Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Arctic Crisis Worsens

Remember when I told you that We've Crossed a Threshold...? Well, have you been paying attention? I strongly suggest you visit The Cryosphere Today and read the entries for August 9, 2007 then the entry for August 28, 2007. I'll wait while you go do that.

Ok, read those entries? Has it sunk in yet? Sea ice reached a record low on August 9 of 3.98 million square kilometers. That is an all-time record with 6 weeks roughly left to go in the melt season. Now please pay attention. The sea ice minimum in the 1970s was 5.5 million square kilometers. Then in the 1980s it was 5.0 million square kilometers. Then in the 1990s it reached 4.5 million square kilometers. Then by 2005 we touched 4.01 million square kilometers as the prior record.

Then comes 2007. Oh my, does 2007 come roaring by! On August 9, 2007 we set a new record low of 3.98 million square kilometers! But just 19 days later we set a new minimum of 2.99 million square kilometers.

Did you get that yet? We lost one million square kilometers of sea ice in 19 days. People told me in email that I was nuts for projecting a sea ice free arctic by 2010 but guess who is laughing now? The jackasses out there still refuse to acknowledge that we are in a positive feedback loop. The change in sea ice level is definitely not linear yet the IPCC still refuses to model it any way except linear! And all of that open water is dark color and absorbs yet more heat rather than white and reflecting it away. What is this doing to the Greenland ice sheet? Anyone care to speculate? It sure is not going to make that ice sheet colder or more stable!

And yet the world continues to plod along, sleepwalking straight into the jaws of hell, throwing away all we have accomplished by being faithful to myths, superstitions, and lies. Our culture is showing that it is more important to continue the illusion of "business as usual" than to react to the multiple crises around us. Our culture is demonstrating its collective insanity.

I want to urge each of you to read Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. You need to understand that when there is harsh environmental mismanagement that any society's response to the damage it has inflicted becomes the ultimate arbiter of that society's ability to succeed. You need to understand that we are literally destroying our environment around us on a scale and with speed never before experienced in human history. You need to understand that "destruction of natural habitats (mainly through deforestation); reduction of wild foods; loss of biodiversity; erosion of soil; depletion of natural resources; pollution of freshwater; maximizing of natural photosynthetic resources; introduction by humans of toxins and alien species; artificially induced climate change; and, finally, overpopulation and its impact" are a combination of problems that no human civilization has faced all at once ever before. You need to realize that we are doing this on a global scale. And finally, you need to realize that you are destroying yourself as well as any future descendants.

Of course, no one will react to this. Some of you will read it and shrug. A few will read it and feel "concern" but actually change your lifestyle? Not a bloody chance. No, this is Chaco Canyon on a global scale and you are all going to be the players in this horror story. And when it comes to you eating your neighbor and whining about it, will any of you think that you could have done something to avoid that fate?


fossile said...

greyzone said

'And when it comes to you eating your neighbor and whining about it, will any of you think that you could have done something to avoid that fate?'

yep. chose not to partake.

avoid the horror? we are herd/group animals, & in the worst/best times especially so. So i agree; not likely to be avoided, but hopefully some our clan/friends will chose to attempt in the few chances we may get.

i gather you think/feel{fear} this exponential melting will cause a much faster timeframe for our severe crises[ 5-15 yrs. i say]. care to revise your ideas re such that you have guestimated.

i worry nuclear war will lead the way in this chaos/horror.

re 'Not a bloody chance' yes society wise. we are probably all choir members with more changes to make of course.

i'm not very informed about the melting. have we ever been close to this stage in prehistory?

feonixrift said...

We lost one million square kilometers of sea ice in 19 days.

We lost 1/4 of the remaining northern sea ice, in 19 days. After already being at a historic low. I don't see any way that winter is going to fully compensate for this. 2010 sounds like a reasonable estimate for total loss, but I would be unsurprised to see it next year.

Greyzone said...


No we have never been at this point ever before during the existence of homo sapiens (about the last 200,000 years). There have been a few warming periods between the beginnings of homo sapiens and now but none reached the temperature highs that we are going to reach in this warming period. To find a similarly warm time you have to go back about 6 million years, as I recall.


Agreed, I do not see the winter freeze restoring enough of this either. And the melt is still not done yet. We have until probably at least the 3rd week of September (traditionally) and now maybe a few more days/weeks after that since the entire area will remain far warmer due to more ocean (dark colored heat absorbing surface) than ice (white reflective surface) being there.

Adam said...

As to what this does to the Greenland ice sheet...very little directly. The ice sheets aren't directly connected. But they do both respond to the same things, like sun, snow, and general temperature, in the same area of the world. So one would think this is bad news for Greenland too, unless weather there has been oddly divergent from the rest of the northern arctic. I figure the real giveaway will be a large rise in ocean level...government and media will continue to ignore it until then, and then, oops! Who saw that coming?

Also, as to when the summer ice disappears completely, I would guess it still won't happen quite as quick as you think (cycles still happen even in a strong downward trend, next year might be close to this year, or it might not), although the 2030 estimate is looking rather silly with this year's data.

The plot of the minimum cover each year (
shows that from 1996-1998, there was a drop of about 1 million, immediately preceded by a similar huge increase in 1995. Of course, 1996 was a local maximum, and 1998 didn't turn out to be that unusual with respect to the next years. Even in the best case, it would seem unlikely the ice cover could approach 2006 levels again next year. What makes the massive drop this year stick out even more is that there it is relative to the already record low. The data since 1978 doesn't show anything resembling a large drop following an already record low. So yeah, it's probably worse than my mind will allow me to accept.

Erik said...

So does this mean that we will soon be raising crops year round in Alaska and northern Canada?

I'm only half kidding, since I am considering moving from Florida to Anchorage in the next six months.

I think that the ice-over-land is more stable than ice-over-water. Not that it won't eventually melt but it will take longer (not in geologic terms but in human lifetime terms). That's my hope, anyway.

BulcsĂș said...

We are past the tipping point. No life-style change would matter now. Convenient excuse maybe, but it does not make it untrue.

Is it bad? YES. But humanity needs a big kick in the ass. The sooner the better. I hope Iceland melts next year and it causes catastrophic flood. That would do it, hehe. Resource depletion will result in declining fossil fuel use anyway (Peak Oil, Peak Grain, etc). It is too late now to do anything. Hang on for the ride.... It is going to get rough.

BulcsĂș said...

I meant Greenland.

Oscar said...

Now, with the production of bio-fuels we will see how fast the desertification of the world can be achieved.
Seed missing ? Make it of oil (green revolution).
Oil missing ? Make it of seed (bio-...foolish).