Temperatures across the Arctic are increasing two to four times faster than the global average. The dramatic consequences that are already apparent include reduction of sea-ice cover, accelerating loss of land ice from glaciers and the Greenland Ice Sheet, proliferating wildfires, and—the topic of this panel—ongoing heating and thawing of the permafrost that underlies most of the land area of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions across the globe. Permafrost thaw is a direct threat to buildings, roads, and pipelines, and it can greatly accelerate erosion along rivers and coastlines with severe consequences for communities located there. But an impact with much wider consequences is the release of carbon dioxide and methane by the decomposition of previously frozen organic matter, affecting the rate of growth of global warming and all of its impacts everywhere. (There is estimated to be something like 2.5 times as much carbon in the as in the entire global atmosphere; the key question is how fast it will come out.) The panelists, leading Arctic experts all, explain the complex science of thawing permafrost and elucidate the implications both regionally and globally.
Editors note: I have often mentioned the potential risk of rapid permafrost thawing serving as a source of powerful positive feedback on global warming from the abrupt emissions of greenhouse gases. The emissions include methane, which has a global warming potential more than 80 x that of CO. The video runs for almost 1½ hours. However, if you want to understand how science works in what are relatively conservative approaches and whether the risks that concern us in the Vote Climate One group are real, the whole video should be well worth watching.
In this pay particular attention to what is left out of the predictive models for future growth of emissions. The actual reality is likely to be even worse.
Finally, a lot of the discussion is based on the idea still common in 2020, that there is some kind of ’emissions budget’ that allows time to stop anthropogenic emissions. With more data, e.g., from the still conservative IPCC Sixth Assessment Report there is much less mention that there is no ‘safe’ emissions budget. Action to slow and reverse global warming is urgent! To be effective this will need global mobilization with cooperation at government levels as well as involving people. Here, our government in Australia has been quite hostile to any kind of action on global warming because of their apparently rusted-on allegiance to the fossil fuel industry and super-wealthy special interests associated with it.
In Scotty’s own words in one of his pet mediums – something to think about:
What can/must we do about this dreadful government and even worse situation?
It seems to take the clear thinking of Greta Thunberg, a 16 year-old autistic girl who concluded school was pointless as long as humans continued their blind ‘business as usual’ rush towards extinction.
In other words, wake up! smell the smoke! see the grimly frightful reality, and fight the fire that is burning up our only planet so we can give our offspring a hopeful future. This is the only issue that matters. Even the IPCC’s hyperconservative Sixth Assessment WG2 Report that looks at climate change’s global and regional impacts on ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities makes it clear we are headed for climate catastrophe if we don’t stop the warming process.
Scott Morrison and his troop of wooden-headed puppets are doing essentially nothing to organize effective action against the warming. In fact they have expended considerable effort to deny the science, punish the institutions doing the science, misrepresent the facts, and try to divert interest to anything else but action on climate change. Beyond this they are continuing to support and subsidize continued expansion of the fossil fuel industry. Basically, all they doing is throwing coal on the fire and rearranging the furniture in the burning house to be incinerated along with anything and everyone we may care about.
In Greta’s words, “even a small child can understand [this]”. People hope for their children’s futures. She doesn’t want your hopium. She wants you to rationally panic enough to wake up, pay attention to reality, and fight the fire…. so our offspring can have some hope for their future. Vote Climate One’s Traffic Light Voting System will help you use your preferential votes wisely on behalf of our offsprings’ future.
Part 3 of David Spratt’s guidebook to events along the road to Hothouse Hell: Collapse of the Greenland Ice Sheet.
Continuing from David Spratt’s look in Part 2 of his guidebook at evidence that the West Australian Ice Sheet is beginning to collapse; here, in Part 3 he turns his attention north, to signs that Greenland’s Ice Sheet is also beginning to collapse. As before, we are looking at the impacts of a probable sequence of events along the global warming road to Earth’s Hothouse Hell. These are leading us to what Steffen et al. described as the Earth System’s Hothouse (see the featured graphic above) in their 2018 Proceedings of the National Academies of Science paper, Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. The potentially cascading impacts of these events were also summarized in Lenton et al’s 2019 comment paper in Nature, Climate tipping points — too risky to bet against. An additional danger is that these may also cascade rapidly to cause a large change abruptly. The bottom line is that if we cannot stop the warming and backtrack to a lower temperature world, we cannot avoid the Hothouse and the road will end in the mass extinction of most species of complex life on our only planet, including ourselves.
There is no evidence that anything other than a rapidly mobilized war effort by humans will stop the cascade passing the point of no return to runaway warming and global mass extinction. If we want to leave any kind of future to our children and grandchildren, we had better pay heed to the warning signs that Spratt is pointing out, and start mobilizing and acting NOW!
24 January 2022
Have tipping points already been passed for critical climate systems? (3) Greenland and the Arctic: Abrupt change
“The Arctic is screaming”, says Mark Serreze, Arctic climate expert at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center.
Arctic warming is racing ahead of the worst-case estimates, now heating four times faster than the global average, and the region is undergoing abrupt climate change, understood as a transition of the climate system into a different mode on a time scale that is faster than the responsible forcing. In other words, it has passed a tipping point for rapid, system-level change.
Researchers say that the Arctic “is currently experiencing an abrupt climate change event … climate models underestimate the abruptness of the recent changes observed in the Arctic (and) climate models underestimate this ongoing warming”. [Models do not account well for warming due to sea-ice loss, but losing the reflective power of Arctic sea ice in the summer months would advance the 2ºC threshold by 25 years”.]
Read the complete article…..
If we do nothing to stop the inexorable warming process we started with the proliferating carbon burning used to fuel the Industrial Revolution and our continuing competition to control the world the Climate System will complete its flip into Earth’s Hothouse Hell state. It will be very unlikely that we can avoid the hothouse and extinction along with the rest of the biosphere that supports our lives.
From the time the Abbott Government was elected in 2013 the LNP COALition Governments (currently under Capt. Humbug, (a.k.a. Scotty from Marketing) and his henchman Blarny Bulldust (The Man with the Hat) have worked hard to protect and and advance the interests of their patrons with special interests in the fossil fuel and related resource exploitation industries. Thus, for nearly a decade, The COALition’s humbug, denial, parliamentary blocking, disinformation, distraction and stupidity has successfully disrupted virtually every attempt to act against greenhouse gas emissions or even to slow the continued expansion of these lethal industries. Every year the COALition has been in power we are that much closer to the point of no return where our extinction is the only plausible outcome.
So what can Australians do to begin improving our odds to avoid the Hothouse Hell? One very obvious action is to replace the COALition government with people we can trust to put action on the climate emergency at the top of their goals in office and who have the capacity to organize and lead Australia’s mobilization of a global effort to stop and reverse global warming.