Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A key government report on climate change has leaked. Here's what you need to know


Popular Science                 MARY BETH GRIGGS          August 8th 2017

The New York Timespublished a draft of a long-awaited government report on climate change on Monday night, and the picture it paints is dire.

Though the copy obtained by The New York Times isn't the final version, with some figures and citations still waiting to be inserted into the text, the authors' words are precise, unequivocal, and unflinching.

"Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are primarily responsible for the observed climate changes over the last 15 decades. There are no alternative explanations. There are no apparent natural cycles in the observational record that can explain the recent changes in climate (e.g., PAGES 2K 2013; Marcott et al. 2013). In addition, natural cycles within the Earth's climate system can only redistribute heat; they cannot be responsible for the observed increase in the overall heat content of the climate system (Church et al. 2011). Internal variability, alternative explanations, or even unknown forcing factors cannot explain the majority of the observed changes in climate (Anderson et al. 2012)."
The clear language used in the Executive Summary of the report is backed up by mountains of scientific data, and a veritable deluge of studies reports and figures that preceded this iteration. Each data point has been used to strengthen our understanding of how the climate is actively changing and warming. But the decades of investigation hasn't been easy, and the researchers who have worked on the report have faced considerable cultural opposition to their findings.

In the article accompanying the 545 page document, the New York Times mentioned that it spoke to one of the many government scientists who helped create the report. The source feared that the report would be suppressed, and requested anonymity to speak to the paper.

There is some precedent for the executive branch attempting to block reports like this, as Columbia Law professor Michael Gerrard noted on Twitter Monday night:

Congress requires the report to be submitted every four years as a part of the National Climate Assessment. The last report, published in 2014 was produced with the help of 300 climate experts overseen by a 60 member governing committee.
This draft is the fourth such report and was scheduled to be released next year. The first drafts of each of the 28 chapters in the document were gathered together in June.

Among the many findings of the report, it states that "The global, long-term, and unambiguous warming trend has continued in recent years." with 15 of the last 16 years being among the warmest on record, and the global average temperature across both land and sea rising by 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Much of that warming (1.2 degrees Fahrenheit) happened between 1951 and 2010, and the report says that warming was "extremely likely" to have been caused by humans.

Those temperatures are expected to rise if we continue to emit greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, with more emissions equating to higher temperatures. Heat waves, and drenching rains are very likely to become more common around the world. Storms, droughts, and floods are also expected to increase in some regions, but in some ways, that's down to where you live. In the Arctic, the pace is faster than the rest of the world, and changes in landscape, resources, and water supplies are coming quickly.

While some aspects of climate change are extremely regional—some areas will dry out as others drown—all the regions of the world are connected in some way. Climate shifts in the Tropics or the Arctic have impacts on the United States. And not all the changes are happening on land. The vast majority of our planet is covered with water and the oceans are absorbing up to 90 percent of the excess heat that we generate. Those warming seas are rising. At the same time, those waters are absorbing carbon dioxide, becoming much more acidic.

There are some things that the report can't fully anticipate, which it readily acknowledges. These are the surprises that are littered along our future path. There are tipping points, like the collapse of ocean currents or ice sheets, which we can't put back together when they all fall apart. Then there are compound events–heat waves layered on wildfires layered on droughts, or flooding coupled with heavy rainfall all sprinkled atop sea level rise. These multi-faceted events could happen independently, or they could happen coupled with a tipping point, or two, or three, and researchers still don't have a clear picture of what the result of those deadly combinations might be.

Weather, as the report notes, examines short term change in our atmosphere, while climate is the statistics of weather. We see the weather getting weirder all the time, and according to this report, our future climate forecast is muddled, and tempestuous, and unprecedentedly hot. There is still a chance to reduce emissions, take up alternative fuel sources, or start studying geoengineering options in case we find that—in a very extreme situation—we must change the world again (on purpose this time). A less frantic climate future is not something that any one person or any one government can achieve, but it is something that anyone can work towards.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

I really hope you keep this blog going Nee. You can do so much good with it and fight back against Mr Trump's ignorance. You can inform and educate and one day you will be proud that you did. It's a most worthy cause.
Best of luck
Jeannie.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL.
LOVE AFFAIR WITH
 PUTIN AND KIM JONG UN IS NOT.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Legacy of the human race .... Venimus, vidimus, et destruir



Henderson Island is part of the UK's Pitcairn Islands group

An uninhabited island in the South Pacific is littered with the highest density of plastic waste anywhere in the world, according to a study. Henderson Island, part of the UK's Pitcairn Islands group, has an estimated 37.7 million pieces of debris on its beaches.
The island is near the centre of an ocean current, meaning it collects much garbage from boats, large ships and South America. Researchers hope people will "rethink their relationship with plastic".
The joint Australian and British study said the rubbish amounted to 671 items per square meter and a total of 17 tons.
"A lot of the items on Henderson Island are what we wrongly refer to as disposable or single-use," said Dr Jennifer Lavers from the University of Tasmania.


The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, described how remote islands act as a "sink" for the world's rubbish.
In addition to fishing items, Henderson Island was strewn with everyday things including toothbrushes, cigarette lighters and razors.


Could plastic roads help to save the planet? It is one solution being studied.

"Land crabs are making their homes inside bottle caps, containers and jars," Dr Lavers said.
"At first it looks a little bit cute, but it's not. This plastic is old, it's sharp, it's brittle and toxic." Aquatic animals are being put at high risk from the toxins in our garbage, even though they are attempting to adapt to it.
A large number of hard hats of "every shape, color and size" were also discovered, the marine scientist said.
Henderson Island is listed by Unesco as a coral atoll with a relatively unique ecology, notable for 10 rare plant and four bird species.
It is 190km (120 miles) from Pitcairn Island, about 5,000km from Chile, and sits near the centre of the South Pacific Gyre - a massive rotating current.

 
The researchers estimate the rubbish to total 37.7 million pieces

The condition of the island highlighted how plastic debris has affected the environment on a global scale, Dr Lavers said.
"Almost every island in the world and almost every species in the ocean is now being shown to be impacted one way or another by our waste," she said.
"There's not really any one person or any one country that gets a free pass on this."
She said plastic was devastating to oceans because it was buoyant and durable.
The research was conducted by the University of Tasmania's Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, and the Centre for Conservation Science at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
There is no longer any safe habitat for wildlife. We have poisoned every corner of the planet on land and in water and even defiled the air we need to breath. Is there any hope for our wildlife ?? Where the creatures of the earth go, we follow. If we had the ability to look two hundred years into the future, I do not think we'd recover from the shock.

