Summer ice in the Arctic to disappear
August 27, 2012 4:41 AM   Subscribe

Several measures of Arctic ice cover have hit record lows. Melting usually continues into September, so this year’s minimum should be below the 2007 record. The rate of melting far exceeds that predicted by most models. Predictions of when the Arctic might be entirely ice-free at the summer minimum are being brought sharply forwards.
posted by wilful (89 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
The rate of melting far exceeds that predicted by most models.

But never you mind. That just means our models are extra extra accurate!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:49 AM on August 27, 2012


No, Tell Me No Lies, it means our models are crap, ergo the science is crap.
posted by wilful at 4:59 AM on August 27, 2012


That because left wing ice melts at wimpy European 0 Celsius, whereas good tough solid right wing ice melts at a manly 32 Fahrenheit.
posted by mattoxic at 5:02 AM on August 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


No, Tell Me No Lies, it means our models are crap, ergo the science is crap.

I wouldn't go that far. Even if the science is dead on the models would likely be crap anyway.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:05 AM on August 27, 2012


It means the warnings were based on conservative assumptions, and the actual effects appear to be faster and more intense than IPCC models.
posted by jaduncan at 5:07 AM on August 27, 2012 [14 favorites]


Damn elitist main stream media ice. How dare nature perpetrate this hoax against the reality I maintain inside my head?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:10 AM on August 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


This has fairly horrific implications for the Siberian permafrost, btw.
posted by jaduncan at 5:12 AM on August 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Wilful, you're being satirically eponysterical, right? ('wilful ignorance' and all that)
posted by panaceanot at 5:13 AM on August 27, 2012


More importantly however seeing the end of peak ice ice means that it will be easier to get at MORE OIL. The Artic regions must be loaded with the stuff. Just today the Norwegians announced another giant find: Lundin Petroleum found oil in Geitungen in the North Sea.

Get rid of that ice and get some drilling platforms and tankers up there and the world's energy problems are solved for the next 100 years.

There's gonna have to be some really cute, compelling animal story to tell to make that not happen.
posted by three blind mice at 5:16 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This has fairly horrific implications for the Siberian permafrost, btw.

The Siberian permafrost with all the methane under it?

/shudder
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:20 AM on August 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Woo, more carbon to burn! Great! Humans can certainly breathe 0.2% carbon dioxide! Although we'll have nothing to eat because the oceans will be full of acid and the ground will be parched. And the only people able to survive the 30C average temperature of the planet will be those who can afford to live underground in air conditioned caverns.

But that's fine, the 1% wouldn't let the rest of us just die off, would they? Who would clean their toilets?
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:23 AM on August 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


I don't deny global warming problems, but I keep noticing it's mostly Natalia Shakhova that keeps coming up in those Siberian permafrost papers.
posted by crapmatic at 5:25 AM on August 27, 2012


Who's Natalia Shakhova? Is she made of dried straw?
posted by panaceanot at 5:32 AM on August 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


I don't know why everybody is so upset. This just means new beach resorts up north.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:39 AM on August 27, 2012


> This has fairly horrific implications for the Siberian permafrost, btw.

This has fairly horrific implications for all of us.
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 5:39 AM on August 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Who's Natalia Shakhova? Is she made of dried straw?

She's a researcher who thinks there will be a tipping point then a huge release. This is controversial, and she produces a lot of papers. She is thus widely cited but disliked. Shakhova appears a lot, yes, but we're starting to get real world releases.

More importantly however seeing the end of peak ice ice means that it will be easier to get at MORE OIL. The Artic regions must be loaded with the stuff. Just today the Norwegians announced another giant find: Lundin Petroleum found oil in Geitungen in the North Sea.


