“The one thing I am certain of is that we will not do as much as the scientists say we need to do.”
No 1165 Posted by fw, October 13, 2014
“There’s not agreement with how much we need to do, how fast. To be honest, I don’t think there needs to be because the one thing I am certain of is that we will not do as much as the scientists say we need to do…. What the scientists say we need to do is over here (crosses the lecture theatre and gestures to the far left), what we’re currently doing is way over here (rushes to the opposite side), and what various global agreements have tried to get us to do, and often fail, is somewhere over here (moves to the middle). So the gulf is so enormous…. But I do believe that the more people believe this [climate science predictions] that the more likely they are to act…. denial can operate on many levels. You can sort of believe something factually but not believe it deep down in your heart. And so if you say ‘Oh yes, I accept climate change,’ but you just won’t allow yourself on an emotional level to think about what is going to happen to the planet in the future, then you can sort of separate your everyday life from what you believe in the more academic side of your minds. So I think that in many ways changing social opinion is the most important thing we can do at present to deal with this problem because then people might start moving towards what the scientists are saying we need to do.”— Dr. Richard Milne, University of Edinburgh
Watch the following 70-minute video to find out what is so-alarming scientists about climate change, particularly the climate in the Arctic. This documentary is a rich source of authoritative, well-organized video clips, graphs, and instructive narration from subject experts whose explanations are simple, readily understandable, and not overly technical. Given the urgency and gravity of climate change, the film’s purpose is clearly to raise the level of public awareness because, as a number of the scientists point out, our very survival may depend on a responsibly informed public.
Below the embedded version of the video is my time index to the video’s contents, along with a complete transcript of the narrative, added subheadings, a few added hyperlinks and text highlighting – all of which are intended to facilitate zeroing in quickly on selected segments for piecemeal viewing – since this is a rather long video. A suggestion — If possible, following along with the transcript while viewing the video may offer some advantages.
And now, the video. The title says it all –
~ Arctic Death Spiral and the Methane Time Bomb ~
TIME INDEX AND TRANSCRIPT WITH SUBHEADINGS
00:00:00 – 00:01:09 — Opening title sets the film’s tone with warning alarms, emergency alert scrolling across the bottom of the screen — EMERGENCY BROADCAST SYSTEM: EMERGENCY EVACUATION IN PROGRESS /// HEAD IMMEDIATELY TO YOUR NEAREST EMERGENCY SERVICE SHELTER. TROOPS WILL BE THERE TO MEET YOU. BRING A PHOTO ID AND NO MORE THAN ONE BAGGAGE ITEM PER PERSON /// BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS. REMAIN ALERT
8 US Presidents and one soon-to-be-president Illinois Senator speak but fail to act
00:01:10 – 00:01:42 — John F. Kennedy “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweigh the dangers which are cited to justify it….but I am asking your help in the tremendous task of informing and alerting the American people. For I have complete confidence in the response and dedication of our citizens whenever they are fully informed.”
00:01:42 – 00:02:08 — Lyndon B. Johnson on pollution of air and rivers
00:02:09 – 00:02:36 — Richard Nixon on responsibility for improving environmental quality, need to act decisively, “It is either now or never.”
00:02:37 – 00:02:57 — Jimmy Carter — “Our program will emphasize conservation”
00:02:58 – 00:03:18 — Ronald Reagan – “I think of myself as an environmentalist…”
00:03:19 – 00:03:28 – George H. W. Bush – Speaking in 1990: “We all know that human activities are changing the atmosphere in unexpected and unprecedented ways…”
00:03:29 – 00:03:55 — Bill Clinton – “I recommend that we adopt a BTU tax on the heat content of energy as the best way to lower the deficit…because it also combats pollution, promotes energy efficiency… and it is environmentally responsible… ”
00:03:56 – 00:04:09 — George W. Bush, speaking in 2008: “The United States is committed…to confronting global climate change…”
00:04:10 – 00:04:35 — Senator Barack Obama – “…we’ve got a bigger problem than climate change…[unintelligible]”
Members of Congress in denial
00:04:36 – 00:04:45 — Unidentified woman addressing congressional hearing: “The science is clear, that man-made emissions and global warming gases are changing our atmosphere…” Interrupted by member of Congress: “…global warming is still an issue that the scientists are still debating and you know it and I know it”
00:04:46 – 00:05:23 — Assorted politicians denying climate change. “It is a hoax”, says one.
Corporate-controlled mainstream media in denial
00:05:24 – 00:07:51, — Denial from the mainstream media, including weather forecasters, Fox News pundits (i.e. idiots), Ph.D. deniers advising “drill-baby-drill” (paid no doubt by Big Oil or the Koch Brothers)
00:07:52 – 00:08:10 – 2010 article from Scientific American “Cyber bullying intensifies as climate data questioned”
Meanwhile satellite technology feed scientists mountains of data to inform their climate model building
00:08:09 – 00:10:28 — Animated scenes around the globe gathered by satellites in space, collecting weather-related data such as ocean salinity, water temperature, ocean currents, jet streams, ice melt, warming and more..
Scenes of global environmental devastation flood the media – but is the public paying attention?
