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Arctic meltdown is a threat to humanity

Editorial: Climate crunch warning

I AM shocked, truly shocked," says Katey Walter, an ecologist at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. "I was in Siberia a few weeks ago, and I am now just back in from the field in Alaska. The permafrost is melting fast all over the Arctic, lakes are forming everywhere and methane is bubbling up out of them."

The permafrost is melting fast all over the Arctic, lakes are forming everywhere and methane is bubbling out of them

Back in 2006, in a paper in Nature, Walter warned that as the permafrost in Siberia melted, growing methane emissions could accelerate climate change. But even she was not expecting such a rapid change. "Lakes in Siberia are five times bigger than when I measured them in 2006. It's unprecedented. This is a global event now, and the inertia for more permafrost melt is increasing."

No summer ice

The dramatic changes in the Arctic Ocean have often been in the news in the past two years. There has been a huge increase in the amount of sea ice melting each summer, and some are now predicting that as early as 2030 there will be no summer ice in the Arctic at all.

Discussions about the consequences of the vanishing ice usually focus either on the opening up of new frontiers for shipping and mineral exploitation, or on the plight of polar bears, which rely on sea ice for hunting. The bigger picture has got much less attention: a warmer Arctic will change the entire planet, and some of the potential consequences are nothing short of catastrophic.

Changes in ocean currents, for instance, could disrupt the Asian monsoon, and nearly two billion people rely on those rains to grow their food. As if that wasn't bad enough, it is also possible that positive feedback from the release of methane from melting permafrost could lead to runaway warming.

Runaway warming

The danger is that if too much methane is released, the world will get hotter no matter how drastically we slash our greenhouse gas emissions. Recent studies suggest that emissions from melting permafrost could be far greater than once thought. And, although it is too early to be sure, some suspect this scenario is already starting to unfold: after remaining static for the past decade, methane levels have begun to rise again, and the source could be Arctic permafrost.

What is certain is that the Arctic is warming faster than any other place on Earth. While the average global temperature has risen by less than 1 °C over the past three decades, there has been warming over much of the Arctic Ocean of around 3 °C. In some areas where the ice has been lost, temperatures have risen by 5 °C.

This intense warming is not confined to the Arctic Ocean. It extends south, deep into the land masses of Siberia, Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Scandinavia, and to their snowfields, ice sheets and permafrost. In 2007, the North American Arctic was more than 2 °C warmer than the average for 1951 to 1980, and parts of Siberia over 3 °C warmer. In 2008, most of Siberia was 2 °C warmer than average (see map).

Positive feedbacks

Most of this is the result of positive feedbacks (see illustration) from lost ocean ice, says David Lawrence of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. His modelling studies show that during periods of rapid sea-ice loss, warming extends some 1500 kilometres inland from the ice itself. "If sea-ice continues to contract rapidly over the next several years, Arctic land warming and permafrost thaw are likely to accelerate," he says.

Changes in wind patterns may accelerate the warming even further. "Loss of summer sea ice means more heat is absorbed in the ocean, which is given back to the atmosphere in early winter, which changes the wind patterns, which favours additional sea ice loss," says James Overland, an oceanographer at the Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. "The potential big deal is that we now may be having a positive feedback between atmospheric wind patterns and continued loss of sea ice."

Incidentally, the changing winds might also be to blame for some of the cold and snowy weather in North America and China in recent winters, Overland says. Unusual poleward flows of warm air over Siberia have displaced cold air southwards on either side.

Going global

The rapid warming in the Arctic means that a global temperature rise of 3 °C, likely this century, could translate into a 10 °C warming in the far north. Permafrost hundreds of metres deep will be at risk of thawing out.

This is where things go global. The Arctic is not just a reflective mirror that is cracking up. It is also a massive store of carbon and methane, locked into the frozen soils and buried in icy structures beneath the ocean bed.

A quarter of the land surface of the northern hemisphere contains permafrost, permanently frozen soil, water and rock. In places, deep permafrost that formed during the last ice age, when the sea level was much lower, extends far out under the ocean, beneath the seabed. Large areas of permafrost are already starting to melt, resulting in rapid erosion, buckled highways and pipelines, collapsing buildings and "drunken" forests.