Mr Trump ... Global Warming needs global co-operation

Donald Trump


'Assailed by "enemies" on all sides, the most "unfairly" treated politician in the history of ever', (Wait ... What??) has at least had the consolation of knowing that his emissaries to the latest UN climate talks just finished in Bonn have followed his dictum to the letter. Or have they??
The new White House, in case you missed it, takes a very different view on climate change than the majority of countries in the world.
The Donald Trump-era perspective is that climate change is essentially an exaggerated threat, that coal, oil and gas are tremendous, and that the Paris agreement is a bad deal for America and should be "cancelled".
Given that almost all the small US delegation to Bonn were people who have previously been involved in climate discussions under the Obama administration, it must have been quite the mental u-turn to be instructed to keep repeating the mantra in climate discussions : "Our position is under review."
However, President Trump may be a little distressed to hear that instead of a stony faced resistance to the global warmist hordes in Bonn, the US team has actually been seen as playing quite a positive role.
In fact, one of the areas of discussion that made the most progress in these talks was the shock and horror of COP22 members driven by the US stance.
"What we have seen, to our relief,  is a generally constructive team," said Yamide Dagnet from the World Resources Institute, an observer at these talks.
"One of the US team was co-facilitator with China of the transparency discussion - this is one of the building blocks of the Paris agreement that made the most progress during this session. So we are quite pleased that there was still a constructive engagement."
The skilled negotiators from 180-plus countries involved in these talks have been doing their best to send soothing signals to Washington that everyone would be better off if the US was to stay in the game.
Fiji will become the first small island developing country to hold the presidency of the key annual meeting of negotiators, COP23, which will be held in November, again in Bonn. The woman who will lead the talks, Fijian climate ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan, reached for an appropriate Pacific island metaphor when discussing continued US participation.
"It's very important that all members of the family stay in the canoe and that we paddle in the same direction, and that nobody jumps out," she told BBC News, without specifying the creek up which the aforementioned canoe would be travelling.
"But if they don't (stay) what are our options? The answer is we carry on with the work program and we do it with or without members of the family who have decided to bail out."
Another perhaps less subtle signal has been sent by the European Union.
It is convening a ministerial meeting next week for the first time with representatives of China and Canada to discuss climate issues.
The inference in this is that Asia, Europe and the Americas are prepared to move ahead on climate without the US. Some observers in Bonn welcomed the move.
"This is our hour of need, when we need to see other countries stepping up to ensure that the world remains on course," said Mohammed Adow from Christian Aid
"What we've heard is a clear, strong message from Europe that it is going to help cultivate the diplomatic leadership that is required to keep the world on course.
"Climate change won't wait until we have a better leader in the White House or until the White House gets serious about its commitments because we know the world is warming."
However, others were somewhat worried that overtly trying to force the issue might be the wrong approach, given the temperamental nature of the current US president.
"I think pressure may well be the wrong tactic right now," said Elliot Diringer, a Clinton-era White House press spokesman and a former member of US delegations to the UN climate talks.
"Decision-making in this White House is highly unpredictable and the president can react defensively when pushed against the wall.
"I think the better approach is to encourage the US to stay in and be as ambitious as it can be."
A decision on future US participation is likely after next week's G7 summit in Taormina,

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Washed Up Killer Whale Is Most Polluted Animal On Earth



Image result for contaminated washed up whale

A DEAD KILLER WHALE THAT WASHED UP ON THE SHORE OF A SCOTTISH ISLAND LAST JANUARY WAS THE MOST POLLUTED ANIMAL EVER SEEN ON EARTH, ACCORDING TO A NEWLY RELEASED REPORT. THE WHALE HAD THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF POLYCHLORINATED BIPHENALS, OR PBCS, EVER RECORDED IN AN ANIMAL, ACCORDING TO THE SCOTTISH MARINE ANIMAL STRANDING SCHEME.


An analysis of the orca, who scientists named Lulu, revealed that her blubber had concentrations of PBC 100 time higher than the threshold for marine mammals. And despite being at least 20 years old, the whales ovaries showed she had never reproduced, likely the result of such a toxic concentration of pollutants in her body.
“Previous studies have shown that killer whale populations can have very high PCB burdens, but the levels in this case are some of the highest we’ve ever seen,” said Dr. Andrew Brownlow, head of the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme. “We know Lulu died from becoming entangled, but given what is known about the toxic effects of PCBs, we have to consider that such a high pollutant burden could have been affecting her health and reproductive fitness.”
PCBS, chemicals used in electrical and industrial equipment, were used liberally starting in the 1920s. From then until 1979, an estimated 1.5 billion pounds of PCBs were manufactured, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The U.S. government banned the chemicals in 1979 after researchers discovered they were harmful to humans and the environment. But to this day, they’re still leaching into oceans and other habitats. Researchers found PCBs in the furthest reaches of the planet, more than 36,000 feet down in the ocean, according to a study published in February.
“Once PCBs get into the marine environment, they are difficult if not impossible to remove,” said Brownlow. “They accumulate through food webs and persist over time.”
The pervasiveness of the chemicals does not bode well for the pod that Lulu came from. A small group of only eight whales typically seen off the west coast of Scotland, a recorded calf birth hasn’t been seen in the 23 years that scientists have been monitoring it.
“Lulus apparent infertility is an ominous finding for the long term survivability of this group. With no new animals being born, It is now looking increasingly likely that this small group will eventually go extinct,” said Brownlow. “One of the factors in this group’s apparent failure to reproduce could be their high burden of organic pollutants.”
Whales and dolphins have been washing up on beaches around the world with stomachs full of plastic bags and other plastic materials which, their digestive tracts cannot digest, break down or expel from their bodies.
If pollution of our oceans and forests continue unabated for a couple more centuries, all animals in the wild will become extinct, except perhaps all species of insects. Insects have a remarkable adaptivity. So it will be us and the bugs vying for disappearing food, water, and habitat.  And then it will just be the bugs, until it gets too hot on the planet for them to survive. What a splendid future for our descendants.

Stop before it's too late



Monday, May 1, 2017

Sign NOW to urge the White House to stay in the Paris Climate Agreement!

