Monday, April 23, 2007

Climate Change: Why We Can't Wait






James Hanson, The Nation



This is an adaptation of a talk delivered February 26 at the National Press Club. Comments relating to policy are Dr. Hansen's personal opinion and do not represent a NASA position.



There's a huge gap between what is understood about global warming by the relevant scientific community and what is known about global warming by those who need to know: the public and policy-makers. We've had, in the past thirty years, one degree Fahrenheit of global warming.



But there's another one degree Fahrenheit in the pipeline due to gases that are already in the atmosphere. And there's another one degree Fahrenheit in the pipeline because of the energy infrastructure now in place -- for example, power plants and vehicles that we're not going to take off the road even if we decide that we're going to address this problem.



The Energy Department says that we're going to continue to put more and more CO2 in the atmosphere each year -- not just additional CO2 but more than we put in the year before.



If we do follow that path, even for another ten years, it guarantees that we will have dramatic climate changes that produce what I would call a different planet -- one without sea ice in the Arctic; with worldwide, repeated coastal tragedies associated with storms and a continuously rising sea level; and with regional disruptions due to freshwater shortages and shifting climatic zones.



More...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Arctic Sea Ice is Shrinking in ‘Downward Spiral’





Winter sea ice in the Arctic has failed to reform fully for the third year in a row. Scientists said yesterday that the area of ocean covered by Arctic ice at the end of the winter months was lower only in March 2006.



Researchers fear that the floating sea ice is now on a downward spiral of shrinkage that cannot recover fully even during winter because of warmer temperatures.



Walt Meier of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colorado, which released the satellite data yesterday, said: “We’re seeing near-record lows and higher-than-normal temperatures. We expect the downward trend to continue in future years.”



More...