Monday, August 11, 2008

Worse Faster Than Anyone Thought Possible

From The Guardian:

"[...]scientists say that the disappearance of sea ice at the North Pole
could exceed last year's record loss. More than a million square
kilometres melted over the summer of 2007 as global warming tightened
its grip on the Arctic. But such destruction could now be matched, or
even topped, this year."

Storms over the Beaufort Sea are sucking warm air north, accelerating melting. it is expected that the Northwest Passage will be ice free withing the next week or so for only the second time in recorded history. the first time was August of last year. Ice coverage in the Arctic reaches its minimum (normally--not a word we can reliably use about the north any more) in mid-September. It is expected that the loss of Arctic sea ice will cause related weather effects--such as increased storm activity in Britain. And, I assume, Canada.
This loss of ice creates a feedback loop, where loss of ice results in less solar radiation being bounced back into space, meaning more warming, meaning less radiation bounced back, etc. Climate change scientists are now talking about a 4°C rise in global temperature, meaning humans have to start thinking not about adapting to a new climate, but rather about significant die-back. There is no way the new world climate is going to allow for six billion humans. If we're lucky--and I mean really lucky on a cosmic scale--we might top out at a billion. worst case, this is a species wiping event. After all, that is the point of running a fever--the death of the infecting organisms, which are only designed to survive in a narrow range of temperatures. And Gaia is clearly running a fever. After all, new studies by Professor Wieslaw Maslowski of the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California suggest there will be no ice left between mid-July and mid-September in the Arctic by--get this--2013.

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