Locked away

The real worry, though, is that permafrost contains organic carbon in the form of long-dead plants and animals. Some of it, including the odd mammoth, has remained frozen for tens of thousands of years. When the permafrost melts, much of this carbon is likely to be released into the atmosphere.

No one knows for sure how much carbon is locked away in permafrost, but it seems there is much more than we thought. An international study headed by Edward Schuur of the University of Florida last year doubled previous estimates of the carbon content of permafrost to about 1600 billion tonnes - roughly a third of all the carbon in the world's soils and twice as much as is in the atmosphere.

Time bomb

Schuur estimates that 100 billion tonnes of this carbon could be released by thawing this century, based on standard scenarios. If that all emerged in the form of methane, it would have a warming effect equivalent to 270 years of carbon dioxide emissions at current levels. "It's a kind of slow-motion time bomb," he says.

One hotspot is the 40,000-year-old east Siberian permafrost region. It alone contains 500 billion tonnes of carbon, says Philippe Ciais, co-chair of the Global Carbon Project, a research network analysing the carbon cycle. East Siberia was at times 7 °C warmer than normal during the summer of 2007, he says.

Higher temperatures mean the seasonal melting of the upper layer of soil extends down deeper than normal, melting the permafrost below. Microbes can then break down any organic matter in the thawing layer, not only releasing carbon but also generating heat that leads to even deeper melting. The heat produced by decomposition is yet another positive feedback that will accelerate melting, Ciais says.

Potent greenhouse gas

What's more, if summer melting depth exceeds the winter refreezing level then a layer of permanently unfrozen soil known as a talik forms, sandwiched between the permafrost below and the winter-freezing surface layer. "A talik allows heat to build more quickly in the soil, hastening the long-term thaw of permafrost," says Lawrence.

The carbon in melting permafrost can enter the atmosphere either as carbon dioxide or methane, which is a far more potent greenhouse gas, molecule-for-molecule. If organic matter decomposes in the low-oxygen conditions typical of the boggy soils and lakes in these regions, more methane forms.

Researchers have been monitoring the Stordalen mire in northern Sweden for decades. The permafrost there is melting fast and, as conditions become wetter, it is releasing ever more methane into the air, says Torben Christensen of Lund University in Sweden. This is the future for most of the northern hemisphere's permafrost, he says.

Disturbing picture

It's not just existing boggy patches that are the problem. In low-lying areas, the loss of volume as ice-rich permafrost melts leads to the collapse of the ground and the formation of thermokarst lakes from the meltwater. Satellite surveys show the number and area of these lakes is increasing and, as the work by Walter and others shows, they could be a major source of methane.

Put together, the latest research paints a disturbing picture. Since existing models do not include feedback effects such as the heat generated by decomposition, the permafrost could melt far faster than generally thought. "Instead of disappearing in 500 years, the deepest permafrost could disappear in 100 years," Ciais says.

The permafrost is not the only source of methane in the Arctic. Shallow ocean sediments can be rich in methane hydrates, a form of ice containing trapped methane. Particularly worrying are the huge amounts of methane hydrate thought to lie beneath the Arctic Ocean. Because the waters here are so cold, methane hydrates can be found closer to the surface than in most other parts of the world. These shallow deposits are far more vulnerable to the warming of surface waters.

Blowouts

Juergen Mienert at the University of Tromso in Norway, who has analysed past eruptions of methane hydrates from the Arctic, says current conditions are disturbingly similar to those in the past when warming waters penetrated sediments, triggering the release of hydrates. "Global warming will cause more blowouts, more releases," he says.

While shrinking sea ice in 2007 may have attracted all the headlines, some researchers say what is really scaring them is a simultaneous jump in methane levels. While the level of methane in the atmosphere has more than doubled since pre-industrial times, for the past decade or so there has been little change.

Then, in 2007, several million tonnes of extra methane mysteriously entered the atmosphere. Detailed analysis from methane monitors around the world suggests that much of it came from the far north. Ciais says it looks like the biggest source was Siberian permafrost.