Urge the White House to Stay In and Support the Invaluable Paris Climate Agreement  http://genun.unausa.org/paris_agreement

The United States was a leader in crafting the historic Paris Climate Agreement, but now the U.S. administration is debating whether or not to back out of it. It’s up to us to urge U.S. leaders to maintain our momentum in this vital climate accord.

The Paris Agreement unites all nations around a common goal for our planet: to reduce the pollution that is changing the earth’s climate and causing dangerous global warming that affects human health and our environment. But U.S. participation in the agreement is under threat.

No nation can afford to slow its efforts in the fight against global warming, which is already impacting the United States and countries around the globe.This isn’t just about the environment – this is about health, jobs, national security, the economy, and so much more.

The United States can’t afford for other countries to take the lead on the new climate economy, and the world cannot afford for the United States to abandon its role as a global leader in meeting this challenge.

The administration is currently reconsidering America's role in the climate agreement, so there’s no time to lose. We’re gathering and delivering signatures to top White House officials at the end of this month, and we need you to join us!
Add your voice NOW to urge the White House to stay in and support an ambitious Paris Agreement.  http://genun.unausa.org/paris_agreement

Sunday, April 30, 2017

EPA Wipes Its Climate Change Site as Tens of Thousands March in Washington



Protesters march away from the US Capitol on Saturday in Washington.
Washington


Thousands march through Chicago on 100th day of Trump presidency
Chicago
Toronto
One of my favorite Toronto groups....The Raging Grannies
A woman holds a sign in her right hand reading "dump trump" with a photo of trump's face crossed out on it
Boston
A lane of the highway in los angeles is packed with protesters
Los Angles

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s main climate change website is “undergoing changes” to better reflect “the agency’s new direction” under Donald Trump.
The announcement, made late Friday evening, left empty what was previously the “official government site” providing “comprehensive information on the issue of climate change and global warming”.
The change came a day before thousands gathered in Washington DC and other U.S. cities to protest inaction on climate change, and hours before the symbolic 100-day mark of the Trump administration. In fact demonstrations took place in many countries to protest Mr Trump's attitude.
At the marquee climate protest, the Peoples Climate March in Washington, tens of thousands made their way down Pennsylvania Avenue in sweltering heat on their way to encircle the White House. Temperatures neared 90 degrees Saturday, well above the average high of 71 degrees for April 29, according to Weather.com. It seems global warming was sending it's own message to Mr Trump.
Organizers said about 300 sister marches or rallies were being held around the country, including in Seattle, Boston, Denver and San Francisco. In Chicago, marchers headed from the city’s federal plaza to Trump Tower.
Some of the marches drew celebrity attendees, including former Vice President Al Gore and actor Leonardo DiCaprio in the capital and senator and former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Bernie Sanders at an event in Montpelier, Vermont.
“Honored to join Indigenous leaders and native peoples as they fight for climate justice,” DiCaprio tweeted.
Any marchers who used their phones to look at the EPA climate change website would have been greeted with a message from the new administration: “ This page is being updated.”
“As EPA renews its commitment to human health and clean air, land and water, our website needs to reflect the views of the leadership of the agency,” said JP Freire, an associate administrator for public affairs.
Previously, the website housed data on greenhouse gas emissions from large polluters and reports on the effects of climate change and its impact on human health.
“We want to eliminate confusion,” Freire said, “by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law.”
Information from previous administrations is archived as a link from the EPA’s website.
The EPA is currently led by Scott Pruitt, a former Oklahoma attorney general who has denied that carbon dioxide causes global warming.
The Trump administration has called for budget cuts of nearly one-third at the EPA and has sought to weaken protections for human health. For instance, the White House has proposed cutting funding and regulations regarding lead poisoning prevention and is considering rewriting regulations concerning smog.
It has already rolled back a law that prevented coal mining companies from dumping waste in streams.
An article written by Senator Sanders of Vermont made an economic case for a focus on industries meant to ameliorate the effects of climate change, rather than those which contribute to it.
The senator wrote: “No matter what agenda President Trump and his administration of climate deniers push, it is clear that jobs in clean energy like wind and solar are growing much more rapidly than jobs in the coal, oil and gas sectors.”
The truth is that Mr Trump cannot halt progress on climate change, alternate fuels and energy sources. He cannot turn back the clock or obliterate scientific knowledge. If he thinks  he can blindside the American people he is very much mistaken; there are too many intelligent and informed citizens our there.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Plastic eating caterpillars could be the answer to plastic waste in oceans and landfills

Wax worm caterpillars in petri dish
plastic eating caterpillars

In a chance discovery, a research team from Europe has learned that a common insect larva is capable of breaking down the plastic found in shopping bags and other polyethylene-based products. This trash-munching caterpillar could inspire scientists to develop a new chemical process to tackle the growing problem of plastic waste.
Advertisement

Beekeepers are all too familiar with the larvae of the moth Galleria Mellonella, also known as the wax moth. This daring insect has the audacity to lay its eggs inside of bee hives, where they hatch and thrive on beeswax. But as a new study published in Current Biology shows, these caterpillars are not just capable of breaking down beeswax, they can also break down plastic—and that’s probably not a coincidence. The chemical processes are likely similar, and researchers are now excited by the prospect of developing a biotechnological approach to the plastic waste that chokes oceans, rivers, and landfills.



Like so many other scientific discoveries, this one was assisted by a bit of luck. Study co-author Federica Bertocchini of the Spanish National Research Council happens to be an amateur beekeeper. While removing the parasitic pests from the honeycombs in her beehives, she noticed that the plastic bags she used to store the caterpillars became riddled with holes in less than an hour. Like the good scientist that she is, she decided to investigate further, recruiting biochemist Paolo Bombelli from the University of Cambridge to help out.
In experiments, the researchers exposed 100 caterpillars to a plastic polyethylene bag obtained at a UK supermarket. After just 40 minutes, holes began to appear in the bag, and after 12 hours the larvae had managed to reduce the amount of plastic by as much as 92 milligrams. That’s incredibly fast—even faster than the plastic-munching bacteria reported last year, which were capable of biodegrading plastic at a rate of 0.13 mg per day.