USGS says 22% of remaining exploitable supplies are in the Arctic.
posted by jaduncan at 5:40 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Too many people.
posted by samofidelis at 5:43 AM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Not for long, probably.
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 5:46 AM on August 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Specifically, she states that methane is stored at a higher depth than many models, so release will happen faster; "we consider release of up to 50Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage as highly possible for abrupt release at any time"

It's University of Alaska Fairbanks so not woo woo, and they appear to have the samples to prove it. The next 5-15 years will tell if she and her team are correct (and I, personally, suspect that they are, given that releases are already occurring and core samples aren't something that Fairbanks are likely to fake.
posted by jaduncan at 5:47 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


You've got to look on the bright side. Sure, we'll have generations of massive die-offs, but eventually the Earth will be a bright sunny place all the time. We will have killed winter. Nobody likes winter, except for a handful of polar bears and snowboarders. It's going to be warm days from now on. Girls in skimpy clothing. Convertibles. Just like Los Angeles.

At that point Los Angeles itself will be under water, but you get my point.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:03 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is there a good link somewhere, jaduncan, examining the arguments about Siberian permafrost and methane release?
posted by mediareport at 6:10 AM on August 27, 2012


It is going to be annoying as fuck to explain that ice free is less than 1 million sq miles not that all the ice is totally gone. I know in the scale of the catastrophe we're witnessing this will be pretty minor, but still it makes me hotter than a polar bear.
posted by humanfont at 6:15 AM on August 27, 2012


One of the first stages is denial: In the last 2,000 years there was another period around about the 1500s where we also saw a warming about similar to the rate of today,... but the temperature cooled again. And then at about 400 A.D., we also saw not quite as great a warming there as well, but then it cooled again.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:20 AM on August 27, 2012


At that point Los Angeles itself will be under water, but you get my point.

"leaving nothing but a cool, beautiful serenity called Arizona Bay"
posted by daveje at 6:24 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Don't forget, we've already been seeing methane release due to arctic ice melts for the past few years. Here's a story from 2011: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/vast-methane-plumes-seen-in-arctic-ocean-as-sea-ice-retreats-6276278.html

What's horrifying is that there's still so much denialism out there. I could understand if people were saying that they believed the climate change was an acceptable price to pay for continuing their economic model. I'd disagree completely with that position, but I could understand it.

What I don't understand is how people can claim, in the face of all the evidence, that climate change simply isn't happening and is a conspiracy by industry hating liberals.
posted by sotonohito at 6:29 AM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Global warming will continue. This year, during the Republican National Convention, a devastating hurricane will hit Tampa, trapping thousands of Republican delegates in the Convention Center with little food or water. They will blame Obama.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:37 AM on August 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


At that point Los Angeles itself will be under water, but you get my point.

Too late!
posted by aeshnid at 6:37 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


If they figured climate change was an acceptable cost, they would be taking responsibility for it. They wouldn't do anything with that responsibility, but they want to avoid it anyhow, just in case the day comes when environmental damage becomes an acceptable reason for invasion. Leaders of industry would still be in a bad place if that time comes, but they'll take whatever wiggle room they can get.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:38 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think at this point in time it's quite likely impossible to actually put the genie back in the bottle concerning global warming. Simply put there are way too many entrenched interests at the top of the food chain that have no desire for revenues from fossil fuels disappear and few if any governments are willing to take the economic hit necessary to stop global warming if other nations will continue on using cheap (but dirty) energy.

So given that there will likely be some pretty significant impacts of global climate change (more extreme weather, glacial melting, rising seas, acidification of the ocean, increased aridity in many food producing regions) what can be done to reduce or manage global climate change in a manner that doesn't lead to mass global die-offs due to wide spread starvation?

I'm not saying that we should keep trying to cut global energy demand through green initiative and conservation but given that it's incredibly difficult to reach any sort of consensus at a national much less international level I think it's important to realize that short of a massive advancement in energy technology (fusion or geothermal, etc) we are likely going to continue burning a ridiculous amount of petroleum and coal for the foreseeable future and many people just don't care about long term global issues when they are preoccupied with short time horizon issues.
posted by vuron at 6:41 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


>This has fairly horrific implications for the Siberian permafrost, btw.

The Siberian permafrost with all the methane under it?


