Year 3, Month 9, Day 10: Don’t Do That Anymore. Please. Do You Hear Me?

The Gainesville Sun’s John L. Ward is shrill:

The alarm expressed in the Sun editorial of August 26 over the record-breaking Arctic sea ice melt is deserved.

Even before this year’s stunning loss, a study published in the journal Nature last November, based on historical records, ice cores, tree rings, and lake sediments, concluded that “both the duration and magnitude of the current decline in sea ice seem to be unprecedented for the past 1,450 years” and that human activity “stands out as a very plausible cause.” The record melt not only confirms that the world is warming, it speeds the change. Since everyone, including the yet unborn, will be affected, we should all grasp the significance of the event and the response it requires.

The white surface of ice limits warming by reflecting more of the sun’s rays back into space; darker water absorbs the heat. A feedback loop is created so that the warmed water melts even more ice, and the increased area of dark water warms the water even more.

The warmer Arctic water also warms the air, which increases the melting of glaciers and other land ice. Scientists were startled this summer to find that nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland deposited the previous winter had melted, an event unprecedented since satellite observations began 33 years ago. This ice loss contributes to sea level rise worldwide.

Cue the parade of ignorance. Sent September 3:

Yes, Arctic ice is melting rapidly, but the climate-change denial machinery is already working hard to spin away the most recent set of horrifying numbers. We saw it at the RNC, and we see it daily in the irresponsible pontifications of media figures dutifully repeating the talking points they receive from their petroleum-industry sponsors.

Apparently expertise is no longer persuasive, or we’d consult teachers (not corporations) when it comes to education reform, economists (not corporations) when it comes to economic reform, and doctors (not corporations) when it comes to health-care reform. Since McCarthyite Republicans purged the State Department of China experts (thereby setting the stage for our Vietnam debacle), the GOP has rejected people who actually know something about a subject in favor of those who reinforce their ideological biases. Climate change is one of many such examples — albeit the one upon which our species’ collective future hinges.

Warren Senders

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