In subsequent tests, the researchers ground the caterpillars into a paste, smearing it onto the plastic. The bags degraded in a similar fashion, indicating that chemicals in the caterpillar’s body—likely in the gut—are responsible for the action. Naturally, this has the researchers excited, and they’ve already filed a patent on their discovery.
“If a single enzyme is responsible for this chemical process, its reproduction on a large scale using biotechnological methods should be achievable,” said Bombelli in a statement. “This discovery could be an important tool for helping to get rid of the polyethylene plastic waste accumulated in landfill sites and oceans.”
Indeed, plastic waste is a growing problem. Around 80 million tons of polyethylene is produced each year around the world, and it takes an inordinate amount of time—upwards of a hundred years—for this substance to degrade completely. Researchers are now looking to nature to find ways of boosting the speed at which we can degrade this stuff. In addition to bacteria, scientists have also discovered plastic-eating fungi.

Nature may have stumbled upon an answer to our plastic problem, but we still need to figure out how these creatures do it if we’re to ramp their biological processes up to an industrial scale.
“The caterpillar produces something that breaks the chemical bond, perhaps in its salivary glands or a symbiotic bacteria in its gut,” said Bombelli. “The next steps for us will be to try and identify the molecular processes in this reaction and see if we can isolate the enzyme responsible.”
Obviously, the caterpillars didn’t evolve to eat plastic. It just so happens that their wax-munching skills also work on human trash. Call it a happy accident.

Scientists and believers around the world... march for science



Thousands of protesters fill Tom McCall Waterfront Park during the March for Science in Portland, Oregon, on Saturday, April 22. Protests were held in cities around the world against President Donald Trump's policies.

London science march

Science protesters in London

Science protesters in London

Crowds massed in the US capital and around the world Saturday to support science and evidence-based research -- a protest partly fueled by opposition to President Donald Trump's threats of budget cuts to agencies funding scientists' work.
At the main March for Science, demonstrators gathered at Washington's National Mall to hear speakers laud science as the force moving humanity forward, and rail against policymakers they say are ignoring fact and research in areas including climate change.

A woman protestor holding signs

A dog wearing a banner at the protests

"Today we have a great many lawmakers -- not just here but around the world -- deliberately ignoring and actively suppressing science," one of the event's speakers, TV host and scientist Bill Nye, told a rain-soaked crowd from a stage.
"Their inclination is misguided and in no one's best interest. Our lives are in every way improved by having clean water, reliable electricity and access to electronic global information."
Besides the Washington march, organizers said more than 600 "satellite" marches were taking place globally in a protest timed to coincide with Earth Day.

Thousands participate in the National March for Science in Rome, Italy, on Earth Day.

The march, whose beginnings reflect the viral birth of the Women's March on Washington, was billed by its organizers as political but nonpartisan. But many messages were leveled at Trump and his party, which holds majorities in Congress. Scientists have raised alarms over Trump's budget blueprint, which would cut $12.6 billion from the Department of Health and Human Services, including $5.8 billion from the National Institutes of Health alone.
One speaker said the administration "tries but fails to silence scientists." Several contrasted rationality and scientific thought to "alternative facts," a phrase that's attracted popular derision since a White House aide uttered it.
With the White House in view, protesters held signs with messages such as "In peer review we trust" and "It's the environment, stupid."

 
Germany's Neumayer Station is an active research institute in Antarctica. During the Antarctic summer, the station houses up to 50 scientific researchers and support staff.
With the Antarctic winter drawing near, a very small "overwintering" team remains there to conduct research and maintain the station.
On Saturday, this skeleton crew traveled out into the 20°F temperatures and 26 mph gusts to join their voices in support with crowds gathering around the world. Marches for Science have taken place on all seven continents.
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood," reads a quote from renowned scientist Marie Curie on the banner they held. "Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less."

 
MEANWHILE, their colleagues in the Arctic Circle at the other end of the globe ... conducting research in Norway's scientific village of  Ny-Ă…lesund, braved the 27°F temperatures and spoke out with their fellow scientists in Antarctica and the other marchers around the world, on Saturday.
Standing around a large bust of Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, they unfurled a banner that read, "Somewhere something incredible is waiting to be known." 
Besides the main march in Washington, organizers said more than 600 "satellite" marches took place globally in a protest timed to coincide with Earth Day.
The crowds of people marching Saturday in Rio, Berlin, Washington, Boston, London and Paris, among other places, are voicing support of science and evidence-based research in a protest fueled by opposition to President Donald Trump's environmental and energy policies, which are selfish, uninformed, blind and motivated by industry...
AND SUCK!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Piracy of a river due to climate change




A team of scientists say a melting glacier in Canada's Yukon has caused a river to completely change course. Their findings, published in Nature Geoscience, show how climate change can cause surprising geological events.
The Slims River once flowed out to the Bering Sea, but now it flows into the Kaskawulsh River instead. This phenomenon, known as "river piracy", typically takes centuries but the study documented it over the course of one spring.
"Nobody's ever seen a river piracy occur in modern times, at least to my knowledge," lead author Dan Shugar told the BBC.
The geoscientist at the University of Washington Tacoma says he and six researchers from Canadian and American universities had planned to study the Slims River last summer.



An aerial photo shows the meltwater stream along the toe of Kaskawulsh Glacier, seen on the left, that is diverting fresh water from one river to the other

But when they arrived in the Yukon it was barely flowing. They discovered that a small channel had eroded from abnormal, rapid melting in a large glacier that fed a number of small lakes. Glaciers provide a vital source of fresh water lakes.
The glacial lakes used to feed two river systems - the Slims River and the Kaskawulsh River - but when water from one lake poured through the channel into another, it cut the Slims off from its water source.
The event is known as river piracy or stream capture, and often takes thousands of years. But the researchers documented the piracy of the Slims River and it took just one spring. With global warming, a water source can vanish that quickly.
Prof Shugar said his colleague, John Clague, at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, had predicted this event just a decade before because of the area's unique geological formation. But no one knew when or how quickly the stream capture would occur.
River gauges show an abrupt four-day drop in late May 2016, which then continued over the summer, the study found.
By the time Prof Shugar and his associates got there, the Slims was basically just "a long, skinny lake".
"The Slims River was essentially cut off from how it was flowing before," he said.
The change in the river's flow affected the whole landscape. Sheep are now grazing on the exposed river bank, while other rivers in the area are running high. Fish population, wildlife and lake chemistry will continue to be affected, the study noted.
In the big picture, Prof Shugar said, the piracy of the Slims is a reminder that climate change "may bring surprises that we are not appreciating fully and that we're not necessarily prepared for".

