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Arctic "death spiral" leaves climate scientists shocked and worried

Graphic by Barry Saxifrage

A "radical shift" is plunging the Arctic Ocean towards an ice-free state for the first time in millions of years. One of the world's foremost ice experts, Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University, calls it a "global disaster" that will cause such a big boost in global temperatures that even such extreme measures as geo-engineering need to be considered urgently.

Climate science has long understood that disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic would be a "tipping point" in the Earth's climate system, accelerating global temperatures and causing extreme weather and other climate changes far beyond the Arctic. Yet nearly every expert has been shocked by just how rapidly this "continent of ice" has been vanishing, and how dramatic the impacts have been already.

Climate scientists and ice experts are now using phrases like "unprecedented", "amazing", "extreme", "hard to exaggerate", "incredibly fast", "death spiral" and "heading for oblivion".

Arctic sea ice has been a permanent, year-round fixture of our planet since long before Homo sapiens first appeared on the savannas of Africa as a new species. Despite being robust enough to survive every change Mother Nature threw at it for millions of years, Arctic sea ice has proven to be shockingly vulnerable to a few decades of humanity's unrestrained fossil fuel pollution.  

The trillion tonnes of CO2 pollution that people have released into the atmosphere from burning oil, coal and natural gas has acted like a blow torch on Arctic ice. A dozen pounds of Arctic sea ice has disappeared for every one pound of CO2 we have released. This highlights the incredible heating power of CO2 which pumps 100,000 times more energy into our climate than was given off when the oil, coal or natural gas was burned.

CO2 has been the "Energizer Bunny" of extreme weather, pumping energy into our climate non-stop for centuries.

As my the chart above shows, three-quarters of the "permanent", year-round sea ice in the Arctic has been cooked away in just 30 years. Over half of it has disappeared in just the last eight years. A vast expanse of ice larger than the European Union has vanished. What's left is half the area and only half as thick.

Now some ice experts are saying what remains could be gone in as little as ten years -- or even four.

Worse than worst case

This jaw-dropping acceleration of Arctic sea ice collapse is completely out-stripping the worst case scenarios of the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC reports are the primary source of climate science used by world leaders, policy makers, businesses and citizens to decide the urgency and level of action needed.

The most recent IPCC report includes this graphic on the right. It predicts summer sea ice surviving long after most people alive today will have died of old age.

It is easier for decision makers to procrastinate on a difficult task if they don't think it will become critical for generations.

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Occupy, the spearhead of the progressive “Liberal” movement makes no mention of CO2 in their list of demands because of IPCC’s demand for the bankster funded carbon trading stock markets ruled by politicians and corporations and Obama has not mentioned the crisis in state of the unions. Even Julian Assange himself, our courageous modern day Socrates of truth had exposed the twisted political science of climate change crisis exaggeration. Canada voted in a Prime Minister to a majority and accused by all as being a climate change denier who then officially killed Y2Kyoto and nobody cared. Not even the millions of people in the global scientific community who only say a crisis “might” happen, and have never said any crisis “WILL” happen. Every single IPCC warning is qualified with a “potentially etc.” so how close to the edge of no return from unstoppable warming will science drag us before they finally say it “WILL” happen. Too late, they already said we are at the point of no return (maybe). Help, my planet is on fire, maybe?

Science agrees that; “climate change is real and happening and could possibly be (theyhaveneversaidWILLyet) a catastrophic climate crisis. Ya, like a little climate crisis is possible, outside of a Harry Potter movie. Science has never said any crisis will happen, only might happen. Deny that.

 

Sea Ice has been low, or even non-existant, many times before

I always get a chuckle out of excited graphs of anything to do with climate that start in 1979. Given that one needs 30 years of meteorological data to have one climate data point, the record cited in this piece is far too short to be meaningful from a climate perspective. Afterall, it was warmer in the Arctic in the 30s--was that a "death spiral" too? If so, then nature seems to recover nicely after such events.

Sincerely,

Tom Harris

Executive Director
International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

Canada

http://www.climatescienceinternational.org

 

What about sea levels?

