Arctic Sea Ice in Steep Decline

by

For years now prominent scientists have warned of the dangers of global warming and a concomitant tipping point for the Arctic. Because of abnormal heat, things are not looking good. Arctic sea ice is in a vertical free-fall. But, the melt season only just started! This makes Obama’s call for regulation of coal-burning power plants look like a fanciful ephemeral wish list, too little, too late. Do not expect to see this story on the nightly news. This news story comes by way of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) obtained whilst comparing images of sea ice concentration on May 14, 2014 to June 2, 2014. Confirmation of the NRL images comes from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC – Boulder) reporting that ice concentration values plummeted by more than 286,000 square kilometers, an area the size of the state of Nevada (286,351 sq km), which alarmingly disappeared over a period of a day, not weeks or months, leaving glaciologists flat-footed and startled. One can only hope and pray this is not an omen for the entire melt season. At that rate, there’s not enough ice to hold on for very long. What’s up? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports huge sea surface temperature anomalies all over the Northern Hemisphere. Some anomalies range up to 8 C around the Arctic Ocean. That’s a lot for the Arctic! As for the planet in toto, NOAA says that the combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for April 2014 tied with April 2010 as the highest on record for the month, which is the most recent data available. And, in confirmation of those readings, according to Arctic News: “Above sea surface anomalies are very high, much higher than historic annual temperature anomalies over land and oceans….” (Source: Arctic Sea Ice in Steep Decline, Arctic News, June 3, 2014.) As an aside (actually, a denunciation): Where’s the “cooling crowd” when you really need’em? Well, several of them are in the hallowed halls (cough, cough) of Congress scheming for ways to discredit Obama’s EPA broadside of the nation’s coal-burning industry. Furthermore, now that Earth is reaching its maximum axial tilt towards the sun during the months of June and July its insolation, i.e., solar radiation, is higher in the Arctic than anywhere else on Earth. And, as bad luck would have it, according to a GFS Model Temperature Forecast by the University of Maine, a high melt rate is likely going forward. As such, here is a quote: “It should go without saying that a 70 degree reading in early June on the shores of the East Siberian Sea in the high Arctic is a clear sign of human-caused climate change gone nuts. And we are likely to see these and higher readings as spring proceeds into summer.” Jeez, summer just started! The Risks The fear amongst many professionals, like the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (see: http://ameg.me/), is that an ice-free Arctic will open the door for massive release of methane from hydrates embedded within the ice, leading to runaway global warming. That is a lights-out scenario of some kind, but nobody really knows for certain how it will happen and when and how badly. Also, weather patterns throughout the Northern Hemisphere will continue to turn ugly because of Arctic warmth disrupting the jet streams, which, in turn, disrupts agriculture with embedded droughts and torrential storms. This is already a shopworn story. Here is a quote from AMEG’s web site: “If methane release from Arctic sea floor hydrates happens on a large scale — and reports suggest that it will — then this situation can start an uncontrollable sequence of events that would make world agriculture and civilization unsustainable. It is a responsible alarm, not alarmist, to say that it is a real threat to the survival of humanity and most life on Earth.” The risks, according to Arctic News: “Temperature rises of the water close to the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean are very dangerous, as heat penetrating sediments there could cause hydrate destabilization, resulting in huge amounts of methane entering the atmosphere over the Arctic Ocean.” What to Do? AMEG suggest geoengineering techniques to cool the Arctic. This requires a lot of research and testing and considerable governmental support. But, nobody has ever done it. And, there is considerable skepticism about the effects geoengineering may have on Mother Nature à la the Frankenstein climate syndrome, but nobody really knows for sure. It’s virgin science, not tested. There are no easy answers to a prospective melt down of the Arctic, but it is fair to say that governments around the world will get involved once a crisis is declared. However, it is well beyond the scope of this article to know how that plays out. Nevertheless, it is also fair to say that the U.S. has missed the mark big time on the issue of global warming. As the purported leader of the Free World, U.S. leadership on this one issue, which spans the globe, has been pitiful and ignorant. And, that may be understated. After all, attempting to control the human-caused risks of runaway global warming is the one political issue where it is impossible to error on the side of enthusiasm. Still, there’s a lot of summer ahead. Maybe the Arctic will get hit with a huge cold front. But, where from? Postscript: “The minute that the Republican Party becomes the anti-science party, we have a huge problem. We lose a whole lot of people that would otherwise allow us to win the election in 2012,” Jon Huntsman (R-former governor of Utah and Republican presidential candidate) on ABC News, Aug. 21, 2011. Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
September 4-6, 2015
Louis Proyect
Migrating Through Hell: Quemada-Diez’s “La Jaula de Oro”
Charles R. Larson
Class and Colonialism in British Cairo
September 03, 2015
Sal Rodriguez
How California Prison Hunger Strikes Sparked Solitary Confinement Reforms
Lawrence Ware
Leave Michael Vick Alone: the Racism and Misogyny of Football Fans
Dave Lindorff
Is Obama the Worst President Ever?
Vijay Prashad
The Return of Social Democracy?
Ellen Brown
Quantitative Easing for People: Jeremy Corbyn’s Radical Proposal
Paul Craig Roberts
The Rise of the Inhumanes: Barron, Bybee, Yoo and Bradford
Binoy Kampmark
Inside Emailgate: Hillary’s Latest Problem
Lynn Holland
For the Love of Water: El Salvador’s Mining Ban
Geoff Dutton
Time for Some Anger Management
Jack Rasmus
The New Colonialism: Greece and Ukraine
Norman Pollack
American Jews and the Iran Accord: The Politics of Fear
John Grant
Sorting Through the Bullshit in America
David Macaray
The Unbearable Lightness of Treaties
Chad Nelson
Lessig Uses a Scalpel Where a Machete is Needed
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Offshore Drilling
Binoy Kampmark
Australian Border Force Gore
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People