Arctic Sea Ice Is in Record Low Territory (Again)

February 18th, 2016

By Brian Kahn

The winter of discontent in the northern latitudes continues.

Persistent warmth has baked the region, making snow a no show in parts of Alaska and, perhaps more importantly, slowing the growth of Arctic sea ice. Though it’s still likely a month before the Arctic sea ice reaches its maximum, the current trajectory is not a good one.

Slow and at times non-existent growth has already led to a record low January extent and preliminary data from February indicate sea ice continues to set daily record lows. It was just last year that Arctic sea ice set its record low winter extent, a record that could be short-lived.

January Arctic sea ice extent. The orange line shows the 1981-2010 average. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

As one of the key indicators of planetary health, the continued disappearance of sea ice raises major concerns about how the planet is faring as the climate warms.

The decline continues a long-term trend. Winter Arctic sea ice extent has been decreasing by 3.2 percent per decade since 1979 when accurate satellite measurements began. The region is warming at twice the rate as the rest of the globe, a trend that’s largely responsible for disappearing ice.

This year is no different with weirdly warm weather slowing sea ice’s annual growth across the region. Ice is missing in large areas across the Barents, Kara and East Greenland seas in the Atlantic region and the Bering Sea and Sea of Okhotsk in the Pacific side of the Arctic, according to NASA Earth Observatory. All told, sea ice extent was 402,000 square miles below average in January. That’s enough missing ice to cover an area four times the size of Colorado.

RELATED Watch 28 Years of Old Arctic Ice Disappear in One Minute Arctic Gets Check-Up: Temperature Highest on Record 2015 Arctic Sea Ice: How Low Will It Go?

The terms “heat wave” and “Arctic winter” are not usually synonymous, yet that’s what the main story has been in the region this winter (OK, heat wave might be a bit much so let’s call it a mild wave). Temperatures were as much as 23°F above normal in January, a key driver in the planet having its most abnormally warm month ever. That includes a period of time early in the month when temperatures cleared freezing around the North Pole, a rarity in a region where clearing 0°F is a stretch during the frigid winter.

Background conditions have also been warming, including the ocean which has driven some of this year’s loss.

“The low winter ice conditions in the Barents have been in part a result of the increase in Atlantic Ocean temperatures in the 1990s,” Julienne Stroeve, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, said.

She said that it’s possible ice losses could slow there — or they could even grow — due to the flood of cold water that’s been found there in recent years. The cold water isn’t exactly good news, though, as it’s being driven by increasing melt of Greenland’s ice sheet and is also slowing down the Atlantic Ocean’s main conveyor belt.

One thing that’s not clear is what this year’s low winter ice will mean for summer. After growing all winter, Arctic sea ice starts a decline in the spring before dwindling to a seasonal low, usually around late September.

Preliminary daily data showing 2016 Arctic sea ice extent. The graph also includes 2012, which set a record low minimum, and 2015, which set a record low maximum, as well as the median. Credit: NSIDC

If winter ice decline is a thing, then summer ice decline has been The Thing.

“Certainly the summer ice conditions are unprecedented with the nine lowest in the last nine years,” Stroeve said.

That includes the record set in 2012 as well as last year, which was the fourth-lowest extent ever recorded for Arctic sea ice.

It’s tempting to look at this winter’s anemic ice extent and think this summer could also be record low, but Stroeve cautioned against comparing the two. That’s because while climate change is driving the long-term downward trend in sea ice, weather events also play a major role in the ebb and flow of sea ice in a given year. Still, if the past decade (and longer) is any indication, this summer isn’t likely to set any records for highs.

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Excerpts from Freak Storms and Butterfly Die-Offs: This Is Your Climate on Fossil Fuels

Monday, 01 February 2016 00:00
Written by 
Dahr Jamail By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report

…In late December 2015, a freakish oceanic storm moved into the Arctic where it pushed temperatures 50 degrees above normal, even causing melting at the North Pole in the dead of winter.

Large die-offs of birds, whales, antelope and other animals across the globe are now being attributed, in large part, to ACD.

December brought wild weather events in other places too, as the UK saw its single wettest month ever recorded, with nearly double the average rainfall. That month in the UK also shattered temperature records, with an average temperature that was 4.1 degrees Celsius higher than the long-term average.