Perhaps I missed it - but is there no mention of sea levels. If that much ice melts that fast... wouldn't sea levels rise, causing (abrupt) flooding and disaster? 

Does it really matter

Well, considering that I'll be dead in under 40 years, this really isn't an issue for me.
I've done what I can, can't do any more.
And it's probably time for the human race to become extinct. And even that probably won't be enough to save this planet. All of the toxins in the environment that will be around long after our species is gone will continue to herm this planet for ages to come.
Nope, sorry, the human race was the worst evolutionary branch that ever could have existed.

 

Arctic summer sea ice collapse

Best article I have read covering the Arctic summer sea ice collapse. This is a catastrophic event to the planet by any definition.

 

The Arcrtic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG) has been warning of this for over a year, calling for recognition of this Arctic climate planetary emergency.

Scientists call the summer sea ice the air conditioner of the Northern hemisphere (NH). Its loss is projected to increase NH drought, extreme weather, and climate variabiloity, and all have been increasing already.

 NH drought has been increasing for the past 15 years. We have had extreme drought in Europe, then Russia and now the US reducing crop yields. 

AMEG urges the emergency development of the capacity to cool the Arctic. They say if the summer sea ice is not maintained crop failue will increase as drought increases and Arctic methane feeedback emissions will escalate. Both Arctic albedo loss and methane increase will drive up global warming committing us to runaway climate change.  

The experts who rely on their computer models have yet to acknowledge the sea ice is collapsing and are not recommending anything- except more modeling. 

 

a first

This is the only article I have seen that addresses a fair number of the issues arrising from the loss of arctic sea ice due to antropogenic global warming induced climate change, that quotes scientists to the exclusion of pundants and doesn't seem to be bullied by Koch brothers money. Unfortunately based on the number of comments your readership is small. Thanks for the effort though, I will try to refrence this article in comments as frequently as possible.

Ice going away

Arguing about graphs is a waste of time and a distraction. The ice is going away. That's real. Continuing to deny what's happening when it is actually visibly happening is not rational.

Anything ipcc is not worthy

Anything ipcc is not worthy of consideration. Unless you are into falsafied data made up graphs and manbearpig.   

why?

Why are they still trying to sell this failed piece of propaganda,  is it not obvious that people arn't buying?  These people sound like Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, talking about Iran.

Poppycock

Hogwash

Tom Harris wrote:

I always get a chuckle out of excited graphs of anything to do with climate that start in 1979. Given that one needs 30 years of meteorological data to have one climate data point, the record cited in this piece is far too short to be meaningful from a climate perspective. Afterall, it was warmer in the Arctic in the 30s--was that a "death spiral" too? If so, then nature seems to recover nicely after such events.

Sincerely,

Tom Harris

Executive Director
International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

Canada

http://www.climatescienceinternational.org

 

Hi Tom,

 Of course someone who is funded by Exxon is going to say that. Of course however, it's going to be wrong. Putting "science" in your organization doesn't suddenly give it credit. There is no debate, humans are the cause of global warming. 

Nathan

http://www.exxonsecrets.org/html/orgfactsheet.php?id=147

 

 

If this is true, then what actions is being put forth?

From 1940's to 1970s the world was cooling down. In fact the first earth day in 1972 was concerned about a new ice age. Now we are concerned about the world warming. The proposed solutions remain the same, a global entity that can collect taxes worldwide and give directives that will actually affect the living conditions of humans in an adverse way.

Neat stuff

I think this is fascinating. My bedtime reading includes books on paleoclimatology and the fact that I might be able to witness massive changes to our environment in my lifetime is very cool.

Went fishin', all I caught were red herrings...

...which is what most folks who so easily discount the science of climate change keep throwing out there.

Sea levels don't significantly change with Arctic sea ice melting, since most of the ice is already floating, with a very small percentage above the level of the water. This is why your drink doesn't overflow when the ice melts, even if you are a slow drinker. Say there was a hose in your glass from a glass full of ice next to yours, and it melted and flowed into your full glass. You will not only get some snickers from the others at the party, but you will neatly show why landbased ice, like most of the ice in the Antarctic, and in Greenland, will have an impact on sea levels. 

