Year 3, Month 9, Day 16: Dinosaurs Are STILL Deadly

The Western Star (“Western Newfoundland’s only daily newspaper”) prints an article by David Suzuki called “A worrisome wet wake-up call from the Arctic.” Indeed:

According to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center, record melt has occurred for the past six years. Both the NSIDC and the European Space Agency say ice is thinning at a rate 50 per cent faster than scientists predicted, mainly because of global warming, and that summer Arctic ice could soon disappear altogether.

The implications for global climate and weather, and for animals and people in the North, are enormous. One would think the urgency of this development would draw a swift and collaborative response from government, industry, media, and the public. Instead, news media have downplayed the issue, the only mention made of climate change at the recent Republican National Convention was to mock the science, and many government and industry leaders are rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of oil and gas extraction opportunities and shipping routes that will open up as the ice disappears.

We just don’t get it. As ice melts, more of the sun’s energy, which would normally be reflected back by the ice, is absorbed by the dark water, speeding up global climate change and warming the oceans. The Arctic is now heating at almost twice the rate as the rest of Earth. There’s also the danger that methane could be released as ice and permafrost melt. It’s a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide, so this would accelerate global warming even further. Scientists believe methane may also be uncovered by the warming Antarctic.

Hmmm? Mmphgh? Wha? Huh? No, I’m wide awake. I’ll be right there. (rolls over, shuts eyes)

Sent September 9:

A “wake-up call” from the melting Arctic? Perhaps. But it seems more likely that it is our industrial emissions that have woken a sleeping giant. When gigatonnes of methane (a greenhouse gas twenty times more powerful than CO2) enter the atmosphere as a consequence of the rapid thawing of the North, we humans may well discover that we should have heeded the alarms of climate scientists long ago.

Make no mistake: climatologists have been warning us for decades. The possibility of melting glaciers and ice caps was mentioned in the American popular press in the late 1950s; U.S. presidential advisers have been advocating action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions since the 1960s. The wake-up call actually came many years ago, but we’ve been hitting the snooze button instead of facing the facts: climate change is real, it’s human-caused, and it poses a profound existential threat to us and our civilization.

Warren Senders

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