Unstoppable

This is still contentious. Matt Rigby of the Center for Global Change Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has analysed the methane surge, says we cannot yet say whether emissions from melting permafrost contributed most to the rise. "But 2007 was unusually warm in Siberia, and we would expect emissions increases when temperature rises," he adds.

The rise could just be a blip - or the start of something big. "Once this process starts, it could soon become unstoppable," Ciais says.

Walter agrees. Right now, she estimates, only a few tens of millions of tonnes of methane are being emitted. "But there are tens of billions of tonnes potentially available for release." And the faster the warming, the faster the emissions will rise.

Out of control

Most worrying of all is the risk of a runaway greenhouse effect. The carbon stored in the far north has the potential to raise global temperatures by 10 °C or more. If global warming leads to the release of more greenhouse gases, these releases will cause yet more warming and still more carbon will escape to the atmosphere. Eventually the feedback process would continue even if we cut our greenhouse emissions to zero. At that point climate change would be out of control.

There is another concern about Arctic melting: the growing amount of fresh water flowing into the Arctic Ocean. The shrinking thickness and extent of sea ice has added a huge amount of fresh water already. Meanwhile, rivers are pouring up to 10 per cent more water into the ocean than they did half a century ago. This is partly the result of rising precipitation as the air warms - warmer air can hold more moisture - and partly the result of melting permafrost, ice and snow. Yet more fresh water is coming from the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. As the Arctic warms further, these flows of fresh water will increase.

All this extra fresh water could weaken the pump that drives the thermohaline circulation, or ocean conveyor current. Its most famous element is the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic, but the conveyor travels all the oceans. It has its beginnings in the far north of the Atlantic, off Greenland, where unusually dense water plunges to the ocean floor. The water becomes dense here partly because it cools and partly because the formation of sea ice increases salinity. As the water gets a bit warmer and a bit less salty, thanks to all the extra fresh water, the worry is that the pump could slow down.

Fears that the conveyor will soon shut down altogether, causing a fall in temperatures in northern Europe, have receded. Models of the climate system do not predict a shutdown any time within the next century, says oceanographer Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

Monsoon warning

Even a slowdown in the conveyor could produce dramatic changes, though. Climate models suggest that changes in the ocean conveyor will alter rainfall patterns around the world. The models are backed by studies of how the climate has changed during past shutdowns of the ocean conveyor.

The biggest consequence, says Buwen Dong of the Walker Institute for Climate System Research at the University of Reading, UK, is likely to be a disruption, and quite probably a complete collapse, of the Asian monsoon, causing severe droughts in south Asia. "It could have enormous social and economic impacts on these nations," he says.

The disruption of the monsoon would have enormous social and economic impacts in south Asia

You can say that again. The Asian monsoon is the main source of water for large areas of the most heavily populated continent. An estimated 2 billion - getting on for 1 in 3 citizens on the planet - rely on it to grow their food. Take away the monsoon and they would starve. All because of warming in the Arctic.

Unquantifiable

Nobody can be sure how likely all this is. Indeed, the scientists at the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) who compile its reports cannot even reach agreement on how to quantify the probabilities of such events. As a result, the "scary scenarios" were barely mentioned in the last report.

Nonetheless, the latest findings suggest we cannot afford to ignore these possibilities, especially given that everything to do with global climate is linked. The loss of Arctic sea ice could lead to the release of ever more methane from permafrost and methane hydrates. That in turn would make a dramatic reduction in the strength of the ocean conveyor sometime this century increasingly likely, which could lead to abrupt changes in the Asian monsoon.

With the summer sea ice in the Arctic Ocean already shrinking much faster than the IPCC models predicted, one thing is for sure. It is not just the polar bears who should be worrying about the warming Arctic.

Editorial: Climate crunch warning

Fred Pearce is an environment correspondent for New Scientist

Issue 2701 of New Scientist magazine
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Have your say
Comments 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Wed Mar 25 18:51:34 GMT 2009 by Frank Bough

Where are the facts in this article?