I followed the links provided by those who called the piece "propoganda" and found articles which call into question data on retreating sea ice due to the fact that in the 1930's there was less.

This proves nothing. There was a warm period in the 1930's. Many remember it. It was called the Dust Bowl in much of the dry farms of the West. It was a huge drought, it worsened the Crash of '29 and deepened the economy into depression. The data on warming since 1880 shows this bump in the curve; the warming experienced in 2010 was twice as high (compared to the 1901-2000 mean). What the argument coming from Tuscon tells me is that warming has happened in the past, and that impacts are variable in different parts of the world. This does nothing to account for the impacts of the 90 million tons of CO2 that we emit, every single day.

The IPCC has been corrected in their predictions by real events. This is true. The IPCC was cautious in their early estimates of impacts in the early days of computer modeling because they were cautious about alarming the public and the world with dire predictions of certain peril, without a confidence in their figures. This is good, and is a natural part of science.

There are two points here. First, climate science has now progressed to the point where many climate scientists - not paid pundits - are willing to say that the current pattern of extreme weather events, from floods to droughts to wildfires, are most certainly caused by human-caused global warming. The chances of such patterns of record-breaking storms, floods, droughts and heat events is NOT caused by people and pollutants is very small. It's one to roughly the number of stars in the universe.

Second, confusion about what constitutes fact, between science and politics and reality, is no good reason to suppose that we can continue to treat the Earth as one huge garbage dump, with no impact. The impacts of dumping huge quantities of global warming gases into the atmosphere are real, occuring and felt by millions.

You might be dead in 40 years, Bobbie, but we are seeing impacts today. You may not have 40 years to procrastinate further, despite all you have done in the past. You are only as good as your last picture show, as they say. Defeatism is about as useful as out and out denial. It cripples needed action. 

There is plenty that can be done, and plenty that we need to get done, in order to stabilize our climate. Action on climate change is largely the result of individuals and small groups changing their world; governments can and must get behind these efforts. And industry should follow the path that allows reasonable growth - last year invenstments in sustainable energy outstripped investments in coal, oil and gas.

 

Nathan provides a good example of how not to behave

Nathan provides a rather humourous sample of the sort of logical fallacy and ridiculous assertions those of us who dare question the holy gosple of Al Gore have to face all the time. I could write them out but, first, I ask what ones you see in his junvenile  attack.

Sincerely,

Tom Harris

Executive Director
International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

Canada

http://www.climatescienceinternational.org

Melting Ice

As any Geoscientist or anyone that has studied Geography at a university level could tell you... we are still coming out of the last ice age. The Earth is doing what it's supposed to be doing. Granted, greenhouse gases probably speed up the process a bit, but it's awfully arrogant of people to think this is all due to something that we've done. 

Afterall, humans are also only animals. In the scope of the universe, humans are insignificant.

Go back to your desk, open your computer and do some more research. If you go back 500 million years, you will see that the Earth has done this very thing several times. The only difference this time is that there are humans around and they're scared about how it will effect them. There people go... Thinking of themselves again. 

God, I hate people...

ARCTIC ICE MELTING

The best thing we can do is ignore this problem and it will go away.  Don't believe all these scientists - they've wasted their lives locked away in labs studying the ice - so what do they know about the real world???  Soon Jesus will return and clean up our mess for us - kind of like when we were kids and our mom came in and cleaned up our messy room.  

Accelerated loss of Arctic sea ice

It's an interesting game that scientists, journalists and, in the past government officials, have to play to report their work to the "General Public". They cannot take a chance that the crisis will be any less severe or progress any less quickly than they report or the "GP" will write off everything their research shows. So, they have to be ultra-conservative in their reporting so that the reality is much worse than they "estimated" and the "GP" will have no reason to reject their findings.

At first glance this seems like a fool's game because it does not give governments the real picture to use when planning. But governments were not going to do realistic planning in any case so why tell them the truth?

The hope is that when the reality of the situation becomes undeniably apparent, the shock will be so great that change may be possible. I hope that shock comes asap so the transition to a better world can begin. 