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Opossum Appreciation Day ( I just invented it )



At night, when you catch sight of an opossum in your car headlights, you are allowed to think, "That is one ugly little animal."

But what opossums lack in looks, they make up in originality. They're a southern species -- proper name Virginia opossum -- that's adapted to New England  and Canadian winters. They're one of the oldest species of mammal around, having waddled past dinosaurs.
They eat grubs and insects and even mice, working over the environment like little vacuum cleaners.
"They really eat whatever they find," said Laura Simon, wildlife ecologist with the U.S. Humane Society.
And they're an animal whose first line of defense includes drooling and a wicked hissing snarl -- a bluff -- followed by fainting dead away and "playing possum."
"They are just interesting critters," said Mark Clavette, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
And now ecologists have learned something else about opossums. They're a sort of magnet when it comes to riding the world of black-legged ticks, which spread Lyme disease.
"Don't hit opossums if they've playing dead in the road," said Richard Ostfeld, of the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, N.Y.

Ostfeld is forest ecologist and an expert on the environmental elements of infectious diseases like Lyme disease. Several years ago, scientists decided to learn about the part different mammals play in the spread of the ticks and the disease.
They tested six species -- white-footed mice, chipmunks, squirrels, opossums and veerys and catbirds -- by capturing and caging them, and then exposing each test subject to 100 ticks. What they found, is that of the six, the opossums were remarkably good at getting rid of the ticks -- much more so that any of the others.
"I had no suspicion they'd be such efficient tick-killing animals," Ostfeld said.
Indeed, among other opossum traits, there is this: They groom themselves fastidiously, like cats. If they find a tick, they lick it off and swallow it. (The research team on the project went through droppings to find this out. All praise to those who study possum poop.)
Extrapolating from their findings, Ostfeld said, the team estimated that in one season, an opossum can kill about 5,000 ticks.
What ecologists are learning is how complex the interaction of ticks and mammals can be.
For example, foxes probably serve as a host for ticks seeking a blood meal. But foxes are great at killing white-footed mice -- the species in the environment credited with being the chief reservoir of the Lyme bacteria.
Likewise, Ostfeld said, opossums, waddling around at night, pick up lots of ticks. Some ticks end up getting their blood meal from the possum. But more than 90 percent of them ended up being groomed away and swallowed.
"They're net destroyers of ticks," Ostfeld said.
For Simon, of the U.S. Humane Society, the Cary Institute research is a welcome justification to just leave opossums be.
"People are so hard on them," she said.
That's in part because people think oppossums might be rabid when they drool and hiss and carry on when threatened.
In fact, and this is breaking news, 'opossums are resistant to rabies'. So, please leave the ugly little guys alone. People tend to dispose them as if they were rats. They are valuable to the environment. They can't help being ugly.
You owe me one...Possums.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Trudeau an environmental hypocrite

Image result for images of trudeau


Justin Trudeau’s support for more oil pipelines and tar sands drilling is at loggerheads with his image as Canada’s progressive, environmentally concerned  prime minister, according to a top environmentalist.
In an op-ed published Monday in The Guardian, 350.org founder Bill McKibben called Trudeau a “stunning hypocrite” on global warming.
“When it comes to the defining issue of our day, climate change, he’s a brother to the old orange guy in DC,” McKibben wrote.
He said Trudeau was “hard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the US to carry yet more oil out of Alberta’s tarsands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet.”
Tar sands ― a noxious mix of sand, clay and bitumen, a viscous oil ― are considered one of the dirtiest fossil fuels. The controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which Trump jump-started days after taking office in January, would funnel a daily load of 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil to refineries in Texas, producing emissions equal to putting 5.6 million new cars on the road, according to estimates by the environmental nonprofit Friends of the Earth.
A spokesperson for Trudeau did not reply to a request for comment. In 2015, former President Barack Obama rejected pipeline-builder TransCanada’s application to construct the Keystone XL after a seven-year deliberation. Trudeau cheered Trump’s decision to reconsider the pipeline.
“I reiterated my support for the project. I’ve been on the record for many years supporting [Keystone XL] because it leads to economic growth and good jobs for Albertans,” Trudeau told reporters on Jan. 24, when Trump signed an executive action inviting TransCanada to reapply.
 “We know we can get our resources to market more safely and responsibly while meeting our climate change goals.”
To be sure, the Trudeau administration has made significant moves to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels. In November, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced plans to phase out most coal-fired power plants by 2030. Some coal power stations would remain, equipped with carbon-capture technology that has yet to be proved reliable. Nevertheless, the Canadian government forecasts carbon emissions falling by 5 megatons ― equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the road ― if the plan is fully implemented.
In December, Trudeau announced a nationwide minimum price on carbon of about 10 Canadian dollars, or about $7.53 per metric ton. By next year, the administration plans to roll out either a tax on fossil fuels or a cap-and-trade system to exact the levy.
Still, McKibben urged Trudeau’s fans to “stop swooning” over the prime minister, whom he called a “disaster for the planet.”
“Trump is a danger and unpleasant to look at, but at least he’s not a stunning hypocrite,” McKibben wrote, before concluding: “Trump’s insulting the planet, in other words. But at least he’s not pretending to do otherwise.”

Monday, April 10, 2017

Australia sees second year of coral bleaching in Great Barrier Reef





Australia's Great Barrier Reef is experiencing an unprecedented second straight year of mass coral bleaching, scientists said Friday, warning many species would struggle to fully recover. The 2,300-kilometre reef suffered its most severe bleaching on record last year due to warming sea temperatures during March and April.
Bleaching is once again occurring, the government's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said after an aerial survey off Australia's eastern coast on Thursday.
"Regrettably, the temperatures have been high on the Great Barrier Reef this summer as well and unfortunately (we) are here to confirm... a mass coral bleaching event for the second consecutive year," the Authority's reef recovery director David Wachenfeld said in a Facebook video.
"And importantly, this is the first time we've ever seen the Great Barrier Reef bleached two years in sequence. We've seen heat stress build since December."
The agency said more bleaching was being observed in the central part of the reef, which last year escaped widespread severe bleaching.
The 2016 bleaching was more severe in the northern areas of the bio-diverse site.
The back-to-back occurrence of widespread bleaching also meant there was insufficient time for corals to fully recover, Neal Cantin from the Australian Institute of Marine Science said.
"We are seeing a decrease in the stress tolerance of these corals," Cantin added in a statement.
"This is the first time the Great Barrier Reef has not had a few years between bleaching events to recover.
"Many coral species appear to be more susceptible to bleaching after more than 12 months of sustained above-average ocean temperatures."