Worldwide, December saw the planetary temperature increased to 1.4 degrees Celsius above the 1890 average. The annual increase of warming for that month, compared to the previous December, according to Japan’s Meteorological Agency, was the equivalent of cramming 20 years of anthropogenic warming into just one 12-month warming period.

And warming trends are not slowing down. They are, instead, continuing to speed up.

The UK’s Meteorological Office recently released its global temperature forecast, and the agency is already predicting that 2016 will most likely be even warmer than 2015.

A look at recent scientific reports, coupled with extreme weather events around the world, show that this prediction is already well on its way to becoming a reality.


In parts of California, so much groundwater has been pumped from the earth that the land is literally sinking, an issue that is now costing that state billions of dollars as it struggles to repair damaged infrastructure.

Of course, humans are not the only ones affected by these rapid, sweeping changes. Large die-offs of birds, whales, antelope and other animals across the globe are now being attributed, in large part, to ACD.

ACD is even affecting the behavior of our planet as it makes its way around the solar system.

“Unprecedented” numbers of murre seabirds have met their fate in a massive die-off across large areas of Alaska, and scientists are attributing it to starvation caused by ecosystem changes fueled by ACD. This isn’t a huge surprise; data from studies from both 2007 and 2012 warned that melting snow and permafrost were causing huge drops in lemming populations, which would impact food sources for many species, causing a rippling effect across the entire ecosystem of that part of the world.

It’s not just fauna that is threatened – flora is also experiencing ACD-fueled die-offs. Across the US Southwest, a recent study warns that ACD could likely trigger a “massive” die-off of coniferous trees, including junipers and pinon pines, sometime during this century.

In the UK, the Butterfly Conservation charity recently released a study showing that three-quarters of the UK’s butterfly species have declined in just the past 40 years. Along with habitat destruction and the increased use of pesticides, ACD was named as one of the primary culprits.

ACD is even affecting the behavior of our planet as it makes its way around the solar system. Climate disruption has now been shown to be causing the rotation of the entire planet to slow, thus making days longer in length. This is due to the amount of melting taking place across the world’s glaciers, which is adding to global sea level rise from that melt water, which is what is slowing down rotation.

Melting ice in Antarctica, both on land and in the water, is causing a large number of countries to position themselves on the icy continent in an effort to exert influence, looking forward to the day when the treaties that currently protect that continent from resource extraction and militarization expire.


In Europe, the future of most of the continent’s ski industry is in doubt, as ACD-fueled temperatures are resulting in less snow and seasons are shortening.

Increasing planetary temperatures are now heating up all of the oceans – much faster than we previously thought. In fact, a recent study shows that the deep ocean has warmed as much in the last 20 years as it had during the previous 100 years combined.

Those warming water temperatures cause the water to expand, adding to rising sea levels already augmented by the ongoing melting of the planetary ice. The rising sea levels are particularly evident in Miami, where multimillion-dollar homes, roads and businesses are already being encroached upon by the sea. Eventually, they will be abandoned.

Making matters worse, even the depletion of groundwater from aquifers in places like California has recently been shown to be adding to rising sea levels, since much of it ends up flowing into the oceans.

“Where there were fish for decades, now there is very little.”

Meanwhile, within the oceans themselves, life as we’ve always known it is well on its way to being completely transformed. The extreme El Niño we are experiencing now, amplified by ACD, is warming water temperatures so much that major coral bleaching events, along with coral death events, are becoming widespread.

Water temperatures have already increased enough in the Indian Ocean that there has been a reduction in phytoplankton (the base of the food chain) by 20 percent, which means the food chain is rapidly diminishing. Thus, scientists are warning that the entire ocean could well become an “ecological desert” if things continue as they are.

“We seem to be spending more and more time out at sea looking for catch,” a 54-year-old fisherman who operates his boat up to 90 miles off the coast of Sri Lanka told Reuters recently. “Where there were fish for decades, now there is very little. It is strange, but all of us have been noticing that.”

A recent study by 16 authors shows that Greenland alone has lost more than 9 trillion tons of ice since 1900. And the rate of ice loss is increasing dramatically, with a doubling of ice loss per year between 2003 and 2010, compared to what the rate was throughout the last century.

