They say that the devil is in the detail; well the truth is also in the detail. Maybe that is why religious fundamentalists are so opposed to scientific inquiry - they realize that the details that are uncovered will lead us to uncomfortable propositions like for example that the earth is much older than the Bible and Koran claim.
Putting aside religion for a moment, one of the biggest debates currently raging concerns the changing weather patterns that we are experiencing. Rather than making proposal and counter-proposal the better method to proceed is to collect facts. One major source of information about climate change is found in the Arctic Circle. Scientists have been measuring ice levels and other factors for several years now, and from this they can begin to form theories about what is happening to the planet’s climate.
A study by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Alaska Science Center shows that average annual erosion rates of ice along one part of the Beaufort Sea increased from historical levels of about 20 feet per year between the mid-1950s and late-1970s, to 28 feet per year between the late-1970s and early 2000s, to 45 feet per year between 2002 and 2007. The study was published in Geophysical Research Letters. (Source: http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2009/05/research2.html)
This study clearly shows a speeding up of ice erosion in the Arctic Circle. The results of this increased rate of erosion have been manifold - higher water levels, the loss of cultural sites connected to the Inuit people and the early whaling communities and negative impacts on wildlife habitats. The wider impacts are rising ocean levels leading to loss of coastal areas and the releasing of CO2 frozen in the ice, which if the theory of greenhouses gases causing climate change are correct will lead to a speeding up of the process of the earth becoming warmer.
The theory of greenhouse gases states that certain gases such as CO2, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) when let off into the atmosphere do not react and form a barrier trapping the solar heat in the atmosphere. As more greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere so the amount of heat trapped will increase and the earth will warm up.
As I said, the devil is in the detail. There is a lot more to consider. First there are the Himalayas. The mountain range is still rising at 5mm a year. This mountain range increases the overall amount of rain, and rain washes CO2 out of the atmosphere. Secondly, there is the fact that a rise in temperature will actually increase plant growth in many areas and this too will reduce CO2 in the air.
Another pertinent fact is that we are coming out of the last glaciation period that started about 20,000 years. This fact is used by climate-change skeptics to prove that human activity has had no impact on climate change.
That seems unlikely when considering how the rate of greenhouse gases has been exponentially increasing since the start of the industrial revolution in the late Eighteenth Century.
William Ruddiman contests this theory claiming that human activity much earlier disrupted the flow and ebb of glaciers. He dates our impact on the climate to the time when agriculture became a large scale enterprise some 8,000 years ago. This greatly increased greenhouse gas levels speeding up our exit of the last Ice Age.
Prior to this, the cycle of ice ages was determined by Milankovitch cycles. These cycles refer to the changing orbit of the earth around the sun. At points the earth’s orbit is slightly further from the sun, causing the earth to cool down.
This brings us on to the final factor to consider - the sun itself. The sun is a continuous series of atomic explosions. It is constantly in change. Obviously, there have been times in the past when solar flares have caused a heating of the earth’s atmosphere. When the sun burns out we all die. It is our battery.
However, those who claim that it is the sun that is currently causing global warming are wrong. NASA has shown that since 1750 the sun has remained at a nearly constant temperature. Moreover, if the sun was behind global warming they would find higher temperatures in the outer layers of the atmosphere. That has not been the case.
In the end, NASA scientists along with other scientists around the world and the UN insist there is a 90% probability that human activity over the last 250 years has caused the ice erosion in the arctic, the rising water levels and the general increase in temperatures.
The truth comes down to percentages. Those who speak adamantly and dogmatically are not to be trusted. The purpose of www.arcticice.org is to show facets of the truth, to reveal the complexity behind the over-simplified point of view. It is to bring detail to the table, the devil’s advocate, to show we should be cautious in jumping to conclusions. Instead we should look at probabilities, we should look at the history of an idea, we should gain context. The goal is to seek the facts, not to stand still with the present conventional opinions.
Climate change is among the terrific global challenges of our time, affecting each nation. Consequently, in addition, it impacts both the global climate and the global economy. There are several natural factors in charge of climate change. This is actually the genuine environmental dilemma of climate change policy.