00:10:29 – 00:11:59 — Fast-motion scenes of the rape of forests and the mining of land for oil and gas by monster machines. Scenes of gaseous emissions spewing from industrial sites polluting the atmosphere. Scenes of automobile congestion
The 2007 IPCC report makes the mainstream news, the words “climate change” are actually mentioned, then active climate denial campaign returns with a vengeance
00:12:00 – 00:14:28 — 2007 NBC’s Brian Williams reports on findings of IPCC report: “…says we are hurtling towards the day when climate change could be irreversible with catastrophic consequences…. It’s only going to get worse if we don’t take drastic measure.” Other 2007 news reports follow with similar dire warnings, informed comments, including one from James Hansen, and video clips to illustrate the urgency and gravity of the problem
00:14:29 – 00:17:09 – 2009 through 2012 video clips showing how rapid and unprecedented ice melting changes in Arctic and Antarctic regions impact us globally. Audio commentary from mix of news commentators and science experts (such as Dr. Richard Milne – University of Edinburgh, Dr. Charles Miller, NASA-Jet Propulsion Lab; and Dr. Marco Tedesco)
Dramatic footage of ice-calving draws gasps of disbelief from onlookers — to get an idea of scale, compares size of calving event with lower Manhattan
00:17:10 – 00:19:44 — 2007 Erik Ivins, NASA NASA-Jet Propulsion Lab – “Faster speeds of ice melting are not going to slow down. That’s not the way ice sheets behave.” Video clips of huge ice sheets collapsing into the sea as observers on a nearby ship gasp in astonishment by what they are witnessing. Then from a lecture theatre James Balog, filmmaker of “Chasing Ice” speaks: “So how big was this calving event that we just looked at? Well we resort to some illustrations – video clips — again to give you a sense of scale. It’s as if the entire lower tip of Manhattan broke off, except that the thickness, the height of it is equivalent to buildings that are two-and-a-half to three times higher than they are. It’s a miraculous, horrible, scary thing. I don’t know that anybody’s really seen miracle and horror of that. It took 100 years for it to retreat 8 miles from 1900 to 2000. From 2000 to 2010 it retreated 9 miles. So in 10 years it retreated more than it had in the previous 100.”
We’re seeing the miracle and horror of “runaway behaviour”
00:19:45 – 00:20:27 — David Wasdell, Director Apollo-Gaia Project – “First of all we’re going to look at the runaway behaviour that is actually happening to the Arctic system, going almost exponential. We saw the rate of change of ice area accelerating. We saw the change in ice mass or thickness also accelerating and moving towards zero over the next 2 to 3 years. And taken all together we have the unmistakable footprint of the system in what we call “self-amplification” or “runaway behaviour”.
We’re 50 years ahead of worst case scenario Arctic ice predictions made just 5 or 6 years ago
00:20:28 – 00:21:38 – Peter Sinclair, Greenman Studios — “You may remember that in 2007 there was a big study that came out from this group called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). And they looked at computer models of how rapidly Arctic ice would go away. And as of early 2007 this is what they were telling us: That we would see a gradual drop in Arctic ice, minimum going down to where we would probably still have a fair amount of ice left in the year 2100. Worst case, maybe by 2070 we would see open water in the Arctic in the summertime. That very same year we saw in the actual observations a huge drop in the Arctic ice and that drop has continued so that in 2012, this is now where we are. So we’re something like 50 years ahead of the worst case scenarios that scientists were giving us just 5 or 6 years ago with the Arctic ice.
The 2007 IPCC report was wrong in the sense that they were too conservative
00:21:39 – 00:21:53 — 2009 Dan Miller, A REALLY Inconvenient Truth – “I’m actually in agreement with many climate change deniers in that the IPCC is wrong. But I think they’re actually wrong because they’re too conservative. And they haven’t really been telling the story of what really could happen.”
Arctic melting has triggered methane release from the sub-sea permafrost
00:21:54 – 00:23:11 — Dr. Peter Wadhams, University of Cambridge – “The effect of an ice-free Arctic on the world is a very large one because it goes way beyond the Arctic itself because once the sea ice has disappeared, first that produces a decrease in the global albedo – the amount of radiation reflected by the earth and it has a knock-on effect in the sense that the warm air masses in the Arctic in summer cause a retreat of the snow line and the snow line decrease has just as big an effect on the albedo as the sea ice decrease has. So the global albedo change, which affects the temperature of the entire planet warms it all up. And then there’s the fact that as the sea ice retreats it allows the water masses around the shelves of the Arctic to warm up and that warms up the sea bed and releases more methane from the sub-sea permafrost, which is melting away. And that methane itself is a very very powerful greenhouse gas. So we’re having a methane kick coming in from the retreat of the sea ice, which again is a global effect rather than simply an arctic effect.
There is a scientific consensus that we are warming the planet but disagreement about how fast it will happen
00:23:12 – 00:23:33 – Dr. Richard Milne, University of Edinburgh – “The IPCC is not a whole load of people simply agreeing, it’s a load of people saying “it’s this”, “it’s this”, “it’s this”. It’s just that nearly everybody thinks that we are warming the planet. They disagree about how fast it will happen, they disagree about whether negative or positive feedbacks are going to be more important…”
IPCC scientists conclude that we’ve reached runaway conditions
00:23:34 – 00:23:55 – Dr. Guy McPherson, University of Arizona (Retired) – “…as one of the more conservative scientific bodies on the planet, they work by consensus, and after the scientists reach consensus, they then vet their report through the political process. The politicians have to sign off on the IPCC’s assessment before it’s released. And they conclude that we’ve reached runaway in the absence of geo-engineering.”
The Arctic is melting but it’s not reflected in any of the scientific models
00:23:56 – 00:24:06 – 2009 Dan Miller, A REALLY Inconvenient Truth – “And this is not in the model. The models don’t show this happening. This is happening. So what happens when we update the models so that it does reflect that the Arctic is melting?”
The Arctic sea ice is disappearing
00:24:07 – 00:24:35 – 2013 — Peter Sinclair, Greenman Studios — “So we’re seeing the effects. And one of the primary effects that grabs most people’s attention is what’s happening with the Arctic sea ice, the ice that’s floating on the Arctic Ocean, and covers usually most of the Arctic Ocean. Last year, 2012, was the record low, the lowest Arctic summer ice that we have seen ever since we’ve been observing it…”
Arctic temperatures are increasing and increasingly rapidly
00:24:36 – 00:24:46 — David Wasdell, Director Apollo-Gaia Project – (Graph of Arctic Summer Temperature) “Whereas the rest of the globe has cooled since 1997, the temperature in the Arctic has started to increase, and increase, increasing rapidly. The hotter it gets, the faster it gets hotter.
The Arctic sea ice is melting so fast it will be all gone in 5 to 10 years
00:24:36 – 00:25:02 – Peter Sinclair, Greenman Studios – “In 2007 alone, in one year, it melted more than the previous year by an area equal to 3 times the size of California. And it will be all gone in 5 or 10 years.”