Plus all the frozen megafauna which will thaw out with a considerable grudge for all that hunting to extinction business and, as they say, ravening for delight.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:47 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


So what's the current projection for how long before the typical person alive today has a direct descendant starve to death?
posted by Naberius at 7:24 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


They will blame Obama

They already did after a fashion.
posted by idb at 7:29 AM on August 27, 2012


As of today, we're already there (from the last link):
UPDATE 27 AUGUST: Sunday's data confirms that the previous sea-ice extent minimum of 24 September 2007 was broken last Friday, 24 August 2012. What is also stunning are sea-ice daily extent figures averaging ice loss of more than 100,000 square kilometres per day for the last four days. This suggest melt is accelerating very late in the melt season in a pattern that has never before been observed. The Arctic this year is heading into new territory and it looks like 2012 may in retrospect be seen as the year when a new melt regime took hold.
Fuck. Fuck
posted by crayz at 7:41 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


What I don't understand is how people can claim, in the face of all the evidence, that climate change simply isn't happening and is a conspiracy by industry hating liberals.

Oh there are many types of climate change denial. Those who deny it's possible. Those who deny it's happening. Those who see it happening but say it's all a cycle. Those who say it's happening but humans couldn't possibly be responsible. Those who say it's happening and humans might be responsible but hey, plant's EAT carbon dioxide so it'll be good for us. There's no limit to the denial. Imbeciles all the way down.

And while we're discussing positive feedbacks like mehane release, here's another one for you when it comes to melting ice; albedo.

Have a nice century!
posted by Jimbob at 7:45 AM on August 27, 2012 [11 favorites]


So obvs only thing that keeps a species in balance with the environment is something to prey on it.

Clearly, it's well past time to start eating the rich.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:48 AM on August 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


Clearly, it's well past time to start eating the rich.

I have to go return some video tapes...
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:51 AM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is there a good link somewhere, jaduncan, examining the arguments about Siberian permafrost and methane release?

Sorry for missing this, mediareport.

Wiki is actually a OKish very, very basic starting point in this case, and the NYT has a similarly basic article. The open sources actually aren't great on this so it is best to look at the Shakhova papers and criticisms of them.

The current state of play was recently examined well in Kort et al (2012) "Atmospheric observations of Arctic Ocean methane emissions up to 82° north" Nature Geoscience 5, 318–321 (2012) doi:10.1038/ngeo1452. and AAntony et al (2012) "Geologic methane seeps along boundaries of Arctic permafrost thaw and melting glaciers" Nature Geoscience (2012) doi:10.1038/ngeo1480

I don't know if you've got access to Nature Geoscience, but if you haven't you can get a draft version of the Antony paper at the least. A memail might well be productive for the other. One of the issues with this area is that Fairbanks does a great deal of the research, so it's often very referential and assumes subject knowledge.

If you're looking for an examination of the model relationship between ice loss and permafrost, Lawrence et al (2008) "Accelerated Arctic land warming and permafrost degradation during rapid sea ice loss" GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 35, L11506, 6 PP., 2008 doi:10.1029/2008GL033985 is reasonable.

If you're coming from a position of the layman, I'd recommend the NYT and Antony as the links. Antony is actually interviewed for the NYT, so a reasonable course is to get the gist from the NYT article before heading to the Antony paper for actual high quality data.
posted by jaduncan at 8:02 AM on August 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


(my apologies for all the paywall journal links, but the draft Antony paper is pretty much exactly what ended up in the journal anyhow).
posted by jaduncan at 8:03 AM on August 27, 2012


No, Tell Me No Lies, it means our models are crap

No, our models are very good, to a point. There are factors that they do not take into account because we don't have a good handle on those effects, and so, they explicitly do not model them.

Everyone using these models knows this.

One of the effects they do not have a good handle on is how wave action affects melt rates of thin ice. They know it does, but there are several factors, mostly involving how brittle the ice is and how large the waves are, but when the ice gets thin enough, the waves break it, and it melts considerably faster than a monolithic sheet for a few reasons. One is water is now hitting more surface to volume, another is larger waves can wash water overtop, and a third is the now exposed sea surface, with much less albedo than an ice sheet, warms faster and accelerates the melting.

