The Northwest Passage–the legendary shipping route through ice-choked Canadian waters at the top of the world–melted free of ice last week, and is now open for navigation, according to satellite mosaics available from the National Snow and Ice Data Center and The University of Illinois Cryosphere Today. This summThe Northwest Passage–the legendary shipping route through ice-choked Canadian waters at the top of the world–melted free of ice last week, and is now open for navigation, according to satellite mosaics available from the National Snow and Ice Data Center and The University of Illinois Cryosphere Today. This summer marks the fourth consecutive year–and fourth time in recorded history–that the fabled passage has opened for navigation.er marks the fourth consecutive year–and fourth time in recorded history–that the fabled passage has opened for navigation.
(Reposted from Climate Progress)
I find it amazing and exhausting that people are surprised about The Weather. But then there are those who make silk purses out of it, like pollution magnate David Koch:
“Lengthened growing seasons in the northern hemisphere, he says, will make up for any trauma caused by the slow migration of people away from disappearing coastlines. “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because a far greater land area will be available to produce food,” he says.”
Koch is a major supporter of deregulation and the Tea Party. Koch’s Family Foundation’s philanthropic arm funded a permanent exhibition at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History: the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, cancer research, and the arts (Lincoln Center’s State Theater has been renamed after him)…
A study conducted by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley and the U.S. Forest Service projects major vegetation shifts worldwide if greenhouse gas emissions are not brought under control and the Earth continues to rapidly warm. The study forecasts that by 2100 much of Arctic tundra will replaced by boreal forest and that deserts will spread in regions such as North America, Australia, and Central and South Asia. – from environment360
Much good writing came out in response to the wan wrap up in Copenhagen. Sadly, and from a narrow telescope deservedly, Obama is the butt of some bitter wallops.
To name two in the post-haze of COP15:
Bill McKibben’s piece for Yale Environment 360, “Copenhagen: Things Fall Apart and an Uncertain Future Looms” (excerpt):
James Hansen, the great climate scientist who started the global warming era with his 1988 testimony before the U.S. Congress, and whose team provided the crucial 350 number that now defines the planet’s habitability, refused to come to Copenhagen, predicting it would be a charade. He was correct. On Sunday he predicted a greater than 50 percent chance that 2010 would be the warmest year ever recorded. If you want to bet against him, you can. If you want to argue that this non-agreement will help Obama get something through Congress, it’s possible you’re right. If you want to despair, that’s certainly a plausible option.
Rebecca Solnit’s “Judgment Days in Copenhagen” for the Huffington Post (excerpt):
Thanks to a sudden decision earlier this month by the Environmental Protection Agency allowing the executive branch to address the issue of climate-change gases under the Clean Air Act, Obama has apparently been given superpowers to act without being completely hamstrung by a reluctant Congress. Or as the Center for Biological Diversity put it, “President Obama can lead, rather than follow, by using his power under the Clean Air Act and other laws to achieve deep and rapid greenhouse emissions reductions from major polluters.”
Will he? Probably not. After all, he’s the man who stood up in Prague last April and said: “I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” For a moment, it almost sounded as if he was going to be the action hero of our antinuclear dreams, wiping out one apocalypse that has hung over us for sixty years. And then he added that he didn’t actually expect to see the abolition of such weaponry in his lifetime, though he didn’t say why.
Now, we’re in an action movie in which the fate of the Earth is truly at stake, and the most powerful man on the planet has allowed himself to be hedged in by timidities, compromises, refusals, denials, and the murderous pressure of corporations. Those too-big-to-die corporations are the reason why the Senate is unlikely to ratify any climate-change treaty that threatens to do much of anything. Really, corporations — half-fictitious, semi-immortal behemoths endowed with human rights in the U.S. and possessed of corrosive global power — already are the ruthless cyborgs of our time. They are, after all, actively seeking a world in which they imagine that, somehow, they will survive, even if many of us and much that we love does not. Sorry poor people, young people, Africa, sorry Arctic summer ice, you’re not too big to fail.
Protesters bring out giants of various sorts to depict current woes. These range from the practical – cut down or eliminate meat consumption – to ghoulish and alien apocalypse-builders.
(What surprises me is how few protest-based image makers utilize any newer media tactics. It could almost be 1975.)
Slide show at NY Times.