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Climate - June 30

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No Ice At The North Pole: Polar Scientists Reveal Dramatic New Evidence of Climate Change

Steve Connor, Independent/UK
It seems unthinkable, but for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year.

The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one of the most dramatic - and worrying - examples of the impact of global warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90 degrees north may well have melted away by the summer.

... If it happens, it raises the prospect of the Arctic nations being able to exploit the valuable oil and mineral deposits below these a bed which have until now been impossible to extract because of the thick sea ice above.
(27 June 2008)



North Pole May Be Ice Free for First Time This Summer

Aalok Mehta, National Geographic
Arctic warming has become so dramatic that the North Pole may melt this summer, report scientists studying the effects of climate change in the field.

"We're actually projecting this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time [in history]," David Barber, of the University of Manitoba, told National Geographic News aboard the C.C.G.S. Amundsen, a Canadian research icebreaker.

Such ice is much more prone to melting during the summer months than perennial, or multiyear, ice, which is thick and dense ice that has lasted through multiple cycles of thawing and refreezing.

"I would say the ice in the vicinity of the North Pole is primed for melting, and an ice-free North Pole is a good possibility," Sheldon Drobot, a climatologist at the Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research at the University of Colorado, said by email.
(20 June 2008)



When Words Fail
Climate change activists have chosen a magic number

Bill McKibben, Orion magazine
... How do you say: the world you know today, the world you were born into, the world that has remained essentially the same for all of human civilization, that has birthed every play and poem and novel and essay, every painting and photograph, every invention and economy, every spiritual system (and every turn of phrase) is about to be . . . something so different? Somehow “global warming” barely hints at it. The same goes for any of the other locutions, including “climate chaos.” And if we do come up with adequate words in one culture, they won’t necessarily translate into all the other languages whose speakers must collaborate to somehow solve this problem.

... In recent years I’ve found myself grasping, trying to strip the language down further, make it communicate more. This year I find myself playing with numbers.

When the Northwest Passage opened amid the great Arctic melt last summer, many scientists were stunned. James Hansen, our greatest climatologist, was already at work on a paper that would try, for the first time, to assign a real number to global warming, a target that the world could aim at. No more vague plans to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, or keep it from doubling, or slow the rate of growth-he understood that there was already enough evidence from the planet’s feedback systems, and from the quickly accumulating data about the paleoclimate, to draw a bright line.

In a PowerPoint presentation he gave at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco last December, he named a number: 350 parts per million carbon dioxide. That, he said, was the absolute upper bound of anything like safety-above it and the planet would be unraveling. Is unraveling, because we’re already at 385 parts per million. And so it’s a daring number, a politically unwelcome one. It means, in shorthand, that this generation of people-politicians especially-can’t pass the problem down to their successors. We’re like patients who’ve been to the doctor and found out that our cholesterol is too high. We’re in the danger zone. Time to cut back now, and hope that we do it fast enough so we don’t have a stroke in the meantime. So that Greenland doesn’t melt in the meantime and raise the ocean twenty-five feet.

For me, the number was a revelation.
(July/August 2008)


350 ppm, the Video

350.org via YouTube
350 is the most important number in the world. This number is the safe line for our global climate and a start line for a global movement. Join 350.org to take action in your community, engage our world's leaders, and build an international movement to solve the climate crisis.
(9 June 2008)
Recommend by Bill Henderson and Alex Steffen at WorldChanging

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