Typical denialist misinformation

chuck darwin wrote:

From 1940's to 1970s the world was cooling down. In fact the first earth day in 1972 was concerned about a new ice age. Now we are concerned about the world warming. The proposed solutions remain the same, a global entity that can collect taxes worldwide and give directives that will actually affect the living conditions of humans in an adverse way.

A quick summary glance at papers published in this period shows the vast majority still predicted global warming and only a small percentage of scientists were investigating the possibility of cooling.  The only hype on cooling in this period is yellow journalism--you seem to be very good at this yourself.

Not only that but we have technologies now upon which to gather data that simply didn't exist in the 70's.  Your argument makes as much sense as saying that all cancer research now must be wrong because it wasn't that far along in the 1970s.

 

 

Arctic "death spiral"

Regardless of the clear and present danger (You) still don't advocate the replacement of fossil fuel powered electrical generating facilities. Why ?

 In my opinion



We need to replace the fossil fuel power plants, the primary source of GHG. Now!

At a scale required to accomplish this task :

Ethanol starves people : not a viable option.

Fracking releases methane : not a viable option.

Cellulose Bio Fuel Uses Food Land : not a viable option

Solar uses food land : Not a viable option

Wind is Intermittent : Not a viable option



All Human and Agricultural Organic Waste can be converted to hydrogen, through exposure intense radiation!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/DennisearlBaker/2012-a-breakthrough-for-r_b_1263543_135881292.html

The Radioactive Materials exist now, and the Organic waste is renewable daily.

Ending the practice of dumping sewage into our water sources.

Air, Water, Food and Energy issues, receive significant positive impacts .

Reducing illness / health care costs as well !



Dennis Baker
Penticton BC V2A1P9

[email protected]

 

 

 

Global climate Change

When the disaster comes to you,fire, flood, landslide, drought -how will you fare? Will you have a source of drinkable water, food to eat, shelter? Will you do anything now to increase your chances of survival? Do you care about anyone elses' survival?

Do you live in awe of the Miracle of Life - do you acknowledge that your existence here- is simply the luck of the draw?

Humility is called for.

Witnessing climate change in the same area for 60 years -we conclude that climate change is real and poses signifigant danger to the natural system that sustains us. Therefore decreasing the accelerants of global climate change is a wise action. Humans are a very adaptable -we are capable of changing to safer systems to energize ourselves. Much of what we think we need to consume is clutter. When a person is at deaths' door, priorities become clear. The sweet Miracle of Life and all the wonder and love it provides is #1. Time to come home to reality money lusters.

Nature sure...

..but we won't.

 

Tom Harris wrote:

I always get a chuckle out of excited graphs of anything to do with climate that start in 1979. Given that one needs 30 years of meteorological data to have one climate data point, the record cited in this piece is far too short to be meaningful from a climate perspective. Afterall, it was warmer in the Arctic in the 30s--was that a "death spiral" too? If so, then nature seems to recover nicely after such events.

Sincerely,

Tom Harris

Executive Director
International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

Canada

http://www.climatescienceinternational.org

 

ICSC Funding

from ICSC's website.  See any contradiction here?  Is this statement about how pathetic they are as fundraisers or is there something of a contradiction here?

"Since its formation in 2007, ICSC has never received financial support from corporations, foundations or governments.

While we welcome contributions from all sources, including corporations, foundations and government, and are actively soliciting support,...[blah, blah]."

http://climatescienceinternational.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=510

Self contradiction flourishing

Tom Harris writes:
Nathan provides a rather humourous sample of the sort of logical fallacy and ridiculous assertions those of us who dare question the holy gosple of Al Gore have to face all the time. I could write them out but, first, I ask what ones you see in his junvenile  attack.

OK we go directly from "holy gosple of Al Gore" to talking about other people's "junvenile" attacks.  Hmmmm.  Mechanical engineering.  Dude, hire a shill who can spell.  Unless, hmmm.

Arrogant Humans

Arrogant humans (reporters and so-called scientists rather) trying to say that we have caused this melting of the polar ice caps... How then do they explain the fact that EVERY other planet in the solar system is undergoing the SAME 'warming'????

