Science News: Apocalypse Real Soon Now

The Independent is reporting that a new report indicates that polar ice melting may have just passed the critical point. I think this is something worth taking very seriously: I’ve been expecting a report that says this for a few years. Note that this may trigger a very large-scale change soon, such as a shutdown or other significant change in the Gulf Stream thanks to the change in thermal absorption due to having fresh instead of saltwater in the northern Atlantic.

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Published in: on September 16, 2005 at 11:47  Comments (10)  
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10 Comments

  1. I saw that earlier today. Scary stuff. I liked the article at least in part because it didn’t point any fingers, it just relayed the facts. This is what we’ve measured. This is what our models show, and what revised models are expected to show. This is potential repercussions.
    This may be caused by pollution, or not. It doesn’t matter anymore. The fact is that we’re facing environmental changes, and we need to figure out what we can do to prevent them, or ride them out. Prevention may be controversial. Riding it out? That may broke some serious consideration.

  2. I saw that earlier today. Scary stuff. I liked the article at least in part because it didn’t point any fingers, it just relayed the facts. This is what we’ve measured. This is what our models show, and what revised models are expected to show. This is potential repercussions.
    This may be caused by pollution, or not. It doesn’t matter anymore. The fact is that we’re facing environmental changes, and we need to figure out what we can do to prevent them, or ride them out. Prevention may be controversial. Riding it out? That may broke some serious consideration.

  3. Prevention may have just failed. Riding it out… well, there was a story yesterday about a sharp rise in the number of large hurricanes over the past 30 years. Don’t buy real estate close to the water.

  4. Prevention may have just failed. Riding it out… well, there was a story yesterday about a sharp rise in the number of large hurricanes over the past 30 years. Don’t buy real estate close to the water.

  5. I wonder if Lake Ontario qualifies… and if temperatures are warming, if real estate in Canada is going to become more and more valuable.

  6. I wonder if Lake Ontario qualifies… and if temperatures are warming, if real estate in Canada is going to become more and more valuable.

  7. Ok, so obviously to almost anyone who has been paying attention all the pretty ice is going away. Which is going to mean serious climate change, causing a great number of people real trouble. On top of it we are likely to keep making the situation worse for at least the next 25 years. None of this is really much of a surprise.
    My question is with the tone of the article. With comments like:

    The feeling is we are reaching a tipping point or threshold beyond which sea ice will not recover.”

    concerns me greatly. When I read that I can’t help but think that it is more apocryphal then apocalyptical.
    I mean, it is terrible and we are almost certainly going to be making things tough for ourselves over the 10,000 years but the quote above makes it sound as if it has never been this way before. Has it never been this warm in the last 10 million years? 100 million? If it has been warmer what is different now then in the past? Is the rate of change greater then ever before or….??
    The statement reads hyperbolic and I HATE hearing that from a scientist. Either he is exaggerating for effect or it means exactly what he says. If the former they it lessens the impact of the rest of the statements, if the later – wow.
    I suppose that the most likely answer (or at least the one I want to believe)is that the reporter “helped” the story seem more drmatic. As if having the Earth warmer then it ever has been since we started playing with fire isn’t important enough.

  8. Ok, so obviously to almost anyone who has been paying attention all the pretty ice is going away. Which is going to mean serious climate change, causing a great number of people real trouble. On top of it we are likely to keep making the situation worse for at least the next 25 years. None of this is really much of a surprise.
    My question is with the tone of the article. With comments like:

    The feeling is we are reaching a tipping point or threshold beyond which sea ice will not recover.”

    concerns me greatly. When I read that I can’t help but think that it is more apocryphal then apocalyptical.
    I mean, it is terrible and we are almost certainly going to be making things tough for ourselves over the 10,000 years but the quote above makes it sound as if it has never been this way before. Has it never been this warm in the last 10 million years? 100 million? If it has been warmer what is different now then in the past? Is the rate of change greater then ever before or….??
    The statement reads hyperbolic and I HATE hearing that from a scientist. Either he is exaggerating for effect or it means exactly what he says. If the former they it lessens the impact of the rest of the statements, if the later – wow.
    I suppose that the most likely answer (or at least the one I want to believe)is that the reporter “helped” the story seem more drmatic. As if having the Earth warmer then it ever has been since we started playing with fire isn’t important enough.

  9. I believe that what it means is that we’re moving out of the local minimum that the climate has been in since the last major ice age and into… something else. During any stable period, there are going to be oscillations around a base glaciation level, so the ice will “recover” – typically on the scale of years – from any anomalies. Once it goes out of that basin of attraction, though, instead of recovering it’s going to head off in some completely new direction, like a ball previously rolling back and forth in a valley somehow making it to the peak and falling into somewhere else.
    So my bet is that the scientist did say that, and probably meant exactly that; it certainly has happened before in the last 100Myr, and every time it happened the world became more or less unrecognizeably different. Typically accompanied by major species changes.

  10. I believe that what it means is that we’re moving out of the local minimum that the climate has been in since the last major ice age and into… something else. During any stable period, there are going to be oscillations around a base glaciation level, so the ice will “recover” – typically on the scale of years – from any anomalies. Once it goes out of that basin of attraction, though, instead of recovering it’s going to head off in some completely new direction, like a ball previously rolling back and forth in a valley somehow making it to the peak and falling into somewhere else.
    So my bet is that the scientist did say that, and probably meant exactly that; it certainly has happened before in the last 100Myr, and every time it happened the world became more or less unrecognizeably different. Typically accompanied by major species changes.


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