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Rapid Arctic Melt Called 'Planetary Emergency'

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the not-cool dept.

Earth 757

Freshly Exhumed writes "Drawing on new data released Wednesday by the National Snow and Ice Data Center that the Arctic ice pack has melted to an all time low within the satellite record (video), NASA climate scientist James Hansen has declared the current reality a 'planetary emergency.' As pointed out by Prof. David Barber from the University of Manitoba, 'The thaw this year broke all the records that we had previous to this and it didn't just break them, it smashed them.' So, not sure why your mainstream press isn't covering this story? 'It's hard for the public to realize,' Hansen said, 'because they stick their head out the window and don't see much going on.' Thankfully, some people are noticing, as Bill McKibben's recent Rolling Stone article, Global Warming's Terrifying New Math has gone viral."

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Press coverage (4, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410025)

So, not sure why your mainstream press isn't covering this story?

Uh, I saw this on both the PBS Newshour and CNN yesterday. Not sure how much more "mainstream" you can get (unless you expect People magazine to do a story too). Now, if by "not covering" you mean "aren't running around like Chicken Little alarmists screaming 'WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!'" then that's true, yes. But in a world with much more present and pressing issues like war, hunger, unemployment, recession, etc. you can't very well expect every newspaper to lead with a "Average Global Temps Expected to Rise By 1-2 Degrees Celsius Over the Next 50-100 years" headline.

Yes, it's noteworthy. Yes, we certainly need to address it. But, no, it's not the kind of thing that has people immediately scared or in present danger, nor the kind of thing that has the press running out with cameras to get the dramatic shot. It's more the long-term story that sort of simmers in the background.

Re:Press coverage (3, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410075)

I like the part about sticking your head out the window only to see that nothing is happening, while all my life I've been told that the ice caps will melt and sea levels will rise a meter or more immediately when it starts, and enough to flood out the US east and west coast for hundreds of miles in eventually. Why is some part of Florida not underwater?

Re:Press coverage (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410233)

Archimede principle: ice occupy as much space in water as it does once it has melted. The level of the oceans will only raise if inland ice melt such as in Antartica or Groenland.

Re:Press coverage (0, Troll)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410345)

Plus all the ice above the water...

Re:Press coverage (5, Informative)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410461)

Um, no. You've just shown you don't understand buoyancy. A given piece of ice, when it melts, *will take up only as much space as the part of the ice that was underneath the water.* Ice floats because a volume of ice weighs less than the same volume of water. It only displaces in water the volume of its weight in water, and so it floats. And therefore, when it melts, it shrinks exactly enough that the water doesn't rise an inch.

Re:Press coverage (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410483)

Nope still the same amount. Something floats when the mass of the water displaced equals the mass of the object floating. So when that ice mass melts, it will fill in the region that was used to be displaced. So the ice is displacing a volume equal to volume that ice would be if it was melted.

Re:Press coverage (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410485)

Not if it's floating; the buoyancy and weight cancel out the extra volume. It's only if it's being *held* out of the water by land that it'll contribute to the sea level.

Re:Press coverage (4, Interesting)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410501)

You missed the point. Floating Ice by virtue of it floating is displacing the same amount of liquid water it contains when melted. Experiment.

Take a Styrofoam cup. Fill it with ice. Pour enough water to float the ice and reach the rim of the glass. Some ice will be floating above the rim. Wait for it to melt and no water will spill.

Re:Press coverage (1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410529)

I've never seen this before, two "Informative" posts in a row, both of which are misinformative. That's bizarre.

GP was taking that into account, but was wrong for other reasons.

Re:Press coverage (3, Informative)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410383)

Whoops, you just misinformed everyone. Saltwater is more bouyant than freshwater, and due to the nature of how ice appears in the ocean(the evaporate, snow, accumulate cycle) the icebergs and ice shelves that are melting are made of freshwater. The impact is that they actually do raise the sea level more as water than the displacement caused by ice. Now, it is true that it's far less than 1:1 for visible melted ice:sea level rise, but to say there is none is misinformation.

Re:Press coverage (4, Informative)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410541)

The difference between the density of saltware and freshwater is only 2.5%. The level rise would be miniscule; probably not even detectable.

Re:Press coverage (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410411)

Last time I checked, there's a fair amount of ice above the level of the water. Melt that ice and it doesn't stay above the water - it moves down, into the water, thus raising the water level.

How did your post get modded informative? Because you cite Archimedes principle? Just sad...

Re:Press coverage (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410523)

Water expands as it freezes. The amount above the water is that expansion.

Sure you could make the argument about icebergs being fresh water, but the difference will not be huge.