This is just a ploy to TAX 'carbon' and spray us with toxic chemicals in the name of "geo-engineering' among other destructive and money making scams...

well, you can thank ignorant

well, you can thank ignorant ppl for this. no one reads the classics anymore, n no one rlly cares to. americans, and most all other countries ppl, have become superficial n selfish. god is nature maybe, and we's about to get no vasiline.

None

Tom Harris wrote:

I always get a chuckle out of excited graphs of anything to do with climate that start in 1979. Given that one needs 30 years of meteorological data to have one climate data point, the record cited in this piece is far too short to be meaningful from a climate perspective. Afterall, it was warmer in the Arctic in the 30s--was that a "death spiral" too? If so, then nature seems to recover nicely after such events.

Sincerely,

Tom Harris

Executive Director
International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

Canada

http://www.climatescienceinternational.org

 



Tom Harris: I get a chuckle when an "expert" or someone with a lofty title like "Executive Director" cannot spell simple words. Maybe you would have an ounce of credibility if you could spell "EXISTENT." From observation I have learned that someone who cannot even spell or cannot take the time to use a dictionary is, more often than not, a shoddy researcher.

Global warming.

Why does the only answer to global warming from all the alarmists seem to be some sort of global carbon tax??  I'm not even sure who is supposed to get the money, or what it is supposed to be used for.

Sad state

Tom Harris wrote:

I always get a chuckle out of excited graphs of anything to do with climate that start in 1979. Given that one needs 30 years of meteorological data to have one climate data point, the record cited in this piece is far too short to be meaningful from a climate perspective. Afterall, it was warmer in the Arctic in the 30s--was that a "death spiral" too? If so, then nature seems to recover nicely after such events.

Sincerely,

Tom Harris

Executive Director
International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

Canada

http://www.climatescienceinternational.org

 

Its amazing that people (or puppets) like you swath in your own self taught ignorance, and then pass it on instead of trying toe HELP and prevent human errors, if you are what your tiel says, you SIR are an idiot and should be removed from any public figure or teaching facilty.

melting ice

PB wrote:

Perhaps I missed it - but is there no mention of sea levels. If that much ice melts that fast... wouldn't sea levels rise, causing (abrupt) flooding and disaster? 

 

No.  Arctic ice is frozen water floating on the arctic ocean, so if it melts no extra water is added to the oceans, so sea levels stay the same.  It is only ice that sits on top of landmass (i.e. Greenland and Antarctica) that would increase sea levels if melted.

Guilty by Association?

Tom Harris wrote:

Nathan provides a rather humourous sample of the sort of logical fallacy and ridiculous assertions those of us who dare question the holy gosple of Al Gore have to face all the time. I could write them out but, first, I ask what ones you see in his junvenile  attack.

Sincerely,

Tom Harris

Executive Director
International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

Canada

http://www.climatescienceinternational.org



Tom,

Are you describing the "guilty by association" fallacy? In this case, the claim is that your org is funded by Exxon which makes most of its money from oil - a direct source of CO2 pollution. Do you deny that your org is funded by Exxon? Please provide evidence. Thanks.

If, in fact, your org is funded by Exxon, then it's not a fallacy but instead a very clear conflict of interest. 

Can you provide more of a rebuttal than mere conjecture? If not, then you have little ground to stand on.

Judging from your previous response to comments requesting information at other sites (eg: http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/11/07/now-really-secret-payments/), I don't expect a response with any substance.

Please, prove me wrong and provide an actual answer and not a political side-step.

Thanks,

-Darrell

John Carter

John Carter wrote:

Tom Harris writes:
Nathan provides a rather humourous sample of the sort of logical fallacy and ridiculous assertions those of us who dare question the holy gosple of Al Gore have to face all the time. I could write them out but, first, I ask what ones you see in his junvenile  attack.

OK we go directly from "holy gosple of Al Gore" to talking about other people's "junvenile" attacks.  Hmmmm.  Mechanical engineering.  Dude, hire a shill who can spell.  Unless, hmmm.

 

WOW ,,, you sure showed Tom Harris! he made a TYPO! That surely invalidates ANYTHING he says !!!