Check that – the Arctic sea ice won’t last more than a couple of years
00:25:03 – 00:25:19 – (Audio voiceover video with speaker unidentified) “It’s pretty clear from the death spiral — that’s the way on which the volumes of ice in the summer are zeroing in towards zero – that the ice can’t last more than a couple of more years.”
00:25:20 – 00:25:36 — (Audio voiceover video with speaker unidentified) “There’s no way that ice mass at the end of September can continue going round this circle for the next 5 decades. It’s moving very rapidly into the zero point in the centre.
Check that again – It looks like the end of the sea ice by 2015
00:25:37 – 00:26:28 — David Wasdell, Director Apollo-Gaia Project – It’s been decreasing for several decades, way back into the 1960s and ‘70s. We have a trend pattern of decreasing area of sea ice, particularly at its minimum. And minimum sea ice occurs in September, at the end of the summer warming. But do have a look at the last few years (onscreen graph). From 2007 onwards the data points have been pulling way down below the straight [trend] line. It becomes more and more obvious that straight line representations are no longer the appropriate statistical tool for demonstrating what is going on in the Arctic. Then we see it looks like the end of the Arctic sea ice area in September by about 2015.”
Historical evidence indicates the jump in greenhouse gas emissions could only have been caused by human activity
00:26:28 – 00:27:32 — Peter Sinclair, Greenman Studios – “So we’re seeing a temperature rise – this is the NASA temperature graph going back to 1880 when we feel we have good global coverage with instruments. We can take it back much further — in fact a very significant paper came out just this past spring, which looked at a number of different temperature proxies we call them, like tree rings and corals and stalactites in caves and things like that – and we push back the temperature record 11,000 years and what you got is this, you got us coming out of the ice age back here and then we got a slow, slow, slow gradual decline until the last century and then this is us here (graph rises sharply). So we’re pretty clear that something’s changed in the last 200 years. And the only thing that we’ve been able to track down that really answers it is the greenhouse gases that human beings have been putting out.
The fastest moving global warming and climate change is occurring in the Arctic
00:27:33 – 00:27:46 — David Wasdell, Director Apollo-Gaia Project – “What’s going on in the Arctic area the moment is probably the fastest moving response to global warming and climate change anywhere on the planet.
Historical highlights of the scientific study of CO2 dating from John Tyndall in 1859
00:27:47 – 00:28:24 — (Audio narration accompanying onscreen photos and video clips) In 1859, the English physicist John Tyndall, using equipment of his own design, showed that certain gases in the atmosphere blocked and absorbed long-wave or heat radiation. Four decades later Svante Arrhenius, with thousands of manual calculations made an estimate of the global warming power of CO2 that was very close to today’s best models. In the 1950s, American Charles Keeling began to measure accurately the steady increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. Spectrographic analysis soon showed that the new carbon was without a doubt man made.”
Growth of CO2 in the atmosphere comes as a surprise to everyone
00:28:25 – 00:30:11 — Dr Richard Somerville, Scripps Institution of Oceanography — “So it’s a rare gas. The atmosphere is almost all nitrogen and oxygen. But you see here that out of a million molecules of air in 1958 about 314 of them would be carbon dioxide molecules. And you see the graph there at the lower left tracing the first few years. So you can see a lot of things on this graph just right away. First of all, it’s increasing with time. And here’s what the Keeling curve, which is the popular name for this, looks like today. And you can see that what was 314 then is now 395 or so, pushing 400 today. That’s a remarkable story right there because that increase is something like 25 percent. Mankind is changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere in important ways. And the greenhouse effect has been understood for a long time – the fact that carbon dioxide and other molecules trap infrared energy, they trap heat essentially, had been known to experimental physicists in the middle 1800s. John Tyndall in London put carbon dioxide in a tube and measured how it could absorb infrared energy, which you could shine on it. And the first attempts to understand the implications of this for climate date back to the 1890s. So in a sense the science was there connecting carbon dioxide amounts in the atmosphere to climate change until we had the measurement showing that the CO2 was actually increasing, and increasing much more quickly than had been foreseen in the 19th century. There were more people using more coal and oil and natural gas and the rapidity of the growth of CO2 was a surprise to everyone.”
In 1950s Canadian physicist working in US published first predictions about increase of atmospheric CO2, but public remains largely ignorant of importance of this understanding
00:30:12 – 00:30:56 — Peter Sinclair, Greenman Studios – “Popular Mechanics magazine wrote about this in 1953 that the products of this research were showing us that if we continued to add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels we’re going to see a rise in temperature. This was the work of Dr Gilbert Plass who published a very significant paper on this. This has been an issue that has been kind of kicked around for the previous hundred years or so, but it was this research that really kind of nailed it insofar as making the science as clear. And yet it’s taken us this long to really even begin to get through to the public dialog of how important this is.”
Importance of the relationship between the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and global warming
00:30:57 – 00:32:12 — Dr Richard Somerville, Scripps Institution of Oceanography – “The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is what matters to the climate. Climate just reacts to how many of what kinds of heat-trapping gases are there. The more there are of an important gas like CO2, which is by far the most important man-made gas, the warmer it gets. Now on this gas is temperature and carbon dioxide. Let’s look at the black line first – that’s carbon dioxide, 1880 [year] on the left the present on the right. We know that it was rising gradually before Keeling’s measures began and in the times before the 1800s when human activities presumably had no strong effect on climate, it was near a value of 280 in these same units of molecules per million molecules [of air]. So CO2 has been rising. But in all the years before the 1930s you might say, every year was below that average. And in recent years every year has been above it. Again the natural variability is due to factors like El Niño and the occasional volcano which temporarily cools the climate for a year or two. And so these things here [large green arrow pointing to graph], some of the strongest El Niños on record. But that there’s a warming now and this [later] period is different from this [earlier] period, isn’t any doubt at all.
How do we know global warming is not simply part of some kind of normal cycle?
