Thursday, May 03, 2007

Open arctic by 2020 and the Sachs Reith Lectures

The third of Sach's Reith Lectures is out today. I'm slowly listening to the the first podcast on my car "radio"; I listen a bit, turn it off, and think. I think about how the limits of the barely sentient "plains ape", the mystery of how we've survived the past 50 years, and Morford's characteristically overwrought paeon to the wisdom of the hippies.

I think about China's adamant declaration that no global warming obligations fall upon them (how like the GOP!) and again I return to Sach's radical call for a new enlightenment. The old ways are failing, he says (and I agree) -- a new way must emerge to route around the decaying structures of current governance.

I think about a recent post I read on the quiet movement to create a world parliament.

In my most hopeful moments I hope that cursed wretch, Ralph Nader, was in some meager way right to speculate that only eight years staring into the abyss would awaken America. Ralph certainly gave us a good view of the abyss.

I read this ...
The Newshoggers: Artic Ice Melt 30 Years Ahead Of Forecast - US Scientists

Reuters reports that a team of US scientists led by a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Center in Colorado have published a paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters which says that the Arctic ice cap could be melting 30 years ahead of even the recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecast.

This means the ocean at the top of the world could be free or nearly free of summer ice by 2020, three decades sooner than the global panel's gloomiest forecast of 2050.

No ice on the Arctic Ocean during summer would be a major spur to global warming, said Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Center in Colorado.

"Right now ... the Arctic helps keep the Earth cool," Scambos said in a telephone interview. "Without that Arctic ice, or with much less of it, the Earth will warm much faster."

...Scambos and co-authors of the study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, used satellite data and visual confirmation of Arctic ice to reach their conclusions, a far different picture than that obtained from computer models used by the scientists of the intergovernmental panel.

"The IPCC report was very careful, very thorough and cautious, so they erred on the side of what would certainly occur as opposed to what might occur," Scambos said in a telephone interview.

... He said he had no doubt that this was caused in large part by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which he said was the only thing capable of changing Earth on such a large scale over so many latitudes.
Scambos isn't too optimistic about chances of holding back climate change either, saying instead that we had better start now on the changes to society needed to get through the rest of the century without humanitarian catastrophe.
Changes to the social order. That's what Sachs is calling for. It's a lot to ask of hacked wetware that barely runs our current dysfunctional social system.

I sure hope that "emergent hive mind" stuff works. We will need all of it.

In the meantime, write to the BBC and demand they set the Sachs lectures free as mp3s, in addition to freeing IOT.

1 comment:

JGF said...

I was disappointed by the quality of the comments on the 1st lecture. British educational standards have slipped abysmally -- does no-one study history any more?

Anyone who thinks human behavioral norms have not changed in the past 40,000 years is more than ignorant, they're Bush-quality willfully ignorant.

I assume the audience members with a bit more education were silent because the real questions are not simple.

On the other hand, I can only give Sachs a B+ for this effort. He ought to have preempted some of the dumber questions by addressing them more explicitly during his lecture. (Of course maybe he wanted dumb questions, since they strengthen his position ...)