It's a complicated mechanism that feeds on itself, so we don't really have a good handle on it, but it seems that ice shifts into the broken-melt regime more easily, or at less thickness, than we thought it did. The models assume a mostly intact sheet with some accelerated melt at the edges, but it appears that area of broken-melt is much larger, or melts ice much faster, than we had assumed.

And, again, we have a positive feedback cycle with this. As more ice melts and more water is exposed, more solar energy is captured by the water, warming it, which increases the melt rate, which exposes more ocean, and repeat. When the air is colder than freezing, a similar, but inverted, feedback loop exists -- newly frozen ice reflects much more solar energy, which lowers the amount entering the ocean and lowers the surface temperature, which further increases freezing rates, which causes more ice, which reflects more solar energy, completing that positive feedback cycle.

It appears that the positive feedback cycle of thin ice melt is much more effective that we thought -- thus, melt rates are much faster than model and increase at a higher rate than we thought. Current rates imply that the pack will drop dramatically this year -- we're already at 4 million square kilometers. Looking at 2011, the nadir was days 250/251, and the last data is August 27th, which is day 241. The curve turns pretty quickly, so we should see the nadir approaching, but as of today, the rate is still accelerating. I think losing nearly a million square kilometers more -- dropping the pack to 3 million square kilometers total -- is not an unreasonable guess. We will almost certainly drop to 3.5Msqkm.

This is very, very ugly data. What we don't know is what dropping this far will do to the maximum ice pack this winter, and one effect we're not measuring is thickness of the ice. It may well cover nearly 15 million square kilometers at winter's peak, but if that ice is thinner, then it will melt back faster.
posted by eriko at 8:22 AM on August 27, 2012 [15 favorites]


I look at Arctic sea ice extent each morning for my daily dose of depression.

Antarctic ice is more complex - as suggested by the article linked by twoleftfeet. That article doesn't deny the existence of Antarctic warming, nor does it deny that humans are involved. What it does say is that global warming is one thing, and local warming is another. Antarctic sea ice seems to be somewhat stable (lots of variation around plus to minus one percent.) But the land ice in Antarctica is decreasing.

I'm mentioning this because global warming denialists hook on to only one aspect.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:29 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


We will have killed winter. Nobody likes winter...

That's it, twoleftfeet. I intend to throw snowballs at you for as long as there is snow to throw.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:29 AM on August 27, 2012


What I don't understand is how people can claim, in the face of all the evidence, that climate change simply isn't happening and is a conspiracy by industry hating liberals.--sotonohito

It is simple (minded) economics. The climate change denialists have been heavily funded by the coal industry, which has a lot of money and the most to lose if climate change can be tied to CO2 being pored into the atmosphere from burning coal.

Richard Muller, the climate professor at Berkeley who recently changed his course and is no longer a denialist, will probably no longer get funded by Koch's foundations.
posted by eye of newt at 9:00 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is the hardest thing for me to accept: the fact that most of the ruling elite don't care about global warming. They, their families, friends and peers will all be safe in their air conditioning, eating hydroponically grown food no matter what happens to the rest of us. Really, you can't challenge this. They will be safe; they have the money and the power.

Ergo, their arguments serve some other purpose: to preserve that power. The science is irrelevant. They want us to keep burning carbon, because that is how they make money. The ecosystem of the planet can go to hell for all they care.

It's just evil. It's just business.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:27 AM on August 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


There's another, more fundamental reason that people are denialists... it's that the consequences for their own personal world-views are simply too devastating.

The notorious Dick Cheney spelled it out: “The American way of life is non-negotiable”. You can't question one part of it, not the huge cars or the exponentially-increasing consumption or the huge, energy-wasteful homes - all of it has to stay unchanged.