To make matters worse, another recent study shows that Greenland is going to contribute in yet another way to global sea level rise, by the fact that rising global temperatures are changing Greenland’s ability to store excess water, which means more melting ice is likely running into the ocean than was previously believed.

Greenland saw a recent major melting event in January, of all months, which is disconcerting, to say the least.

Denial and Reality

It should come as little surprise that Sen. Ted Cruz leads the denial section in this month’s climate dispatch. The Republican presidential candidate, in the wake of the COP21 climate summit in Paris, said that if he were elected president he would withdraw the United States from the climate agreement.

In direct contradiction to Cruz’s statement, a Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that the majority of US Republicans actually support collaborating with other countries to work to mitigate ACD, and are even willing to take steps to do so.


US Coast Guard proposes development plans for $1 billion icebreakers for future polar expeditions

By Kevin Byrne, Staff Writer
January 26

As part of President Obama’s September trip to Alaska to discuss the fight against climate change, he emphasized the need for more icebreakers so the United States can operate year-round in the changing Arctic.

Now, four months later, the U.S. Coast Guard is making progress on meeting his request with the proposed development of two new heavy icebreakers, Reuters reports. Each ship will reportedly cost $1 billion.

In a Federal Business Opportunities solicitation posted Jan. 13, the Coast Guard said it is planning to host an industry day in March and one-on-one meetings with prospective shipbuilders and ship designers. A notional acquisition schedule has the production phase beginning in 2020, which adheres to the Obama Administration’s request that the timetable be accelerated from 2022.

RECORD-BREAKING: 2015 shatters record for warmest year

“The growth of human activity in the Arctic region will require highly engaged stewardship to maintain the open seas necessary for global commerce and scientific research, allow for search and rescue activities and provide for regional peace and stability,” the White House said back in September. “Accordingly, meeting these challenges requires the United States to develop and maintain capacity for year-round access to greater expanses within polar regions.”

The U.S. is trying to make up ground on Russia, which has a fleet of 41 icebreakers and another 11 planned or under construction. Petrochemical exploration and fisheries are just a couple of national interests at stake for the U.S. in this part of the world.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a 420-foot icebreaker homeported in Seattle, Wash., breaks ice in support of scientific research in the Arctic Ocean on Aug. 9, 2006. The vessel was commissioned in 2000. (Photo/U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Prentice Danner)

Currently, there are only two operational polar icebreakers at the Coast Guard’s disposal, the 399-foot Polar Star and the 420-foot Healy, which is the latest and most technologically advanced icebreaker in the fleet. The Polar Star, commissioned in 1976, is expected to remain in service through approximately 2020.

AccuWeather climate change blog
2015 shatters record for warmest year globally by largest margin yet
Three key things Obama did on historic Alaska tour to emphasize urgency of climate change

The Coast Guard also unveiled a list of design and operational requirements. One of them indicates that the icebreakers must be able to continuously push through at least 6 feet of ice, and as much as 8 feet while moving at a speed of 3 knots. In comparison, the Healy, a medium-sized icebreaker used primarily for research, can break 4.5 feet of ice continuously at 3 knots.

The icebreakers will be used in a variety of climates, including polar, tropical, dry and temperate. Ships will encounter air temperatures as low as minus 72 degrees Fahrenheit to as high as 114 F, the Coast Guard said.

In February of 2015, the Arctic sea ice maximum extent was the lowest value since records began in 1979. Additionally, the minimum extent in September was the fourth lowest on record.

“It is well understood that the Arctic is warming at a faster rate than the rest of the world. One of the reasons for this is the loss of sea ice,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson stated in a recent blog post. “As more sea ice is lost during the melt season, more open water is exposed. Open water is darker in color and has a lower albedo, which allows more of the sun’s heat to be absorbed by the surface.”

As a result of the decrease in sea ice, cruise ships are able to travel farther north and routine Arctic maritime traffic is anticipated by approximately 2020, the White House said.

Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Kevin Byrne at

Captain Paul Watson and Pamela Anderson Praise Newly Elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Pamela AndersonPamela AndersonSea Shepherd Conservation Society Founder Captain Paul Watson and actress/activist Pamela Anderson have written a congratulatory letter to Canada’s newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, referring to his election as akin to “a warm return of spring after a bitterly long winter.” Captain Watson and Anderson, both native Canadians, have a history of working together on international conservation issues, including the Canadian seal hunt.