Re:Press coverage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410531)

Water actually occupies more space when it is frozen.

Re:Press coverage (2, Informative)

demachina (71715) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410315)

As global temperatures rise, ocean temperatures rise and they are almost certainly going to push more water in to the atmosphere in the form of clouds and rain on land. Earth does have natural mechanisms to adapt to climate changes. More rain could mean floods, could mean places that aren't getting enough precipitation like the Sahara will get more and be more habitable. The Sahara hasn't always been a desert. The people who live there might LIKE climate change.

Some researchers are contending that half the sea level rise we've seen to date is due to cities and farms pumping water out of ancient aquifers on an industrial scale. If you had more rain civilization wouldn't be so dependent on depleting aquifers. When aquifers are gone it will take a really long time before they come back.

Yes there is a danger of a runaway greenhouse effect but its also true that the Earth doesn't have "one true" climate and we shouldn't pretend that we are going to lock it in to one. Its always changed over time, sometimes dramatically and unless man is going to start teraforming we aren't going to lock it down now.

Me personally I'm OK with global warming, of course I'm heavily invested in harbor and beach front property on the northern coast of Canada, or at least it will be beach front when sea level rises 9-10 meters.

I always like to "look on the bright side of life".

Change (0)

Das Auge (597142) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410407)

Oh, come on! Everyone knows that change is always 100% bad for everyone. All the time.

The people that need to be worried are small countries whose grain belts may move beyond its borders.

Re:Press coverage (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410481)

Tides are likely to be affected

Re:Press coverage (5, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410089)

But in a world with much more present and pressing issues like war, hunger, unemployment, recession, etc. you can't very well expect every newspaper to lead with a "Average Global Temps Expected to Rise By 1-2 Degrees Celsius Over the Next 50-100 years" headline.

Or in short "people can't be bothered about long-term problems."

And it's really too bad because an individual has far more power to do something about global warming than any of those problems you listed.

Re:Press coverage (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410227)

damn right, a properly motivated indivudal, working creatively, could easily slaughter several thousand cows (or more), reducing global methane emission levels significantly, before being caught.

That'd do way more to combat global warming than trading in your accord for a prius.

still not sure what exactly an individual could do to combat CO2 emissions from volcanos, but there must be something. I'll keep working on it.

Re:Press coverage (5, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410323)

Or you could stop eating beef and dairy products or buy from suppliers that use the genetically engineered low-fart cows. Or you could plant some trees or put renewable energy devices on your house or get a shorter commute or replace flying with telecommuting or make your next car electric or see if there's an option to buy renewable power in your area or phase in lower-power devices in your home or maintain/reuse things instead of replacing them...but yeah it's hopeless and there's nothing an individual could do.

Re:Press coverage (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410359)

genetically engineered low-fart cows.

The next coming fad. Low-fart diets!

Re:Press coverage (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410469)

Or you could stop eating beef and dairy products

Or I could just stop eating altogether. That'd be about the same thing. Hell, why don't we all just move to eating each other. that'd solve 2 or three problems at the same time. Soylent GREEN is good for mother earth, just look at the name!

or buy from suppliers that use the genetically engineered low-fart cows.

Wait, I thought genetically modified food was supposed to be bad? somebody help, i can't get all my conspiracys straight.

Or you could plant some trees

My property is alredy about 2/3 forested, I'm not sure where else you expect me to put these trees. Buy a farm somewhere and plant a tree? Should I really be dicking around with ecosystems like that?

or put renewable energy devices on your house

I'd love to, let me know when the dollar-to-watt ratio isn't absurd.

or get a shorter commute

WHAT? how exactly do you propose I do that? Move? I'll go let my bosses know right this second that they need to give me a $30,000 a year raise so I can afford a house in the city instead of one in the suburbs.

Unless you're proposing that a stright arrow as-the-crow-flies bypass is built straight from my neighborhood to the block my office is on. I'm cool with that. All said, I doubt that I could do that as an individual though.

I got tired of quoting cause you're obviously living in some other world beside the real one, where other concerns exist.

Re:Press coverage (5, Insightful)

bondsbw (888959) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410363)

And it's really too bad because an individual has far more power to do something about global warming than any of those problems you listed.

Bullshit.

You want to know why conservatives push back on global warming? Because the alarmists are claiming just what you are saying, that I (a hard working taxpayer who doesn't have the money to buy a new Prius) needs to go completely out of my way to do something that will make practically ZERO change to the current situation.

Yet removing one container ship from the shipping industry would be the equivalent of removing 50 million automobiles [gas2.org] .

I heard the other day that our oil exports now exceed our oil imports. My question: why aren't we just using the oil we have, instead of shipping it across the ocean? Economics aside for a minute... this is having a huge impact to global warming, yet I'm the one being blamed?