Severe droughts round the world are forcing people to attempt to drill for their very own water sources. The additional ordinary melting of Siachen and other major tributary glaciers results from human activity, and isn’t because of natural changes. While the species isn’t currently endangered, its future may be in danger. It is going to lead to possess negative impacts on whole environment it’s explained by a documentary currently screening on the American version of Netflix.
We’ve come to understand that Climate Change increases the chance of hostility and conflict. Many still don’t believe in climate warming. Deep ocean waters may also absorb a good deal of carbon dioxide, even though the environmental effects could be harmful to ocean life. Rising temperatures will cause negative consequences on weather also.
It’s quite evident that our total electric grid has to be updated to fulfill the threats that will cripple our total economy. Climate change related security risks are identified in quite a few regions where tourism is extremely vital that you local-national economies. Political parties shouldn’t utilize drought as a case of the effects of climate change within the country. Besides loss of lives, livelihood and wellness impacts, it’s creating a substantial variety of Climate Refugees every year who do not have any recognition. In such countries, there’ll probably be political and social strife that may spill over international borders with negative consequences. While nearly all of population movement probably will be internal, there’ll be flow on effects requiring cooperative regional solutions.
I wish to place a caveat on the problem of global climate change. An useful supplement to the solution will be a procedure to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, however there aren’t any currently available commercially viable methods to get this done. Most of it is going to result in a substantial rise in the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide content. In addition of CO2, Methane another major greenhouse gas within the atmosphere. To lessen forest emission as a way to avert any catastrophic climate change. Farming, transportation, industrialization, urbanization, together with economical rise and development are another important cause GHG emission.
Because of the great fabrication of lies about the actual source of drought in Australia, it’s now deeply ingrained in the minds of the usual folks that Australia will be the hardest hit by drought within the next decades. For if is done not, there is absolutely no solution to climate change proceeds to intensify, there’ll be no normal” life left for anybody. Generally, however, warming trends appear to dominate. Symptom No. 2, which is frequently noticed in these sorts of circumstances is that climate changes as a result of global temperature increases could be seen within the commonness of drought. There are many other actors too, for example researchers who are attempting to find that next significant energy alternative, and every individual, who’s ultimately affected by decisions which are made by the top levels, because environmental policy and economic issues go hand in hand. It’s in the interest of the country along with the people to enhance their quality of life and attention for the surroundings, since this will provide enduring results that aid development.
Children in developing countries all over the world will likely face the biggest risks from climate change. It is important to grasp the disease risks related to environmental contaminants, to be able to have the capacity to balance benefits of conventional foods with potential contaminant exposures. It’s crucial to get clear and productive policies in place to manage these risks.
As a house for shipping, the Arctic has numerous unique conditions. The kind of ship is identified to provide details on differences associated with potential impacts to ice as well as the environment. The utilization of many different kinds of information also has accepting traditional knowledge as an essential generator of information in assessing potential impacts. In the same way, environmental dangers of development activities ought to be assessed in arctic EIAs.
Risk assessment approaches are utilized to evaluate and deal with the potential impacts linked with petroleum activities. EIA ought to be initiated at a young stage of project development to be able to turn into an integral and influential element of planning. From a social standpoint, gas and oil development can provide local benefits with respect to jobs creation, and increased revenues and community services. Many challenges were raised, however, which will indicate a demand for a brand new or revised method of EA within the study area. There were some fabulous documentaries about the environmental challenges on some of the media sites, unfortunately these are increasingly region locked as reported here – Netflix block VPN.
The Arctic is still an extremely harsh environment. Reduced stratospheric ozone is anticipated to persist for a number of decades, allowing increased UV levels to accomplish the surface, especially in spring. For instance, bowhead whales have traveled another route within their fall migration to get around the noise of seismic exploration activities, even though the specific extent of their detour isn’t known. When you check to see whether there is evidence of crashes, find out the quantity of damage done to the vehicle, along with the positioning of the damage.