{SIGH}

ICSC

Tom Harris wrote:

I always get a chuckle out of excited graphs of anything to do with climate that start in 1979. Given that one needs 30 years of meteorological data to have one climate data point, the record cited in this piece is far too short to be meaningful from a climate perspective. Afterall, it was warmer in the Arctic in the 30s--was that a "death spiral" too? If so, then nature seems to recover nicely after such events.

Sincerely,

Tom Harris

Executive Director
International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

Canada

http://www.climatescienceinternational.org

 

Tom Harris - When is your group going to address the fact that you received $$$$ from a group affiliated with ALEC? In 2007 your organization received funds from the "Heartland Institute" which is a member of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) whose industrial members are very happy to have your "unbiased opinion" match their agenda. How convenient, and how interesting that your group refuses to acknowledge your industry ties!

 

Rhonda

Rhonda wrote:

Tom Harris wrote:

I always get a chuckle out of excited graphs of anything to do with climate that start in 1979. Given that one needs 30 years of meteorological data to have one climate data point, the record cited in this piece is far too short to be meaningful from a climate perspective. Afterall, it was warmer in the Arctic in the 30s--was that a "death spiral" too? If so, then nature seems to recover nicely after such events.

Sincerely,

Tom Harris

Executive Director
International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

Canada

http://www.climatescienceinternational.org

 

Tom Harris - When is your group going to address the fact that you received $$$$ from a group affiliated with ALEC? In 2007 your organization received funds from the "Heartland Institute" which is a member of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) whose industrial members are very happy to have your "unbiased opinion" match their agenda. How convenient, and how interesting that your group refuses to acknowledge your industry ties!

 

 


Rhonda

 

And the funding for the other "side" of this issue comes from ,, unicorns?? fairy dust???

Vote with their feet

When the scientists stop driving to work and flying to their conferences, then I'll KNOW they're serious about CO2 emmissions. (Note: I'm not making a judgement call about the cause(s) of global warming. I just find it odd that "all credible scientists" blame CO2 emmissions, yet I haven't seen any evidence that they've personally changed their behavior in any meaningful way. You think if there was impending doom (which there might be), you'd think the ones in the know would lead by example.)

DIY Ice Melting Experiment

Falcor wrote:

No.  Arctic ice is frozen water floating on the arctic ocean, so if it melts no extra water is added to the oceans, so sea levels stay the same.  It is only ice that sits on top of landmass (i.e. Greenland and Antarctica) that would increase sea levels if melted.

This is easy to test. Put an ice cube in a glass, and fill it to the very top with water. As the ice melts, the water level stays the same.

warming solar system

Cole Haley wrote:

Arrogant humans (reporters and so-called scientists rather) trying to say that we have caused this melting of the polar ice caps... How then do they explain the fact that EVERY other planet in the solar system is undergoing the SAME 'warming'????

This is often stated by deniers and the form is always the same a statement with no supporting evidence, because there isn't any.

Some do post a link to a story that appeared in National Geographic; this link in fact
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/…
All this proves is that deniers don't bother to read their own links as this story has a second page that pulls this theory to pieces. Beside Mars and Pluto mentioned in the story there is no evidence that any other planet in the solar system is warming, The theory is total BS and easily proved wrong, because the Sun has been monitored since the 1970s by satellite and there has been no output increase in that time that would explain the Earths warming.

Denial's future.

The deniers had better hope it is all just a fraud, but if what the science is saying is true, and the next two generations grow up to find a world left damaged, perhaps even beyond repair, I have a feeling that, they won't be very happy, with those still alive who did nothing, but maybe even less so, with the ones who proudly stood in the way. And if unforgiving and vengeful, then deniers, especially you, the ones who get wide, paid for coverage, in the media, or simply post on the internet, or wherever you leave a trail, image or name, I'm sure you all will understand why they will do to you what you did to them; deny them a future. That is of course, only if its real, right?. 

So if the ice is indeed

So if the ice is indeed melting how come Last Month they had to rescue whales that were literally stuck in ice? 

I think this is just overexxageration of people that have nothing better to do with their time than to scare the sheeple 

Here are some more graphics

Here are some more graphics and visualizations of what is really happening in the Arctic.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/02/14/1594211/death-spiral-bombshe...

