As we awaken from our addictive carbon over indulgence with our head in our hands and wonder: How did we let this happen? What can we do about it now? We find ourselves with only one path to avoid runaway climate change...
Published on Sep 17, 2012
The sea ice in the Arctic Ocean dropped below the previous all-time record set in 2007. This year also marks the first time that there has been less than 4 million square kilometers (1.54 million square miles) of sea ice since satellite observations began in 1979. This animation shows the 2012 time-series of ice extent using sea ice concentration data from the DMSP SSMI/S satellite sensor. The black area represents the daily average (median) sea ice extent over the 1979-2000 time period. Layered over top of that are the daily satellite measurements from January 1 -- September 14, 2012. A rapid melt begins in July, whereby the 2012 ice extents fall far below the historical average. The National Snow and Ice Data Center (www.nsidc.org) will confirm the final minimum ice extent data and area once the melt stabilizes, usually in mid-September.
I wrote this week about the emergency meeting at the White House to discuss the ramifications of a rapidly melting Arctic. The stunning warning to the White House is that the Arctic could be free of summer ice in just two years.
From that post:
Results of these abrupt changes could include the disruption of the global thermohaline ocean circulation, accelerated sea level rise from melting of the Greenland ice cap, and the destabilization of vast methane hydrate deposits in the continental shelf and coastal permafrost. These current trends and tipping points could lead to a never ending series of knock-on elements.This is it folks, in two years we could have some or all of the above happen and we would have runaway climate change. At that point there will be nothing to do but be on the defensive of disaster. Nowhere to hide either. Some of us will be victims of rising seas and devastating storms. Others will be displaced by wildfires. Oh, and NASA is predicting that some areas in the western US will have no rainfall due to severe drought. Those areas in the west happen to include California one of our greatest food producing areas. You see the picture? No matter where you are and what your circumstances there will be suffering due to food and water shortages.
We are left with only one path to mitigate predicted runaway climate change within two years. I have been writing about solutions; and we still have to do everything including: a major fight to keep unburned fossil fuels in the ground. Stopping the Keystone Xl pipeline will send the message that the fossil fueled dinosaurs are on their death keel. Politically, we have to work towards a price on carbon both in US and globally. We also have to make a rapid transition to clean energy and work to promote conservation and efficiency in housing and transportation.
But, these efforts are focused on reducing CO2 emissions and as we now know, CO2 emissions remain in the atmosphere for hundreds of years so even if we went CO2 neutral today there would still be the damaging remains of the past use of C02 lingering in the atmosphere preventing us from stopping the most damaging effects of Climate Change. We need a short term solution which will reduce warming gases to buy us the time to take the long term solution of reducing C02.
Here is where reducing the short lived climate pollutants of Black Carbon, Methane and Ground level Ozone becomes essential.
Short lived Climate Pollutants
Black Carbon is second biggest climate pollutant, behind only CO2 , an intense heating agent in the air and particularly when on ice and snow. Black carbon emissions are responsible for as much as 40% of the net global warming However, they remain in the atmosphere from only one to four weeks . Greatest source of Black carbon is anthropogenic open fire set to clear forest and land for pasture and crop growth for animal feed.
Methane, with a warming potential 72 times that of carbon dioxide over a 20 year time frame, having a half-life of only 7 years. The greatest scource of Methane is livestock
Ground level Ozone is another substantial greenhouse gas with an estimated warming impact equal to about 20 percent of that of carbon dioxide . It stays in the atmosphere for approximately 20 days, is a contributor to smog and is a health concern. Best controlled by reducing Methane
The US is already working to reduce short lived climate pollutants through the EPA and the Clean Air and Climate Initiative; a global group formed specifically to reduce short lived climate pollutants but it's not working fast enough. And because Big Agriculture has bought our congress it's ignoring the major contributor to the short-lived climate pollutants; livestock agriculture.
Gerard Widderburn Bisshop, World Preservation Foundation on short lived climate pollutants and livestock agriculture
We have a planetary emergency. This is time for all hands on deck. Plenty of blame to go around but at this point blame is a useless endeavor. We each need to take responsibility for our own consumption and help our family, friends and others in our network do the same. There is much that we can do.
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