Re:Press coverage (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410467)

I as a pretty far lefty must agree. It is like water conservation, consumer water use is practically negligible. This is the only utility I know of the more you buy the cheaper it gets, agriculture pays next to nothing for the water and yet uses the vast majority of it. This means in the end the only lettuce I can buy is the stuff from what should be deserts or the local hydroponic. I do buy the 4x the cost hydroponic stuff because they reuse the water and I am in an area with lots of water. I can understand how you could not afford to buy that food or just would not want to pay that price.

The problems are even real solutions will involve you paying a little more or waiting a little longer I am ok with that are you?

Are you ok with paying another $10 on an smartphone or waiting another week to get it because the container ship was wind powered? Or just keeping your "old" phone 1 year longer?

That is what real change would look like. I am fine with it are you?

Re:Press coverage (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410515)

Isn't the shipping industry going backwards slightly, and looking into using essentially very big kites to help power their ships?

Please Be Quiet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410095)

Now, if by "not covering" you mean "aren't running around like Chicken Little alarmists screaming 'WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!'" then that's true, yes.

Do you know what a straw man is? Did you read the Rolling Stone piece? Can you point out where he said that?

But in a world with much more present and pressing issues like war, hunger, unemployment, recession, etc

Buddy, if you think we've got hunger now ... just wait until we can't ship enough alfalfa, hay and ruffage to Texas for their cattle. You like that burger? You better hope Texas and Oklahoma aren't aflame again next year.

It's more the long-term story that sort of simmers in the background.

That's bullshit. That mentality leads to apathy and people never address it. We've tried to hold summits and make this a clear and present issue but people like you just want to put it on the back burner until we absolutely have to address it. And for a lot of people, they aren't going to notice it until it's in the form of refugees. It's a gradual problem. CFCs made headlines but now CO2 consumption can't? I don't get it ...

Re:Please Be Quiet (1, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410133)

There will be a demonstration of the effects of global warming on food supplies next year. Be sure to watch.

Re:Please Be Quiet (2)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410299)

Already started if one tracks prices and supply closely.

I really like quinoa, but have stopped purchasing it since it has to be imported from so far away and the exportation from the countries which raise it has led to dramatic price increases there.

Re:Please Be Quiet (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410231)

What's funny is if the entire north pole melted, it wouldn't affect sea levels in the least. Not one millimeter. Greenland, on the other hand, would bring the sea level up about 20 feet or so.

There's the concern for the ocean temperature increasing, causing expansion and making water more voluminous and thus causing the same amount of water (mass) to rise; but I don't believe it. The south pole is never going to melt--it simply cannot. It never comes above -37C down there; if it gets hot enough to melt, the rest of the earth is molten slag and we don't really care much about rising sea levels. However, there will always be a free flow water border against antarctic ice. This causes antarctic ice to melt. Since the whole ice cap can't and won't melt, this melting simply draws heat away--80 times as much heat as a 1 degree difference in the same mass of water, in fact, plus the temperature of ice (so -37C would draw 37 degrees PLUS 80 degrees = 117 degrees gram for gram from water). The ice at the border of these temperature zones should be warmed to about 0C, so talk about 80 times the mass equivalence of 0C water.

In short, antarctica will keep the oceans cool as long as ocean water circulates past antarctica.

So the solution is to desalinate water in antarctica and dump it on the ice cap. We need to move basically the mass of the ice on Greenland as it melts--not insubstantial. Note that the new ice must be stored above sea level, because bobbing in the sea it will be expanded and will displace a large mass of water. Such ice, once melted, takes up less space and so the part above the water doesn't become a rise in sea level. Of course, while this means ice bergs and ice caps don't raise sea levels when they melt, dropping additional such ice into the water DOES raise sea levels, hence why it must be sequestered above sea level.

Ham?

Re:Please Be Quiet (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410285)

Why even desalinate it?

At -37C salt water freezes just as well as fresh.

Re:Please Be Quiet (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410497)

The water frozen in Greenland is fresh water. I'm just being consistent.

Re:Please Be Quiet (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410257)

You know we do raise cattle in the East as well right?

While I would love to fix global warming, a more pragmatic approach maybe the only option. Stop raising cattle in the southwest, and as the temperatures allow move that activity north. Even invading Canada is probably easier than getting our government to regulate CO2.

Re:Press coverage (3, Informative)

arpad1 (458649) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410153)

There is another polar ice cap. Anyone know what's happening there with regard to ice coverage?

Seems to me that if you're telling only half the story you can't possibly be telling more then half the truth.

If that.