00:32:13 – 00:33:14 — Peter Sinclair, Greenman Studios – “So the question that people typically ask is ‘How do we know this isn’t some kind of a normal cycle?’ Okay, it’s getting warmer but it’s been warmer in the past, it’s been colder in the past. How do we know that this is different from the past? Well, we can measure what’s coming into and out of the planet by satellite. And satellites do a pretty good job of this. We know that the planet is in energy imbalance. We know that that energy imbalance is completely consistent with the predictions that have been made about greenhouse gases. And we know that it’s quite a big energy imbalance. It’s not small. In fact it’s equal to about 400,000 Hiroshima nuclear bombs exploding every day. That’s about 4 or 5 every second or so. That’s how much energy is being trapped primarily in the ocean because the ocean is the biggest heat sink by far.”
Since natural sources of emissions are in balance the measure of CO2 in the atmosphere would remain fairly constant. So it’s only human’s one-way “unnatural” emissions that contribute to the rise of atmospheric CO2 and warming
00:33:15 – 00:33:37 – (Speaker unidentified) — “So natural sources are in balance between emission and absorption. The oceans are actually net absorbers but human beings, it’s one-way traffic. So it’s only us that can be causing the increase. Everything else, even volcanoes is balanced by uptake. So it’s only us that can be causing the increase.”
Historical records show predominate rise in global warming beginning in 1970s. Today the strongest warming is in the Arctic because of a chain of feedback events
00:33:38 – 00:34:47 — Dr Richard Somerville, Scripps Institution of Oceanography – “From here, the early 1900s until today, blue is cooler than average, yellow and orange are warmer than average. You can see here it’s still some blue areas and so on but starting in the 1970s you start to see the yellow and orange colors predominating. And by the time this ends at 2010 or so you can see what the world looks like today. In this picture there’s warming everywhere. There’s more warming over the continents than over the oceans. There’s more warming in the north ad in the south. And there’s the strongest warming in the Arctic. This is the Mercator projection [cylindrical map projection] so it exaggerates the area of the Arctic, but the warming is strongest in high northern latitudes. And that’s because of a number of feedbacks that we think we understand, of which the most important is that when warming occurs in the far north the ice and snow melt, as we’ve seen, and the ice and snow having melted reveal darker water and darker land that was under them, which reflect less sunlight and therefore absorb more sunlight. So the chain of events is carbon dioxide causes the warming, the warming melts snow and ice, the melted snow and ice make the surface darker, the darker surface absorbs more sunlight and that adds to the warming.”
Feedbacks have taken over and we’re in trouble
00:34:48 – 00:34:54 — David Wasdell, Director Apollo-Gaia Project – “The human trigger is now almost irrelevant. The feedbacks have taken over.”
00:34:55 – 00:35:04 — (Speaker unidentified) “The mirror that’s up at the top of the world is going to be gone. It won’t be gone in the wintertime – the sun’s not shining on it in the wintertime – so it just matters in the summertime.”
Positive feedback mechanism causes Arctic warming about twice the rate of the rest of the planet
00:35:05 – 00:35:01 — Peter Sinclair, Greenman Studios – “One of the key effects this has is that when all of these northern areas are covered with white reflective snow and ice it bounces most of the solar energy off, bounces it back off into space. But when we are seeing more and more open water, dark soil and dark surfaces, then the solar energy tends to get absorbed. So instead of reflecting 90 percent of all the energies, you’re absorbing 90 percent of all the energies. This is what scientists call a ‘positive feedback’. And they don’t mean that it’s good. It’s not a positive thing for us because it’s more like a vicious cycle. More heat equals less ice and less ice equals more heat and it just sort of continues on in a spiral. And that’s what we’re seeing Arctic. And that’s why the Arctic is warming at about twice the rate of the rest of the planet.”
Worse still, the whole Arctic system is accelerating, contributing to massive ice loss. By 2015 there will be zero ince floating on the Arctic Ocean
00:36:02 – 00:37:11 — David Wasdell, Director Apollo-Gaia Project –That means the sun’s energy is being absorbed into the tundra, the frozen areas of the northern continental masses, and into the open ocean where the ice was. So that the whole system is now accelerating, and accelerating, and accelerating. And the hotter it gets, the faster it gets hotter. The faster it gets hotter, the more water vapour. The more water vapour, the faster it gets hotter. The faster it gets hotter, the less ice. The less ice, the less reflection, so the faster it gets hotter. You begin to get the idea? It has to be a downward curving, what we call exponential decay. And you project that line forward, as is done in this particular setting of the equations and understanding of Arctic ice mass loss, then once again there’s zero ice floating on the Arctic Ocean by the end of summer 2015 – which confirms precisely my own work on the decay of Arctic ice area to the same date.”
Moreover, the thickness of the Arctic ice is diminishing
00:37:12 – 00:37:21 — Dr Richard Somerville, Scripps Institution of Oceanography – “Now mind you, at the same time the thickness of the ice has also been diminishing. The ice in the Arctic now is thinner than it used to be, thus more vulnerable to melting.”
Thin ice fractures easily and is thinner and deformed when it re-freezes, causing it to melt much faster
00:37:22 – 00:38:23 — Peter Sinclair, Greenman Studios – “And just to give you an example of what’s happening just in this past season. This is from March and April of 2013 looking at this area above Alaska. You’ve got a cyclone going on in this area that was moving, causing some torque on the ice and the ice just started to fracture and break up in a manner that was very very unusual. I talked to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center and they said what you’re seeing here is happening because this ice would have been maybe 20 feet thick 30 years ago, now it’s only 3 feet thick. And so it’s getting pushed around, and broken up. And much of this did in fact refreeze but it froze in a manner that was much thinner, much more fragile and it is now being pushed around and deformed much more easily, and melted much more quickly than it would have been 50 years ago.”
Forget about climate changes not happening until 2100 – Really serious impacts will be happening by 2020.
00:38:23 – 00:38:49 — Dan Miller – A REALLY Inconvenient Truth – “When people think about climate change they think in 2100, 2100 we might have 2 feet of more sea level, Gee, well I can kind of deal with that. We’re talking about 2010, 2020 – it’s going to be really serious impacts. If any of these things happen, which could happen any time, it’s like playing Russian roulette with kind of a few bullets in the chamber.”
