08 July 2009

151 Days Left - What's Ice Got To Do With It?

I'm not a science-leaning person (too emotional for that), but I understand both a scary science story and a brave scientist when I see them.

NASA satellite measurements are showing that Arctic sea ice is not only shrinking (think size or area), but is also "dramatically" thinning (think depth).

"The volume of older crucial sea ice in the Arctic has shrunk by 57 percent from the winter of 2004 to 2008," wrote American Press science writer Seth Borenstein on 7 July 2009.

Arctic summer sea ice serves as the air conditioner for much of the northern hemisphere, ie, most of the developed world. Disappearing Arctic sea ice means we are losing our cooling buffer against rising temperatures. And that means our agriculture will become even more tenuous than it's been recently (ask any of the North American farmers already dealing with drought).

But the heartening news is that NASA scientist Jay Zwally is credited with saying — actually saying — that global warming is to blame. Climate scientists haven't been the most courageous (or, by extension, compassionate) bunch of folks lately. (Well, I shouldn't generalize — look at Dr. James Hansen!)

So it's wonderful that someone has spoken the words: "Global warming is to blame."

When politicians and other leaders start adding it all up (melting Arctic sea ice + rising global temperatures = holy !#$%), they're going to start acting fast. To date, most of them seem rather climate change illiterate and innumerate.

Cheers to brave climate scientists!

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?