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NOTE: Expecting FishOutofWater to serve up one of his usual spectacular Thurs. diaries on this week's report on the rapid decrease of Arctic ice levels, but wanted to give a quick heads up on yesterday's Greenpeace meeting in NYC,  which brought together climate scientists and activists to declare the impact of the decline in arctic sea level a planetary emergency.

(Thursday, September 20, 2012. Combined Sources.)

At a Greenpeace International meeting yesterday, which engaged climate scientists in discussions on actions to address the unprecedented loss of Arctic ice cover due to rising levels of GHGs, NASA scientist James Hansen said runaway climate change has forced us into a "planetary emergency."

"There's a huge gap between what is understood by the scientific community and what is known by the public," NASA scientist James Hansen said, adding that he believed, "unfortunately, that gap is not being closed."


According to the panel, humans are "really running out of time" to prevent atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations from reaching levels that would precipitate runaway climate change. Hansen warned that even maintaining current concentrations of approximately 390 parts per million for several centuries "guarantees disaster."

The meeting coincided with the release yesterday of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) findings which revealed that this month's Arctic ice cover is now 50% of what it was in 1979.

"I am shit scared," said Kumi Naidoo, head of Greenpeace International.  "What happens in the Arctic doesn't stay in the Arctic."

(For more on yesterday's meeting, see Arctic Sea Ice Levels Hit Record Low, Scientists Say We're 'Running Out Of Time')

Carolyn Cannon, whose opposition to Arctic oil exploration earned her the 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize, attended yesterday's New York meeting from Point Hope, Alaska, a small Inupiat village on the state's northern slope.

While environmental policy wonks, journalists, and scientists hash out the finer points of computer glacier modeling, carbon pricing programs, and renewable energy subsidies, Cannon is heading home to a more immediate issue: What to do with a freshly hunted whale now that the old ice cellar has melted away?

"It takes like fifty refrigerators to keep a whale!" she laments. "Our people rely on that ocean. And we've seen some dramatic changes." How Many Refrigerators Does It Take to Store a Whale?

Greenpeace International today released Arctic melting: the science behind the ice, an interview with NSIDC scientist Dr Julienne Stroeve and Nick Toberg, an ice scientist at Cambridge University, both of whom are aboard Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise ship.

Both discuss the implications of the unprecedented Arctic melt as it jettisons us into "uncharted territory," in what Kumi Naidoo has described as "the defining environmental battle of our era."

Some excerpts:

Why is this year so different, has it been particularly warm, like in 2007 when the previous record was set?

Julienne: This summer the weather was not particularly warm or conducive to ice loss, yet 2012 shattered the 2007 minimum. This tells me that the ice was likely very thin and vulnerable to melting out even under more normal weather conditions. As the Arctic loses more of its store of old, thick ice, it is being replaced with thinner first year ice, which is more prone to melting out each summer. While natural climate variability makes it difficult to predict if a new record low will be set again next summer, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Arctic is in a new climate state with more seasonal ice loss each summer.


What is the long-term picture?

Nick: If the remaining 4 million sq. km of sea ice disappear in summer, that would equate to adding 20 years worth of CO2 to the atmosphere (at today’s levels of CO2 emissions). In the 1970s, we had 8 million sq. km of summer sea ice, so it has halved in the last 30 years.

Julienne: If we keep warming the atmosphere, the Arctic could be ice free in the summer by 2030. While natural climate variability could increase ice levels temporarily for a few years, it is on a downward long-term trend. This year is significant – we’re on the extreme end of current climate models. Our observation is that sea ice decline is happening much faster than most of the new IPCC models.


How do you think the world will respond?

Nick: It’s disturbing that we have changed the face of the planet in a way we can visually see. But people won’t really change until it affects them on a day to day level.

Julienne: I hope that this year’s sea ice loss will have an impact on the US government and change thinking.

Yesterday's event in New York was one of many side events scheduled to coincide with the UN 67th General Assembly, which began September 18 and runs through September 2013.

Among the many highly significant environmental issues on the agenda are the reframing of the Millennium Development Goals (scheduled to expire in 2015 - see also Students Can Save the World: Annual Conference Focuses on Sustainable Development) into Sustainable Development Goals; sustainable development and the outcomes of Rio+20; and climate change and food security.

