Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Refreeze the Arctic?

“Governments must get a grip on a situation which IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has ignored.  A strategy of mitigation and adaptation is doomed to fail.  It will be impossible to adapt to the worst consequences of global warming, as IPCC suggests.”
— John Nissen, Chairman, Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG”), Press Conference Announcement, COP20, Lima, December 4, 2014.

According to AMEG, an Arctic meltdown is nearly upon us, and the consequences will be brutal for everybody alive today. “In fact, the September sea ice volume is already down 75% with a trend to zero by September 2016, suggests that the Arctic is heading for complete meltdown, which would be a planetary catastrophe,” Ibid. Yes, a planetary catastrophe!

In essence, that is the message delivered at COP20 by John Nissen, who says the “tipping point” for the Arctic has already passed. If his statement holds true, the future is dim.

His is not a yellow alert.

It is a red alert!

According to Nissen: “There is no sign of any natural process to break the cycle,” of the Arctic meltdown.

According to AMEG, and by way of insinuation, the Artic must be refrozen or life on planet Earth is certain to turn very, very ugly, nearly uninhabitable, and given enough time, it could become uninhabitable. The planet can only handle so much human-caused greenhouse gases before it coughs, burps, erupts, and sneezes away viable food production and the temperate climate humans depend upon.

But, seriously, refreeze the Artic?

Yes, according to AMEG, it is possible: “Techniques exist for cooling on the necessary scale.  Both the brightening of low-level clouds and the production of a reflective haze in the stratosphere are techniques based on natural phenomena, which have been studied extensively.  Various methane suppression techniques have been proposed.  However, all these techniques require technology development and testing before deployment.”

But, there is no consensus in the world community to even start testing. Furthermore, geo-engineering is extraordinarily controversial with sharply differing opinions amongst the scientific community. Some believe it could result in a Frankenstein climate. Others, like AMEG, claim it works, and it is our only salvation.

“The central conclusion, according to Dr Matt Watson of Bristol University, is that the issues surrounding geo-engineering – how it might work, the effects it might have and the potential downsides – are ‘really, really complicated,” David Shukman, Science Editor, Geo-Engineering: Climate Fixes ‘could harm billions’ BBC News, Nov. 25, 2014, “Personally I find this stuff terrifying, but we have to compare it to doing nothing, to business-as-usual leading us to a world with a 4C rise.”

And, doing nothing has far-reaching ramifications, well beyond the Arctic. Consider a 2C rise in global temperature, which an Arctic meltdown would likely cause.

A 2C (3.6F) Rise Puts NYC 16 Feet Under Water

Two Celsius (2C), aka: Centigrade, seems like a small measurement; however, according to Sir David Attenborough’s Are We Changing Planet Earth? (BBC One) it’s enough to alter life on the planet, as we know it.

Sir Attenborough’s film queries how it is possible that seemingly small temperature changes of one or two Celsius, which seems so small, so inconsequential, cause so much havoc. The answer, in part, is found in ‘averaging’ because the reported average of global warming, approximately 0.85 C over the past 100 years is only an average for the world (in the past, it took 5,000 years to warm that much, thus, on a yearly basis, we’re tracking 50 times faster today than 5,000 years ago). But, averages do not represent variations in specific regions, for example, in the Arctic.

In the Arctic the temperature has increased three times, or much faster than the average for the planet. “The Arctic is now melting so fast that the whole web of wildlife is threatened… The ice is already melting three weeks earlier each year,” Ibid.

Sir Attenborough’s film reveals the remarkable temperature sensitivities of the planet from seemingly small changes prompting big, radical climatic transformations. As it happens, small numbers have huge climatic outcomes, and Sir Attenborough’s film details how these seemingly small temperature changes produce outsized results, as follows:

…160,000 years ago NYC, if it existed, would have been on the edge of an ice pack two kilometers [1.24 miles] high and yet global temperatures were only 4 degrees cooler than they are today…
…30,000 years later, NYC would have been in 5 meters [16 feet] of water, yet global temperatures were less than 2 degrees warmer than they are now…
…Natural forces drove this seesawing of the earth’s climate long before humankind appeared.

Today, unfortunately carbon dioxide (“CO2”) emissions have dramatically accelerated the forces of nature. For example, the Arctic has lost over 50% of its mass in only a few decades, which is similar to a few minutes on the ultra slow geological clock. Glacial time has been shortened, compressed, contracted because of industrialization, spewing out CO2 ever-ever-faster year-by-year.