This is especially concerning given the noted uncertainties connected with development within the offshore region. Otherwise, he said, they couldnot completely assess the corporation’s financial prospects within the Arctic Ocean and can’t influence Shell’s choices about whether to continue to be tremendous capital investments in the area. Staff in any way levels ought to be encouraged to check for regions of vulnerability in both the organization and its particular ships,” he added.
Right now, western scientists know little about the degree of radioactive pollution within the Ob. It’s chiefly the pure gas which is going to be produced along with that specific oil. At our existing rate of consumption, that will be sufficient to meet worldwide demand for around three decades. Nonetheless, there’s been evidence suggesting potential health risks brought on by GMOs.
When it comes to environmental risk in the Arctic, the key dilemma of concern is a huge oil spill. Reduced recreational utilization of a place, on account of the unsightly effects of oil and gas, can create a loss of financial activity for the neighborhood community. Increasing shipping within the region would take a higher preparedness for potential environmental incidents. The Arctic environment is, in addition, affected by activities occurring away from the region.
The bad news about Arctic ice levels continues this year with some reports suggesting that rising temperatures are creating a record low. March is usually about he time when Arctic sea ice levels should peak but looking at current projections it’s not looking good. Of course it’s best to wait for the real results to be confirmed but overall it’s a pretty bleak picture.
This is not a seasonal problem, the record lows are not a particular point in time which can be explained away from individual weather events. The real events and the worrying trend can be seen in this short time lapse video which demonstrates how Arctic sea ice has been receding over the last two decades or two. Witness the acceleration over the last few years –
In the video, the seasonal ice is dark blue, the old ice (classified as 9 years or more) is in white. The patterns of melting are fairly well established however you can see the startling changes in this video. It was produced by the climate.gov team using data supplied by Mark Tschudi from the University of Colorado.
Seasonal ice is of course expected to some extent to change, the oldest ice only erodes due to serious climate changes. The older the ice the stronger and more resilient it is, it is simply much less likely to melt than the less established seasonal ice formations. Over the last few years the proportion of arctic ice which can be classed as ‘old’ has dropped significantly. In 1984 it was estimated that 20% of arctic ice was over 4 years old, now that figure has fallen to something of the order or 3% – a worrying statistic.
There are numerous other studies, reports and research which confirm these results and the overall trend. If the temperatures continue to rise, then these figures will continue to follow the same trend. There is unlikely to be much persistent ice left in the arctic in a few years, plus continual falls in seasonal ice.
There are more reports on the BBC climate page, with links to reliable sources of information. For those unable to access these sources because of current location – this works for me – BBC iPlayer Ireland.
With the news that the Russians are stepping up their military presence in the Arctic circle, it’s worth watching this excellent documentary from Fault Lines at Aljazeera.
Following the initial deadline imposed by the UN of 2013 for scientific claims to the seabed of the Arctic (and hence much of the mineral resources it holds) – two sides expect contrasting concerns of global economic bonanzas and the ecological damage it’s likely to cause.
The main players are of course those with geographic boundaries to the Arctic like Canada, Russia, Norway and Greenland. They are all keen to establish their territories so that their respective economies can profit from the region’s resources. The unfortunate irony is that the damage being caused to the planet by burning such fossil fuels is actually causing the ice to melt and making those hidden in the Arctic seabed more accessible.
The ice caps melting is also opening up production and supply routes with lots of new shipping routes being established where there was once only ice.
It’s an interesting watch and of course a very worrying one, for anybody concerned with the huge ecological risks of mining in this priceless area. It’s a few years old now but is worth watching and certainly adds to the more current news and reporting conducted by both Al Jazeera and also on the BBC News online.
The statement from the Shell official, was simple yet it masked a complex and difficult situation for the oil giant. “We had hoped for more,” he stated as it was announcing the company was pulling out of it’s multi billion dollar Artic drilling project.
Environmental groups across the world, were jubilant and rightly so as this represents a huge victory for the hundreds of protesters and lobbyists who have campaigned against the ill-advised exploration. There is no doubt that this pressure was a huge influence in the decision irrespective of the prospect of oil and gas within the region.