The Greenpeace Meeting is also part of its Save the Arctic Campaign, which launched to much fanfare in conjunction with Rio+20 and proposed gathering over 1 million signatures to proclaim the Arctic region a refuge from drilling, over-fishing and development. (See Arctic Scroll Project.)

Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 04:03 AM PDT.

Also republished by J Town.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Storms on My Grandchildren (8+ / 0-)

    I bought the book probably 2 years ago & finally opened it & started reading, I'm around 100 pages in.

    It's something everone should read IMO.

  •  I braved the comments section of a yahoo (5+ / 0-)

    story on the record melt of arctic ice. The first comment I came across is "if all this arctic ice is melting why isn't there more flooding of low lying areas." One courageous soul said "take a glass of water, throw some ice cubes in and measure the water level before and after the ice has melted. You'll find the same level." He actually was hit with dozens of thumbs down.

    "I smoke. If this bothers anyone, I suggest you look around at the world in which we live and shut your fuckin' mouth." --- Bill Hicks

    by voroki on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 04:45:59 AM PDT

  •  This hurts, but what else is new (4+ / 0-)

    with cowards refusing to help when the earth is hurting.

    Thanks, boatsie.

    "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

    by Onomastic on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 04:58:46 AM PDT

  •  until we recoil in horror at the idea of someone (4+ / 0-)

    flying from northern Alaska to NY NY to attend a meeting we don't have a chance. If every drill rig in the arctic stopped drilling tomorrow it would have zero affect on our production of green house gasses. We burn oil. If we don't get it one place we get it another.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 05:12:49 AM PDT

  •  When my son lived in Alaska (4+ / 0-)

    he commented often on the loss of sea ice, melting glaciers and the impact it was having on the Inuit people.  Much of the native hunting depended on sea ice.  Ice came later, did not stay as long and in many places was dangerously thin.  

    The past several years the Iditarod was started in front of the Anchorage Fur Exchange as usual, but snow had to be brought in by dump truck in to cover the street for a couple of blocks for a fake "TV start" of the race.   Then the sleds and dog teams had to be trucked out to Eagle Lake so the actual race could start.  

    The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand. - Sun Tzu

    by Otteray Scribe on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 06:02:26 AM PDT

    •  it is comments like this that need to recevie (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Otteray Scribe

      HUGE following.  

      I recall years back when my daughter first started loving snowboarding ... part of the reasons she chose to colleges she did was for their snowboard teams and access to fine sno.

      In both cases (Oregon and Colorado) in 2003 and 2010, the snows jsut didn't come the way they did before.

      It is so shocking to hear her talk now about the end of snowboarding and decision to return to surfing ...

      Not like I would ever say I told you so. Back in 2003 it was just too hard to even verbalize.

  •  Should be written in the past tense (4+ / 0-)

    As in "humans have run out of time".  Hansen is pretty clear that we should have been addressing this before we reached 350 ppm CO2, not as we see it receding in the rear view mirror.

    We are on our way to a new Eocene, when the global temperature was much warmer and tropical plants and animals flourished above the Arctic circle.  It wouldn't be a problem for a small population of humans to adapt to, but one thing all that fossil fuel use has brought about (or at least has been coincident with) is a rise in human population from under 1 billion to over 7 billion.  That's a lot of people who are going to have to find new and better places to live.

    There shouldn't be a debate about whether we should try geo-engineering the planet; we are already geo-engineering it, but it's not being carried out to any plan.  What public campaigns and international efforts should be focusing on are plans to ride out the warming.  How can we improve the habitability of places according to what the climate models predict for them?  For example, how to reforest Greenland as the ice cap melts.

    •  Yep. And that "by 2030" prediction (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      John Crapper, boatsie

      is still too conservative . . . we'll see "ice free" at least a decade bofore that, and by 2030 we'll be measuring "ice free" by how many months of it, and the approaching collapse of the re-freeze.