Only a two-degree C and a four-degree C change in temperature from today result in an entirely different planet:
Two degrees warmer and the NYC is in 16 feet of water
Four degrees cooler and NYC is part of a glacier 1.24 miles thick.

Indeed, the sensitivities to temperature change of Planet Earth are bewildering. The planet is big, very big, with great distances from continent to continent, Yet, the planet seemingly turns into a malleable toy sphere when only a small 2C or 4C change transforms its entirety from ice to water or vice versa. Such small temperature changes with such gargantuan outcomes bespeak of a susceptibility that belies its true size.  Enigmatically, the planet is extraordinarily vulnerable, yet remarkably substantial.

An Arctic Meltdown Threatens Life

An Arctic meltdown is a game changer. It’s not just polar bears.

Already, the warming Arctic is negatively impacting the climate for the Northern Hemisphere by altering the jet streams, causing them to meander, resulting in more persistent weather patterns that drive extreme events, like torrential storms, deep-freezes, and prolonged droughts. Additionally, worldwide extremes of weather conditions are unprecedented in ferocity (see: Extreme Weather, ABC TV Catalyst). The ABC TV video provides an excellent explanation of how global warming in the Arctic brings unprecedented extreme weather patterns throughout the Northern Hemisphere, starting at the 13:00 minute mark of the 18:28 minute video.

As it goes, AMEG says weather extremes threaten agriculture such that too much warming in the Arctic will result in crop failure, leading to social unrest and likely food wars all across the planet.

Nevertheless, the 900-pound gorilla in the room is methane (CH4). As the Arctic looses mass, CH4 that has been trapped for millennia is exposed. Already, Russian-U.S. survey teams have recorded large “fountains” of methane erupting from the Arctic, out-of-the-ordinary plumes. Should the Arctic meltdown, it is feared a sudden release of fifty gigatons CH4 will turn the planet into a heat chamber so hot that life may become unbearable.

Withal, this is another contentious issue within the scientific community. As for example, “I don’t have any problem with 50 gigatons, but they’ve got the time scale all wrong,” adds David Archer, a geoscientist and expert on methane at the University of Chicago. “I would envision something like that coming out, you know, over the centuries,” Chris Mooney, How Much Should You Worry About an Arctic Methane Bomb, Mother Jones, Aug. 8, 2013.

In all, at the end of the day, one can pick one’s poison when it comes to scientific opinions about global warming and climate change. Equally persuasive opinions are found on several sides of the argument, but significantly, there is all-powerful general agreement that global warming is very, very, very real and caused by humans.

The weight of evidence, the crucial fact, the reality is that ice is melting around the world at an incredible rate. Absolutely incredible! And, it is measurable. The Alps, on average, have lost 30 feet of mass the past decade, one-half of the glaciers in the Andes are gone over the past four decades, totally melted away, Chinese scientists report the headwaters of major rivers, fed by glaciers, like the Lancang River “the Danube of the East” has lost 70% of it feeder glaciers, Greenland’s entire surface, for the first time in modern recordings, turned 95% to slush, and the Arctic is losing its multi-year layers of ice so rapidly that researchers with “boots on the ground” like Peter Wadhams, professor at Cambridge University and co-founder of AMEG, as well as world renowned expert on Arctic ice, who has traveled under the Arctic ice in nuclear submarines 10 times to analyze the Arctic during his decades of research, strongly believes humanity is in for a major, major shock to the Earth system as the Arctic turns ice-free by September, within this decade.

With that in mind, hopefully David Attenborough, the English broadcaster/naturalist has it nailed, when he says: “I don’t think we are going to become extinct. We’re very clever and extremely resourceful – and we will find ways of preserving ourselves, of that I’m sure. But whether our lives will be as rich as they are now is another question.”

Well, that being the case, how much does quality of life count?

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com

More articles by:

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at rlhunziker@gmail.com.

October 23, 2018
Dean Baker
Looking for the Next Crisis: the Not Very Scary World of CLOs
Binoy Kampmark
Leaking for Change: ASIO, Jakarta, and Australia’s Jerusalem Problem
Chris Wright
The Necessity of “Lesser-Evil” Voting
Muhammad Othman
Daunting Challenge for Activists: The Cook Customer “Connection”
Don Fitz
A Debate for Auditor: What the Papers Wouldn’t Say
October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Suyapa Portillo Villeda
An Illegitimate, US-Backed Regime is Fueling the Honduran Refugee Crisis
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail