Friday, November 25, 2016

It's Pedal to the Metal for Arctic Climate Change

You wouldn't know it by the goingson in Ottawa or any provincial capital but, since October, climate scientists have been declaring an "emergency" in the Arctic.  The Liberal government apparently has too much on its plate including how to drive some damned pipeline across British Columbia.

Now those scientists are being a bit more blunt.

Arctic scientists have warned that the increasingly rapid melting of the ice cap risks triggering 19 “tipping points” in the region that could have catastrophic consequences around the globe.

The Arctic Resilience Report found that the effects of Arctic warming could be felt as far away as the Indian Ocean, in a stark warning that changes in the region could cause uncontrollable climate change at a global level.

Temperatures in the Arctic are currently about 20C above what would be expected for the time of year, which scientists describe as “off the charts”. Sea ice is at the lowest extent ever recorded for the time of year.

The tipping points.

...the tipping points identified in the new report, published on Friday, include: growth in vegetation on tundra, which replaces reflective snow and ice with darker vegetation, thus absorbing more heat; higher releases of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from the tundra as it warms; shifts in snow distribution that warm the ocean, resulting in altered climate patterns as far away as Asia, where the monsoon could be effected; and the collapse of some key Arctic fisheries, with knock-on effects on ocean ecosystems around the globe.

...Scientists have speculated for some years that so-called feedback mechanisms – by which the warming of one area or type of landscape has knock-on effects for whole ecosystems – could suddenly take hold and change the dynamics of Arctic ice melting from a relatively slow to a fast-moving phenomenon with unpredictable and potentially irreversible consequences for global warming.

The good news is that, if there is any way to avert truly runaway climate change and if we really want to do that, we know where to start. The Potsdam Institute's Schellnhuber told us at last year's climate summit in Paris. It begins when the governments of the world trigger an "induced implosion" of the fossil fuel industry.


Anonymous said...

We're f**ked, and the politicians won't take any action because they are afraid that any action will put us at a "competitive disadvantage", and, if "growth" decreases they may lose their jobs.

Sometimes you just want to give them a swift boot in the arse to wake them up.

The Mound of Sound said...

Why risk a perfectly good pair of boots when there are so many unoccupied light posts sitting idle.

Anonymous said...
The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador believes that climate change is one of the greatest long-term challenges facing the planet, and it is

Who cares is Newfoundland & Labrador with only 540,000 people.

Toby said...

@ Anonymous 11:22, Is Newfoundland & Labrador taking this seriously? Or are the politicians there ignoring this report?

The Mound of Sound said...

I have to assume, Toby, that our leaders or their scientific advisors at least received advanced copies of this report. I just did another post on the report (240 pages, PDF). I've skimmed through the first third of it this morning and I'll finish it over the weekend. It's a really well written report that's within the grasp of the laity (me) and it's balanced, which probably makes it all the more disturbing. I would invite everyone to follow the link and read it.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ ANON - it's not hard to find governments who proclaim climate change "one of the greatest long-term challenges facing the planet." What is hard to find are governments willing to even contemplate what fighting climate change entails much less implementing such action. Without meaningful action all their proclamations are so much hot air, N&L included.