE" has been growing. Antarctica is a continent, AKA Land. So where is the sea ice coming from? Is it calving off the land? That would be bad.

        • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Informative)

          by hey! (33014) on Friday September 21, 2012 @11:55AM (#41411921) Homepage Journal

          The Antarctic is a different situation entirely than the Arctic. Much of the sea ice there is annual, and winter ice doesn't have the effect on local weather that summer ice in the Arctic does.

          In any case climate models do not predict a dramatic change in Antarctic sea ice. The change is predicted to come first in the Arctic then the Antarctic. The reason is that the Arctic ocean is surrounded by land. The Antarctic ocean is surrounded by vast extents of moderating ocean. Region-wide changes under a warming scenario would come to the Arctic before the Antarctic. The Antarctic would see local changes, depending on the prevailing winds.

          This is similar to the situation in temperate continental weather. Under an AGW scenario not every place gets warmer; some get cooler. What you get is a very subtle shift in averages over large areas of the globe punctuated by unusual events like drought and excessive rainfall. If you throw all that into a pot you get a slight change in the global average. It'd be better to call "global warming" "more energetic global climate".

      • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Informative)

        by jovius (974690) on Friday September 21, 2012 @11:52AM (#41411875)

        Ice mass is decreasing while sea ice is increasing. The effects are connected, and both result from the warmer air.

        Antarctica is melting and thus contributing to the total sea level rise - http://www.skepticalscience.com/antarctica-gaining-ice-intermediate.htm [skepticalscience.com]

    • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Interesting)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:54AM (#41410387)

      the kind of thing that has the press running out with cameras to get the dramatic shot

      Until a few years ago, tornadoes were a rare event in New York City, something that happened once in a while and made big news.

      Now, tornadoes are becoming seasonable for New York. Yes, really, it is frequent enough to be considered seasonal, although I suspect the media won't report it that way for another 5 years. To give you an idea, there were two tornadoes in nearby suburbs this year, multiple strong tornadoes in 2010, a tornado in Brooklyn in 2007, and prior to that, one in 2006 in a nearby suburb, and in NYC in 2003, 1995, 1990, 1985, and 1974, and a few very rare ones before that. This is a becoming a clear change in New York City's weather patterns: tornadoes strike in the late summer and early autumn.

      The news has not gotten into a panic over it, probably because it is still being reported as "rare," but it is not really "rare" anymore; it happens, and people in New York City and the nearby areas are going to have to learn how to deal with tornadoes. The tornadoes are also becoming stronger; eventually they will be so strong that the dramatic shots of the storm and the aftermath will be unavoidable.

    • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Insightful)

      by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:07AM (#41410587)

      But in a world with much more present and pressing issues like war, hunger, unemployment, recession, etc. you can't very well expect every newspaper to lead with a "Average Global Temps Expected to Rise By 1-2 Degrees Celsius Over the Next 50-100 years" headline.

      Well, if there is a chance that the average global temperature increase causes more war, hunger, unemployment and recession (the possibility is definitely there), you probably should expect that.

    • Re:Press coverage (Score:4, Insightful)

      by deanklear (2529024) on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:16AM (#41410707)

      But in a world with much more present and pressing issues like war, hunger, unemployment, recession, etc. you can't very well expect every newspaper to lead with a "Average Global Temps Expected to Rise By 1-2 Degrees Celsius Over the Next 50-100 years" headline.

      This is why humanity is doomed. The stresses introduced by shrinking resources, exploding populations, the competition to control fossil fuel reserves, and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns are major causes of war, hunger, and economic distress, but we continue to address the symptoms rather than the disease causing them.

      Bill Hicks said it best: "We are a virus with shoes." And it looks like we're in danger of killing our host.

      • Re:Press coverage (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday September 21, 2012 @12:07PM (#41412087) Homepage

        Humanity isn't doomed at all. Business As Usual is doomed. The old Chinese curse "May you live in interesting times" is likely to become an obvious phenomena. You might see half of the human population (and 90% of everything else) go extinct. But there will still be humans screwing things up (again) for a long, long time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:28AM (#41410031)

    Therefore it isn't happening.

  • balance? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:33AM (#41410093)

    But at the same time Antartic sea ice is being added per http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2012/09/19/antarctic-sea-ice-sets-another-record/

  • Fabulous (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ledow (319597) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:35AM (#41410129) Homepage

    I'm assuming he's a guy with good credentials, held in high-regard, data and conclusions backed up by peer-review, etc.

    Great.

    So what do we do? Because we haven't been able to answer that question for decades and now we NEED to know the answer before we continue, if that's the case.

    As fabulous as all this detective work is, what are we supposed to do about it and what effect does that work have? If it means we have to forgo electricity (say), then maybe we're better off just letting the climate rise and the icecaps melt (for instance). Maybe not. Who knows?

    Because for DECADES people have been shouting doom with no reasonable, practical explanation for it, solution of it, or analysis of the impact of said solutions.

    Let's work from the assumption that I believe you and you're 100% correct. What do we do now?