For instance...

a). "The permafrost is melting fast..." How fast is fast?

b). "growing methane emissions could accelerate climate change." Well they could NOT accelerate climate change then.

c). "Recent studies suggest that emissions " well it would be better if recent studies proved beyond all doubt, wouldnt it?

d). "And, although it is too early to be sure, some suspect" when will be sure? we are not interested in susspision.

e). "Changes in wind patterns may accelerate the warming even further." They may not accelerate then.

f). "The potential big deal is that we now may be having a positive feedback between atmospheric wind patterns and continued loss of sea ice" A potential BIG DEAL that may be having a positive feedback, maybe not then!

g). "Incidentally, the changing winds might also be to blame for some of the cold and snowy weather in North America and China in recent winters" the use of the word "might"

then you could use "might not" as well.

h). "The rapid warming in the Arctic means that a global temperature rise of 3 °C, likely this century, could translate into a 10 °C " this statement contains both "likely" and "could" Just how much money, time and effort is being brought to bear on global warming?

Here is a definite question from myself

When will someone write an article concerning global warming and NOT use any of the following words

May, Could, Likely, Possible etc..?

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Wed Mar 25 19:06:37 GMT 2009 by Dan Conine

"When will someone write an article concerning global warming and NOT use any of the following words: May, Could, Likely, Possible etc..?"

Just before we are all dead. I MAY be able to write a definitive answer to what also happened on 9/11/2001, what landed in a field in Roswell, NM, and how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but holding my breath until the climate stabilizes again just isn't going to help any more.

Burning up 300 million years' worth of vegatatively stored carbon in a period of 200 years CAN NOT be a good thing.

How's that?

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Thu Mar 26 13:06:08 GMT 2009 by Richie

I just went to a doctor yesterday. He said what I probably have, and what the symptoms fit. Damn... why couldn't he just state a prognosis as a fact? The same with the weather, the guy on television said an 85 per cent chance of rain. Can't those guessers know anything for sure? I'm going to the beach, and not going to take my medicine, obviously those 'experts' don't know what they're talking about.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Thu Mar 26 20:30:21 GMT 2009 by Dan

This sounds like an exciting opportunity to me, no matter what the White Witch's dwarves say. Imagine, springtime at last.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Fri Mar 27 21:39:08 GMT 2009 by Greg

Hmmmm... Im glad you decided to mention that you'd better listen to doctors. I mean, they are never wrong, correct? In fact I had two different doctors attempt to help me and my wife conceive but... no luck. I guess I was just screwed. But wait. I found a doctor that actually tried to be thorough and guess what happend??? 3 months later we were pregnant. and not even with the copious amounts of drugs the other doctors were prescribing. Well, this is the long way of saying that there are alot of scientist who are at odds with each other concerning the ACTUAL affect of MAN-MADE global climate change. The consensus is there really isn't a consensus. Alot of shouting, yes, but no consensus. So please. let's have more facts and less scare tactics.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Thu Mar 26 16:40:27 GMT 2009 by keir36

Perhaps we could all pay carbon taxes to super rich people (The same one that control or own most of the energy on the planet) and that will stop global warming from freezing the planet...

Throwing money at problems works like a charm...

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Fri Mar 27 08:22:46 GMT 2009 by Vendicar Decarian

"Throwing money at problems works like a charm..." - keir

Conservatives have insisted for decades that they are only motivated by money.

Now they bitch and moan because money is being used to motivate them.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Wed Mar 25 19:19:46 GMT 2009 by Tin Hat Denier

The facts are documented in the published papers the article references.

Any article that does not use words like "may, could, likely, possible," is not about science. Science is about probablilities, right wing blather is about certainties because Jesus told you so.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Wed Mar 25 19:45:01 GMT 2009 by graymatter

...and left wing bloviating is about environmental doom and gloom because al gore said. Push your politically correct science nonsense on someone as gullible as you

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Wed Mar 25 20:32:33 GMT 2009 by DeadMeat

Graymatter assumes that scientists are left-wing and are bloviating environmental doom and gloom inspired by a politician from Tennessee. While referring to political correctness and science as nonsense. How sad for us all that so many among us have lost sight of the value of the scientific process. Too bad graymatter is so afraid of appearing gullible that he is unwilling to consider the evidence rationally. The doom and gloom are in your head, no where in the article. Just changes observed and consequences considered. Your dismissive cliches appear overly emotional and not well-thought out. I recommend you try harder for a more original response that is less reactive.

