Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Now, Let's Put it In Harper's Language: Climate Change Catastrophe is Insanely Costly

Sixty trillion dollars, how's that Steve?

That's an estimate of the costs of Arctic thawing from climate change.   That's 60,000,000,000,000.00 and that's a lotta zeroes.

Rapid thawing of the Arctic could trigger a catastrophic "economic timebomb" which would cost trillions of dollars and undermine the global financial system, say a group of economists and polar scientists.

Governments and industry have expected the widespread warming of the Arctic region in the past 20 years to be an economic boon, allowing the exploitation of new gas and oilfields and enabling shipping to travel faster between Europe and Asia. But the release of a single giant "pulse" of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the East Siberian sea "could come with a $60tn [£39tn] global price tag", according to the researchers who have for the first time quantified the effects on the global economy.

Even the slow emission of a much smaller proportion of the vast quantities of methane locked up in the Arctic permafrost and offshore waters could trigger catastrophic climate change and "steep" economic losses, they say.

The Arctic sea ice, which largely melts and reforms each year, is declining at an unprecedented rate. In 2012, it collapsed to under 3.5m sqkm by mid September, just 40% of its usual extent in the 1970s. Because the ice is also losing its thickness, some scientists expect the Arctic ocean to be largely free of summer ice by 2020.

We should consider the Harper government the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic of Canada's far north, utterly asleep at the controls.

The growing fear is that as the ice retreats, the warming of the sea water will allow offshore permafrost to release ever greater quantities of methane. A giant reservoir of the greenhouse gas, in the form of gas hydrates on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS), could be emitted, either slowly over 50 years or catastrophically fast over a shorter time frame, say the researchers.

The ramifications of vanishing ice will also be felt far from the poles, they say because the region is pivotal to the functioning of Earth systems, such as oceans and climate. "The imminent disappearance of the summer sea ice in the Arctic will have enormous implications for both the acceleration of climate change, and the release of methane from off-shore waters which are now able to warm up in the summer," said Prof Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar ocean physics group at Cambridge University and one of the authors of the paper published in the journal Nature.

Research and the emergence of new weather phenomenon over the past two years have revealed the Arctic to be a ticking time bomb of catastrophic climate change.   The tundra is thawing and burning, exposing the methane rich permafrost beneath.  There is a new and extremely powerful Polar Jet Stream that is bringing tropical heat far to the north, Arctic deep freeze conditions as far to the south as Venice, and severe floods and droughts that we have no idea how to cope with.   In the past week many of us first learned of this new Arctic summer cyclone that churns up many hundreds of thousands of sq. kms. of sea ice and draws in warm water from the Pacific and Atlantic.


Anonymous said...

We live in a country that is being run by the equivalent of the Calgary chamber of commerce. They have no real insight, understanding or interest of the risks ahead.

And all political parties, in Canada and elsewhere, are essentially captive to the global chamber of commerce.

I think the time has come for ordinary humans to stand up and demand sane policies and actions from our governments and corporations.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon, the time has indeed come. We can't blame only Harper either. Harper's motives are obvious but JT and TM are just cowardly. They're afraid of representing Canadians lest big, bad Harper smacks them upside the head.

Anonymous said...

You're correct, Mound. Harper is just an idiot slave to his industry bosses, but the opposition is not far behind.

Which is why we ordinary citizens will have to take situation into our own hands if we want to see real change.