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Mr. President, exploiting oil and gas beneath the Arctic ocean as the sea ice retreats is like going to sea as the water retreats before a tsunami.

President Obama, your advisers just don't get it. We should be running as fast as we can from fossil fuels, not going out to sea to get more of them. The loss of summer sea ice portends a climate tsunami. The ice is keeping the Arctic cold, even in summer. Retreat of the ice is accelerating the rate of warming of the Arctic by a feedback loop. Ice reflects light and heat back to space. Open water, which is far darker than sea ice, adsorbs the solar energy and stores the heat rapidly warming the Arctic in the summer and fall.  Once the ice is gone in summer the whole Arctic is prone to warm much faster just like a drink warms much faster after the ice melts.

Warming of the Arctic will trigger the melting and collapse of permafrost which will release huge amounts of CO2 and the even more potent greenhouse gas methane. Release of this naturally stored carbon will further accelerate the warming of the northern hemisphere. Moreover, warming of the shallow Siberian shelf waters may destabilize the methane ices stored there. There's substantial scientific controversy on the stability of Siberian shelf methane ices, but if large amounts of this methane were rapidly released it could trigger a climate catastrophe by overwhelming natural processes that remove methane from the atmosphere.

The National Strategy for the Arctic Region is like a plan to walk out on the new dry land ahead of an incoming tsunami. Don't do it. It's suicidal.

• Provide for FutureUnited StatesEnergy Security –The Arctic region’s energy resources factor into a core component of our national security strategy: energy security. The region holds sizable proved and potential oil and natural gas resources that will likely continue to provide valuable supplies to meet U.S. energy needs. Continuing to responsibly develop Arctic oil and gas resources aligns with the United States “all of the above” approach to developing new domestic energy sources,
including renewables, expanding oil and gas production, and increasing efficiency and
conservation efforts to reduce our reliance on imported oil and strengthen our nation’s
energy security. Within the context of this broader energy security strategy, including
our economic, environmental and climate policy objectives, we are committed to working with stakeholders, industry, and other Arctic states to explore the energy resource base, develop and implement best practices, and share experiences to enable the environmentally responsible production of oil and natural gas as well as renewable energy.

Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Fri May 17, 2013 at 03:27 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks.

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