This comment breached our terms of use and has been removed.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Thu Mar 26 20:01:06 GMT 2009 by john roberts.

Um, 'science is about probabilities'. No, Science is about facts. 'Social Sciences' are about probabilities. Once one starts to deal with probabilities, one has stopped being a scientist

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Fri Mar 27 08:29:40 GMT 2009 by Vendicar Decarian

'science is about probabilities'.

"No, Science is about facts. 'Social Sciences' are about probabilities." - John Roberts

John Roberts knows, NOTHING about science or how it is performed.

Even a simple measurement in Science is a statistical object for it is accompanied by error bars that delimit a reasonable confidence that the real characteristic that is being measured is within a reasonable distance of the actual measurement.

Now if every measurement in science is a statistic, what does that say about John Roberts claim that science is about fact?

Do Facts come with error bars? And if they do, doesn't that make them probabalistic?

I guess it does.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Fri Mar 27 09:57:38 GMT 2009 by Vendicar Decarian

I posted several quotes from great scientists each of which claimed that science was about probability.

The New Scientist Censors decided to Delete those quotes.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Sat Mar 28 21:19:16 GMT 2009 by graymatter

HACK!!! at least there's brains in the New Scientist staff that can spot a hack.......

This comment breached our terms of use and has been removed.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Wed Mar 25 20:23:55 GMT 2009 by Alan Marchal

So what are you suggesting Frank, we take a chance on this?

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Thu Mar 26 02:31:57 GMT 2009 by Mark

In other news:

Smoking may kill you, cancer may be fatal, stepping in front of a moving bus may end your life, Schroedinger's cat may be dead, the dart may miss the bullseye.

Please. Get a grip on reality, Frank. One of the very obvious characteristics of *actual* bad science (and of stupid people) is when statements, especially predicting the future, are made unequivocably.

The only things you can state with absolute certainty are statements which are true by definition, such as 1+1=2.

For everything else, it's about the burden and body of evidence. You're going to need a bigger shovel if you think you're going to be able to move this mountain with your stubbornness alone.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Thu Mar 26 20:07:48 GMT 2009 by john roberts.

Sorry, 'Schrodinger's cat may be dead.' Is an incorrect statement. Before observation it is in a supposition of deadness and aliveness - i.e. it is both, not one or the other. Upon observation, it is found to be dead, or alive. Hence, it is never 'maybe alive or dead', it is either one, or the other, or both. Please refrain from using examples that you do not understand

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Fri Mar 27 02:45:59 GMT 2009 by Charles

Sorry, but you're making several unwarranted assumptions in pulling the poster up for making a joke...

The Copenhagen interpretation does indeed state that the cat is in an indeterminate state until measured (which is why Schrodinger came up with what he (and Einstein) considered a "reductio ad absurdum" argument, by the way). However, the C.I. isn't the only interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, though it does have the distinction of being the one that most obviously violates special relativity.

For example, according to the "Many-Worlds" or relative state interpretation, the cat is, in fact, both alive and dead, because there is more than one cat involved, while according to the "advanced action plus hidden variables" interpretation championed by Huw Price, there is only one cat and it is indeed either alive or dead. In either of these cases it's fair to say that the cat may be dead, as the word "may" is commonly understood - the "uncertainty" in these two cases is due to our ignorance rather than any physical indeterminism. In the relative state interpretation, we don't know which branch we're in; in the advanced action interpretation, we simply don't know what's inside the box.

(Also, I believe the word you were looking for is "superposition", by the way...)

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Fri Mar 27 08:37:08 GMT 2009 by Vendicar Decarian

"Sorry, 'Schrodinger's cat may be dead.' Is an incorrect statement. Before observation it is in a supposition of deadness and aliveness - i.e. it is both, not one or the other." - John Roberts

Now John. Didn't you just finish claiming that science wasn't about proabilities, and that it was all about facts?

What is the probability that the cat is dead?