Look at the rapidly accelerating changes happening to the Greenland icecap
00:38:50 – 00:39:19 — David Wasdell, Director Apollo-Gaia Project – “As the temperature starts to increase more quickly, then other feedbacks are also brought into play, and more powerfully than they had been previously. The sixth consequence concerns what’s happening to the Greenland icecap. Now, it sits there as a one-and-a-half-mile thick layer of ice across a large piece of land mass.
Rate of recent retreat of ice sheets is unprecedented
00:39:20 – 00:39:49 — Dr. Alun Hubbard – Aberystwyth University – “Once upon a time 15,000 years ago we had great ice sheets covering our most populous zones in the Western Hemisphere. Those ice sheets retreated very rapidly when the climate and the oceans switched. And what we’re getting here now is a rate of retreat that I believe is unprecedented in terms of the last 10,000 years.”
Startling Greenland melt makes PBS News in 2012
00:39:50 – 00:40:07 — PBS NewsHour, July 2012 – News correspondent: “Earlier this month the surface of the ice sheet covering Greenland melted more widely than has been seen in 33 years of satellite imagery.” — Dr. Tom Wagner, NASA – “We got some reports there was melt going on all around Greenland, literally really like so much water running off that it was washing out bridges, that there were runways that were under snow that were having problems.”
Melt causes raging river torrents
00:40:08 – 00:40:24 — Dr. Alun Hubbard, Aberystwyth University – Kangerlussuaq, July 12, 2012 – [Video clip of raging torrents] “You just had to be here, this time last year to watch this bridge completely wash out. The discharge of the river at that point was basically 200 times the Thames.”
Greenland’s mass loss doubles over a decade
00:40:25 – 00:40:47 — Peter Sinclair, Greenman Studios – “The effect is small so far. But Greenland’s mass loss has doubled over the last decade and if that pattern of doubling continues over coming decades then we’re going to have to rewrite some of the predictions that we’ve made about how rapidly this is going to happen.”
Scientists explain the dynamics of this rapidly accelerating ice loss on Greenland
00:40:48 – 00:40:53 — Dr. Alun Hubbard, Aberystwyth University – “The bed of the ice sheet, and the interior of the ice sheet is frozen to its base, and it’s starting to slip.”
00:40:54 – 00:41:17 — Dr. Marco Tedesco, NOAA – [Drawing on chalkboard] “This is the bedrock, okay. And this is your ice. And this is your water. And this water suddenly and violently drains though this channel – it’s called moulin. Suddenly you have a change in direction but it goes very fast.
00:41:18 – 00:42:07 — Peter Sinclair, Greenman Studios – “We’re focusing in this little lake over here. You can see these meltwater lakes popping up across the surface of the ice sheet as the weather gets warmer and warmer. So what you’ll see here is this meanders along, meanders along until it goes down into the ice right there. And as it goes down it’s delivering all that heat down into the deep levels of the ice. So now the heat goes down here and just like a stick in butter the ice sheet begins to get soft, begins to move faster and that water goes down to the bottom and because it’s an incompressible fluid it will support even a kilometre of ice, it will lubricate even a huge volume of ice and make it move faster over that rocky surface. So that accelerates the process as well.”
00:42:08 – 00:42:32 — Dr. Alun Hubbard, Aberystwyth University – “The water across the surface of this ice sheet is rampant and it’s causing untold damage to the base of the ice sheet. And it’s doing that in deep interior regions that never before – at least not in the last 10,000 years – have been susceptible to that warming, that water input.
00:42:33 – 00:43:07 — Dr. Jason Box, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland — “That water draining down into the ice is relatively warm. The average temperature of the ice sheet at depth is several degrees below the freezing point, whereas the water that’s draining in is right at the freezing point. So this is relatively warm water that drains in and it heats the ice sheet internally. Warmer ice deforms more easily than cold ice. So an increase in meltwater draining into the ice sheet has a softening affect, especially when the amount of that water is increasing.”
00:43:08 – 00:43:36 — Dr. Richard Alley, Penn State University – “Greenland is 23 feet of sea level, 7.3 metres, if it all melts. And the history is very clear. When it was warm there’s no ice on Greenland. When it’s cold there’s lots of ice on Greenland. And so it’s very clear that Greenland is very tightly tied to temperature, and if it gets too hot, it goes away. And too hot is not very many degrees above where we are now.”
Acceleration of calving of Greenland glacier. Moving at a pace beyond human capacity to match
00:43:37 – 00:45:41 — Peter Sinclair, Greenman Studios – “And this is the Ilulissat glacier, the calving front of Ilulissat glacier that we flew along on the first day. This is the fastest moving ice stream in the world. It’s 400 feet high. The water is coming down under the ice and squirting out down here below the waterline like a Jacuzzi. And it’s creating circulation down here and it’s drawing warm ocean water in underneath the waterline here. And it makes it accelerate the calving off of the giant glaciers. And this whole bay here is just full of gigantic glaciers. As that movement accelerates the ice upstream begins to crack and deform like this. And you can see as it cracks that water begins to collect in those cracks. And that water begins to absorb more heat and because water is heavier than ice it actually begins to hydro-fracture its way down into the ice sheet, accelerating the movement even further. So what you’re seeing is that at every stage there is a different kind of a process that not only feeds on itself but feeds into all the other processes in the cycle. On the ice sheet of you want to know what’s happening you need to just follow the water and see what it’s telling you. And this is the story that it’s telling us. And this is why scientists are starting to feel that Greenland and ice sheets across the planet have the capacity to move much faster than what they have during human experience. So the big concern is that we don’t tip ourselves into some kind of an advance like that where the ice sheets begin to move at a pace that is really beyond human capacity to keep up with.”
