Annus Horribilis: 2012 was the worst year for the environment in living memory

hurricane_sandy_the_superstormGeorge Monbiot, Guardian, January 1, 2013

It was the year of living dangerously. In 2012 governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority over an immediate concern, however trivial. I believe there has been no worse year for the natural world in the past half century.

Three weeks before the minimum occurred, the melting of the Arctic’s sea ice broke the previous record(1). Iconic remnants of the global megafauna – such as rhinos and bluefin tuna – were shoved violently towards extinction(2). Novel tree diseases raged across continents(3). Bird and insect numbers continued to plummet, coral reefs retreated, marine life dwindled. And those charged with protecting us and the world in which we live pretended that none of it was happening. Continuar lendo

Arctic Ice Melt is ‘Decades Ahead’ of Previous Models

Common Dreams staff, October 6, 2012

In lieu of recent statistics showing ‘unprecedented’ and ‘amazing’ Arctic sea ice melt at record levels, leading climate scientist Michael Mann stated this weekthat rising water levels are “decades ahead of schedule” and that “Island nations that have considered the possibility of evacuation at some point, like Tuvalu, may have to be contending those sort of decisions within the matter of a decade or so.”

Arctic sea ice is “declining faster than the models predict,” Mann, who is the director of Pennsylvania State University’s Earth System Science Center, told the Guardian this week. “When you look at the major Greenland and the west Antarctic ice sheets, which are critical from the standpoint of sea level rise, once they begin to melt we really start to see sea level rises accelerate.”

“The models have typically predicted that will not happen for decades but the measurements that are coming in tell us it is already happening so once again we are decades ahead of schedule.” Continuar lendo

Ártico registra recorde de degelo e aquece disputa internacional

Camila Nóbrega foi ao Ártico junto com a tripulação do Greenpeace que estava a bordo do Arctic Sunrise para investigar os impactos que o aumento da temperatura no mundo causaram na região.

Camila  Nóbrega, O Globo, 2 de outubro de 2012

Sobrevoando o Oceano Ártico, a sensação era de estar diante de um espelho gigante, estilhaçado em milhões de pedacinhos. Em vez de vidro, placas de gelo quebradas, resquícios dos últimos dias de verão, refletiam de forma descontínua os raios de sol. Vistos do alto, de um helicóptero, os pedaços, já frágeis, ocupavam quilômetros de mar, mas, a cada minuto, ondas engoliam mais um trecho da cobertura branca. Diante dos nossos olhos, a geleira que cerca o Polo Norte se desfazia, materializando números que, no dia 27 de agosto, já haviam acionado o alarme sobre a situação. Este ano, foi registrado o recorde de derretimento da cobertura de gelo no oceano, desde que as medições começaram a ser feitas, em 1979. Era esse o motivo que levava à região uma expedição do Greenpeace.

A bordo do navio Artic Sunrise, cientistas de diferentes partes do mundo, protestavam contra a exploração econômica do Ártico. Eles reivindicam a criação de uma área de proteção internacional.

O cenário é um exemplo vivo da elevação da temperatura da Terra, que se potencializa na região. O termômetro no local marca um aumento três vezes maior do que no resto do planeta. Cientistas alertam que o fenômeno é acelerado pela queima de combustíveis fósseis e que esse processo causará, cada vez mais, eventos climáticos extremos, como tempestades, inundações e secas. Continuar lendo

Activists push for international ban on legal trade in polar bear items

US and Russian groups unite to lobby governments after concerns over rise in poaching and melting Arctic ice

Miriam Elder, guardian.co.uk, October 1, 2012

Environmental activists in the United States and Russia have come together to push for unprecedented protection for the polar bear, hoping to stave off the decline of its already dwindling population.

With Arctic Sea ice at record low because of climate change, polar bears have been deprived of a key habitat and feeding ground. Legal trade in polar bears, mainly in the form of trophy skins and furs, remains legal under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), leading to the death of hundreds more each year. Continuar lendo

Consequências climáticas e económicas do degelo do Ártico preocupam

NSIDC (Centro Nacional de Dados de Neve e Gelo dos Estados Unidos) confirma derretimento recorde no extremo norte do planeta, o que traz impactos para o clima global e acirra a corrida por recursos, como petróleo e gás, que até agora estavam fora do alcance das empresas e governos.