Re:Press coverage (-1, Flamebait)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410349)

Pretty rich arpad1, to lie and then call others liars. Don't you have a Discovery Institute meeting to attending or something?

Re:Press coverage (3, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410457)

Well, it sure looks to me like the amount of ice at the other pole has been growing. [uiuc.edu]

..the graph, however, only goes to 2008. I am sure someone will reply with data on only part of Antarctica (West Antarctic, or the Antarctic Peninsula) that shows it shrinking rather than growing, but that was also true before 2008, which the graph covers.

Cherry picking? The world is never short on records being broken. To convince others of your beliefs, simply trumpet those records that support you and dont mention those that don't.

Re:Press coverage (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410221)

Well, Fox is doing its best to headline stories casting doubt, etc. on the President. They've really been pumping this whole Embassy thing, pushing a lot of attention to the new info about the guy released from Gitmo and repeatedly mentioning how Obama wanted to shut it down. Of course they do their best not to draw attention to the fact that Gitmo is still running and the guy was released under Bush's watch. But global warming is, according to them, a Liberal Conspiracy so they're doing their best to ignore the whole thing.

But ya, all the Liberal and more-or-less 'Neutral' news services have at least mentioned it, it's mostly just the Conservative networks keeping mum. Give it a few days (at most) and you'll be able to see plenty of bullshit coming out of Fox talking about how the data is bad, it's not happening, and it's all part of a plot to take your guns, make you smoke pot, worship Satan, and convert to Islam.

Ok so maybe that's a little overly sarcastic, but Fox really has been pissing me off lately. I'm fairly Conservative, and I don't appreciate how they've been whitewashing the news over the last couple of months.

Re:Press coverage (1, Offtopic)

GeekWithAKnife (2717871) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410247)

Noteworthy: over the next 50 years my anxiety will rise 1-2% about it.

Re:Press coverage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410283)

Who cares if the Arctic ice cap fully melts. Are you sorry that the U.S. Great Lakes glaciers melted many million years ago? Climate is always changing. Unless someone shows why preserving things as they currently are is essential, there is no reason to wail about things changing.

Re:Press coverage (4, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410387)

the kind of thing that has the press running out with cameras to get the dramatic shot

Until a few years ago, tornadoes were a rare event in New York City, something that happened once in a while and made big news.

Now, tornadoes are becoming seasonable for New York. Yes, really, it is frequent enough to be considered seasonal, although I suspect the media won't report it that way for another 5 years. To give you an idea, there were two tornadoes in nearby suburbs this year, multiple strong tornadoes in 2010, a tornado in Brooklyn in 2007, and prior to that, one in 2006 in a nearby suburb, and in NYC in 2003, 1995, 1990, 1985, and 1974, and a few very rare ones before that. This is a becoming a clear change in New York City's weather patterns: tornadoes strike in the late summer and early autumn.

The news has not gotten into a panic over it, probably because it is still being reported as "rare," but it is not really "rare" anymore; it happens, and people in New York City and the nearby areas are going to have to learn how to deal with tornadoes. The tornadoes are also becoming stronger; eventually they will be so strong that the dramatic shots of the storm and the aftermath will be unavoidable.

Tired of it (1)

emho24 (2531820) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410401)

A lot of people are just tired of hearing about it and they are tuning out. It doesn't even matter if its true or not, all people know is that they haven't drowned yet or cooked alive, so it must not be important. Paying the mortgage, that is what is on their minds.

It also doesn't help that people usually hear the global warming cry shortly followed up by a demand for higher taxes to pay for their sins against mother nature.

Re:Press coverage (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410471)

Didn't read the article, did you?

Re:Press coverage (-1)

infodragon (38608) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410489)

[sarcasm] Scientists first observed global warming in 1895. Then in 1920 they said it was global cooling. Then in 1935 they said there was global warming, but then in 1975 they said it was the verge of a new Ice Age but then it became global warming again. But that is all old news. Let's stop talking about discredited work... [/sarcasm]

From generation to generation people have heard so much about global warming and global cooling that they don't believe what is being said now. "Back in my day the world was cooling and the US was going to be covered in ice in 50 years!" Kids grew up hearing that and those kids now have heard from their (grand)parents the opposite of what is being said now. So science was wrong before it is wrong now so give me my iPhone 7SSS!

Also we have become numb to almost everything due to the massive bombardment by the media of anything and everything. From the most important, the Kardashians, to the least, Global Warming. Oh yea and something about our embassies being attacked, somewhere in a desert...