 

We actually know a great deal

We actually know a great deal about the earth's climate past - every year this body of knowledgs grows in breadth and detail. It's perplexing to hear public speculation on this as "maybe it's a natural cycle" "what about the LIA" "what about the MWP?" "it's just solar cycles" "wasn't it global cooling in the 1970's" and other parrot-ad-nauseum arguments, clearly founded in basic unfamiliarity with any academic interest in the field. These things aren't unknown - some are actually more central subjects. Pretending that the science has somehow missed these obvious variables is, well, kind of ridiculous. The natural cycles of the earth have been rather standard in courses and textbooks. We do know what causes ice ages, and what brings us out of them. We do know how CO2 generally behaves throughout these cycles.

I invite everyone to watch Dr. Richard Alley's (Geophysics, UPENN) presentation from the American Geophysics Union meeting in 2009 - it's very succinct, to the point. Dr. Alley was responsible for major long-term icecore studies in the past decade. He covers a lot in a short time here, and given the scope of the subjects, he does a really good job here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RffPSrRpq_g -- He covers things like solar irradiance, volcanoes, and many other factors.

If you're going to comment on this topic, you really ought to listen to some of the people doing the legwork in the field -- not pundits, politicians, or dubious "Climate Coalition" websites. Listen to the researchers doing the work. It's fairly easy to figure out who these people are, if in fact you have any genuine interest in the subject.

Climate Change / Global Warming isn't the conclusion of 1, 2, 3, people, 1 government or 1 council. This is the consensus -- as in, agreed empirical body of evidence -- of National Science Academies and Geophysical Unions of nearly every nation in the developed world. When people talk about consensus, that's what they mean - in the same way evolution is the consensus of the biological sciences. You can plug in "Canadian Geophysics Union" or "Australian Geophysics Union" --- or [name of country] National Academy of Science" -- and you can read for yourself. These are also significant part of the curriculum of all Geoscience subjects: Climatology, Glaciology, Atmospheric Physics, Environmental Science, Oceanography, Geology, Ecology, Biology --- this subject reaches through several of the Earth Sciences. It's not just the IPCC, NOAA, NASA, or some vague "government."

"Climate change" has been a serious subject in the sciences since before the middle of last century -- and CO2's warming properties have been known since the late 1800's (the precise wavelengths not known until post WWII air force research). The term "Climate Change" has been in use since the 1930's - it's been more commonly seen as "Climatic Change" (i.e. the 1955 paper titled "Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climatic Change" / Dr. Gilbert Plass). We don't even see the word "Global Warming" until around the 1970's era - Wallace S. Broecker's 1975 paper "Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?" where the two are side-by-side. Issac Asimov spoke about the greenhouse effect, climatic change, with much interest throughout the 1960s and 1970's. Anyone who has been keeping up with the sciences of the past 60 years knows this has been discussed for a very long time.

If you insist that all of these scientists are just lying about this subject, or if you are painting these scientists as "alarmist" straw-men, pushing carbon taxes, then you are clearly not familiar with the subject, and you probably lack the interest to find out. I really don't know what to say to people like you, other than to remind everyone that prudent, informed, tactful critique comes form a place of subject literacy. Commenting in the darkness of these ignorant politics relegates the entire discussion to "he said" / "she said" opinion ping-pong. We needn't have such unserious discussions when facts are involved. The sciences revolve around information - there are lots of prerequisite facts to these subjects, and to have any meaningful input on Climate Science, or any of the Geosciences for that matter, one must be interested and literate in the subjects... If you are railing against an academic subject, parroting the same list of contrarian talking points over and over, without having sought any basic understanding of the subject for yourself - that's precisely what the word "denialism" is reserved for. Do not expect to be taken seriously by people with actual literate interest in the earth sciences. 

consensus

There is a near unanimous consensus of scientists becasue there is a near unanimous consensus of evidence.

A scietific consensus isnt' a 'vote' as deniers who are entirely ignorant of the scientific process claim.

A scientific consensus eventualy evolves and builds over time - sometimes decades - when new research and discoveries provide such overwhelming evidence that there is simply nothing left to argue about. All the evidence shows the same thing.