Once people have realized that part of this mantra is wrong, it's no jump at all to start wondering if consumerism is wrong from top-to-bottom. People simply aren't willing to contemplate that, so they'll lie to themselves until the waves are lapping at their doorsteps.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:30 AM on August 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


> They will be safe; they have the money and the power.

I think there are a lot of people who will make it their business to falsify this statement. If I'm alive once the shit really hits, I hope to help out.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:31 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


most of the ruling elite don't care about global warming

The ruling elite.
posted by stbalbach at 9:35 AM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


seanmpuckett, if you think they won't be first against the wall when the actual panic starts hitting, a review of the history books is in order. Among the most mind numbing, short sighted thing the 1% have done this century is allow people to start going hungry.

Hungry people with nothing to occupy their time (like jobs) are ripe for revolution.
posted by lootie777 at 9:38 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Get rid of that ice and get some drilling platforms and tankers up there and the world's energy problems are solved for the next 100 years.

You've got a real strange definition of "solved".
posted by odinsdream at 9:49 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have to get this job in Canada. And start learning Russian.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:52 AM on August 27, 2012


Twoleftfeet's comments make me think that there should be Poe's law for climate denial, too.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 9:55 AM on August 27, 2012


The longer the public is pacified with denialism, the more tools and weapons they can gather to protect themselves. In just a few short years drones will be everywhere, internet monitoring will be 24/7, and near-microscopic surveillance equipment will be watching every corner and doorway. How will the revolution get anywhere if the proles have no access to communication or weapons. The first hints of organised domestic revolution will be met with such broad and sweeping legislation and amended policing powers it would make the Patriot Act look like a finger-wag from your aunt Mae.

Yes, thirsty and starving mobs are dangerous. But when you can mow them down with a platoon of drone-mounted machine guns from a quarter of a mile away and be cheered by the republic in the name of Fighting Terrorism, what chance is there, really, to make a change through violence? I don't think it is possible. Look at Iran. Syria. All those guys have are big OFF switches on cell towers, machine guns and tanks. The US has technology you and I don't even know about just sitting in warehouses waiting for the third act of the Carbon Wars to open.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:56 AM on August 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


Just had a revelation. Once you have enough solar to go off grid, you don't have to give money to the ruling elite for energy any more. It's the ultimate FUCK YOU move.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:03 AM on August 27, 2012


Also, Rick Ross is illuminati. Rothschild family controls nearly forty percent of US paint manufacturing capacity. My dad lost his sense of smell. Wake up, sherpas.
posted by samofidelis at 10:04 AM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Apocalypse is in the air-- quite literally.
posted by jamjam at 10:11 AM on August 27, 2012


Surely this. . .
posted by Danf at 10:31 AM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I look at my 2 year old granddaughter and wish I could apologize to her for the world we're leaving her, but she wouldn't understand- not now, and probably not ever. When she's 30 and struggling to find enough food and water, an apology from her dead grandma isn't going to help much.
posted by Phyllis Harmonic at 10:43 AM on August 27, 2012


The ruling elite.

Whoa, Australia, you sneaky little minx!
posted by ominous_paws at 10:45 AM on August 27, 2012


Planning to go 90% renewable ASAP, meaning within the next 12 months. But it won't really help if my house is under water in ten years... Sigh
That said, a lot of people I know are making the same decision right now, regardless of politics, because of the crazy oil-prices. My brother has saved thousands and thousands of dollars after he changed to geothermal, and now he is adding solar panels to his system. If they could get electric car batteries to last longer, he'd go for that too.
Maybe renewable energy will turn out to be a bottom-up thing?

About my own decision: it turns out, a lot of the advice I've been getting from so-called experts is plain wrong. When I talk with people with real experience, they have completely different tales to tell. As I see it, a lot of the "experts" have an interest in your addiction to oil: the plumber has more maintenance, the energy company gets more business, the oil company, well they are kind of obvious. My brother and several friends all told me they had to be stubborn to get the job done.
posted by mumimor at 11:18 AM on August 27, 2012


"I look at my 2 year old granddaughter and wish I could apologize to her for the world we're leaving her" Why?