The fault lies with us, as a population, not wanting to deal with what isn't going to affect us in the next week or two (oddly the time between most paychecks.) The masses are incurably ignorant. In any group large enough, most are idiots! So we continue to consume a scarce resource in moving about back and forth to the mall and think that consuming 2x as much to produce the equivalent in "bio-fuel" which is then consumed to go to the mall is "green."

The blind following the blind following the def.

I'm just in a bad mood today so take that into account.

I don't believe this is happening (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410031)

Therefore it isn't happening.

Re:I don't believe this is happening (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410393)

Stick your head out the window. Feel how much hotter it is. It's happening.

And I am willing to bet (0)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410051)

The US will be "punished" because of this, despite the fact the emerging 3rd world has a pass on pollution because of past environmental treaties.

You watch, our taxes will go up again, so corporations can "clean up their act" (and pass the cost onto us)

Re:And I am willing to bet (4, Interesting)

Howitzer86 (964585) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410151)

If anything, I expect the third world to be punished the most. When the rising tide and drought becomes too much for them to handle without taking on debt from nations and corporations all too eager to lend, some of them could effectively return to a more occupied colony-like status.

Re:And I am willing to bet (0)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410305)

Well they did have a much better life in the colonial times, and in fact Chinese businesses has already started recolonizing them.

Re:And I am willing to bet (0)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410317)

The third world emits a great deal less carbon per capita. As for being able to pass the cost on, that is what you right wingers wanted: plutocracy where coporations can buy the legislature. Stop complaining about a problem that you are an advocate for, its intellectually dishonest.

Re:And I am willing to bet (0, Troll)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410321)

The US has been sabotaging the Kyoto and other emission controlling treaties for as long as they existed.

Nothing we can do (3, Funny)

cod3r_ (2031620) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410069)

Brace yourselves. The end is near.

balance? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410093)

But at the same time Antartic sea ice is being added per http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2012/09/19/antarctic-sea-ice-sets-another-record/

Antarctic Ice Record (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410097)

Yeah, but what about this?:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2012/09/19/antarctic-sea-ice-sets-another-record/

Gaining on one end and losing on the other . . . . .

This is good (1)

synapse7 (1075571) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410099)

This should raise the low water levels around lake Michigan and I'm sure there won't be any consequences.

Fabulous (5, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410129)

I'm assuming he's a guy with good credentials, held in high-regard, data and conclusions backed up by peer-review, etc.

Great.

So what do we do? Because we haven't been able to answer that question for decades and now we NEED to know the answer before we continue, if that's the case.

As fabulous as all this detective work is, what are we supposed to do about it and what effect does that work have? If it means we have to forgo electricity (say), then maybe we're better off just letting the climate rise and the icecaps melt (for instance). Maybe not. Who knows?

Because for DECADES people have been shouting doom with no reasonable, practical explanation for it, solution of it, or analysis of the impact of said solutions.

Let's work from the assumption that I believe you and you're 100% correct. What do we do now?

Re:Fabulous (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410161)

Switch to nuclear power + renewables and electric cars.

Re:Fabulous (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410245)

Great. Where are you going to get enough oil and metal to do that on any significantly achievable timescale?

Re:Fabulous (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410325)

The limit on building nuke plants is not oil nor metal, it is the limited amount of foundries that can cast such large components.

If we had the will, we would find the way.

"The Will" (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410417)

"The will" is economic at this point. Everyone speaks $$$... if someone offers a cheap alternative to CO2, it will change policies faster than anything else. If people burning coal are loosing money because they decided to invest in fossil fuels, they'll be scrambling as fast as possible to shut down their fossil fuel plants and fire up whatever the cheaper alternative is.

Unless the entire world, or at least the major CO2-emitting countries quickly agree on a universal policy (read Montreal-type Protocol for CFC reduction) the world won't agree on anything. Fossil fuels are the very lifeblood of the modern era, they are the bedrock of our very infrastructure. The likelihood is that something cheaper will come a long well before policy makers decide to legislate their way out of this mess.

Re:Fabulous (4, Informative)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410259)

Build your own solution [wikipedia.org] there are more than enough options with known and reasonable impacts on global GDP and quality of life. The real problem has been purely political for at least a decade.

A site with a list of wedges [global-gre...arming.com]

Re:Fabulous (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410525)

Nice post.

Pick any three. Calculate the impact. Is that better or worse than (potentially, possibly, a while from now) seas rising slightly?

Because things like vehicle replacement and stopping cutting down trees have huge, global impacts on lots of things (not least, trying to convince people to throw away their old car and buy a new, less-efficient one).

And you can't just do this a little at a time, we're talking international co-operation. And thus international-impact. And then you better hope that you were right in what was causing the problem and that is wasn't just a natural cycle that a) gets worse, b) goes back to normal without us doing anything anyway.

