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 'Planetary emergency' due to Arctic melt, experts warn

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PostSubject: 'Planetary emergency' due to Arctic melt, experts warn   Fri Sep 21, 2012 5:48 pm

'Planetary emergency' due to Arctic melt, experts warn









'Planetary emergency' due to Arctic melt, experts warn


September 20, 2012 by Mariano Andrade

 




Image
of the Norvegian fjord Kongsfjord off the coast of Ny-Alesund in 2010.
Experts have warned of a "planetary emergency" due to the unforeseen
global consequences of Arctic ice melt, including methane gas released
from permafrost regions currently under ice. 



Experts
warned of a "planetary emergency" due to the unforeseen global
consequences of Arctic ice melt, including methane gas released from
permafrost regions currently under ice. 


Columbia
University and the environmental activist group Greenpeace held
separate events Wednesday to discuss US government data showing that the
Arctic sea ice has shrunk to its smallest surface area since
record-keeping began in 1979. 


Satellite
images show the Arctic ice cap melted to 1.32 million square miles (3.4
million square kilometers) as of September 16, the predicted lowest
point for the year, according to data from the National Snow and Ice
Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.


 "Between
1979 and 2012, we have a decline of 13 percent per decade in the sea
ice, accelerating from six percent between 1979 and 2000," said
oceanographer Wieslaw Maslowski with the US Naval Postgraduate School,
speaking at the Greenpeace event. "If this trend continues we will not
have sea ice by the end of this decade," said Maslowski.


While
these figures are worse than the early estimates they come as no
surprise to scientists, said NASA climate expert James Hansen, who also
spoke at the Greenpeace event. 




Graphic showing the extent of Arctic sea ice, at its lowest in September since records began in 1979.

 

"We
are in a planetary emergency," said Hansen, decrying "the gap between
what is understood by scientific community and what is known by the
public."


Scientists
say the earth's climate has been warming because carbon dioxide and
other human-produced gases hinder the planet's reflection of the sun's
heat back into space, creating a greenhouse effect. 


Environmentalists
warn that a string of recent extreme weather events around the globe,
including deadly typhoons, devastating floods and severe droughts, show
urgent action on emission cuts is needed. The extreme weather include
the drought and heat waves that struck the United States in the summer.
One consequence of the melt is the slow but continuous rise in the ocean
level that threatens coastal areas. 



Another
result is the likely release of large amounts of methane—a greenhouse
gas—trapped in the permafrost under Greenland's ice cap, the remains of
the region's organic plant and animal life that were trapped in sediment
and later covered by ice sheets in the last Ice Age. 


Methane
is 25 times more efficient at trapping solar heat than carbon dioxide,
and the released gases could in turn add to global warming, which in
turn would free up more locked-up carbon. "The implications are enormous
and also mysterious," said environmentalist Bill McKibben, co-founder
of 350.org, a global non-governmental organization focused on solving
the climate crisis. 


For
Peter Schlosser, an expert with the Earth Institute at Columbia
University, the impact of the polar ice cap melt is hard to determine
because "the Arctic is likely to respond rapidly and more severely than
other part of the Earth. "The effects of human induced global change are
more and more visible and larger impacts are expected for the future,"
he said. 




Image
provided by Greenpeace shows its ship My Arctic Sunrise north of the
Arctic Circle on September 14. Satellite images show the Arctic ice cap
melted to 1.32 mln sq miles as of September 16, the predicted lowest
point for the year.


 

Some
see the Arctic melt as a business opportunity—a chance to reach the oil
and gas riches under the seabed, and a path for ships to shorten the
distance between ports and saving time and fuel.


According
to the US Geological Survey, within the Arctic Circle there are some 90
million barrels of oil—13 percent of the planet's undiscovered oil
reserves and 30 percent of its undiscovered natural gas. 



The potential bounty that has encouraged energy groups like Royal Dutch Shell Co. to invest heavily in the region. 


Greenpeace
International head Kumi Naidoo says that oil companies have thwarted
governments from taking action to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.
"Why our governments don't take action? Because they have been captured
by the same interests of the energy industry," Naidoo said. 


Anne
Siders, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University's Center for
Climate Change Law, warned against the "temptation" of sending ships
through the area. 



The
new shipping lanes are dangerous to use because there are plenty of ice
floes and little infrastructure for help in case of an accident—which in
turn increases the insurance costs. Another consequence of global
warming is that, as the oceans warm, more cold-water fish move north,
"which means more fish will be taken out of their ecosystem," said
Siders. 



Caroline
Cannon, a leader of the Inupiat community of Alaska, reminded the
participants that her indigenous community, including her nine children
and 25 grandchildren, depend on Arctic fishing and hunting for
survival. 


"My people rely on that ocean and we're seeing dramatic changes," said Cannon. "It's scary to think about our food supply."


Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-09-planetary-emergency-due-arctic-experts.html#jCp

 

comments from site:

This
is politics not science. The seasonal sea ice mass has increased in the
Southern hemisphere - why no mention here? Only a generation ago the
"Planetary Emergency" was that the planet was cooling and the outcry was
that governments were not doing enough to stop it. There were proposals
to spread soot on the ice to make it melt more rapidly. Scare people
enough and you can do anything. Just look at the moron who commented
before this one - conformism mindlessness go together. Science might get
funded this way but it doesn't work this way - stay skeptical - stay
scientific.



Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-09-planetary-emergency-due-arctic-experts.html#jCp

In the 70s, They said there'd be an Ice Age


Thanks to: http://extraterrestrials.ning.com
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