Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here is a link to "The Copenhagen Diagnosis" which summarizes the scientific research that has been done since the last IPCC report. It's a litany of impacts of climate change that are faster and more severe than predicted, by very significant degrees.

Oh, and it has pretty pictures!

And here is another version of the NASA satellite study that indicates East Antarctica is losing ice.

Grace estimate of changes in Antarctica's ice mass, measured in centimeters of equivalent water height change per year. The study confirmed previous estimates of ice mass loss in West Antarctica, but also found ice mass loss in East Antarctica, primarily in coastal regions (depicted in light blue). (Credit: University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research)
"...the East Antarctic ice sheet is losing mass, mostly in coastal regions, at an estimated rate of 57 gigatonnes a year. A gigatonne is one billion metric tons, or more than 2.2 trillion pounds. The ice loss there may have begun as early as 2006. The study also confirmed previous results showing that West Antarctica is losing about 132 gigatonnes of ice per year."
"While we are seeing a trend of accelerating ice loss in Antarctica, we had considered East Antarctica to be inviolate," said lead author and Senior Research Scientist Jianli Chen of the university's Center for Space Research. "But if it is losing mass, as our data indicate, it may be an indication the state of East Antarctica has changed. Since it's the biggest ice sheet on Earth, ice loss there can have a large impact on global sea level rise in the future."


  1. The US and China have finally announced real numbers for their targets to reduce carbon emissions. Unfortunately these numbers, especially from the US, are far too weak. We need a strong agreement at Copenhagen, but this won't get us there. In many ways, a weak agreement at Copenhagen could be even worse than no agreement, as it would lock in targets too small to make a significant difference.

  2. Hi Canada Guy!

    Yes I agree. I think in that video what they are getting at is that even those who are serious about action, like Al Gore, are not being realistic about what is required if we are to avert global catastrophe - presuming we are still able!

  3. Hi Gail.

    Yes, Al Gore did a great job in An Inconvenient Truth presenting and explaining the problem in a way anyone can understand, and the movie pointed out how serious the consequences would be. But then at the end of the movie he starts talking about changing lightbulbs and more efficient cars! Major disconnect there.

  4. Ha ha I have to tell this story. Yesterday I was talking to a very astute and wealthy businessman about his roses, and he asked me if I thought he should have them pruned. I said, well it wouldn't hurt but you might as well wait until after they have stopped blooming. Yeah, isn't it great! He said - meaning, they are still blooming on Thanksgiving Day. "Well," I said, "not really."
    What do you mean? he asked.
    I said, it's not normal. They're still blooming because the climate is changing.
    "Oh bring on Al Gore!" he rolled his eyes and scoffed.

  5. With the amount of Climate Change skeptics in America it's a wonder anything gets done. Half-measures will not suffice. The corporations don't give a damn about anything but profit. Why do I get the feeling the big polluters will find a way to make money on their CO2 output. Why do I get the feeling nothing gets done in America without some sort of profit motive. I want to laugh about it all. The stress of watching all this *life* unfold can cause anxiety. Since I feel powerless, I should think it all a big joke. Hey look, the oceans can no longer hold/store all the CO2 humans are creating... lol... party on America! Let's make the Arctic a vacation spot for the next generation.

  6. Dion, when I first understood the full picture of climate change impacts I thought there would emerge a new speciality in psychiatric practice, to deal specifically with the panic and guilt that ensues upon enlightenment.

    But now even that seems quaint and reminds me of a consultation with my daughter's oncologist. My ex-husband had convinced me to ask her doctor whether it would be advisable to harvest some eggs before commencing chemotherapy. He looked at me like I was delusional and said, "There's no time for that."

    I go through a lot of anguish over our doomed species, our self-destructive ignorance, and our destruction of other species. I can remember when the world was such a beautiful place, snowstorms followed by emerging flowers in spring, and so many wild creatures to be spotted in the woods and in the air. It is all so unspeakably, indescribably tragic.

    So I try to think of the really long term. I look at my little collection of fossils, and take comfort in knowing that things will go extinct and new life will evolve. I tamp down panic in day to day routines.

    All this got quite upset with the information about the Eastern Antarctic shelf melting, which wasn't supposed to happen for centuries. I never believed that prediction, but seeing the satellite evidence is a clear warning that things are going to deteriorate with terrifying speed, and nobody is prepared for it. There really isn't any way to prepare for it.


  7. Gail, I think guilt, depression and anger are likely appropriate, and valid, responses to what we are doing to the planet. This is not a psychological problem to be solved.

    These emotions are correct, and necessary, and we can only hope they finally drive us to take the action desperately needed. The last thing we need is to give everyone happy pills so that can ignore the problem and sleepwalk their way through business as usual. :)

  8. I want to write something witty and hopeful about the fate of Gaia, but I'm at a loss. I'm numbed by society. Most people don't see the changes going on in the natural surroundings. Why? Why is the blight not visible to all? This bothers me because I wonder if it's me that might be blowing all this Climate Change out of proportion. Then I read this blog and realize I'm not alone. Thank you for putting in the time, Gail.

    Perhaps revelations at Copenhagen will lift my spirit. Okay, I really don't think Copenhagen will do more than deliver more dire consequences of man's thirst. My man, Obama is swinging by for pictures and tea to start off Cop15. Obama can do nothing but make a promise that must then be accepted by our Congress or isn't worth the Air Force One plane ride to Denmark.

  9. Thanks for that link to Cop15. Maybe there will be strong momentum coming out of that conference - certainly, many other countries are way ahead of the US and Canada and I'm sure they intend to make a serious case. I would love to go but would feel way too guilty about the emissions.

    A nice post you might like:

  10. I messed up the link for Gaia.

    Thank you for the link to Openly Balanced. I am cutting down on my news/politics intake, swear.


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