This is the point - we can all posit crazy ideas, but without some sort of plan of where we can go and what the impact of going there is, it's all pie-in-the-sky stuff (like replacing coal with photo-voltaics, for example, which is laughable).

Re:Fabulous (-1)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410281)

Carbon is a marvelous substance, try wasting less of it heating brake pads and downloading cat pictures on the internet.

Make Alternatives Cheaper - Economics (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410307)

It seems the only practical way to get everyone on board is when there's a dollar amount. When the issue is as global and integrated into our daily lives as that of global warming, the only way to make everyone move in another direction is when economics come in to play. The only *real* way to get India, China, the US and all the other large CO2 emitting countries is to push the price of alternative fuels below that of their CO2-emitting counterparts.

From what I can tell, the only way to make a huge, quick reduction in CO2 is to beat it with something cheaper.

There is no one "something" unfortunately. It's a huge mixture of different technologies, but I don't see anything else more motivating that cash, and motivation is something the world lacks when it comes to CO2 reduction...

huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410131)

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2012/09/19/antarctic-sea-ice-sets-another-record/

Can we mod a story "flamebait"? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410139)

Because that's all these stories ever do is start flame wars. Can we please stick to technical stories, news for nerds, etc.?

This shit is like a religion to you people, you fucking nutjobs on both sides need to go find somewhere else to discuss your fundamentalism, because I'm damn sick of hearin you all bellyache about it.

The real emergency is... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410143)

Does anybody watch Real Time with Bill Maher? Just about every republican on the panel has said, with a straight face, that there is no sufficient evidence for global warming being real and/or being man made. That's the real emergency, the fact that we have a bunch of people who outright ignore science. And, it's not like I'm talking about some random Joe off of the street. These are the people that have influence in this country.

Re:The real emergency is... (5, Funny)

Rosy At Random (820255) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410165)

Clearly the ice has a liberal agenda.

Re:The real emergency is... (0)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410521)

What's the saying?

Life has a liberal bias?

Re:The real emergency is... (5, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410191)

If this is legitimate global warming, the planet has ways of shutting the whole thing down, no need to worry.

Re:The real emergency is... (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410539)

So we just hope that 'shutting the whole thing down' happens before our agricultural regions dry up?

Re:The real emergency is... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410377)

There's an equal number of geeks who will say with a straight face that the answer is to colonize Mars....

Planetary Emergency?! (1)

Bugler412 (2610815) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410147)

Holy hyperbole batman!

Re:Planetary Emergency?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410353)

Octonauts, sound the OctoAlert!

Re:Planetary Emergency?! (0)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410371)

We need these crises in order to pass more patriot acts and open more Guantanamo like prisons. Keep the people too scared to revolt.

Looking out the window? (0)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410159)

I here that New York City is getting tornadoes with increasing frequency. I doubt that when New Yorkers look out the window, they fail to notice such a change in the weather patterns...

Re:Looking out the window? (0)

Xentor (600436) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410423)

When we look out the window, we see one of three things, depending on living situation:

1) An air shaft
2) Other buildings, which block our view of such interesting phenomena
3) A beautiful skyline... Except the people that see this are too rich to care.

So yes, we fail to notice...

Then it shows up on TV, and since we're busy doing ten things at once, we think it's just a commercial or a movie trailer, and ignore it. Either that, or we're so bored that we think, "Hey, that'll liven things up a bit!"

(I am a New Yorker, but I'm mostly joking about most of the above)

The importan question is not being asked.... (1, Informative)

madhatter256 (443326) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410171)

Is this man made or part of a natural cycle?

Is 30 years enough to make a conclusion? Or should we wait another 50 to 100 years to see if humankind has contributed to this?

Also, what about Russia's thousands of leaky natural gas pipelines (and possibly more that have been undocumented) that reportedly dump 8 times more natural gas into the atmosphere per year than the amount of oil Deep water horizon' well had dumped in 2010???

Last I checked methane is more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 (which we humans do put out more) and don't forget the numerous natural emissions of CH4 into the atmosphere.

We as humans know way too little. It's not one thing thats causing this, which is what is being fed to us by the Media. It is many other things. From a mathematical perspective... we only have one equation, but too many variables.

Re:The importan question is not being asked.... (2)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410263)

What I want to know is how many time shares you have planned in the future Yukon Riveria.

What an overreaction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410183)

Has everybody forgotten the millions of fish frozen in South American rivers a year or two ago, and the snow load that broke a bunch of buildings in Australia? It's the weather, the weather varies, and this is what that looks like. The Arctic ice will be back and forth, as always.

The Planet is fine (5, Funny)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410203)

many of us dependent on a rather thin surface of the hydrosphere, however, are not going to like what happens next.