Jéssica Lipinski, Instituto CarbonoBrasil, 27 de setembro de 2012

Nas últimas semanas, diversos especialistas vêm alertando para o crítico degelo no Ártico e a possibilidade de serem alcançados recordes no derretimento. Pois no dia 16 de setembro, imagens de satélite do Centro Nacional de Dados de Neve e Gelo (NSIDC) dos Estados Unidos mostraram que a capa de gelo ficou com 3,42 milhões de km2, a menor extensão desde o início das medições, em 1979. Continuar lendo

“I’m pretty certain that we have now passed the tipping point for Arctic sea ice”

Ben Cubby, The Brisbane Times, September 23, 2012

As Arctic sea ice hits a record low, focus is turning to climate ”tipping points” – a threshold that, once crossed, cannot be reversed and will create fundamental changes to other areas. ”It’s a trigger that leads to more warming at a regional level, but also leads to flow-on effects through other systems,” said Will Steffen, the chief adviser on global warming science to Australia’s Climate Commission.

There are about 14 known ”tipping elements”, according to a paper published by the US Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Continuar lendo

Degelo revela tesouros árticos e atrai potências

Com oferta abundante de petróleo, gás e minério, o Ártico chama a atenção de China, UE e Japão, que não têm territórios na região

Elizabeth Rosenthal, O Estado de S.Paulo / The New York Times, 23 de setembro de 2012

Com o gelo derretendo no Ártico a um nível recorde, as superpotências mundiais vêm competindo cada vez mais para ter influência política e uma posição econômica em postos avançados como Nuuk, vista antes como região selvagem e estéril.

Em jogo estão as abundantes ofertas de petróleo, gás e minérios que, graças à mudança climática, começam a se tornar mais acessíveis, como também rotas mais curtas navegáveis para transportar produtos. Este ano, a China vem se comportando com muito mais ousadia na área, alarmando as potências ocidentais. Continuar lendo

‘Planetary Emergency': New Data Elevates Climate Change Alarm

Arctic exploitation ‘perfect indictment of our failure to get to grips with the greatest problem we’ve ever faced’

Common Dreams staff, September 20, 2012

Drawing on new data on the rate of melting arctic ice released Wednesday by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), leading scientific experts and environmental campaigners upped the level of alarm and issued a renewed call to action by calling the growing reality of climate change a “planetary emergency”. Continuar lendo

Arctic expert predicts final collapse of sea ice within four years

As sea ice shrinks to record lows, Prof Peter Wadhams warns a ‘global disaster’ is now unfolding in northern latitudes

John Vidal, guardian.co.uk, September 17, 2012

One of the world’s leading ice experts has predicted the final collapse of Arctic sea ice in summer months within four years. In what he calls a “global disaster” now unfolding in northern latitudes as the sea area that freezes and melts each year shrinks to its lowest extent ever recorded, Prof Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University calls for “urgent” consideration of new ideas to reduce global temperatures. Continuar lendo

The Arctic Ice Crisis

Pools of water form as ice melts atop Jakobshavn Glacier in GreenlandGreenland’s glaciers are melting far faster than scientists expected

Bill McKibben, Rolling Stones, August 30, 2012

There’s no place on Earth that’s changing faster – and no place where that change matters more – than Greenland. Late last month, NASA reported that ice all across the vast glacial interior of the world’s largest island was melting – a “freak event” that hadn’t occurred for at least 150 years. The alarming discovery briefly focused the media’s attention on a place that rarely makes headlines. RAPID ICE MELT BAFFLES SCIENTISTS, The Wall Street Journal declared. Continuar lendo

Vanishing Arctic ice is the planet’s white flag of surrender

The planet’s last great global ice melt left a benign and balmy climate in which civilisation was cradled: the new great melting heralds a grave threat to civilisation

Damian Carrington, The Guardian, September 14, 2012

Our planet is waving the white flag of surrender. But as the polar flag becomes ever more tattered, with holes scorched by hotter ocean waters, humanity pumps ever more globe-warming gases into the air. The story of the Arctic ice cap is the story of modern environmentalism. In 1968, as satellites began to document the vast ice field blanketing the north pole, the iconic Earthrise image was beamed back to the ground. It revealed a planet of awesome beauty, deep blue oceans, verdant continents and crowned with at least 8m square kilometres of gleaming ice. The image kickstarted the global green movement.

In 2007, a new record was set for the minimum summer sea ice cover in the Arctic had halved. This furious flag waving attracted attention. That year, the world’s scientists declared the end of any doubt that our addiction to burning fossil fuels was changing the face of the planet. Al Gore expounded his inconvenient truth and the world seemed set to act. Today, that 2007 record is smashed and the shredded white flag is now flickering rathering than flashing. But the danger is greater than even, even if the alarm signal is frayed. Continuar lendo

Arctic sea ice shrinks to smallest extent ever recorded

Rate of summer ice melt smashes two previous record lows and prompts warnings of accelerated climate change

John Vidal and Adam Vaughan, guardian.co.uk, September 14, 2012

Sea ice in the Arctic has shrunk to its smallest extent ever recorded, smashing the previous record minimum and prompting warnings of accelerated climate change. Satellite images show that the rapid summer melt has reduced the area of frozen sea to less than 3.5 million square kilometres this week – less than half the area typically occupied four decades ago.

Arctic sea ice cover has been shrinking since the 1970s when it averaged around 8m sq km a year, but such a dramatic collapse in ice cover in one year is highly unusual. A record low in 2007 of 4.17m sq km was broken on 27 August 2012; further melting has since amounted to more than 500,000 sq km. Continuar lendo

‘Unprecedented,’ ‘Amazing,’ ‘Goliath': Scientists Describe Arctic Sea Ice Melt

Arctic Sea ice levels continue to drop below record set on Aug. 26

Common Dreams staff, September 7, 2012

The rate of Arctic Sea ice melt has caught scientists by surprise, leaving them to describe the current record low levels as “amazing,” “a Goliath” and “unprecedented.” While a record low was recorded on Aug. 26, the ice level continues to fall, and theNational Snow and Ice Data Center reportsthat there is still a week left in the melting season.

The speed of the Arctic ice melt is astounding, scientists say. “It is a greater change than we could even imagine 20 years ago, even 10 years ago,” Dr. Kim Holmen, international director of the Norwegian Polar Institute told the BBC. “And it has taken us by surprise and we must adjust our understanding of the system and we must adjust our science and we must adjust our feelings for the nature around us.” Continuar lendo

Why are climate negotiations locked in a stalemate?

Pablo Solon, The Bangkok Post, September 4, 2012

The Bangkok intersessional meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is about to end, with no progress among countries to commit to increasing the level of emission reductions for this decade. Why are the climate talks stalemated and what should be done to break the deadlock?

Alarming developments
Over the last year alone, the Greenland ice sheet has virtually vanished. This July was the hottest July in the US ever since they started keeping records. A normally dry Beijing had the worst flooding since 1951. Long-delayed monsoon rains in India resulted in the second drought in four years. The ensuing bad harvest and the worst power outages in the country’s history could cause a 5% decrease in GDP growth. Last month, a protracted “rainstorm with no name”, as many Filipinos termed it, persisted for over a week in the Philippines and plunged Manila into a watery disaster that is probably the worst in recent history. And of course Thailand itself was a water world for over a month last year due to floods. Continuar lendo

Arctic Tipping Point: A North Pole Without Ice

Scientists say this year’s record declines in Arctic sea ice extent and volume are powerful evidence that the giant cap of ice at the top of the planet is on a trajectory to largely disappear in summer within a decade or two, with profound global consequences.

Fen Montaigne,Yale Environment 360, August 30, 2012

As the northern summer draws to a close, two milestones have been reached in the Arctic Ocean — record-low sea ice extent, and an even more dramatic new low in Arctic sea ice volume. This extreme melting offers dramatic evidence, many scientists say, that the region’s sea ice has passed a tipping point and that sometime in the next decade or two the North Pole will be largely ice-free in summer.

NASA and U.S. ice experts announced earlier this week that the extent of Arctic sea ice has dropped to 4.1 million square kilometers (1.58 million square miles) — breaking the previous record set in 2007 — and will likely continue to fall even farther until mid-September. As the summer melt season ends, the Arctic Ocean will be covered with 45 percent less ice than the average from 1979 to 2000

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Continuar lendo

The day the world went mad

As record sea ice melt scarcely makes the news while the third runway grabs headlines, is there a form of reactive denial at work?

George Monbiot, The Guardian, August 29, 2012

Yesterday was August 28th 2012. Remember that date. It marks the day when the world went raving mad.

Three things of note happened. The first is that a record Arctic ice melt had just been announced by the scientists studying the region. The 2012 figure has not only beaten the previous record, established in 2007. It has beaten it three weeks before the sea ice is likely to reach its minimum extent. It reveals that global climate breakdown is proceeding more rapidly than most climate scientists expected. But you could be forgiven for missing it, as it scarcely made the news at all. Continuar lendo

Shell receives permit to drill in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea

The company has been granted permission to begin preparation work at exploratory drilling sites in the Arctic

Associated Press, guardian.co.uk, August 31, 2012

Royal Dutch Shell has been given a permit to begin preparation work at exploratory drilling sites in the Arctic while it awaits certification for its oil spill response barge, US interior secretary, Ken Salazar, announced onThursday. “We are allowing certain limited preparatory activities that we know can be done in a safe manner,” he said in a teleconference with reporters.

The company was granted permission to starting digging with its drill ship in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska’s north-west coast, but only into the layer of ocean bottom that’s above oil reserves. Shell can dig 20-by-40ft mud-line cellars, which will eventually hold and protect a well’s blowout preventer 40ft below the seabed. The company also is authorised to drill narrow pilot holes, which reveal obstructions or gas pockets, down another 1,500ft. Continuar lendo

Along with the Arctic Ice, The Rich World’s Smugness Will Melt

The belief that Europe and America will be hit least by climate change is in ruins. Yet all we do is try to profit from disaster

George Monbiot, The Guardian, August 28, 2012

There are no comparisons to be made. This is not like war or plague or a stockmarket crash. We are ill-equipped, historically and psychologically, to understand it, which is one of the reasons why so many refuse to accept that it is happening.

What we are seeing, here and now, is the transformation of the atmospheric physics of this planet. Three weeks before the likely minimum, the melting of Arctic sea ice has already broken the record set in 2007. The daily rate of loss is now 50% higher than it was that year. The daily sense of loss – of the world we loved and knew – cannot be quantified so easily. Continuar lendo

Arctic Sea Ice Shrinks To Smallest Ever: Satellite Data

Arctic sea ice coverage shrank to a record low 4.21 million square kilometers as of Friday, declining below the previous record low of 4.25 million sq. km marked in 2007, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Saturday, citing satellite data.

Common Dreams staff, August 25, 2012

And according to the latest report from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the extent of the Arctic sea ice in the first two weeks of August was below the record low daily ice extents registered in 2007 and by August 13, “ice extent was already among the four lowest summer minimum extents in the satellite record”. The report states that there was a rapid ice loss between August 4 and August 8, which coincided with an intense storm in the Arctic Ocean. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said earlier this month that July was the fourth-hottest month on record worldwide.

Arctic sea ice levels to reach record low within days

The dramatic melt expected over the next week signals that global warming is having a major impact on the polar region

John Vidal, guardian.co.uk, August 23, 2012

Arctic sea ice is set to reach its lowest ever recorded extent as early as this weekend, in “dramatic changes” signalling that man-made global warming is having a major impact on the polar region. With the melt happening at an unprecedented rate of more than 100,000 sq km a day, and at least a week of further melt expected before ice begins to reform ahead of the northern winter, satellites are expected to confirm the record – currently set in 2007 – within days.

Continuar lendo

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