Hotter than Paul Ryan


Last week, the National Snow and Ice Data Center, in Boulder, Colorado, announced that the Arctic sea ice had reached a new low. The sea ice shrinks in the summer and grows again during winter’s long polar night. It usually reaches its minimum extent in mid-September. On September 16, 2012, the N.S.I.D.C. reported, the sea ice covered 1.3 million square miles. This was just half of its average extent during the nineteen-eighties and nineties, and nearly twenty per cent less than its extent in 2007, the previous record-low year.

It would be difficult to overstate the significance of this development. We are now seeing changes occur in a matter of years that, in the normal geological scheme of things, should take thousands, even millions of times longer than that. On the basis of the 2012 melt season, one of the world’s leading experts on the Arctic ice cap, Peter Wadhams, of Cambridge University, has predictedthat the Arctic Ocean will be entirely ice-free in summer by 2016. Since open water absorbs sunlight, while ice tends to reflect it, this will accelerate global warming. Meanwhile, recent research suggests that the melting of the Arctic ice cap will have, and indeed is probably already having, a profound effect on the U.S. and Europe, making extreme weather events much more likely. As Jennifer Francis, a scientist at Rutgers, observed recently in a conference call with reporters, the loss of sea ice changes the dynamics of the entire system: “It’s like having a new energy source for the atmosphere.”

Yet, as big as the almost certainly irreversible retreat of the sea ice will figure in the future of the planet, it has attracted relatively little attention in the here and now. A study released on Thursday by Media Matters for America, a liberal watchdog group, found that over the last few months, Representative Paul Ryan’s fitness routine—he’s a big fan of what’s known as the P90X workout plan—has received three times as much television coverage as the ice loss.

Written By: Elizabeth Kolbert
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  1. ” three times as much television coverage as the ice loss” 
    No surprise there, then. The home of conspiracy theorists, creationists and general crackpots does it again.

  2. Wait until the Northern Atlantic conveyor belt gets flooded with freshwater from melting glaciers which will likely alter the ocean’s salinity and slow the rate of heat  delivery which drops the current temp in the Northern Atlantic as a consequence,  then we will all have some fun methinks!

  3. I think that facing up to the reality of climate change is a moral issue. True, each person has a right to an idiosyncratic opinion, but to hide the truth behind denial when the consequences can be so terrible to us all, should be something we can collectively reject as not being about making a future we want for ourselves or for our children.

  4. It seems to obvious this is the biggest problem earth is facing. If you don’t have a suitable climate to grow crops, everything else is moot. 

    The really scary part is albedo. As the ice melts, the nice reflective ice surface gets replaced by dark heat-absorbing open sea. This means you have feedback to accelerate the process.

    We know that even without technology, earth’s climate can turn on a dime.

    There are still lots of people denying the problem. The vast majority still refuse to take even token action. What the heck in going on?

    Here in BC there is a plan to build a pipeline to take bitumen (tar sands) from Alberta to the BC coast and ship it to China.  People are worried about spills.

    I noticed that bitumen sinks, and hence would need different technology for cleanup than crude oil or gasoline which floats (and evaporates).  I sent dozens of messages to radio, tv, and newspapers trying to get them to ask the Enbridge(the builders) two questions:
    1. do you have technology to clean up bitumen spills?
    2. how efficient is it, what percentage of the bitumen can you recover?

    Nobody will touch this with a ten meter pole.  This is odd. They air/publish stuff from me on other matters dozens of times a week. They never respond.

    The radio stations and newspapers seem willing to discuss all kinds of minor issues, but not this deal-breaker.

    Years ago I tried to buy time for radio ads about preventing accidental nuclear war.  No radio station or newspaper would accept them. They said they would disturb the listeners.

    I get the feeling the bandmaster on the Titanic has taken charge of the media.

  5. (50th anniversary of publication) “Silent Spring opened people’s eyes to the dangers of pesticides.  This past scorched summer should do the same for climate change.”  Ed Markey – HuffPo

    Unfortunately, anything to do with nature is anathema to politicians when on tv.
    I heard plenty about the NFL referee situation, but nothing about the book’s anniversary.

    Quirks and Quarks has a good 20 minute radio interview about Rachel Carson and her legacy ~

  6. Well come on chaps! We wouldn’t want reality to interefere with a democratic election, now would we?

    Anyway I think my abs are far more important than Private Ryan’s. And Obama just looks so coooool in those Zaphod Beeblebrox shades!

  7.  “There are still lots of people denying the problem. The vast majority
    still refuse to take even token action. What the heck in going on?”

    There are some very wealthy people who have a lot of money invested in oil and gas and the technologies around them. Besides Exxon, etc. there are companies like Haliburton that originally made their money selling oil drilling equipment but now make it through privatizing security (which is related to oil because the US needs to dominate the middle east to keep the oil flowing). Alternative energies would threaten these people so they spend millions on propaganda to convince US citizens that climate change is a conspiracy from elite scientists.  The really scary thing is that such simple minded BS works on so many people. The other scary thing is how well it works, there is even less talk of climate change in the elections this time than there was four years ago and four years ago the Republican side at least admitted climate change was real and gave lip service to “free market” solutions like  cap and trade.

  8.  I agree its definitely a moral issue. I’m so sick of the way the US media labels people as “values voters” because they are against abortion rights and gay rights but ignores the moral aspect of issues like this. It also amazes me how self deluded so many people are. Many of them have families and pretend nothing is more important yet they condemn their kids to live in one messed up world.

  9. Thank you for that link, Quine. As an aside, I too have an acquaintance who is an Army chaplain and on today’s walk, he finally broached the subject of my atheism. I’m a frequent commentator in my local paper and that’s where he discovered that “person of faith” is no longer a descriptive adjective for me. While I’m not interested in writing a book (about what I hope will be future talks and walks with him), I do look forward to reading yours. 


  10. Thank you Mike, that is very kind of you. My neighbor was a police chaplain for a bit, so I expect some discussions would be close. Check out this discussion thread we had here about talking to our religious friends for more ideas:

  11. the hardest job in discussing climate change is finding a way of convincing enough people that any adverse change in weather is not god being cross with all the people they don’t like

  12. What are we doing to our beautiful planet? And why are we doing it? MONEY/GREED!

    Climate change has always occurred, but this is proving to be different, and can be proved as such; this is global warming driven by us, and we can prevent it. So why aren’t we?

    The dumb deniers and conspiracy crackpots should be taken to NASA and shown the data.

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