Things are significantly more clean than they were in the 70s and 80s. Are our memories so short as to forget how bad things had gotten; how dirty and messy things were?

The world is better than it was 20 years ago; the developed world may even be cleaner than it was in the early 20th century.

Things ARE getting better, we're just hitting the bitter ends, the final fight between cleaning up and doing right and not continuing to improve.


At worst; you aren't on the front lines and at best you're doing what you can. I see nothing to apologize for when you are doing your best.

Cheers!
posted by NiteMayr at 11:29 AM on August 27, 2012


you say you want a revolution... most start from the ground up. (i think there was a texas country reporter episode featuring this place, but i couldn't find the video online.)
posted by blendor at 11:48 AM on August 27, 2012


Russia and Canada Gear Up for Arctic Non-War
posted by homunculus at 12:00 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Things are significantly more clean than they were in the 70s and 80s.

What are these "things" that are more clean?

The US is somewhat more clean in some parts, mainly because they exported most of the messy manufacturing - but overall the world is much more polluted than it was in the 70s and 80s.

In particular, what we are talking about, atmospheric levels of greenhouse gasses, are a lot greater absolutely everywhere.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:59 PM on August 27, 2012


Winter is coming going.
posted by freecellwizard at 1:40 PM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


mediareport: Is there a good link somewhere, jaduncan, examining the arguments about Siberian permafrost and methane release?
In addition to jaduncan's excellent links above, there's this summary entitled What does seeping methane mean for the thawing Arctic? from the NSIDC.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:06 PM on August 27, 2012


maybe we'll just manufacture a giant sheet of white plastic and put it over the arctic, sort of like a hat.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:09 PM on August 27, 2012


Everyone wants and is entitled to warm showers and cold beers (and cars and AC and...). 5 billion of Earth's inhabitants don't have access to either, yet are clamoring for it. CO2 emmissions won't peak until they are all carbon emitting consumers. Celebrate the US emission achievements if you want, but globally we are f'd.

That is a thought I have been stuck on. We are a "developed" country. Everyone (pretty much) in the US has a tv, and a car or two, a computer and a smart phone. We aren't acquiring new products, just replacing and upgrading. How is growth possible in a market like that? Growth enough to grow our way out of debt?

Then look at Brazil, or India, or China. Nearly 3 billion people in those three countries that don't own anything (for the most part). Now sell them each one of everything that the modern world uses. Growth! Yay! Flat screen tvs, and cars, and iPhones! Consumers!

We've dammed our rivers, and plowed our forests, and beat our swords to plowshares and back again to swords. As they will.

Ultimately, for me, the question isn't whether we will act to "save the earth". We won't. Instead the question is whether economic (debt/deficit driven) collapse will come first, reducing emissions drastically (but probably too late to forestall environmental collapse), or environmental collapse causes economic collapse, thereby reducing emissions. In the end emissions will be reduced, but only because economic activity ceases in a significant way.

Neither of those two realities (debt driven economies or carbon emissions) is sustainable. I see a "dark ages" ahead for my offspring. Maybe not my children, but my grandchildren. They will inherit an Earth with dramatically less biodiversity, that is far less hospitable, and an economy with far less mobility than we can imagine. 22nd century serfdom.

But Spring will come again. I can only imagine the oceans coming back to life, the forests growing back. The cycle will begin again...
posted by karst at 2:31 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


History certainly doesn't support the equation that hunger usually leads to revolution, and especially doesn't support the notion that hunger = successful revolution.

Marxist fantasies aside, revolutions are brought about by well-fed factions recognizing the weakness in an incumbent regime. Indeed, you could argue that plenty, more than hunger, spurs revolution, because it brings non-regime factions up to the strength they need to fight, and removes any notion of practical dependence upon the incumbent regime. That's true whether you are thinking of the American Revolution in 1775 or the Egypt in 2011 (where universal and immediate technology both enabled mobilization, and made the incumbents reluctant to engage in full measures of repression).
posted by MattD at 3:29 PM on August 27, 2012


Too many people, not for much longer.