This is true of the Theory of Gravity, the Theory of Evolution and the Theory of Anthropogenic Climate Change.

These theories are as near to 'facts' as it is possible to get within the bounds of the scientific method. That is they are 5 sigma certainties - which is 99,99999% certain.

There is NO 'debate' in the scientific community and there hasn't been for decades now.

All denialism is pure politicaly or commercially driven bullshit.

It's as simple as that.

As Canada enters into the

As Canada enters into the world of energy superpowers, the protesters ratchet up the rhetoric. Ask yourself, who would gain from Canada's failure to join the superpowers?  Who doesn't want the competition for the Asian market? Where does most of the rhetoric originate? Yea, the U.S.A. They don't want competition from Canada, and they are about to become oil self sufficient. Just look at how they changed the way they sell their LNG to Asia.A deliberate attempt to stall our LNG production. Western Canada steps up to the world stage and all hell breaks loose.Frantic "news" reports like this are becoming more and more frequent as we enter the world stage. Uneducated, aimless people are finding it very easy to jump on the "hate the rich oil company" bandwagon. Sorry, but  the majority will not join in the coolaid party.

Connect the dots

Excellent article. Very nice summary of a difficult topic. I wonder though, why you didn't spell out the obvious conclusion for your readers.


We're already dead.

ICSC is NOT a scientific organiztion

Tom Harris's bonafides:

Executive Director 
International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC)

Note how this de-regulatory, anti-science corporate fronted lobbying group of which Harris is Director uses an environmentally friendly sounding name. The ICSC is an example of aggressive mimicry: set up an astroturf group (probably with the help of a Public Relations firm) on corporate money and give it a name that sounds like it is a scientific organization when in fact its sole function is to lobby governments to reduce regulations limiting the burning of fossil fuels. There aren't any scientists in the ICSC; instead, it is made up primarily of lawyers and lobbyists. There are many similar examples which I present in lectures on the subject. The sole aim is to mislead the public and policymakers to give the impression that the science is not settled and that these organizations base their views on sound science. They don't.

Finally, Harris asserts that the Arctic was warmer in the 1930s. This is a complete joke; it wasn't anywhere close to as warm in that decade as it has been since the 1990s. I'd like to see climate change deniers cite the primary empirical literature when they make flippant remarks like this. But of course Harris won't in this case because the literature of course does not support what he says. 

I stand corrected

One final addendum to my last post: I stand corrected. There are actually a few of the usual suspects (scientists) in the ICSC: however, most of them publish little, if anything in the empirical literature, and all of them are well known as climate change scpetics. As far as I know, Mr. Harris has also never published a single article in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Why not?

sea ice melt

PB wrote:

Perhaps I missed it - but is there no mention of sea levels. If that much ice melts that fast... wouldn't sea levels rise, causing (abrupt) flooding and disaster? 

The Arctic is mostly a floating slab of ice, which displaces an equal amount of water. When it melts, it does not raise the the sea level. Greenland and Antarctica are a different story, but those are not at risk of melting for a long time still.

 

Icey feeling

Dinosaurs = Humans

YOU FIRST

Bobbie Bees wrote:

Well, considering that I'll be dead in under 40 years, this really isn't an issue for me.
I've done what I can, can't do any more.
And it's probably time for the human race to become extinct. And even that probably won't be enough to save this planet. All of the toxins in the environment that will be around long after our species is gone will continue to herm this planet for ages to come.
Nope, sorry, the human race was the worst evolutionary branch that ever could have existed.

 

 

So what are you waiting for?  You can set a good examply by eliminating yourself.

Melting of sea ice won't affect sea levels

PB wrote:

Perhaps I missed it - but is there no mention of sea levels. If that much ice melts that fast... wouldn't sea levels rise, causing (abrupt) flooding and disaster? 

No.  You are not looking at the physics.  Arctic sea ice floats on and displaces its own weight of sea water.  When the ice melts, the meltwater takes up the same volume that it was displacing with no net change in sea level.  Try floating some ice cubes in a measuring jug and check the water level as the ice melts.

Melting of the ice sheets of Greenland and the Antarctic is a different story.