Year 3, Month 8, Day 5: The Mighty Quinn, Redux.

This is horrifying, in an awful kind of way. The New York Times is one of many reporting on NASA’s recent observations of Greenland, which appears to be melting very fast. Very fast:

In a scant four days this month, the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet melted to an extent not witnessed in 30 years of satellite observations, NASA reported on Tuesday.

The extent of Greenland’s ice sheet surface, in white, on July 8, left, and July 12, right, based on measurements from three satellites, which pass over at different times and whose data are combined and analyzed. The deepest pink areas reflect maximal certainty that the ice has melted.

On average, about half of the surface of the ice sheet melts during the summer. But from July 8 to July 12, the ice melt expanded from 40 percent of the ice sheet to 97 percent, according to scientists who analyzed the data from satellites deployed by NASA and India’s space research institute.

“I started looking at the satellite imagery and saw something that was really unprecedented” since the advent of satellite imaging of the earth’s frozen surface, or cryosphere, said Thomas L. Mote, a climate scientist at the University of Georgia who for 20 years has been studying ice changes on Greenland detected by satellite.

While scientists described it as an “extreme event” not previously recorded from space, they hastened to add that it was normal in a broader historical context.

But Al Gore is fat. Sent July 25:

When it comes to the news on climate change, “rare” seems to be the new “often.” How often in the recent past have we heard reports of “once-in-a-century” storms suddenly happening every year? Of nearly snowless winters several times in a row — in places normally measuring the stuff in yards?

NASA’s report of unprecedented melting on Greenland’s ice sheet is just the latest and most terrifying example of this phenomenon. While the researchers studying the ice discuss it in careful scientific language, there’s no doubt they are shocked and disturbed by such extreme melting.

How much more evidence do we need to connect the accelerating greenhouse effect to these stunning disruptions of the environmental status quo? Our civilization was made possible by a mild and predictable climate — one rapidly vanishing in the rear-view mirrors of our industrial-size SUVs. Now that “bizarre” is the new “normal”, whither humanity?

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 3, Day 20: Dry Ice! We’ll Sprinkle Dry Ice All Around, And It’ll Freeze Everything Up Again!

The Boston Herald apparently had an empty spot on one of their pages, so they ran an article about climate change and ice melt:

LOS ANGELES — The Greenland ice sheet has a lower melting point than previously thought, with scientists saying not only that it could melt completely at a lower temperature than once believed, but also that the melting process could soon become irreversible.

“Once the process of melting the ice begins, it is very hard for it to change course even if we can lower temperatures in the future,” Alex Robertson, lead author of a new study, said in an interview by email with the Los Angeles Times on Monday.

“So even though melting the whole ice sheet could take a really long time, we will essentially decide the fate of Greenland within the next century.”

The study was published Sunday in Nature Climate Change.

How to criticize them without hurting their fee-fees? Sent March 14:

In a culture dominated by scandals du jour and the rapid-fire programming of a 24-hour news cycle, it’s no surprise that our nation seems to have a severe case of Attention Deficit Disorder.  When electoral politics is carried out in sound bites and bumper-sticker slogans, our civilization’s long-term future is invariably trivialized.

Nowhere is this more problematic than in the intersection of scientific research and public policy.  By its nature, science requires rigor, attentiveness, and patience — three qualities notably lacking in our political and media environments.  The most recent study on the likely fate of the Greenland ice sheet is the result of many years of concentrated study and inquiry — and its findings likewise require more than superficial attention.  Politicians and pundits, however, will do their best to ignore its implications for our nation and our planet; it’s far, far easier just to mock what you don’t understand.

Warren Senders