Prime Minister Trudeau was recently elected after former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s many years of discounting the importance of environmental protection. Captain Watson and Anderson address the immediate need to not only “repair the damage that has been done” to fisheries, oceanic ecosystems and the environment, but to also “protect the ecological heritage of the far north.”

Anderson, who became chair of Sea Shepherd’s Board of Directors earlier this week, is a long-time Sea Shepherd supporter, and dear friend of Captain Watson. She has not only dedicated her time and resources to protecting human and animal rights, and environmental conservation, but she has also bravely fought alongside Sea Shepherd defending marine species on the frontlines.

Now, the Canadian people and moreover, the world, are hopeful Canada will play a greater role in protecting the environment, allowing for a brighter future for all. Sea Shepherd and the Pamela Anderson Foundation extend their interest, commitment and resources to partner with Prime Minister Trudeau’s new administration for the greater good.

PDFPaul Watson and Pamela Anderson’s Letter

Captain Paul Watson with a seal in front of the Sea Shepherd IICaptain Paul Watson with a seal in front of the Sea Shepherd

Record-Breaking Wildfires, Greenland Melting and Earth’s Hottest Month Ever

The following article from covers all that I was going to go over in Part 2 of Global Warming: the Future is Now, so here’s this instead:

Featured Image -- 10312

Dahr Jamail | The World on Fire:

The US is now officially in the worst wildfire season in its history, as almost 7.5 million acres across the country have burned up since spring.

Articles about ACD’s impacts are now being published in more mainstream outlets, carrying titles that include verbiage like “the point of no return,” and it is high time for that, given what we are witnessing.

A recently published study by the UK-US Taskforce on Extreme Weather and Global Food System Reliance revealed that “major shocks” to worldwide food production will become at least three times more likely within the next 25 years due to increasingly extreme weather events generated by ACD. One of the coauthors of the report warned of a “very frightening” future due to the synthesis of ACD and food demands from a constantly growing global population.

Meanwhile, July officially became the hottest month ever recorded on the planet, setting 2015 on course to easily become the hottest year ever recorded.

This month’s dispatch is replete with evidence of our growing crisis, including record-breaking amounts of ice being released from Greenland, more species under threat of extinction, and millions of acres of the planet burning up in wildfires across North America alone.


A trove of papers recently released in the journal Science have warned that the planet’s forests are all under major threat of being annihilated, due to the ever-expanding human footprint, coupled with ACD. The introduction to the studies reads: “These papers document how humans have fundamentally altered forests across the globe and warn of potential broad-scale future declines in forest health, given increased demand for land and forest products combined with rapid climate change.”

Speaking of which, another recent report, this one coming from the Center for Global Development, showed that the planet is on a trajectory to lose an amount of tropical forest land equivalent to the size of India by 2050.

Meanwhile, geologists with the US Geological Survey and researchers from the University of Vermont recently showed that Washington DC is, quite literally, sinking into the sea. “It’s ironic that the nation’s capital – the place least responsive to the dangers of climate change – is sitting in one of the worst spots it could be,” senior author of the paper, Paul Bierman, said. “Will the Congress just sit there with their feet getting ever wetter?”

At the moment, the answer to his question is obvious: The lawmakers that frequent our capital city are making no bold moves to address that city’s flooded future.

Food production, as aforementioned, is being dramatically undermined by ACD. In Nigeria, the country’s ability to feed itself is rapidly diminishing due to higher temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns. At least half the farmers there had been unable to even plant their crops at the time of this writing.

Animal species continue to bear the brunt of ACD all over the globe as well.

A recent study showed that in the UK, ACD is generating severe droughts that have placed several species of butterflies there at risk of extinction.

Another report showed how a disease spreading rapidly across the planet’s tadpole populations is now threatening the global frog population. Scientists who authored the report warn that this is further evidence of the sixth great extinction event the earth is now experiencing.

Another dismaying development: The ever-shrinking area of sea ice is deleteriously impacting the Arctic’s walrus population. This season could see another dramatic beaching event like that of last summer, in which 35,000 walruses dragged themselves out of the sea and onto a beach due to lack of sea ice.

