Arcadian Functor

occasional meanderings in physics' brave new world

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Marni D. Sheppeard

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Edge of The Ice

I haven't written about climate change for a while since our colleague Mottle is doing such a fine job of promoting awareness of this issue. Now a New York Times story about the current area of arctic ice has prompted a round of posts from blogs like Real Climate, Weather Underground, Old Man in a Cave or Only In It For The Gold.

A record low ice area was recorded on August 9. The remark in the news that caught my attention though was the following: last week the Russians planted a flag on the seabed at the North Pole. The Canadian prime minister then noted that, "international interest in the region [was] increasing." Great! So we're all screwed folks, but don't worry, there's plenty more oil under the melting ice!

Of course the issue is not about longer summers or more oil: it is about water. If the arctic ice melts, the land locked ice probably will also. A one millimetre rise in sea levels probably won't radically alter the real estate value of Joe's waterfront mansion, but that's already a lot of fresh water. And if the Greenland ice sheet melts, Joe's house will be way under water. There's water in the oceans, lakes, rivers, atmosphere and ice: take some from somewhere and it goes somewhere else. Pretty simple. Then again, as one cheerful commenter pointed out, there might be a worldwide famine in 3 years time when the farmers all plant the wrong crops due to the unpredictability of the weather for the season ahead (or the fact that the farm turned into a desert) so we might not need so much water (because a lot of us will be dead).

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4 Comments:

Blogger L. Riofrio said...

You posts on climate are always appreciated. Queensland is going through an enormous drought, that is one part of Earth that is definitely warming.

August 11, 2007 3:18 PM  
Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Large amplitude long range fluctuations are the signature of criticality during phase transition like phenomena, which climate change is expected to be. One might think that Lubos as a theoretical physicist knows this.

Lubos has chosen to report about minima of temperatures occurring at various places during these fluctuations as evidence for non-existence of climate change. He even admits in comment section that the amplitudes of fluctuations are increasing but sees no reason to ask what this might mean!

August 11, 2007 8:36 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

Yes, it is hard to believe that he used to be treated with great respect for his scientific skills whilst a professor at Harvard. But then he is hardly alone in displaying this ostrich head behaviour. Meanwhile in NZ, people have been walking around in T-shirts most of the winter. Today, however, is clean and cool - so I might go for a walk.

August 12, 2007 10:02 AM  
Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Culture of narcissism which I precognize you to refer to in the next posting;-) might explain this. Or more precisely, culture of uncontrolled narcissism: everyone of us must work hardly to keep ego in control.

August 12, 2007 4:43 PM  

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