Re:The Planet is fine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410425)

I do not see what the big deal is, this melting is not as bad as it was 10,000 years ago. Ice was 5000 feet thick over most of the northern continents.

ZOMG, but The Rolling Stone says its true (0)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410271)

i mean we never had any fires before this year. or heavy rain, or powerful hurricanes. until this year it was sunny and 73 degrees everywhere all the time

in the 80's the Mississippi flooded almost every year.
we had wildfires all the time because they are caused by poor forest management, not global warming. the Native Americans learned long ago you have to set small fires so that large ones can be avoided. enviro-crazies hate this and its illegal to do controlled burns in forests in most places. if you don't do controlled fires then the supply of fuel for large fires builds up and lighting or anything else will cause a huge fire

Re:ZOMG, but The Rolling Stone says its true (0)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410473)

Yep, nothing about the words "record" breaking made it over and over in that headline. Nope, other people are the ones using anecdotal evidence rather than hard data. Address the points actually made, for once.

Re:ZOMG, but The Rolling Stone says its true (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410493)

When was the last time tornadoes were a seasonal occurrence in New York City?

OMG All time low!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410279)

"Drawing on new data released Wednesday by the National Snow and Ice Data Center that the Arctic ice pack has melted to an all time low within the satellite record"

Reliable satellite data didn't start until late 1978 so proclaiming doom and gloom for the planet, based on 34 years of records, is asinine. When you're dealing with the global climate that is less than the blink of an eye.

Too much politics. (1, Insightful)

readin (838620) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410291)

"So, not sure why your mainstream press isn't covering this story?"

I think two of the primary reasons are Al Gore and Michael Moore. A losing presidential candidate and a filmaker famous for leftist hatchet jobs took the lead role in publicizing global warming. That made at least half the population of America immediately suspicious or simply unwilling to listen. Then the methods that were used - e.g. Al Gore famously declaring the debate over before most people had even started paying attention - just made things worse. The trend continues to this day when it seems that attempts at meaningful debate are shouted down usually by people claiming AGW is real.

In my personal experience I tried reading some AGW pages on Wikipedia because I wanted to learn more and get a better idea of whether AGW is real (it certainly seems plausible). I found a few minor mistakes that I attempted to correct. Instead of reasoned debate or explanations I mainly encountered vitriol and ridicule. Based on what I read, I would think AGW is definitely real, but based on the attitudes of the people editing the Wikipedia page I have to question whether the article I read is sufficiently unbiased to be useful.

There are a lot of people for whom, unfortunately, the decision has largely been made largely by prejudices based in politics - I'm pretty sure this applies to both sides. Al Gore and Michael Moore created that situation. However I'm sure there are a lot of people who are still open-minded but who feel they can't get good trustworthy information because the debate (or lack thereof) became so politicized.

Re:Too much politics. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410433)

Al Gore deserves a lot of the blame but why Michael Moore? I'm not aware of him publicizing global warming at all.

Re:Too much politics. (1)

readin (838620) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410543)

You're right, my bad. I thought Michael Moore produced "An Inconvenient Truth".

Some things I know - or have come to understand (0, Troll)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410297)

1) We don't really have data over a very long time.
2) Just last week I read that climate models had been using positive feedback to predict moisture (rain and drought) where in fact negative would be more accurate.
3) We know air traffic has an immediate affect on weather but nobody talks about that. (including temperature variations)
4) We are in an inter-glacial period and no one knows exactly how far the ice is supposed to recede.
5) Had CO levels not been elevated by our actions, plant life would soon die - it's been decreasing for millions of years.
6) CO2 helps plants grow. Which will also take it out of the atmosphere.
7) Coal is essentially compressed biomass. Burning it will put it back in the biosphere where it was historically. (not true of oil).
8) The prehistoric record shows significant vegetation (rainforest?) at higher latitudes - like Montana.
9) There is evidence that the northwest passage has been clear at some points in the last 1000 years. So this may not be new.
10) Alarmist articles bring eyeballs and ad-click revenue.

Besides, last winter was mild in Michigan, and I liked it that way. OTOH, I predict a much colder one this year.

Re:Some things I know - or have come to understand (0)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410397)

We can't explain how an atom works, only what we can observe.

We can't predict weather without more than handful of days and still not with any accuracy (tell me what temperature it will be to the nearest degree a fortnight Tuesday).

To then suggest we actually have a clue what's going on even on the surface of a 6x10^24 kg mass of crap and that we're responsible for some quite minor change (if it was major, we'd be dead already, even a handful of degrees could be major) is pretty far-fetched for even the best scientists and climate models.