Meanwhile, the ongoing drought in California has caused an “emergency situation” for trees in that state, as lack of water is causing unprecedented die-offs. The drought there is also wiping out several of the native fish populations, of which many are expected to disappear within the next two years if the drought persists.

Lastly in this section, unprecedented heat coupled with an intense drought has caused “glacial outbursts” on Washington State’s Mount Rainier. “Outbursts” occur when large pools of ice-melt form within the glaciers, then plunge from within the glacier, sending torrents of silt-filled water, boulders and trees down the slopes of the mountain, wiping out anything in its path.

While these outbursts have happened periodically throughout history, they are expected to increase in both frequency and severity as ACD progresses.


As usual, circumstances on the water front continue to worsen around the planet.

In the Pacific Northwestern region of the US, over a quarter million sockeye salmon heading up the Columbia River have either died or are in the process of dying due to warmer water temperatures. Biologists warn that at least half of this year’s returning fish will be wiped out, and ultimately as much as 80 percent of the total fish population could perish. Both Oregon and Washington states have already instituted closures of sport fishing due to the warmer waters and drought conditions persisting in both states.

In the Eastern Pacific Ocean, a giant bloom of toxic algae that is a threat to the health of both ocean species and humans alike spans from southern California all the way up to Alaska. Researchers are linking the size and intensity of the bloom to ACD. The bloom is already killing off sea lions that inhabit the coast and is still not showing signs of going away. Researchers said it was the largest bloom they had ever seen.

A report showed how ACD is in the process of rapidly reversing a natural phenomenon of 1,800 years of ocean cooling, while another study revealed that ocean acidification will continue and likely worsen, even if carbon sequestration and cleanup efforts were to begin in an immediate and dramatic fashion.

Back on land, droughts around the globe continue to make headlines.

One in Puerto Rico, that continues to worsen, has caused that country’s government to extend its dramatic water rationing measures, which have now been ongoing for weeks.

A study published in Geophysical Research Letters unequivocally linked California’s severe drought to ACD, saying that ACD has already “substantially increased” both the frequency and intensity of future droughts.

More news around the California drought emerged, showing that the river that runs through San Jose, the 10th largest city in the US, has dried up completely, severely harming fish and wildlife dependent on the water for their survival.

NASA released findings showing that California’s Central Valley, where the bulk of all the farming in the state takes place, is literally sinking, due to how much groundwater is being drawn out to compensate for the drought conditions. It is yet another destructive feedback loop: ACD has caused the drought to be far more severe than normal, which has caused humans to over-pump groundwater, leading to the sinking of the land.

The world’s glaciers are in peril. A disturbing report has shown that they have shrunk to their lowest levels ever witnessed in the history of record-keeping. They are melting at an accelerating rate – two to three times faster than the 20th century average melt rate.

As if to punctuate the findings of the report, the world’s fastest-melting glaciers, located in Greenland, recently lost the largest amount of ice on record in just a 48-hour period.

As a result of the incredible melting rates of glaciers, snowpack and ice fields around the globe, sea levels are now rising faster than ever.

Thus, as recently released research shows, global communities and cities located on river deltas – which includes over a quarter of a billion people – are at risk and will have to relocate.


Given the extensive record-breaking drought that has afflicted most of the western US, the fact that this summer’s fire season came in with a roar came as little surprise. Hardly halfway through the summer, fires across California, Washington, Colorado and in Glacier National Park in Montana were making headlines.

By early August, nearly 10,000 firefighters in California alone were battling at least 20 wildfires that had already forced more than 13,000  people to evacuate their homes.

Shortly thereafter, thousands of wildfires were raging across drought-plagued California, and before the middle of the month, a staggering 300,000 new acres were burning each day up in Alaska, where fires had scorched over 6 million acres thus far in the year, and hundreds of fires continued to burn. That makes this year already the second-largest wildfire season in Alaska’s history, with more of the summer remaining.

Reports have emerged warning of the impact of the fires upon Alaska’s permafrost: They have removed millions of acres of the tundra and forest that previously protected the frozen ground.

In early August, the US Forest Service announced that for the first time in the history of that department, it needed to spend over half of its entire budget on fighting wildfires.