You do realize don't you that this superposition of states is applied to all closed systems that are not in contact with the near continuoum of energy levels in an external heat bath, and hence applies to every observation in science.

What were you saying about Science being about facts and not probabilities?

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Thu Mar 26 03:12:01 GMT 2009 by Mike from Oz

"when will be sure?"

When the water is lapping at your feet even as you are applying SPF+150 to your thick skull!

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Thu Mar 26 05:49:05 GMT 2009 by billisfree

Good job Frank - we're PROUD of you.

You seek truth and facts while everyone else is running around screaming their heads off in fear that the sky is falling.

You're going to make a great scientist!

This comment breached our terms of use and has been removed.

This comment breached our terms of use and has been removed.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Thu Mar 26 10:27:01 GMT 2009 by Gary

I don't always agree with everything you say, but sometimes you hit the nail right on the head. I couldn't agree more with your comments on this occasion.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Thu Mar 26 16:14:42 GMT 2009 by 0

<1

VD : 'Science is all about probabilities.'

Correct statement, and miserable for science in essance: probability theory is based on a fundamental assumption of 'identical, repeatable experiments.' Nothing in nature satisfies this assumption, and thus all science based on probability theory (and thus, statistics) is junk.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Fri Mar 27 08:40:39 GMT 2009 by Vendicar Decarian

"Nothing in nature satisfies this assumption, and thus all science based on probability theory (and thus, statistics) is junk." - 0

I guess you will either have to accept the fact that you will never have an absolute fact about the physical world, or put a bullet in your brain.

Your choice.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Thu Mar 26 16:33:03 GMT 2009 by James

"Science is all about probabilities." Vendicar

Yet all we hear about AGW is there is consensus. It IS happening. There are never probabilities attached when AlGore or James Hansen speak. It is always presented as absolute - absolute that humans are the cause. Absolute that humans can stop it

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Thu Mar 26 18:18:16 GMT 2009 by DonRoberto

Hmm --- most scientists consensually agree that nuclear bombs may kill people in the targeted area, yet there are people who have lived thru Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Using the climate deniers' logic, then, the jury must still be out on whether nukes kill people.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Fri Mar 27 08:55:19 GMT 2009 by Vendicar Decarian

"There are never probabilities attached when AlGore or James Hansen speak." - James

We sympathize with you James. And this is why the IPCC was created.

How odd it is that you Denialists refust to listen to the very agency thataddresses your complaints.

It's almost as if the Denialist are looking for a way to remain stupid..

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Thu Mar 26 17:49:40 GMT 2009 by dr gonzo

I have a suspicion that since you can't spell the word "suspicion", you are an idiot regurgitating lies promulgated by the energy companies and that you don't have an elementary grasp of the notion of the precautionary principle

This comment breached our terms of use and has been removed.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Thu Mar 26 20:39:29 GMT 2009 by Brian Nelson

Global Warming by Brian Nelson

-------------------------------------------

You are going to die if you keep driving your SUV.

God said so. Science (which is full of absolute truths) says so.

kthx,

Brian Nelson

Scientist who only speaks absolute truths about climate change and your SUV habits.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Fri Mar 27 09:55:32 GMT 2009 by Vendicar Decarian

"a). "The permafrost is melting fast..." How fast is fast?" - Franck

I provided estimates of the melting rate along with references to those measurments.

New Scientist Censors Decided to delete the data and the References.

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Fri Mar 27 10:15:34 GMT 2009 by Frank Bough

Dear VD

My Name is Frank

Is yours Scott?

Love Yah

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Sat Mar 28 21:27:10 GMT 2009 by graymatter

Vendicar Dildocar = HACK

Arctic Meltdown Is A Threat To Humanity Wheres The Facts

Fri Mar 27 17:16:10 GMT 2009 by Lee

Could you or could you not afford to ignore the possible consquences of likely action or inaction that may or may not be necessary or occur?

Words are lovely, and so it the world weather system.

The climate is a big and unpredicable thing. We should treat it with respect just for those reasons, let alone all the others.

Is It About Facts Or Trends?