'Fight climate change'
Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their color. Corals can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to recolonize them. But researchers said in January coral reefs which survive rapid bleaching fuelled by global warming would remain deeply damaged with little prospect of full recovery. The Barrier Reef -- already under pressure from farming run-off, development and the crown-of-thorns starfish -- escaped with minor damage after two other bleaching events in 1998 and 2002.
Conservation group WWF-Australia said Friday the latest bleaching increased the urgency of tackling climate change in Australia, one of the world's worst per capita greenhouse gas polluters.
"I did not anticipate back-to-back bleaching this decade," WWF-Australia's oceans division head Richard Leck said.
"Scientists warned that without sufficient emissions reductions we could expect annual mass bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef by 2050. Consecutive bleaching events have arrived 30 years early."
Advocacy group the Australian Marine Conservation Society added Friday that the construction of a mega India-backed coal project near the reef should be abandoned as it would put further pressure on the natural wonder. The reef scientists plan to conduct further surveys over the next few weeks to determine the extent and severity of the bleaching.
Canberra in 2015 narrowly avoided UNESCO putting the reef on its endangered list, and has committed more than Aus$2.0 billion (US$1.5 billion) to protect it over the next decade. Nearly two-thirds of shallow-water corals in a 700-kilometre stretch of the reef's northern section were lost to last year's bleaching event.



Sunday, March 5, 2017

White House advisor Steve Bannon is pressing President Donald Trump to quit the Paris climate accord

Steve Bannon at 2017 CPAC by Michael Vadon.jpg

White House advisor Steve Bannon

Washington (AFP) - President Donald Trump's team is deeply divided over whether the United States should withdraw from the Paris climate accord, ahead of an imminent decision on the issue, The New York Times reported Friday.
Senior adviser Steve Bannon is pressing the president to quit the historic agreement reached by 194 countries in December 2015 to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy and government officials told the newspaper.
That would make good on a key campaign promise by climate skeptic Trump.
However, the officials added, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil CEO, and Trump's own influential daughter Ivanka reject that position.
They are concerned that quitting the accord, negotiated under former president Barack Obama, would weaken US credibility abroad and hurt ties with major allies.
Trump also is reported to be planning to reduce the staff of the Environmental Protection Agency by 20 percent.
Trump appointee Scott Pruitt now leads the agency. As Oklahoma's attorney general, Pruitt filed 14 lawsuits against EPA regulations.
As early as next week, Trump plans to sign an executive order to begin the process of dismantling Obama-era regulations that require carbon power plants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Those restrictions on power plant emissions were key if the United States is to meet its commitments under the Paris agreement.
Although Trump cannot unilaterally dismantle the accord, he can initiate the process for a US exit from the agreement.
The United States is the world's biggest economy and the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, and its exit would be a major blow to global efforts to combat climate change.
But it would show Trump supporters that he is keeping his promises to protect the US coal industry.
Since the election, Trump has said only that he had an open mind on the issue.
I don't think any of them are thinking in planetary terms. Their decisions affect the world
 Bannon is becoming more influential with Trump. The things he is recommending would be tragic on so many levels. Lets hope Ivanka still holds sway with her Dad.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Not even Trump can stop world action on climate change .... Most countries are committed



Trump
Trump's attitude to climate change has drawn protests from all over the world

The UN’s new climate chief says she’s worried about President Donald Trump - but confident that action to curb climate change is unstoppable.
President Trump said he’d withdraw from the UN climate deal and stop funding the UN’s clean energy program.
But former Mexican diplomat Patricia Espinosa said that the delay in any firm announcement suggests the issue is still unresolved.
She travels to US this weekend to try and meet the new US secretary of state.

'World will carry on'

Ms Espinosa said it would be more damaging for the US to leave the on-going climate talks process altogether than to stop funding the clean energy program.
The US pays approximately $4m towards this program every year - and often an extra $2m in voluntary funding.
But she said the rest of the world would carry on tackling climate change without the US, if necessary.
She said China’s stated willingness to lead the world in curbing emissions might cause American diplomats to ponder the implications of allowing China a role of global moral leadership.
“We are of course worried about rumors that the possibility of the US pulling out of the Paris agreement and the convention on climate change,” she said.
“It would be very bad if there were a change of position in the US. That’s why I’m looking forwards to engaging with the US as a partner.”
She did not explain how the US would be able to remain within the Paris framework whilst scrapping action on its own emissions strategy that helps underpin that process.


Embracing green action

But she drew hope from the vast number of firms and cities looking towards a low-carbon future - in the US and around the world: "A lot of US businesses are really going into the agenda of sustainability and some are making their own commitments in emissions reductions in their own operations."
“An incredible amount of cities have embarked on ambitious goals; some states like California have been for many years in the forefront of this agenda.
“In International Petroleum Week, I was very encouraged to hear how much some of the oil and gas companies are realising that the future of their industries is in a transformation into clean energy companies - and they have embraced this in their own interest.
“The transformation has started. I think it’s unstoppable.”
Ms Espinosa smiled at the irony of dealing with Mr Trump as a Mexican, a woman, and someone who works in climate change.
She said her trip to the US would include meeting businesses and civil society groups and - hopefully - a senior member of the administration. She is anticipating a meeting with the new secretary of state Rex Tillerson.
The former CEO of the oil giant Exxon Mobil warned recently that climate change is a genuine risk, and said the US should stay at the table of UN talks.
Other nations have responded differently to the new situation presented by Mr Trump. China has offered to lead and India has surprised many with its new level of ambition.
Saudi Arabia has expressed support for a slower rate of decarbonization and Russia - the fifth largest emitter - has not yet ratified the climate deal from Paris.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A close bond with the world's largest land predator



An adult polar bear named Agee has an unusually close bond with Mark Dumas, the man who has hand-raised her since she was a cub. They swim together and cuddle. She even purrs like a cat when he's near. You'll notice that Mark does not initiate anything. He lets Agee decide on the mood and if she wants to play or cuddle. Mark's head can easily fit in her mouth and she could decapitate him in about five seconds.