Despite this, given the record-breaking drought conditions across the west, large numbers of the fires were left to burn out of control, due to high winds, dry conditions, and lack of fire-fighting capabilities and resources.


In case anyone had any doubt about how hot the planet is already becoming, the Iranian city of Bandar Mahshahr experienced a heat index of 165 degrees in August, nearly setting a world record for heat index measurements, which factor in humidity along with temperature.

In July, incredibly hot temperatures in Tajikistan caused a rapid melting of glaciers, which triggered flooding and mudslides that generated nearly 1,000 ACD refugees.

Meanwhile, across the Middle East in August, more than 20 people died and nearly 100 had to be hospitalized due to incinerating heat that baked the region, along with intense humidity levels. Basra, Iraq, saw 123 degrees, and the Iraqi government had to instate a four-day “holiday” so people wouldn’t feel obliged to work in the stifling heat.

Lastly in this section, a recent report stated that Texas will likely see a dramatic escalation in heat-related deaths and coastal extreme storm-related losses in the upcoming decades due to escalating ACD impacts.

Denial and Reality

There is never a dull moment in the “Denial and Reality” section.

Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton’s stated plan to address abrupt ACD, which amounts to federal subsidies for solar panels, was immediately labeled as “silly” in early August, just after Clinton’s plan was announced, by leading climate scientist James Hansen, who headed NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies for more than three decades.

“You cannot solve the problem without a fundamental change, and that means you have to make the price of fossil fuels honest, “Hansen said of her plan. “Subsidizing solar panels is not going to solve the problem.”

During a recent forum, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz went on the record expressing full-on denial of ACD, saying that the debate about ACD was a “device” used by liberals to appeal to “environmentalist billionaires and their campaign donations.”

On another front, builders in San Francisco are moving forward with plans to construct major bay-front developments of office space and homes worth more than $21 billion, in areas that are extremely susceptible to flooding – despite dire warnings of imminent sea-level rise.

On the bad news front for the deniers, however, a recent study showed there is absolutely no link between sunspot activity and ACD … a fabricated argument the deniers enjoy trotting out to try to “disprove” reality.

More bad news for the deniers comes, once again, from the Pope, who set up an annual Catholic Church “day of care” for the environment. The Pope said the day would be a chance for the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics to “thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live.”

And Catholics aren’t the only faith leaders working to do something to address ACD.

Islamic religious and environmental leaders from around the world recently issued a call to rich countries, along with those that are oil producers, to end all fossil fuel use by 2050 and to begin rapidly ramping up the institution and use of renewable energy sources.

The Islamic leadership, which issued “The Islamic Climate Declaration,” said the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims have “a religious duty to fight climate change.”

The final blow to ACD deniers in this month’s dispatch comes from none other than the US Department of Defense, which issued a report to Congress that said that ACD poses a “present security threat” that is not only a “long-term risk,” but poses immediate short-term threats as well.


Obama defends Arctic drilling decision on eve of Alaska climate change trip

Barack Obama has been forced to defend his decision to allow the hunt for oil in the last great wilderness of the Arctic, on the eve of an historic visit to Alaska intended to spur the fight against climate change.

The three-day tour – which will include a hike across a shrinking glacier and visits to coastal communities buffeted by sea-level rise and erosion – was intended to showcase the real-time effects of climate change.

But a defensive White House was forced to push back against campaigners who accuse Obama of undermining his environmental agenda by giving the go-ahead to Shell to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea, only weeks after rolling out his signature climate change plan.

Obama would use the visit to draw public attention to those consequences: the retreat of sea ice, land loss due to melting permafrost and coastal erosion, increasingly severe storms and growing risk of wildfires.

Climate Change Downplayers are Almost as Bad as Outright Deniers

In terms of potential harm to the planet, these so-called “experts” (often with no direct knowledge of how the weather is supposed to behave or how far off kilter things have gotten these days) are sometimes as bad for the planet as outright deniers…

MOUNT RAINIER NATIONAL PARK, Wash. (AP) – Seattleites without air conditioning aren’t the only ones suffering from record-setting temperatures this summer.

The glacier-covered faces of Mount Rainier are melting faster than usual this year, creating conditions on the mountain more like August or September just a few days into July….