The last results came from a test drill of the coast of Alaska, and it represents the end of the company’s interest in the area for the immediate future. Of course this was still primary a commercial decision, the idea that the oil company is interested in the massive ecological risks that were involved is unlikely.
The main reasons are that not enough oil was found combined with the huge ‘operating costs of drilling in such an area. This of course could easily change, the oil price is currently at a decade long low, drilling technology will change and of course our reliance on fossil fuels is likely to increase as they dwindle.
We are still addicted to burning fossil fuels and as such the Artic Ice is still at risk, let’s still remember that up to 13% of the world’s reserves of oil still lie in this region. When profit is concerned, the environmental arguments are likely to be brushed aside. The “Shell NO” campaign has undoubtedly has had an impact, it would have been a huge risk for the company’s reputation to push forward.
We should thank all those who protested – from the Kayakers who risked their safety in the port of Seattle to the thousands of other protesters who have campaigned in a myriad away to stop the huge risks to this extremely environmentally sensitive region.
Who knows what finally made Shell pull the plug on the billion dollar exploration projects. You can see some of the announcement and reactions from various campaign groups on the UK media – the BBC is a good start and you can use this UK TV application- here to access the programmes irrespective of your location.
The energy that warms Earth’s lower atmosphere comes from the Sun, but the lower atmosphere will not warm directly. This area of the atmosphere heats from underneath. As the Earth warms, it emits some longwave radiation back outside, heating up the lower atmosphere above it. This energy radiates from the atmosphere back into space.
The Earth will not consume the electromagnetic energy that hits it all. This really is significant for the World’s energy balance, because just energy that is absorbed leads to the temperature of the Earth/atmosphere system. The percentage of the overall energy reflected by the Earth (or some item) is known as the Albedo.
A totally absorptive surface has an albedo of 0, an item using an albedo of 0.5 consumes as much energy as it reflects back, and a totally reflective surface has an albedo of 1. In case the World had an albedo of 1, no energy would be absorbed by it in the Sun as well as the planet will not be a lot hotter.
The Earth’s average albedo is determined by the composition and physical state of its own surface. Procedures and multiple variables can alter the albedo of a surface with time. For instance, as soot and grime settle on fresh ice or snow, and as water turns to ice the albedo increases, the albedo decreases. Likewise, vegetation cover affects the albedo of the landscape: deserts have albedos of 20- savannas, 35% are around 15%, and rainforests are around 5%.
Seasonally, winter snow and ice cover increases the albedo of Earth’s temperate and polar areas. Exactly the same occurs with all the coming and going of ice ages, on geological timescales. The Earth’s albedo is influenced by particles. Soot particles consume energy directly, and from combustion have low albedos, leading to heating. Aerosols including sulfates that are airborne powerfully reflect shortwave radiation, so the Earth’s overall albedo raises. Clouds, which are made from condensed water vapor, additionally raise the Earth’s albedo.
Human activity effects vegetation cover, land use, as well as the concentration of soot particles, aerosols and water vapor . This makes the result of human activity on the Earth’s albedo evaluate that is hard.
What’s the Albedo effect?
Albedo is the portion of incoming radiation which is reflected back off any given surface.
Exactly why is the Albedo effect significant?
You’ve got probably heard how solar radiation is reflected by the ice caps and thus why their melt is this kind of huge problem. Fresh snow has an albedo of about 0.9.
Possibly the most important climate talks in a generation have just finished in Doha, Qatar. The climate talks were hosted by the UN and have seen an unparalleled shift in principle from some of the richest and polluting countries on the planet. This will be remembered as the summit were for the first time, richer countries agreed that compensation should be paid to poorer countries for lost growth and productivity linked to climate change.
This is no small, fringe deal but includes over 200 countries and the Kyoto agreement is extended to 2020. It could be easy to criticise this protocol, and many do citing the lack of genuine cuts as opposed to the high ideals. But the reality is that Kyoto is the only game in town, it is the only vaguely legally binding agreement for reducing emissions and combating global warming.