00:45:42 – 00:46:16 — David Wasdell, Director Apollo-Gaia Project – “As we move to acceleratingly increasing temperature change, as the waters all around Greenland are no longer covered with floating ice, and as the temperature of those waters around begins to increase, so of course the air over Greenland is hotter, the waters around it are hotter, the ice surface begins to melt right across the dome.”
00:46:17 – 00:46:45 — Peter Sinclair, Greenman Studios – “Well, last year in this place where we actually flew into, Kangerlussuaq, this is what the river looked like there. It was overflowing. This bridge washing out. Giant machinery was being swept away because you were seeing melting that was happening over the entire surface of the ice sheet. And so they had never seen this kind of water flow there in that river.”
Greenland melt could cause as much as a catastrophic 7 metre rise in sea level around the globe
00:46:46 – 00:47:30 — David Wasdell, Director Apollo-Gaia Project – “So, the consequences for the Greenland ice cap are massive. And as it melts it adds fresh water to the global ocean and starts to raise the sea level. And if it goes quickly then we can expect 2, 3, 5, 7 metres of sea level change right across the world, to happen on a decadal basis – i.e. within 10 to 20 years. That would be catastrophic for civilization, many of whose urban centres would be below sea level in the new situation.”
00:47:31 – 00:48:07 — Dr. Alun Hubbard, Aberystwyth University – “Actually the Greenland ice sheet is de-glaciating, it’s retreating but its retreat is dynamic. It’s drawing down the interior of the ice sheet faster than the models assume at present. And hence the ice sheet in its interior is accelerating and the melt at the margin is enhanced. And I think that means that this ice sheet is actively deglaciating. And that’s a pretty serious problem for sea level rise.”
Warmer open northern sea coast will increase the rate of melting of tundra permafrost, releasing the very powerful methane gas into the atmosphere
00:48:08 – 00:49:29 — David Wasdell, Director Apollo-Gaia Project – “Let’s move on now to the fourth consequence. And that is the impact on the tundra. Those land masses that border on to the Arctic Ocean now have a warmer open sea coast and the warmer air and the warmer temperatures are being fed back over the land mass. And of course what that does is increase the rate of melting of the tundra permafrost. And we get this depth of permafrost melt, which we call the cast, increases year on year. That also has consequences. For instance there’s a lot of biological material in the deep freeze of the tundra. And as that thaws out it begins to decay. The microbes have a field day and out comes more carbon dioxide and more methane from the rotting vegetation. So methane is being released into the atmosphere, not only from the ocean floor but also as I said from the melting of the tundra. And the more methane there is in the atmosphere, as this next slide shows, the greater the greenhouse effect. Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas.”
00:49:30 – 00:49:56 — Dr. Kevin Schaefer, US National Snow and Ice Data Centre — “When the permafrost thaws the organic matter in the permafrost thaws as well and begins to decay. The micro-organisms start to eat it. If there’s no oxygen the micro-organisms make methane. If there’s oxygen, the micro-organisms make carbon dioxide. Ah, permafrost right here (holding a lump in his hand). Frozen dirt.”
Methane can feedback on climate, speeding up the process of human-caused climate change. “We’re talking about unprecedented climate and a very rapid abrupt response from this ecosystem.”
00:49:57 – 00:50:56 — Ben Abbott, University of Alaska — “We found as far as the organic matter coming out of this hill slope is that it’s much more bio-available – meaning it’s yummier for the microbes that are decomposing it than carbon organic matter near the surface today. So that has climate implications because that means that this organic matter is processed quicker; it’s returned to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide and methane and can feedback on climate that way. Some sites like this where the permafrost is releasing organic matter act as accelerators. They speed up the process of human-caused climate change. So it’s a large amplification of what we’re doing – it feeds back onto our impacts. It’s important to realize that the scale and rate of change that we’re talking about now is several degrees, two to five degrees in just 100 years. So this is much faster than has happened in the last 50 million years. We’re talking about unprecedented climate and a very rapid abrupt response from this ecosystem.”
00:50:57 – 00:51:19 — Dr. Charles Miller – NASA Jet Propulsion Lab — “There have been changes in the Arctic in the permafrost in terms of the temperature over time not only in the shallow layers near the surface but at 10, 20, and 50 metre depths you’re seeing changes that are even more rapid. That indicates that not only is there heating near the surface but that this heat is being transported to depth very efficiently.”
50 million tons of methane generates the equivalent of a billion tons of CO2 – and rising caused by feedback loops
00:51:20 – 00:52:14 — Dan Miller, A REALLY Inconvenient Truth “The permafrost stores methane. It’s currently melting. It’s warmer up there. It’s like 5 degrees warmer up in the Arctic than it is — the average temperature of the world is only up a degree but the Arctic is up 5 degrees. And it’s releasing 50 million tons per year – which is a billion tons of CO2 – and it’s obviously rising. If it all went we’d basically all be dead. And it’s happening now. And the problem here is that it’s accelerating. Once it starts generating, through this process or any of the other ones that I talk about, once those processes generate more CO2 than we do, it won’t matter if we stop completely. It’s going to keep going. These are positive feedback loops. And by the way, it’s not in the models.”
The feedback of methane release
00:52:15 – 00:52:37 — David Wasdell, Director Apollo-Gaia Project – Methane. “The fifth implication of the Arctic dynamics concerns the feedback of the methane release. It is probably one of the most important issues that we have to examine.”
00:52:38 – 00:52:50 – (Unidentified speaker) “We will be in danger of destabilizing these things called methane hydrates which store a lot of methane in the bottom of the ocean, in a kind of frozen form, 10,000 billion tons of the stuff. And they’re known to be destabilized by warming.”
Newscaster falsely downplays the risks of methane leakage
00:52:51 – 00:53:31 – (Unidentified newscaster) “This chunk of ice may look pretty unremarkable at first glance, but put a match to it and something amazing happens. As reported in this month’s issue of the Atlantic, it’s called methane hydrate. And it’s not actually unusual at all. In fact there are more than 100,000 trillion cubic feet of it on earth. Volume-wise at least the size of the Mediterranean Sea. And it has a greater energy capacity than all the coal, oil and natural gas on earth combined. And while methane burns clean, unburned methane is a potent greenhouse gas and if it leaks it can be devastating to the environment. The USGS [US Geological Survey] is confident leakage won’t be a problem as long as proper precautions are taken.”