Things have been looking different for the last 40 years, at least, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report that found Mount Rainier glaciers had lost 14 percent of their volume from 1970 to 2008.

But while global warming is fingered for shrinking glaciers, it may not be behind the most recent hot weather, according to University of Washington atmospheric science professor Cliff Mass.

Mass said the warmer weather over roughly the last year – and especially the last few weeks – is so out of the ordinary that it can only be attributed to natural variations in weather.

“If you have a very, very extreme situation, global warming can’t be the cause of most of it,” Mass said. “Global warming isn’t large enough to be the cause of it.”


Also see:

No, Arctic sea ice is not going to be okay

One of the most obvious effects of global climate change is that it’s causing ice to melt all over the world, especially at the planet’s frozen poles. Ice losses have been observed for years now in glaciers and ice sheets, as well as in Arctic sea ice — the ice that floats on top of the ocean. In a confusing twist, though, new research published Monday is showing that there was a large increase in Arctic sea ice in 2013, rather than a decrease.

It’s just the kind of news often seized upon by climate skeptics as a way to undermine the concept of anthropogenic global warming. However, making sense of these observations requires a deeper understanding of long-term trends in sea ice and the factors that affect it from one year to the next.

Overall, Arctic sea ice has experienced a decreasing trend since the 1970s — however, its extent still fluctuates slightly from one year to the next depending on local climate-related conditions, sometimes increasing a bit from one year to the next, and other times decreasing. Despite these little annual fluctuations, the overall trend observed for decades now still shows that we’re losing ice in the long term.


Tell the Feds NO Arctic Offshore Drilling

From Ocean

Breaking: The U.S. government is beginning to make plans for future offshore oil and gas operations—and those plans could open Arctic waters to risky drilling.

This follows Shell Oil’s decision to abandon Arctic drilling this summer, after an accident-plagued 2012.

If a disaster like BP Deepwater Horizon happened in the Arctic, spill response would be even more challenging. The Arctic’s sea ice, freezing temperatures, gale force winds, and lack of visibility could make cleanup next to impossible.

The government’s public comment period ends on July 31, so we only have 10 days to respond. We need you to tell the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to say no to risky Arctic drilling now.

Take a stand against oil and gas operations in the Arctic Ocean. Act now, and tell BOEM not to open additional Arctic waters to oil and gas drilling!

The Arctic Ocean and all those who depend on it are already under stress. The rapidly changing climate, including extreme deterioration of the summer sea ice, is putting Arctic marine animals at risk. Many people who live in coastal communities in the Arctic depend on a clean and healthy ocean to support their subsistence way of life. Offshore drilling for oil and gas would expose this already fragile ecosystem to significant noise, pollution and traffic.

Stand against risky oil and gas operations in the Arctic Ocean. Tell BOEM not to open additional Arctic waters to oil and gas drilling!

also see:


It’s Not Rocket Science, Warmer Oceans = Stronger Hurricanes

Meteorologists have for the most part been ducking the topic of global warming in relation to Hurricane Sandy in the same way that biologists try to steer clear of the subject of animal sentience or the AMA avoids any mention of the link between the consumption of animal products and the increased rate of heart disease, diabetes and cancers in this country.

History’s greatest scientists have all been free-thinkers, unafraid of pushing the limits of human understanding. But it seems most out there today are content in their mediocrity—let’s not have anything groundbreaking or earthshattering interfere with business as usual, interrupt the flow of funding or threaten a precious reputation.

Yet, a few scientists are beginning to tip-toe gingerly into the fray by tentatively linking “Superstorm” Sandy to the effects of the unprecedented anthropogenic increase of carbon in the atmosphere and the subsequent weather extremes we’ve been seeing in recent decades.

According to an October 30th blog post in Scientific American, “Scientists have long taken a cautious stance, but more are starting to drop the caveat and link climate change directly to intense storms and other extreme weather events, such as the warm 2012 winter in the eastern U.S. and the frigid one in Europe at the same time. They are emboldened because researchers have gotten very good in the past decade at determining what affects the variables that create big storms.”

In answer to just how Hurricane Sandy was intensified by global warming, Scientific American explains: “Climate change amps up other basic factors that contribute to big storms. For example, the oceans have warmed, providing more energy for storms. And the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture, which is drawn into storms and is then dumped on us.”