An average male polar bear is about 1200 to 1500 pounds. The largest male recorded was well over 2000 pounds. The female is smaller, usually under a thousand pounds. They grow to stand about ten feet tall and are the world's largest land predator.
Polar bears appear to be white, but their hair is actually transparent; the white results from light being refracted through the clear hair strands. The bears can also be yellowish in the summer due to oxidation, or may even appear brown or gray, depending on the season and light conditions. Polar bear skin is black; it absorbs the heat of the sun to keep the animals warm. In the winter, temperatures in the Arctic are usually around minus 29 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 34 degrees Celsius) and can reach as low as minus 92 F (minus 69 C). The temperature of the water is frigid, as well, reaching as low as 28 F (minus 2 C), the freezing point of seawater. They can withstand the coldest weather the planet has to offer. But they can easily die from being over heated.
We will lose them at a rate that accelerates beyond the increasing melt of Arctic ice. They will be gone forever before the ice is completely melted.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Scott Pruitt, longtime adversary of EPA, confirmed to lead the agency

Director of Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt is sworn in by Justice Samuel Alito as his wife Marilyn holds a bible during ceremony at the Executive Office in Washington
Director of Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt is sworn in by Justice Samuel Alito as his wife Marilyn holds a bible during ceremony at the Executive Office in Washington
 
17 February 2017
The US Senate confirmed President Donald Trump's pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday over the objections of Democrats and environmentalists worried he will gut the agency, as the administration readies executive orders to ease regulation on drillers and miners.

The installation of Scott Pruitt, an environmental sceptic and nay sayer, who sued the agency he intends to lead more than a dozen times as Oklahoma attorney general, reinforces expectations on both sides of the political divide that America will cede its position as a leader in the global fight on climate change.
Senators voted 52-46 to approve Pruitt, who was to be sworn in later on Friday afternoon at the White House.

Pruitt begins what is likely to be a controversial tenure with a clear set of goals. He has been outspoken in his view, widely shared by Republicans, that the EPA zealously overstepped its legal authority under President Barack Obama, saddling the fossil-fuel industry with unnecessary and onerous regulations. He used his position as attorney general for six years to repeatedly sue the Environmental Protection Agency for its efforts to regulate mercury, smog and other forms of pollution.

But rolling back the environmental actions of the previous administration won’t happen quickly or easily. Even if President Trump issues executive orders aimed at undoing Obama initiatives to combat climate change, oversee waterways and wetlands and slash pollution from power plants — as he is expected to do as early as next week — existing regulations won’t disappear overnight.

To reverse or revamp existing rules around vehicle fuel standards, mercury pollution or a range of other environmental issues, Pruitt would have to repeat the lengthy bureaucratic process that generated them. Other initiatives, such as the so-called Clean Power Plan aimed at regulating emissions from power plants, remain tied up federal courts. In addition, Pruitt will encounter a quietly hostile EPA workforce, very much on edge. Employees are understandably nervous about the direction he plans to take the agency and fearful he might adhere more to ideology than science. Science always tells the truth.
Environmental groups also are likely to oppose him at every turn, eager to sue over any rollback of existing regulations. For his part, Pruitt has said he intends to return the agency to its central mission of protecting the quality of the nation’s air and water while respecting the role of states as primary enforcers of environmental laws. “It is our state regulators who oftentimes best understand the local needs and the uniqueness of our environmental challenges,” he said during his confirmation hearing last month. This statement was for the benefit of all the energy , oil and coal producing states.


So far Trump has already tweaked the EPA website page


Original document and new Trump document .. enlarge to read

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website has begun to transform under the Trump administration.
A group of researchers have found what are likely the first steps in a major overhaul of a site that’s been closely watched since President Trump’s inauguration. Federal climate plans created under former President Obama, tribal assistance programs, and references to international cooperation have been stricken from the site.
A mention of carbon pollution as a cause of climate change has also been removed, and adaptation has been emphasized, indicating an attempt to separate the cause of climate change from the results. Some of the changes—like removing mentions of programs and task forces that have run their course as well as broken links—are just housekeeping, according to an government statement.
Putting the webpage changes together with Trump's statements dismissing climate change gives a clearer picture of his vision of "America First." It likely signals that the United States will be stepping back from addressing global climate change. And by removing the information, it could give Trump and Scott Pruitt more leeway to decimate funding for programs they see as incompatible with America First. “If the public is unaware of partnerships depending on the EPA, it may be easier to shrink the EPA without raising as much concern,” said Gretchen Gehrke, a data-quality manager at Public Lab and a member of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI).
The changes were shared exclusively with Climate Central by EDGI, a group of scientists tracking federal websites and data. They first noticed the changes on January 22 on a page formerly called “
Federal Partner Collaboration” but now dubbed “EPA Adaptation Collaboration.” Researchers spotted further changes on January 26 to climate and water and international cooperation pages. All the pages are subpages of the EPA’s climate change page.

Obama’s legacy is being wiped away. 
One common theme running through the alterations is removing references to Obama-era projects such as the Climate Action Plan and other federal roadmaps to address climate change. The international partnership page also lost a paragraph affirming the U.S. commitment to the United Nations climate negotiations. “They’re mostly scrubbing it of anything that has a hint of Obama,” said Gretchen Goldman, the research director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “The United Nations stuff being removed is also maybe not surprising but definitely not positive.”
Trump campaigned on a promise to revoke much of Obama’s legacy, including on climate change. He’s made good on that promise and it is bad news for America and the rest of the world which will be negatively affected by global warming and climate change.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

If all the ice melted .. this is what we would see ... Where would all those people go?



Where would all those people go?


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Could a $500bn plan to refreeze the Arctic before all the ice melts away, really work?

Arctic sea ice under the midnight sun.
 The Arctic under the midnight sun ...  a kingdom of ice, almost gone

Physicist Steven Desch has come up with a novel solution to the problems that now beset the Arctic. He and a team of colleagues from Arizona State University want to replenish the region’s shrinking sea ice – by building 10 million wind-powered pumps over the Arctic ice cap. In winter, these would be used to pump water to the surface of the ice where it would freeze, thickening the cap.
The pumps could add an extra metre of sea ice to the Arctic’s current layer, Desch argues. The current cap rarely exceeds 2-3 metres in thickness and is being eroded constantly as the planet succumbs to climate change.
“Thicker ice would mean longer-lasting ice. In turn, that would mean the danger of all sea ice disappearing from the Arctic in summer would be reduced significantly,” Desch told the Observer.