00:53:32 – 00:53:47 — Dr. James Hansen, NASA (Ret.) – There are potential irreversible effects of melting the sea ice. If it begins to allow the Arctic Ocean to warm up and warm the Ocean floor then we’ll begin to release methane hydrate.
Russian researchers are much less cavalier about methane risks. “We do not like what we see there,” says one referring to risk of release of methane from Siberian shelf into the atmosphere
00:53:48 – 00:58:14 — Dr. Natalia Shakhova, International Arctic Research Center – “About 80 years ago [we started studying] the Siberian Arctic shelf. And actually we’ve been studying it for the last 8 years continuously year-by-year-by-year, conducting one or two expeditions a year. The hydrocarbons are produced within the sedimentary drape was silt and prevented the methane escape into the atmosphere. That is why we’re telling that this should be the largest hydrocarbon stock in the world over there. There is a potential risk that if warming continues the larger and maybe greater massive amount of methane could be released from this [unintelligible]. Of course there is a potential risk. And in terms of potential risk I would say that this Siberian Arctic shelf is the most potential because the carbon pool is huge and the water shelf is very shallow and the warming occurs stronger than in different areas of the world’s oceans. And of course it is a potential risk. So the methane in the atmosphere, the total amount of methane in the current atmosphere, its’ about 5 gigatonnes. The amount of carbon reserved in the form of methane in this Siberian shelf is approximately from 100s to 1000s of gigatons. And of course it’s only 1 percent of that amount is required to double the atmosphere burden of methane. But to destabilize 1 percent of this carbon pool I think it’s not much effort needed considering that the state of permafrost and the amount of methane currently involved – because what divides this methane from the atmosphere is a very shallow water column and a weakening permafrost, which is losing its ability to serve as a seal. And this is, I think it’s a matter of – it’s not a matter of thousands of years; it’s a matter of decades I think. Maybe at most 100 years, I think. It might potentially happen. [Off-screen voice of colleague, Dr. Igor Semiletov: ‘I’m pessimistic.’] And where the sea ice should be about 2 metres thick, it was 40 cm thick. That means that the processes, all the processes that serve destabilization of everything of this sea ice, of the water column, of the currents increasing, I mean the movement of water, so everything looks anomalous even from our experience, from this 10 years. Everything looks anomalous. And this is what makes him [Igor] think that the worst thing might happen. Shortly speaking, we do not like what we see there. Absolutely DO NOT LIKE!
Graphic evidence of methane explosion
00:58:15 – 00:59:23 — Omar Cabrera, Methanetracker.org – Onscreen graph May through November 2013 — “Look at this. In a matter of days, just days, we’re having this huge area – look at this – going, almost exploding with methane. The only way this is possible is by the melting of methane [unintelligible]. It’s just the only explanation.”
Student asks professor about carbon emissions — He warns about an “uncomfortable future” even if “we do a huge amount within the next 10 years”
00:59:24 – 01:00:11 — Dr. Richard Milne, University of Edinburgh – Question from audience: “How long do you think we have before it becomes socially and otherwise unacceptable to emit carbon? And how radically do you think we have to act consensually?” [Milne responds] “Well I mean I think it’s – the more we act the better things will be for future generations. There are all sorts of estimates and basically if we do a huge amount within the next 10 years we will still face quite an uncomfortable future. The less we do, the worse it will get. How much of it we can prevent depends on how bold we are, how much we’re prepared to do and that in turn is going to depend on changing social opinions.
Another climate scientist sees “a dark future for humanity” without human intervention to reverse the trends
01:00:12 – 01:03:16 — David Wasdell, Director Apollo-Gaia Project – “What are the implications of all this for global dynamic behaviour – both in climate and, indeed, for humanity as a civilization, and the biosphere of which we are a part? Well obviously the Arctic is connected to the rest of the world. It is part of the world. And what happens in the Arctic inevitably has implications and consequences and spin-off for the rest of the planet. Socially, we know we will be beginning to move some of the aerosols, the particulates in the atmosphere that are at the moment reflecting much of the solar energy back into space. We also know that much energy is being taken up by heating of the deeper ocean at the moment. And as the effects of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the global behaviour as a whole begin to come back on stream, so global temperatures will begin to respond much as Arctic temperatures did. CO2 begins to increase temperature. Increased temperature drives water vapour feedback. Water vapour feedback accelerates heating. And then we begin to get hotter conditions for some of the tropical forests. We get burn and die-back, and increased release of carbon dioxide from the biomass of the planet. It’s a different set of feedbacks from that operating in the high Arctic. But it is nonetheless potent. And as in the Arctic, so tomorrow in the world as a whole. And if the implications of jet stream behaviour, and food production, and Arctic dynamics spin-off into our survival as a species, into our economics, into our food production, into the abandonment of the poor, and the inability to sustain a population of 8, 9, 10 billion people, so also the increasing acceleration of global behaviour, which will inevitably follow unless we are able to intervene, to slow it down, bring it to a halt, and reverse it, then, without that intervention, global dynamics hold a dark future for humanity, a dark future for the biosphere of which we are a part. There’s time to take action, not only for the Arctic, but for the global crisis in which we are all placed.”
The professor to the student – The gulf between what the scientists say we need to do and what we’re currently doing is “enormous”
01:03:17 – 01:04:54 — Dr. Richard Milne, University of Edinburgh – “There’s not agreement with how much we need to do, how fast. To be honest, I don’t think there needs to be because the one thing I am certain of is that we will not do as much that the scientists say we need to do. That’s why I’ve never sort of looked that closely at that particular question because what the scientists say we need to do is over here (crosses the lecture theatre and gestures to the far left), what we’re currently doing is way over here (rushes to the opposite side), and what various global agreements have tried to get us to do, and often fail, is somewhere over here (moves to the middle). So the gulf is so enormous that I’m, yeah, it’s a totally fair question, but for that reason I’ve never really looked at it in that much detail. But I do believe that the more people believe this [climate science predictions] that the more likely they are to act. So I suspect that there’s also – denial can operate on many levels. You can sort of believe something factually but not believe it deep down in your heart. And so if you say “Oh yes, I accept climate change,” but you just won’t allow yourself on an emotional level to think about what is going to happen to the planet in the future, then you can sort of separate your everyday life from what you believe in the more academic side of your minds. So I think that in many ways changing social opinion is the most important thing we can do at present to deal with this problem because then people might start moving towards what the scientists are saying we need to do.”
