Thursday, January 23, 2020

Stop Clinging to Politicians Who Are Hanging You Out to Dry.

There was an item in the papers about how our federal government will be providing handouts to farmers who need extra fuel to dry out their sodden grain harvests. That's what can fairly be called climate change relief.

I wonder if Ottawa will be issuing grants to those of us who now need air purifiers to keep our homes safe from damaging wildfire smoke, another climate change impact?

To say that the federal government's climate change and energy policies are schizophrenic is a massive understatement. A recent article in The Narwhal, for example, pegs our governments' overall subsidies to the climate wrecking fossil fuel industry at $1,650 per year for every man, woman and child in Canada. Per year, every year.

Speaking about climate wrecking, there's a new report from Yale 360 about how man-made climate change is terraforming the Arctic. It warns that some 2.5 million square miles of permafrost could disappear by the end of this century. That's 647 million hectares or 6.47 million square kilometres. That's a lot, especially when you take into account the volume of once safely-sequestered methane that will be released as that permafrost melts.
...if the Arctic continues to warm as quickly as climatologists are predicting, an estimated 2.5 million square miles of permafrost — 40 percent of the world’s total — could disappear by the end of the century, with enormous consequences. The most alarming is expected to be the release of huge stores of greenhouse gases, including methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide that have remained locked in the permafrost for ages. Pathogens will also be released. 
But less well appreciated are the sweeping landscape changes that will alter tundra ecosystems, making it increasingly difficult for subsistence indigenous people, such as the Inuit, and Arctic animals to find food. The disintegration of subterranean ice that glues together the peat, clay, rocks, sand, and other inorganic minerals is now triggering landslides and slumping at alarming rates, resulting in stream flows changing, lakes suddenly draining, seashores collapsing, and water chemistry being altered in ways that could be deleterious to both humans and wildlife. 
“We’re seeing slumping along shorelines that can drain most of the water in a lake in just days and even hours,” says Marsh, a former Canadian government scientist who is now a professor of hydrology at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario. “It’s not surprising when you consider that as much as 80 percent of the ground here consists of frozen water. When that ice melts, the frozen ground literally falls apart.” As a result, says Marsh, indigenous communities, the resource industry, and the government need to better understand how a warming climate is impacting water resources and permafrost ecosystems.”
It is estimated that the Arctic permafrost holds 1,400 gigatons of CO2. Scientists figure if we're to have a slightly better than average chance at holding global warming to 1.5 degrees C, the carbon budget/atmospheric loading remaining is somewhere around 120 gigatons of CO2. Given recent increases in man-made CO2 emissions and projections by OPEC and the International Energy Agency that we'll be using ever more fossil fuel at least into 2040, man-made emissions are poised to blow straight through that 120 gigaton 'budget' even without what we can expect from the disappearing permafrost.

I know, I know, all these posts seem so gloomy, apocalyptic almost and they might turn out to be apocalyptic if we don't change course. Will we? Not until we make our politicians understand their jobs depend on doing the right thing, not the easy thing, now.

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