The latest deal covers both Europe and Australia, although these areas only cause 15% of the world’s emissions. There is an urgent undertaking to update the protocol with a new treaty which bound all nations rich and poor and the expectation that will be implemented by 2015.
There were no strict financial resources allocated through this meeting, there is a suggested figure of 10 billion dollars to be spent every year in order to combat global warming. There are still rifts within the organisations in the agreement though, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus nearly derailed the agreement by insisting on credits for their previous emissions cuts. Fortunately the chairman restarted the meeting and swiftly bypassed all the objections by Russia, Poland and the linked states.
The key passage is referred to in the protocol as the Loss and Damage mechanism, it holds the key to bringing all countries on board. Many envrionmentalists see this as a key watershed and a vital point in the talks. There is more information on the meeting on the BBC website and the Iplayer application – if you have trouble viewing the site because of your location then check this out, if you enabled a proxy server based in the UK then you should have full access. There is also still a clip of the applause when the chair stifled the Russian led revolt – his name is Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah – ironically a former head of the OPEC oil cartel.
The European Cryosat mission has been focussing on analysing the sea-ice cover in the Arctic recently. New data has been produced from the spacecraft which uses it’s radar to estimate the thickness of the ices has noticed some alarming results. The data points at a very substantial reduction in the volume of the ice particularly during the months of Autumn.
In fact the amount has fallen nearly a third compared with the last known data on this, which was produced covering 2003-2008. The fall in levels for the winter months is not quite as dramatic however. Much of the loss seems to have occured in specific regions though, mainly on the Canada Archipelago and also some areas to the North of Greenland. We obviously have much more data about these levels since we had the technology of satellites to measure them, But the Cryosat report has only covered the last two years. At the moment it would be difficult to tell if these fluctuations are significant until there is enough data to look at the long term trends.
Cryosat was established by the European Space Agency in 2010. The satellite sends down a radar pulse towards the ice floes and then measure the results with a built in altimeter. If you are interested in seeing a paper discussing the findings in depth you can find them on this site –http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.50193/abstract, the report was compiled by Professor Lazon who unfortunately died in an accident at the beginning of the year.
The polar scientist is a big loss to the Cryosat mission as he has developed a lot of techniques to help the project work effectively. We still don’t know exactly how the change in the ice cover might have an effect on the atmosphere and the Arctic ocean, but the Cryosat data will definitely play an important role in understanding this.
If you want to read more and keep up to date with this research there are lots of resources on the BBC website in the environmental section. Also many of the documentaries and reports are viewable on the BBC Iplayer application. Unfortunately you won’t be able to access these if you’re based outside the UK, although I found this useful method to allow me to watch Iplayer on my IPad. It uses a VPN server to hide your IP address so even when I’m based in the US, it looks like my IP address is originating from the UK.
Last year, and you may remember on the Saturday 23rd March at 8:30pm, millions of people around the world will be recognising Earth Hour. At this time (your local time) people across the world will simply switch off their lights for an hour as a sign for concern for the environment. IT’s been growing in success, last year there were more than 6900 cities and towns which took part from New York to Ireland and across the globe. The astronauts on the International Space Station even joined in by turning down the power on their systems. This year it is hoped lots more countries will join in, new participants include Palestine and Rwanda.
There are some famous building across the world which join in such as the Houses of Parliament and the Sydney Opera House. There are iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Brandenburg Gate and even the Empire State Building. IS it worth it?
Well the event is primarily about raising awareness of the environmental issues facing the planet. The organisers WWF appreciate in itself it has limited effect, the benefit of turning all the lights off is cancelled out by the huge strain on electricity infrastrcture when everyone turns them back on. However it is meant to be a starting point and hope that invidiuals and governments follow up the event with making real change.
You can follow the event at their web site – http://earthhourlive.org/ which will be having regular updates.
For those who would rather watch coverage on a mainstream channel, I can recommend this method for watching UK Television over the web – http://www.uktv-online.com/. It’s quite simple and involves using a secure proxy server to route your connection through giving you the appearance of being in that country.