Sure, science can tell you that a black hole will suck up a neighbour with X km of itself because it's close enough and has enough gravity, but it can't describe how it's going to happen in any detail. What we deal with in our climate is trying to extrapolate accurate records of fine detail from a huge system that we have no idea of, no "plan" of the end-result, no rough approximation of prior years and so little previous accurate data that it's laughable.

Unfortunately, some people then want to use this to forward their private agendas NO MATTER the impact on us by either a) the climate or b) our solution to fix the climate (which would be equally as drastic, if not worse).

Re:Some things I know - or have come to understand (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410507)

Wow, just wow.

meanwhile.... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410303)

Antarctic Sea Ice Sets Another Record

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2012/09/19/antarctic-sea-ice-sets-another-record/

"Antarctic sea ice set another record this past week, with the most amount of ice ever recorded on day 256 of the calendar year (September 12 of this leap year)."

keeping the cause alive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410313)

nothing like an emergency and a cause which addresses that emergency to give your bland life new meaning.

Then again... (2, Informative)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410329)

Then again, there is this article [theregister.co.uk] from the Register today.

Nobody knows for sure what is really going on. The satellite record is too short for us to know if this is an extraordinary event, or part of a normal cycle.

Is GW good or bad? (2)

mnooning (759721) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410339)

Has anyone studied what would happen if GW was much worse? Vast areas of Russia and Canada would be opened up, yes, but those in low lying coastal areas would be forced to higher ground, losing their homes. How disruptive would it be? How much would that cost us all? What would the predicted increased rain do to the vast Chinese and African deserts? Would there be a vast increase in food production. Would there be increased populations, with the danger of horrendous starvation if the world started to cool again? Would the northern parts of the US be like, say, South Carolina (nice), or like the Caribbean(too hot)?. Would Florida be inundated with constant rain? Disruption is not necessarily bad. Does anyone know of any studies in this area?

Such dubious words... (1, Informative)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410341)

Hansen is not a scientist he's a activist with scientific credentials. It's his horse in the race and he should be stripped of his title at NASA. We need scientists to report not react.

Anyway, the "epic" melt now being leverages is not a temperature melt. There was a huge artic storm that broke up the ice, which increased the surface area, which the water then melted. If we take a look at a temperature graph for the arctic: http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php [ocean.dmi.dk] We see that it was an "Average" year with no additional time above the melting point than normal. What created the melt was not warmer weather, it was increased surface area.

That kind of stuff happens after an ice age (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410361)

One would expect arctic ice to melt more and more during the exit stages of an ice age.

50 Meter Rise in Sea Level...Oh God (4, Insightful)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410409)

It was such a horrible event...All civilizations which used all that land are now gone...under water.

Well, it took tens of thousands of years and we lost coastline, but gained almost all of Canada and the Northern US, Europe and Asia back from a deep ice sheet to usable land, so I guess we lost some land and gained some land.

I get a feeling I am being force fed a media manipulation based on our individual lifetime experiences rather than the long long term cycles that man can not affect in more than tiny ways. Man certainly has not affected the prior 2 dozen major worldwide ice age cycles.

Meanwhile, antarctic sea ice is at a record high. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41410419)

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/SC1209/S00050/antarctic-ice-area-sets-record-high.htm [scoop.co.nz]

A long long time ago, James Hansen ceased to be a credible scientist and became an activist. Right now, there is less sea ice at the north pole than any time since 1979. There were, however, several other times in the 20th century when people were worried that the ice would disappear. Hansen knows that but it doesn't suit his purposes to let us know. He just keeps pounding his simple, alarmist message. They should throw the bum in jail ... oh wait, they did. http://www.climatedepot.com/a/12518/Hansen-Back-in-Jail-NASAs-James-Hansen-Arrested-Again-Outside-White-House-at-Pipeline-Protest--Implores-Obama-to-act-for-sake-of-your-children-and-grandchildren [climatedepot.com]

Obligatory Carlin Quote (3, Funny)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410463)

"The planet will be fine. WE'RE fucked."

Blame China, actually. Greenies need to outreach (1)

exabrial (818005) | more than 2 years ago | (#41410547)

Ok, the greenie morons in the USA needs to quit thinking this is their fault. China and India are the main problem... Take a look at this pic from Hangzhou, CN from about 2 years back: ImageShack.us [imageshack.us] The spire on the hill is 3/4mile away from where I was sitting. No it's not foggy, that's just how polluted it is ALL THE TIME over there. If you truly are an environmentalist, voting for Obama isn't going to save the planet. America has already won this battle.... but since climate science is now in mainstream pop culture, no one actually wants to travel overseas to do the hard work to save the environment.
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