Climate change is a fact.
Q:Hi, I've had some more conservative members of my family talking about the crew that has been trapped in the Antarctic ice and saying that the mission was about climate change studies and that they were stopped because of abnormal amounts of ice. I could not find a whole lot of information that I find trustworthy on the subject. Is there actually an abnormal amount of ice there for this time of year? And if so, what is the cause? I was only able to find info related to the Arctic. Thank you
Yes, a Guardian climate science team got trapped in the ice and had to be rescued. This does not disprove climate change, despite your family says, or how ironic it is.
Remember, weather does not equal climate. One bout of ice increase in the Antarctic is a single weather data point. One hurricane is a single weather data point. Climate is by definition about averages and variation over long periods of time.
Sea ice has high variability, and the fact that there’s more of it in the Antarctic this year (and in years past) is confusing, since the Arctic shows the opposite trend, but shows scientists that there’s a lot more left to discover when it comes to our complex global climate. But in no way does that disprove man-made climate change, as there’s plenty of evidence for that elsewhere on Earth.
Here’s a NASA video showing the yearly minimum level Arctic sea ice from 1979-2011, which illustrates the variability and long-term nature of climate really well:
What if all the ice melted?
The ocean holds most of Earth’s water. After that, it’s ice. 5.7 million cubic miles of the stuff.
What if, thanks to natural and man-made climate change, it all melted? What if, by burning enough deep-Earth carbon (dead dinosaurs, prehistoric plants, or as we call it… fossil fuels) we raised Earth’s average temperature to around 80˚ F? What if that new normal caused the ocean’s now-warmer water to expand, rising even further?
Thanks to National Geographic we know: This is is what 216 feet (66 meters) of sea level change looks like.
Climate Change: There’s No Denying It’s Us
People in politics have this habit of releasing bad, uncomfortable, or otherwise challenging news on Fridays. They do this to either ruin your weekend, or in hopes that you aren’t paying attention.
That is why I didn’t post until today about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment (a long way of saying “The latest big climate report from the UN”) … because you need to really pay attention to this.
This new report is the work of hundreds of climate scientists from dozens of countries, and if you’ve ever tried to, say, order pizza for more than four people, you realize that if anything these alarming findings are on the conservative side, compromised down to just a few boring toppings. The future reality could be much worse.
The take-aways from the IPCC report are pretty simple. The climate is warming in a big way (are there really people who still deny this? I’m not sure), scientists are even more certain that humans are to blame, and it’s getting worse faster than we predicted.
I know what you’re thinking: Joe, I’m on your side, I get it, this is really bad … so what can I do when people get all climate denial-y up in my face?
Well in a world full of well-funded anti-science machinery and loads of people looking the other way because it’s uncomfortable, you have to take on an important job: Be a climate crusader in your world. Be a hero, not a Nero. Next time that one uncle sends you a BS chain email, next time a friend at school says “Yeah, but [insert economics mumbo jumbo they regurgitated from a textbook they don’t understand]”, or the next time you step up to the ballot box to decide if people like James Inhofe get to stay in office …here’s your ammo from the new climate report:
- RealClimate has a detailed scientific summary full of rising sea levels, extreme weather and drought, melting ice caps, warming oceans and best and worst-case scenarios.
- The Guardian has a whole page dedicated to coverage, especially recommend this digested read of the report
- Leading scientists weigh in at The Atlantic.
- NASA lays out some key points at Earth Observatory.
- Phil Plait says if you’re still denying that this is real, then GTFO.
- Colin Schultz reminds us that there are still uncertainties and things we don’t fully understand about the climate, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s just how science works.
A warming climate is an unequivocal fact. The most highly trained climate scientists in the world say there is at least a 95% chance that we are to blame. Name me one thing, just one other thing (plumbing, car repair, defusing a nuclear weapon) ,that if 95% of experts said they were sure, you’d respond with “Nah, I don’t think so, but thanks anyway Person Who Knows A Lot More About This Than I Do.”
The bad stuff has already started. It’s time to change our ways and adapt to the future we’ve created before it gets any worse. Because like Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC says:
"We have five minutes before midnight."
(Artwork by J. Cayne/DeviantArt)
Here’s a proposed new naming scheme for deadly storms: Name them after climate science-denying politicians.
Evacuate!! Michele Bachmann is about to make landfall!
“Back in April, artist Nickolay Lamm put together a collection of illustrations of what some of the East Coast’s popular tourist destinations would look like under 25 feet of water, the potential sea level rise expected in the next few centuries. Since then, he’s added a few new destinations along the West Coast in California.”
Lamm’s previous photos (at the link above) were frightening enough. But considering that I am currently working in a building just off the center left of this screen, it’s doubly concerning.
Global temperature averages over the years, converted to notes on the cello. It’s one of the more haunting songs you’ve ever heard, for many reasons.
Looks like we’re gonna need to switch to a viola pretty soon.
Olafur Eiasson’s installation at MoMA, Your Waste of Time, consist of broken chunks of Iceland’s Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier. The museum had to turn one of their main galleries into a walk-in freezer to able to display them. “According to PS1, the pieces of ice chosen for the project are about 800 years old. That sounds about right to Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Scambos speculates that the ice came from the ‘Little Ice Age,’ the period between the 16th and 19th centuries during which glaciers grew larger than they ever have since—and advanced quickly.
‘These glaciers bear testimony to our history-being suspended and frozen for thousands of years-and now they are melting away, as if our whole history is fading,’ said Eliasson.”
Wonderful art, sad message.
Antarctica Under The Ice
Geologists may be the closest thing that science has to time travelers. Their work takes them back in time, recreating billions of years of Earth’s past through studies of rock formations, without ever leaving the present.
A new topographical reconstruction of the land mass beneath Antarctica may, for the first time, let them glimpse into our possible future. A warm, frightening future.
The British Antarctic Survey created Bedmap2, a detailed map of the terrain beneath the icy sheets of the South Pole. The permanent ice on our polar continent is fluid, mobile, and sensitive to our changing climate. Understanding its relationship to the Earth beneath it is crucial to predicting whether of our warming planet allows it to maintain its solid form, or if some of it could wash away into rising seas.
It’s a visit to the geologic future I hope we never take. More at NASA, including a fun interactive graphic.