Desch and his team have put forward the scheme in a paper that has just been published in Earth’s Future, the journal of the American Geophysical Union, and have worked out a price tag for the project: $500bn.
It is an astonishing sum. However, it is the kind of outlay that may become necessary if we want to halt the calamity that faces the Arctic, says Desch, who, like many other scientists, has become alarmed at temperature change in the region. They say that it is now warming twice as fast as their climate models predicted only a few years ago and argue that the 2015 Paris agreement to limit global warming will be insufficient to prevent the region’s sea ice disappearing completely in summer, possibly by 2030.
“Our only strategy at present seems to be to tell people to stop burning fossil fuels,” says Desch. “It’s a good idea but it is going to need a lot more than that to stop the Arctic’s sea ice from disappearing.”


The loss of the Arctic’s summer sea ice cover would disrupt life in the region, critically endanger or drive to extinction many of its species, from Arctic cod to polar bears, and destroy a pristine habitat. It would also trigger further warming of the planet by removing ice that reflects solar radiation back into space. For this reason alone, it is critical to keep the ice.  Loss of the polar ice caps would disrupt weather patterns across the northern hemisphere and melt the permafrost, releasing more carbon gases into the atmosphere.
Hence Desch’s scheme to use wind pumps to bring water that is insulated from the bitter Arctic cold to its icy surface, where it will freeze and thicken the ice cap. Nor is the physicist alone in his Arctic scheming: other projects to halt sea-ice loss include one to artificially whiten the Arctic by scattering light-coloured aerosol particles over it to reflect solar radiation back into space, and another to spray sea water into the atmosphere above the region to create clouds that would also reflect sunlight away from the surface.


All the projects are highly imaginative – and extremely costly. The fact that they are even being considered reveals just how desperately worried researchers have become about the Arctic. “The situation is causing grave concern,” says Professor Julienne Stroeve, of University College London. “It is now much more dire than even our worst case scenarios originally suggested.’


Last November, when sea ice should have begun thickening and spreading over the Arctic as winter set in, the region warmed up. Temperatures should have plummeted to -25C but reached several degrees above freezing instead. “It’s been about 20C warmer than normal over most of the Arctic Ocean. This is unprecedented said,” research professor Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University. “These temperatures are literally off the charts for where they should be at this time of year. It is pretty shocking. The Arctic has been breaking records all year. It is very frightening.”


Nor have things got better in the intervening months. Figures issued by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), in Boulder, Colorado, last week revealed that in January the Arctic’s sea ice covered 13.38 million sq km, the lowest January extent since satellites began surveying the region. That figure is 260,000 sq km below  last year, which was the previous lowest on record, and a worrying 1.26 million sq km below the  over-all average for January.


In fact, sea ice growth stalled during the second week of January – in the heart of the Arctic winter – while the ice cap actually retreated within the Kara and Barents seas, and within the Sea of Okhotsk. Similarly, the Svalbard archipelago, normally shrouded in ice, has remained relatively free because of the inflow of warm Atlantic water along the western part of the island chain. Although there has been some recovery, sea ice remains well below all previous record lows.


Image showing extent of new and old sea ice int he Arctic.
The area covered by Arctic sea ice at least four years old has decreased from 1,860,000 sq km in September 1984 to 110,000 sq km in September 2016. In this visualisation, the age of the ice is indicated by shades ranging from blue-gray for the youngest ice to white for the oldest. Photograph: Scientific Visualization Studio/Nasa


This paucity of sea ice bodes ill for the Arctic’s summer months when cover traditionally drops to its lower annual level, and could plunge to a record minimum this year. Most scientists expect that, at current emission rates, the Arctic will be reliably free of sea ice in summer by 2030.


By “free” they mean there will be less than 1million sq km of sea ice left in the Arctic, most of it packed into remote bays and channels, while the central Arctic Ocean over the north pole will be completely open. There will be much less than 1million sq km of ice by the year 2050. The first single ice-free year will come much earlier than this, however.
And when that happens, the consequences are likely to be severe for the human and animal inhabitants of the region. An ice-free Arctic will be wide open to commercial exploitation, for example. Already, mining, oil and tourism companies have revealed plans to begin operations – schemes that could put severe strain on indigenous communities’ way of life in the region.


Equally worrying is the likely impact on wildlife, says Stroeve. “Juvenile Arctic cod like to hang out under the sea ice. Polar bears hunt on sea ice, and seals give birth on it. We have no idea what will happen when that lot disappears. In addition, there is the problem of increasing numbers of warm spells during which rain falls instead of snow. That rain then freezes on the ground and forms a hard ice coating that prevents reindeer and caribou from finding food under the snow.”
Nor would the rest of the world be isolated. With less ice to reflect solar radiation back into space, the dark ocean waters of the high latitudes will warm and the Arctic will heat up even further.


“If you warm the Arctic you decrease the temperature difference between the poles and the mid-latitudes, and that affects the polar vortex, the winds that blow between the mid latitudes and the high latitudes,” says Henry Burgess, head of the Arctic office of the UK Natural Environment Research Council.
“Normally this process tends to keep the cold in the high north and milder air in mid-latitudes but there is an increasing risk this will be disrupted as the temperature differential gets weaker. We may get more and more long, cold spells spilling down from the Arctic, longer and slower periods of Atlantic storms and equally warmer periods in the Arctic.


For her part, Stroeve puts it more bleakly: “We are carrying out a blind experiment on our planet whose outcome is almost impossible to guess.”
This point is backed by Desch. “Sea ice is disappearing from the Arctic – rapidly. The sorts of options we are proposing need to be researched and discussed now. If we are provocative and get people to think about this, that is good.
“The question is: do I think our project would work? Yes. I am confident it would. But we do need to put a realistic cost on these things. We cannot keep on just telling people, ‘Stop driving your car or it’s the end of the world’. We have to give them alternative options, though equally we need to price them.”


The Arctic ice cap reaches its maximum extent every March and then, over the next six months, dwindles. The trough is reached around mid-September at the end of the melting season. The ice growth cycle then restarts. According to meteorologists, the Arctic’s ice cover is now decreasing by 13% every decade – a direct consequence of heating triggered by increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.


Climate change deniers claim this loss is matched by gains in sea ice around the Antarctic. It is not. Antarctic ice fluctuations are slight compared with the Arctic’s plummeting coverage.