Bird’s Eye: You may have heard of the Arctic reaching unprecedented melting. But why is that so bad? Two primary reasons: it increases the rate of global warming, as dark water reflects less sunlight than white ice; it allows devastation of a very fragile ecosystem. Someday, people will ask what our leaders were thinking.
* Sea Ice in Arctic Measured at Record Low New York Times
The amount of sea ice in the Arctic has fallen to the lowest level on record, a confirmation of the drastic warming in the region and a likely harbinger of larger changes to come.
Satellites tracking the extent of the sea ice found over the weekend that it covered about 1.58 million square miles, or less than 30 percent of the Arctic Ocean’s surface, scientists said. That is only slightly below the previous record low, set in 2007, but with weeks still to go in the summer melting season, it is clear that the record will be beaten by a wide margin.
* Arctic Ice Melt ‘Like Adding 20 Years Of CO2 Emissions’ The Agonist
So says preeminent British ocean physics scientist Prof. Peter Wadham.
White ice reflects more sunlight than open water, acting like a parasol. Melting of white Arctic ice, currently at its lowest level in recent history, is causing more absorption. Prof Wadhams calculates that this increased absorption of the sun’s rays is “the equivalent of about 20 years of additional CO2 being added by man”.
The Cambridge University expert says that the Arctic ice cap is “heading for oblivion”. In 1980, the Arctic ice in summer made up some 2% of the Earth’s surface. But since then the ice has roughly halved in area, and the volume of ice has dropped to just a quarter of what it was.“The volume of ice in the summer is only a quarter of what it was 30 years ago and that’s really the prelude to this final collapse,” Prof Wadhams said.
* All We Do Is Try To Profit From Disaster George Monbiot The Guardian
This great dissolution, of ice and certainties, is happening so much faster than most climate scientists predicted that one of them reports: “It feels as if everything I’ve learned has become obsolete.” In its last assessment, published in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted that “in some projections, Arctic late-summer sea ice disappears almost entirely by the latter part of the 21st century”. These were the most extreme forecasts in the panel’s range. Some scientists now forecast that the disappearance of Arctic sea-ice in late summer could occur in this decade or the next.
…Our governments do nothing. Having abandoned any pretence of responding to the environmental crisis during the Earth summit in June, now they stare stupidly as the ice on which we stand dissolves. Nothing – or worse than nothing. Their one unequivocal response to the melting has been to facilitate the capture of the oil and fish it exposes.
The companies that caused this disaster are scrambling to profit from it. On Sunday Shell requested an extension to its exploratory drilling period in the Chukchi Sea, off the north-west coast of Alaska. This would push its operations hard against the moment when the ice re-forms and any spills they cause are locked in. The Russian oil company Gazprom is using the great melt to try to drill in the Pechora Sea, north-east of Murmansk. After turning its Arctic lands in the Komi republic into the Niger delta of the north (repeated oil spills are left unmediated in the tundra), Russia wants to extend this industry into one of the world’s most fragile ecosystems, where ice, storms and darkness make decontamination almost impossible.