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 07:42:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  i think these talks have occurred .... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      John Crapper

      we are just not being granted access to them.... and that population control in terms of determining who survives and who is expendable has already been made and plays out in geopolitics and in the absurdity of official negotiations which are mere circuses designed to ensure the stalling of process... while holding out hope to those with some modicum of understanding that official processses are working to addresss the issue.

      i think this 'culling' is taking place through the economic and social policies which are more and more geared to ensure that access to the tools of sustainable development are not within the reach of the majority of the world's population, that the dumbing down of the masses has much more to do with destroying the innate critical and executive complex thinking and anlaytical skills of man which would result in mass hysteria ...

      for this is no doubt in my mind that the decision makers are well aware that the policies they advance are tailored to prevent the extinction of the human race by reducing the numbers ...

      •  I'm skeptical of that view (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        John Crapper

        There's complete myopia on the conservative side; all they want to do is continue to make a quick buck now.  They don't plan much beyond the next quarterly profit.

        On the more informed side, they understand global warming has started, but they labor under an illusion that "cap&trade" or some other policy decisions can stabilize the situation to what it was in the past.

        The military and some corporations are a little further thinking, but only to advance their own ends: More drill sites to exploit! More territory under our sphere of influence!

        I don't even think the engineers in the Chinese Politburo have anticipated what is in store.  Shanghai is very vulnerable to a rise in sea level, yet they are building and building away there, with no thought to doing it inland on higher ground.

        When cities start to get submerged, I think it's going to be every man for himself.  Lots of climate refugees milling about, ripe for exploitation by any demagogue who can point a finger in blame.  And woe be to the decision makers who thought they had this figured out to their advantage.

        •  i don't know... when one looks at the brilliant (0+ / 0-)

          strategizing on the part of the ultra right corporatocracy here --- over 30 years is it -- before launching the Tea Party and taking over Congress, their planning with Rove and his work on gaining control over the judicial system and their work at the local level to insure they had the folks in place to push forward thier voter suppression and union breaking policies you see just how forward thinking and patient the right is.. In terms of corporations, their policy also in climate talks to to deny, dilute and delay until such time as they have the technology produced to reap the maximum profits from those who will need these interventions the most ... when you look at carbon trading, REDD, et al what you see is another example of the poor being flubbed by slick profiteers who sell them a bill of goods only to have them holding the debt in the final analysis when the shit hits the fan and the truth comes out that there truly are NO MORE CARON Sinks. You talk to someone in East Africa or the Amazon about planting trees, creating a pathway out of policy through small loans and education. you have awinnig proposition. Until all hell breaks lose and they cannot pay their debts.

          I think we are being very gullible to believe these folks are not aware. Those at the top have proven themselves highly proficient at the art of the con.

          And they know the Planet cannot support its growing population. I belive, and I don't want to, that the map has been drawn and the resources (as they are developed) allocated t those areas deemed liveable in 30 odd years or so.

          I see huge wars over rights to water and to liveable space but then who holds the power here as well?

          •  You give the ultra-right too much credit (0+ / 0-)

            They are just winging it, like they always have.  Oh, it looks like it involved a lot of planning, but they always miss some key features that the rest of us consider as obvious facts.  Who could have known that Stalin would move all the munitions factories to the Urals and let the Russian winter defeat us?  Only anyone who paid attention in history class when Napoleon's invasion of Russia was discussed.  

            They do their Court packing, vote rigging, outshouting, and dirty tricks just out of sheer nastiness.  When they finally DO get their hands on the levers of power, they put it into a crash dive and then expect someone else to clean up the resulting mess.  Just like they can't remember now how we ever got into a problem following their economic prescription.  

  •  About 3 weeks ago we were invited over for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    redlum jak, boatsie

    dinner to some old neighbors we had lost contact with for dinner.  His job is scheduling oil tankers all up and down the west coast.  There were about 8 other people there.  One was a former lobbyist in Alaska.  They got into a discussion about all the money that is being made in Alaska from expoloration etc.  The lobbyist said they should frack everywhere up there because there weren't any people to complain about their water.  I mentioned the concerns about climate change to the response of silence.  

    The response of humans to the ice melting in the Arctic is and will be to hasten the pillaging of the area for the minerals it holds just like Alaska.  

    Just read an article about this yesterday.

    If we really want to straighten out all this crap we need to really think about shit!

    by John Crapper on Thu Sep 20, 2012 at 09:39:13 AM PDT

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