Yesterday's post showing the continents drifting around the surface of our blue globe like globules of green oil, put our fleeting existence, and climate change into perspective.

We're toast, and its going to be ghastly for the remaining hangers on as the planet rids itself of us, and we vanish as a species.
posted by marvin at 3:52 PM on August 27, 2012


just to be clear, my comment about the models being wrong was sarcastic. It's surely the latest denier rebuttal point.
posted by wilful at 4:37 PM on August 27, 2012


I wonder how soon it's going to really start unravelling. I probably have another 20 or 30 years, if I'm lucky, before I kark it -- maybe I'll miss the really fun stuff.

I feel bad for people who decided to have children (or didn't decide and ended up with them anyway). Those kids are going to hate us and our own parents' generation so much.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:18 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


MattD, one of the central causes of the French Revolution was a massive food shortage among the peasantry of France. Louis the XIV had left massive debts due to wars fought during his reign, there were several years of drought and bad crops, and the clergy and nobility continuously blocked taxation of their wealth. Sound familiar?

During the Arab Spring, one of the chants in Cairo was "Bread, Freedom & Social Justice".

Has every revolution started because of food scarcity? Of course not. But the ancient Romans sure knew what was up:

Caesar "knew that the causes of hatred and mainsprings of popularity are determined by the price of food. Hunger alone makes cities free; and when men in power feed the idle mob, they buy subservience a starving people is incapable of fear." (Lucan, Pharsalia)
posted by lootie777 at 5:32 PM on August 27, 2012


George Monbiot chimes in. Recommended.
posted by wilful at 6:21 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Caesar "knew that the causes of hatred and mainsprings of popularity are determined by the price of food. Hunger alone makes cities free; and when men in power feed the idle mob, they buy subservience a starving people is incapable of fear."

UN calls on nations to adopt urgent drought policies

Food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists
posted by homunculus at 6:42 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder what the main denialist websites (Andrew Bolt's blog, Watts Up With That, etc) are doing with this information? Anyone care to go and tell me (I couldn't bear it)?
posted by wilful at 6:48 PM on August 27, 2012


There never was any arctic sea ice.

We have always been at war with Eastasia.
posted by neuron at 7:30 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


wilful: I wonder what the main denialist websites (Andrew Bolt's blog, Watts Up With That, etc) are doing with this information? Anyone care to go and tell me (I couldn't bear it)?

Very wise. Like your Mom says, when you know perfectly well that there is a shitblizzard outside, it's best to stay indoors.

neuron (above) is close, but it's more like -- the ice is still really there. Look at these other better figures from the very same source agency. He then goes on to describe the ice extent in Antarctica as being greater this year.

I am naive enough to think that the source agency, NSDIC, has probably considered all of its own data in its analysis, but I tend to the view that most scientists actually give a shit about what's true and what isn't. Watt? Not so much. Still, I would like to see someone knowledgeable in the area and with time to waste take Watts on.

Realclimate discusses the issue here. Skepticalscience here. There are occasional quite helpful comments on the matter immediately below the articles.
posted by dmayhood at 8:18 PM on August 27, 2012


From the Monbiot link:
I have no idea what is coming to Europe and North America this winter and next summer, in the wake of the record ice melt, but it’s unlikely to be pleasant.
posted by stbalbach at 9:09 PM on August 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just to throw in a point of anecdata on the coming winter, I've heard tell that local exterminators have been doing a lot of business getting squirrels out of attics in the last few weeks because the squirrels are nesting early and looking for more protection than the crook of a tree branch. Old timers say that means we're in for a long, cold winter.

After record heat in June and July, the heat broke in north Georgia on August 9th, well ahead of normal and almost a month before the 2011 break.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:28 AM on August 28, 2012


Here in the UK, we have politicians telling the prime minister to be a man (not a mouse) by building more runways, because the only solution to the economic woes is more growth, fostered by more aeroplanes.