    • Re:Fabulous (Score:5, Informative)

      by i kan reed (749298) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:44AM (#41410259) Homepage Journal

      Build your own solution [wikipedia.org] there are more than enough options with known and reasonable impacts on global GDP and quality of life. The real problem has been purely political for at least a decade.

      A site with a list of wedges [global-gre...arming.com]

    • by pla (258480)
      Because for DECADES people have been shouting doom with no reasonable, practical explanation for it, solution of it, or analysis of the impact of said solutions.

      And for DECADES, we've heard the answer, over and over, from a variety of groups generally interested in the environment - "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle".

      Now just extend that to the concept of carbon emissions, and you have your answer. Zero landfill, zero emissions.

      The bigger problem, which that doesn't address - We also need zero population grow
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:37AM (#41410143)

    Does anybody watch Real Time with Bill Maher? Just about every republican on the panel has said, with a straight face, that there is no sufficient evidence for global warming being real and/or being man made. That's the real emergency, the fact that we have a bunch of people who outright ignore science. And, it's not like I'm talking about some random Joe off of the street. These are the people that have influence in this country.

  • by Stirling Newberry (848268) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:42AM (#41410203) Homepage Journal
    many of us dependent on a rather thin surface of the hydrosphere, however, are not going to like what happens next.
  • meanwhile.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:47AM (#41410303)

    Antarctic Sea Ice Sets Another Record

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2012/09/19/antarctic-sea-ice-sets-another-record/

    "Antarctic sea ice set another record this past week, with the most amount of ice ever recorded on day 256 of the calendar year (September 12 of this leap year)."

  • Then again... (Score:3, Informative)

    by wcrowe (94389) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:49AM (#41410329)

    Then again, there is this article [theregister.co.uk] from the Register today.

    Nobody knows for sure what is really going on. The satellite record is too short for us to know if this is an extraordinary event, or part of a normal cycle.

  • by BoRegardless (721219) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:55AM (#41410409)

    It was such a horrible event...All civilizations which used all that land are now gone...under water.

    Well, it took tens of thousands of years and we lost coastline, but gained almost all of Canada and the Northern US, Europe and Asia back from a deep ice sheet to usable land, so I guess we lost some land and gained some land.

    I get a feeling I am being force fed a media manipulation based on our individual lifetime experiences rather than the long long term cycles that man can not affect in more than tiny ways. Man certainly has not affected the prior 2 dozen major worldwide ice age cycles.

    • by ledow (319597)

      Especially when nature has things like volcanos (whose dust cover can easily drop sunlight strength in whole regions by orders of magnitude), vegetation (anyone with an interest can find out that were they lived used to be either a) uninhabitable, b) huge forests that were burning dying off and regrowing for millennia before we ever lit a match) and all sorts of other nasties (not to mention things like solar storms and external factors - hell the dust from a meteorite is believed to be what blocked out so

  • by TheWoozle (984500) on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:00AM (#41410463)

    "The planet will be fine. WE'RE fucked."

  • by Necron69 (35644) <[jscott.farrow] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:16AM (#41410705)

    Hey, maybe we could stop burning so much coal and switch to lower-CO2 emitting natural gas? Oh wait, we already did.

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2012/08/in-a-surprise-co2-emissions-hit-20-year-low/1#.UFx1MI2PVkY [usatoday.com]

    Or maybe we could raise the gas mileage requirements on cars?

    http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/rick-newman/2012/08/27/tough-government-gas-mileage-rules-good-for-drivers-auto-industry [usnews.com]

    Anyone who thinks we aren't doing _anything_ isn't paying attention. Personally, however, I won't think we are serious until we start building newer, safer, CO2-free nuclear power plants. If you don't support more nuclear power, you aren't serious about stopping Global Warming, and you haven't studied the problem enough. Yes, I'm looking at you, Greenpeace.

    Necron69

  • by phrackwulf (589741) on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:31AM (#41410869) Homepage

    Is that if you look at this thread you see that a supposedly somewhat technical audience cannot even agree on the relative characteristics and density of sea water vs. fresh water let alone the ultimate fate of the planet. You need to get more granular on this issue. If I need to build dikes to keep New York from becoming the littoral version of "Rapture" from Bioshock that is something you need to let us, the Engineer's know. Other than that. Suck it up princess.

    Just try getting this crowd to agree on a Friday night pizza topping.

  • by RichMan (8097) on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:38AM (#41410933)

    0) all 40 major climate models are in agreement and new tweaks over last couple of years do not adjust any of them significantly
    1) previously assumed 2'C crisis point is looking bad. Current conditions indicate 1'C is likely edge of strange world. We are at 0.8'C now.
    2) 265 GT of carbon release will get us to 2'C point
    3) 2,795 GT of carbon in known preserves slated for exploitation

    why does it matter -->>
    In the course of this month, a quadrillion kernels of corn need to pollinate across the grain belt, something they can't do if temperatures remain off the charts. Just like us, our crops are adapted to the Holocene, the 11,000-year period of climatic stability we're now leaving... in the dust.

In any formula, constants (especially those obtained from handbooks) are to be treated as variables.

Working...