Additionally, climate scientists, such as Charles Greene at Cornell University, have recently shown that as more Arctic sea ice melts in the summer—because of global warming—the Jet Stream is more likely to take the kind of big southward dip in the U.S., Canada and the Atlantic that occurred during hurricane Sandy.

The term, “global warming,” adds to the confusion of naysayers who point to wintertime cold temperatures and freak blizzards as “proof” that the Earth is not really getting warmer. A clearer name for the contentious phenomenon would be “atmospheric warming” or “ocean warming,” since that’s what’s really happening and because that’s scientifically indisputable. Warming ocean temperatures are responsible for the climate changes affecting us all on the land, but of course, one overly-successful species, who shall remain nameless (okay, it’s Homo sapiens), is ultimately responsible for heating up the atmosphere and the oceans to begin with.

Humans can no longer plead ignorance. Back in 2007 a Scientific American article by Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, wrote an article titled, “Warmer Oceans, Stronger Hurricanes.” He concluded that although the number of Atlantic hurricanes each year might not rise, the strength of them would. And according to Munich Re, one of the world’s largest insurance firms, “Climate change particularly affects formation of heat-waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity.”

Oliver Stone, the acclaimed writer/director of pioneering films such as Platoon, JFK, Nixon, and W, called Sandy “punishment for Obama and Romney ignoring climate change.” In an interview with HuffPost Live on Tuesday, the filmmaker expressed dismay that neither presidential candidate has been willing to talk about global warming, either before or after the superstorm that ravaged the entire East Coast and beyond. Stone hopes the storm’s silver lining is that President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, pull a U-turn on climate change.

“I was a little disappointed at the third debate when neither of them talked about climate control and the nature of the situation on earth,” Stone said. “I think there’s a kind of a weird statement coming right after it. This is a punishment. Mother Nature cannot be ignored.”

It Ain’t Gonna be Pretty

Over the ages, humans have more than proved their point—they’re the dominant ones. Nowadays they’re just rubbing Nature’s face it in. But they won’t feel so dominant when Mother Nature decides to really put up a fight. Once she gets started, it ain’t gonna be pretty, and man, you’ll curse the day you were born. It’s not like she hasn’t given plenty of fair warning, but every time she summons up an epic hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, for example, humans react like a ants at  an anthill, and scurry to raise their levees, dikes and sea walls a little higher and rebuild their off-shore oil platforms.

Hurricane Katrina destroyed over 100 off-shore oil rigs (one of which floated for 50 miles before coming to rest in the shallows), while this year’s Isaac put 44 of them out of commission. The financial pages were quick to share the news that the Gulf of Mexico oil production was reduced by 901,726 barrels per day as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Yet the media barely covered the massive oil spills then, and we never heard much about the half million gallons of oil that sloshed into the Gulf after Hurricane Ike in Texas. Nor is there ever much talk of the persistent leaks and pollution that comes from the rigs; spills of more than 60,000 gallons scarcely make the news outside southern Louisiana.

It wasn’t long ago that there were no oil platforms in that pristine body of water that’s been a spawning ground for blue fin tuna and home to sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and an astounding array of bird life. Now oil derricks in the Gulf are considered a fact of life—but the ecosystem has suffered dearly for it.

Are we going to see a repeat of this scenario in the Arctic, now that anthropogenic climate change has caused the polar icecap to retreat far enough that the President just approved Shell oil to start drilling up there?

Carbon is a waste product of life and the atmosphere needs a certain amount of it to keep temperatures comfortable enough for life to thrive here. Yet never before in the long history of the earth has one species tapped into the vast pools and veins of carbon, safely stored underground for millions of years, and lit a match to it.  Now the one species who prides itself in being smarter than the others is using up its limited brain capacity devising ways to commandeer the planet’s carrying capacity, while smothering the atmosphere with the carbon of the eons in just a few short centuries.

From fashioning the first tools out of stone (a feat that our vegan cousins the bonobos have accomplished as well) to learning to raise food crops, experimentation has brought our species to where it is today. But now we’ve turned the whole planet into our own personal petri dish. God only knows what sort of punishment Mother Nature has in store for us when she wearies of our infernal domination games.