Wed Mar 25 19:47:14 GMT 2009 by Chris Long

The problem with climate change deniers is that facts are never good enough. An ecologist reports an 'fact' that Siberian lakes are 5 times larger than when measured in 2006. The response targets the use of words like may, could and likely. What's wrong with being cautionary and non-absolute? The author is pointing out real changes that have been observed in the field. Semantics over the use of certain words is worthless.

Climate change is a moving target. Today's fact is tomorrow's ammunition for ridicule. Maybe we'll talk ourselves to death before nature gets us

Is It About Facts Or Trends?

Thu Mar 26 23:06:06 GMT 2009 by billisfree

Your logic goes both ways, Chris.

You too can be ridiculed in the future if AGW doesn't happen as predicted.

People have such short memories of the past. How many remember Alaska's "low snow" year... how many remember Alaska's "record snow" year in 2007? ALMOST NO ONE!

The good thing about all this... no one will remember what you or I said in the future!

Is It About Facts Or Trends?

Fri Mar 27 01:39:31 GMT 2009 by hurdygurdy

Well that's difficult to say. I was there for winter 2007, and there was precious little snow until December.

It snowed a bit in January, then it became unseasonably warm in February, and it all melted early.

It was a warm winter by Alaskan standards. Not only that but the previous three summers were wetter and cooler than usual.

What is alarming is the degree by which the glaciers have receded there. I visited some of the same areas 3 summers in a row. At one particular location the ice had receded about 250 meters

Is It About Facts Or Trends?

Sat Mar 28 06:45:04 GMT 2009 by billisfree

Thanks hurdygurdy, I value and appreciate your input.

I rechecked my sources, you're right... in 2007 SE Alaska had record snowfall. And Alaska had snowfall 70% of average. Fairbanks area had record cold temperatures during one month.

What year was it, when Alaska had a very low snow cover and everybody was wondering it that was irreflutable proof of global warming? I think is happened sometime about 15 years ago.

Is It About Facts Or Trends?

Fri Mar 27 09:06:05 GMT 2009 by Vendicar Decarian

"The good thing about all this... no one will remember what you or I said in the future!" - Chris

"Read my lips... No New Taxes...." - George Bush Sr.

"No one anticipated the levees would breach." - George Bush Jr.

"There is no housing bubble" - Rush Limbaugh

"Is that a pubic hair on that coke can." - Republican Supreme Court Justice Clarance Thomas.

"Borrowing a Trillion dollars Plus was the best thing we ever did." - Reagan Budget Director

"Society doesn't exist." - Margaret Thatcher

Is It About Facts Or Trends?

Fri Mar 27 14:31:32 GMT 2009 by graymatter

what in the world has this got to do with global warming science???

Can We All At Least Agree That It's Real?

Wed Mar 25 20:13:55 GMT 2009 by Joe

The cause may or may not be significantly influenced by people, but how can one say it isn't happening at all?

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Can We All At Least Agree That It's Real?

Thu Mar 26 16:30:12 GMT 2009 by James

"... everyone is absolutely free as long as they abide by the dictates of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

Don't you have any rules you must follow Vendicar? Or do you think everyone should be able to do what ever he/she wants and d*mn the consequences? Can't imagine there would be any problems with that sort of society huh?

Can We All At Least Agree That It's Real?

Sat Mar 28 10:03:39 GMT 2009 by Vendicar Decarian

"Don't you have any rules you must follow Vendicar? Or do you think everyone should be able to do what ever he/she wants and d*mn the consequences? " - James

I KNOW that people are free to do whatever they like. And I DEMAND that they accept and be held responsible for the consequences of their actions.

When are you planning to Execute your previous president for the commission of war crimes James?

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Can We All At Least Agree That It's Real?

Sat Mar 28 09:51:53 GMT 2009 by Vendicar Decarian

"how can one say it isn't happening at all?" - Joe

They lie. It's an essential part of the Conservative Ideology, and a part that it could not exist without.

I have never encountered a Denialist who wasn't a perpetual and congenital liar.

Can We All At Least Agree That It's Real?

Sat Mar 28 21:28:39 GMT 2009 by graymatter

Vendicar = HACK!!!!!

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