Tuesday, April 25, 2017

We Reap What We Sow, Eh?

The news is very bad, but that isn't really news for those of us who follow climate change:
A new international report shows that Arctic temperatures are rising higher and faster than expected, and the effects are already being felt around the world.

Among the findings in this year's report:

- The Arctic Ocean could be largely free of sea ice in the summer as early as 2030 or even before that.

- Arctic temperatures are rising twice as fast as the temperatures in the rest of the world. In the fall of 2016 mean temperatures were six degrees higher than average.

- Thawing permafrost that holds 50 per cent of the world's carbon is already affecting northern infrastructure and could release significant amounts of methane into the atmosphere.

- Polar bears, walruses and seals that rely on ice for survival are facing increased stress and disruption.

- Changes in the Arctic may be affecting weather as far away as Southeast Asia.
And those facts mean not only massive ecological and human disruption and dislocation in the near future due to sea level rise, but also massive costs:
The frigid region’s shift to warmer and wetter conditions, resulting in melting ice around the region, may cost the world economy trillions of dollars this century...

It is hard to have any hope these days, especially when our political 'leaders' continue to whistle, loudly and hubristically, past our looming collective graveyard.


  1. Reports are being published at a pace that blurs our ability to comprehend their significance. The recurrent theme is "latest research shows previous predictions were unduly optimistic." The latest research then turns out to be valid until it is overtaken, in turn, by the next. I'm left wondering if climate scientists haven't been cowed by fears of being criticized as alarmists which leaves them always behind the curve on their projections. If you were to look at nearly three decades of consensus reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, you would be struck by how seriously understated their conclusions have been even as they are routinely denounced as alarmists.

    For years I would post on these studies as they were released but I do that infrequently now because of the blur and because of how public interest has waned. These worsening conditions have achieved a measure of what politicians call "creeping normalcy." The political caste is reluctant to allocate funding to measures that may primarily benefit future generations, money they would prefer to use for tax cuts or programmes that will buy votes over the next electoral cycle or two. Creeping normalcy resulting in public apathy is manna from Heaven to the politicos as it takes them off the hook. Trudeau's supposed postponement of Canada's climate change plan until 2025-2030, by which time he'll be very likely gone from office, is a reflection of this cynical expediency.

    1. I fear your bleak analysis is far too true, Mound. I find it hard to maintain any hope for the future, given our politicians' cowardice and the 'creeping normalcy' that you describe here.

  2. Like a train heading for a washed out bridge, Lorne, we are hurtling to our own destruction.

    1. And collectively, Owen, we are asleep at the switch.