Reflections on the Surface

September 1, 2009

Blue Diamonds

Photo courtesy of Phillipe Roy/Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Phillipe Roy/Getty Images

Sermilik Fjord, Greenland

Scientists studying the meltwaters in Greenland this August have been stunned by the unexpected acceleration in the rate of loss of Greenland’s ice. Existing climate change models will need to be rewritten to accommodate these surprising findings and, it is, once again, time to take note and listen to the canary in the coal mine, for these glaciers are a stark warning that all is not well in the North.

Local Inuits will tell you of permanent changes; of an ecology that is now altering in ways that could not have been predicted even ten years ago.
Ice that had been trapped for millennia is calving blue diamond icebergs at a rate that has taken the scientists’ breath away. Rapidly warming seas are just the beginning of a much larger than predicted sea level rise to come.

Meanwhile, the Station Fire in California is expanding like a nuclear disaster. Giant pyrocumulus clouds hover above the Santa Clarita canyons, sending plumes that can be smelt as far away as Colorado.

Fire and Ice, two great metaphors for disasters of historic proportions.

How long will we have to put up with the sheer bumbling ineptitude of writers like Christopher Booker, of idiots like Viscount Monckton, of GOP politicians like James Inhofe, with their infantile  ‘lets do nothing’ charts and diagrams?

Together they represent a ghastly alliance of the stupid, the patronizing and the daft, whilst the rest of us can only take photographs and wait.

June 29, 2009

Republican Treason

The Waxman-Markey climate bill is just the beginning of a change in attitudes in America that could hold not just hope for the planet but the prospect of a real shift in the zeitgeist of contemporary attitudes towards climate change. Whether  it passes through the Senate remains to be seen, but, for now at least we might be encouraged that at last, the USA has woken up to the dangers the planet is facing. Save for 212 Republicans who, with few exceptions, believe that the issue doesn’t exist. Quite what education system would produce such intellectually moribund minds is a question that only educationalists can answer, but the sad fact is this: these are people with remarkably ignorant minds who on the whole, possess religious views that are stuck in the Dark Ages.

Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times today is right to accuse such individuals of treason. For not only are they are an insult to biosphere and an insult to intelligent life, but their thimble-minded belief system is not worthy of existence on a planet that is set for catastrophe.

And what is it going to take to shift such stupidity? Soaring temperatures in the American Mid West? Collapse of the Arctic ice fields? Billions thirsting for water in the Far East? The Indian sub continent like a molten death trap?

It is not only high time for America to become a 21st century pioneer in new technologies, it is well past the hour.

Photo courtesy of (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

US Climate Bill

May 26, 2009

The Gathering Storm-Pink Snow in the Rockies

An unusual series of dust storms has blanketed parts of the Colorado Rockies.  Pristine snow capped peaks are now dirtied and pinked by the dust, which accelerates snowmelt. Water supplies are becoming unpredictable and much is set to change in landscapes which we have all taken so long for granted. Imagine the Rockies in 30 years time, bereft of Summer snows…

Dust in the Rocky Mountains

Photo courtesy of  the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies

There is news that the odds of severe climate change are to be much worse than had been predicted- perhaps twice as much. According to the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change there is a 90% probability that Global Surface Temperatures will be 3.5 to 7.4 degrees higher by 2100. Unless drastic action is taken at an International Level, before a series of climate change tipping points begin the process of inevitable catastrophe.

By 2100 Much of South West America will become a dust bowl.

But with 30% of Americans either doubtful, dismissive or disengaged about climate change what will it take for them to accept such facts?

Future generations will look back on these current decades as a lost opportunity, but with the planet wrecked by 2100 who will care ?

Of one thing we can be certain- all those stupid idiots who casually deny  these global realities will be commemorated on a vast roll-call of shame:

Christopher Monckton, Sarah Palin, James Inhofe, Christopher Booker, David Bellamy, Melanie Phillips, Vaclav Klaus, Michele Backman, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Fox News, the vast majority of the Republican Mediocrity Party (aka the GOP) and, for that matter, the legions of fundamentalist American evangelicals who have buried their heads in the sand.

January 30, 2009

Ocean Acidification- are coral reefs doomed?

155 of the world’s leading scientists will today issue the Monaco declaration in which they draw attention to the plight of the oceans over the next fifty and more years. By 2050 it is likely that much of the world’s coral will be dead.

This ‘other’ CO2 problem is not going to go away that easily, as the oceans absorb about 25% of the world’s carbon dioxide.

It is all too easy to take the vastness of the seas for granted, but we need to be reminded that dead seas mean a dead planet. And with dead zones proliferating all over the planet -zones where precious little life can survive, it is time to be reminded of the likelihood of the future.

But, sadly, seeing that most of the press is focussed on the economic mess that we are in right now, its hardly surprising that most of the human race won’t listen when the scientists speak.

Long term planning requires patience and persistence and a broad vision for a very different future. Qualities exemplified by President Barack Obama who is fast coming up against the 19th century ideas of the GOP as they rail against his vision.

But now is not the time for obfuscation. It is time for clarity and time to wake up. Lets listen to the scientists and start a dialogue.

January 23, 2009

Warming Antarctica

At a time when the Northern Hemisphere has experienced a cooler winter it is prudent to be reminded that Western Antarctica, so long thought to be immune from global warming, is heating up. By 0.25 Degrees per decade in the last fifty years or so. So what! cry the sceptics.
But this vivid image, courtesy of NASA is not only beautiful, it is a stark warning to all those complacent observers who are satisfied that the Earth is safe in human hands.

antarcticatemps_1957-2006

Meanwhile, the economic and financial downturn has fixated the minds of millions on the short term just as the sweeping change in the White House has warmed our hearts with hope. But Barack Obama and the new Executive would do well to embed their environmental plans with a real concern for the long term.

There will be a rising tide of global warming denialism in the next few years and, then when it is perhaps too late, we will look back on this picture and be warned.

antarctica_temp_trend

September 9, 2008

Rubbish Soup

The Pacific Ocean hosts the world’s largest rubbish dump: a continent-sized swirl of rotting plastic and rubbish which is growing in size as I write and which could double over the next ten years.

This ghastly spectacle stretches from Hawaii to Japan in two giant circulating dumps of rubbish.

Charles Moore, the oceanographer who discovered this mess estimates that there are about 100 million tons of detritus fouling the seas.

Meanwhile, its ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ and business as usual as the planet staggers on, bowed down by the enormity of biosphere degradation.
Its a tragedy that the US election is being reduced to sarcastic sound bites and negativity by the Republicans at a time when, more than any other, the entire human community needs positivity and a real sense of vision.
And so the rubbish will continue to expand when all the election is over and the earth will be poorer and humanity, increasingly, poised on a downward spiral towards environmental catastrophe.

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