Despair is not the word.
posted by Myeral at 6:45 AM on August 28, 2012


seanmpuckett: "...Ergo, their arguments serve some other purpose: to preserve that power. The science is irrelevant. They want us to keep burning carbon, because that is how they make money. The ecosystem of the planet can go to hell for all they care."

Better to be lord in hell and all that...
posted by symbioid at 8:57 AM on August 28, 2012


lupus_yonderboy: "What are these "things" that are more clean?

The US is somewhat more clean in some parts, mainly because they exported most of the messy manufacturing - but overall the world is much more polluted than it was in the 70s and 80s.

In particular, what we are talking about, atmospheric levels of greenhouse gasses, are a lot greater absolutely everywhere.
"

I think NiteMayr is alluding to GWB's "Clear Skies" bullshit. Can't see it, must not exist. So pollute away, as long as it's not visible particulates. Sadly, I detect no hint of irony in NiteMayr's comment :(
posted by symbioid at 9:03 AM on August 28, 2012


Back of the napkin non-climate scientist panic calculations. Ther are about 20 days more to melt if the melt season ends during the typical freeze up period. Right now it is 4.1 million sq km of ice. The sea ice is declining at 75k sq km/ day. Assume the rate of decline slows regularly over the next 20 days and we still could easily see another 750,000 sq km vanish. Therefore I place the over under bet line for the new record low to be 3.6 million sq km.
posted by humanfont at 5:19 PM on August 28, 2012


Yale360 on the big melt:
Peter Wadhams, who heads the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge and who has been measuring Arctic Ocean ice thickness from British Navy submarines, says that earlier calculations about Arctic sea ice loss have grossly underestimated how rapidly the ice is disappearing. He believes that the Arctic is likely to become ice-free before 2020 and possibly as early as 2015 or 2016 — decades ahead of projections made just a few years ago.

Mark Drinkwater, mission scientist for the European Space Agency’s CryoSat satellite and the agency’s senior advisor on polar regions, said he and his colleagues have been taken aback by the swiftness of Arctic sea ice retreat in the last 5 years. “If this rate of melting (in 2012) is sustained in 2013, we are staring down the barrel and looking at a summer Arctic which is potentially free of sea ice within this decade,” Drinkwater said in an e-mail interview.

The loss of the great white dome of ice at the top of the world in summer will have profound effects, scientists say. These include a reduction of the amount of solar radiation reflected back into space by the ice, significant changes to the jet stream and Northern Hemispheric weather patterns, and even-more rapid warming in the far north, speeding the melting of Greenland’s massive ice sheets and increasing global sea levels.

In addition to these impacts, said Drinkwater, “Increased storminess will generate ocean wave systems which, un-damped by the presence of sea ice, will pound the circumpolar north coastlines. Current rates of coastal permafrost degradation will be accelerated, leading to significant coastal erosion and reconfiguration of the high-latitude shoreline. Meanwhile, we have also recently heard about the potential for release of sub-sea methane deposits and thereby an acceleration of the current greenhouse effect.”
posted by stbalbach at 7:17 AM on August 30, 2012


Climate change breaks the ice: 3-man sailboat makes record voyage
posted by homunculus at 1:18 PM on September 4, 2012


Global warming may actually boost biodiversity (if it happens slowly enough)
posted by homunculus at 4:57 PM on September 4, 2012


Only 3.628 million sq km left and the melting is projected to continue for at least another week.
posted by humanfont at 7:36 PM on September 5, 2012


Arctic archaeological sites are now falling into the sea
posted by homunculus at 12:05 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


PIOMAS Arctic Sea Ice Volume 1979 - 2012 September 2nd
posted by wilful at 9:55 PM on September 12, 2012


I guess The Arrival, a vastly underrated flop from the mid nineties, was based on a true story. Perhaps his [warning: autotune] <sheen>WINNING!</sheen> crap was just a distraction?
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 3:51 PM on September 16, 2012


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