Lester Brown says we need to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent not by 2050 but by 2020. Yikes!
01:04:55 – 01:05:34 — Lester R. Brown, Earth Policy Institute – “We’ve got a lot of work to do and not much time to do it. As I look at the world, which is sort of where I start, we’ve got to cut carbon emissions fast. Then it becomes clear we need to cut carbon emissions 80 percent, not by 2050 but by 2020. For decades now we environmentalists have been talking about the need to save the planet. But as I think about it, the planet’s going to be around for a long time to come. What we need to save now is civilization itself. This is what’s at stake.”
Back in 1992 David Suzuki’s 12-year-old daughter asks delegates at the Rio de Janeiro summit: “Why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?” 22 years later and environmentally conditions are much worse.
01:05:35 – 01:08:33 — Severn Cullis-Suzuki, Activist — (12-year-old Suzuki’s 1992 address to delegates in Rio de Janeiro Rio+20 summit) “Coming up here today I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future. Coming up here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future. Losing my future is not like losing an election or a few points on the stock market. I am here to speak for all generations to come. I am here to speak on behalf of the starving children around the world whose cries go unheard. I am here to speak for the countless animals dying across this planet because they have nowhere left to go.
I am afraid to go out in the sun now because of the holes in our ozone. I am afraid to breathe the air, because I don’t know what chemicals are in it. I used to go in—I used to go fishing in Vancouver, my home, with my dad, until just a few years ago we found the fish full of cancers. And now we hear of animals and plants going extinct every day, vanishing forever. In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see. Did you have to worry of these things when you were my age?
All this is happening before our eyes, and yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all the solutions. I’m only a child, and I don’t have all the solutions, but I want you to realize, neither do you. You don’t know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer. You don’t know how to bring the salmon back up a dead stream. You don’t know how to bring back an animal now extinct. And you can’t bring back the forests that once grew where there is now a desert. If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it!
Here, you may be delegates of your governments, business people, organizers, reporters or politicians. But really, you’re mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles. And all of you are someone’s child.
I’m only a child, yet I know we are all part of a family, five billion strong—in fact, 30 million species strong. And borders and governments will never change that. I’m only a child, yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal.
In my anger, I am not blind, and in my fear, I am not afraid of telling the world how I feel.
In my country, we make so much waste, we buy and throw away, buy and throw away, buy and throw and away. And yet, northern countries will not share with the needy. Even when we have more than enough, we are afraid to share, we are afraid to let go of some of our wealth. In Canada, we live the privileged life, with plenty of food, water and shelter. We have watches, bicycles, computers and television sets. The list could go on for two days.
Two days ago here in Brazil, we were shocked when we spent some time with some children living on the streets. This is what one child told us: “I wish I was rich. And if I were, I would give all the street children food, clothes, medicines, shelter, and love and affection.” If a child on the streets who has nothing is willing to share, why are we who have everything still so greedy?
I can’t stop thinking that these are children my own age, that it makes a tremendous difference where you are born, that I could be one of those children living in the favelas of Rio, I could be a child starving in Somalia, or a victim of war in the Middle East or a beggar in India. I am only a child, yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on finding environmental answers, ending poverty, and finding treaties, what a wonderful place this earth would be.
At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us how to behave in the world. You teach us to not fight with others, to work things out, to respect others, to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share, not be greedy. Then why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?
Do not forget why you’re attending these conferences, who you’re doing this for: we are your own children. You are deciding what kind of a world we are growing up in. Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying, “Everything’s going to be all right,” “It’s not the end of the world,” and “We’re doing the best we can.” But I don’t think you can say that to us anymore. Are we even on your list of priorities? My dad always says, “You are what you do, not what you say.” Well, what you do makes me cry at night. You grown-ups say you love us. But I challenge you, please, make your actions reflect your words. Thank you.
01:08:34 – 01:09:43 — ending credits
LAST CHANCE FILMS in association with Event Horizon Productions presents Arctic Death Spiral and the Methane Time Bomb
Uploaded by TheSyndicateInfo, November 18, 2013
Many thanks to:
Peter Sinclair – Greenman Studios
David Suzuki – David Suzuki Foundation
Dr. Guy McPherson – Professor Emeritus University of Arizona
Pauline Schneider – Filmmaker
Dr. Richard Somerville – Scripps Institution of Oceanography (wrong credit given in film)
Severn Cullis-Suzuki – Activist
Dr. Natalia Shakhova – International Arctic Research Center
Nick Breeze – Filmmaker
Dr. James Hansen – NASA (Ret.)
Dr. Alun Hubbard – Aberystwyth University
Dr. Marco Tedesco – NOAA
James Balog – Filmmaker “Chasing Ice”
Dr. Peter Wadhams – University of Cambridge
David Wasdell – Apollo-Gaia Project
Omar Cabrera – Methanetracker.org
Lester R. Brown – Earth Policy Institute
Dr. Richard Milne – University of Edinburgh
Dan Miller – A REALLY Inconvenient Truth
Dr. Charles Miller – NASA JPL
Dr. Kevin Schaefer – USNSIDC
Dr. Jason Box – GEUS
Ben Abbott – University of Alaska
John Tyndall – Tyndall Centre
Uli Hamacher – Filmmaker
Dr. Igor Semiletov – International Arctic Research Center
Dr. Richard Alley – Penn State University
and all the other whom made this film possible…
No Thanks to –
The Fossil Fuels Industry
Part II on its way
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