Learning from Dogs

Dogs are integrous animals. We have much to learn from them.

Posts Tagged ‘Greenland

If only we had an alpha dog!

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Yearnings for a new start!

You may wonder about the title of this post?  Stay with me for a moment.

As has been written before on Learning from Dogs, when dogs were living in the wild just three animals had pack roles.  The leader of the pack, always a female animal, was the alpha dog. Second in command was the beta dog, always a dominant male, and the third role was the omega or clown dog.  The wild dog pack was thought to have consisted, typically, of about 50 animals.

Pharaoh

The wisdom of thousands of years showing clearly in Pharaoh’s eyes, our very own beta dog.

As leader of her pack an alpha dog had two primary functions .  One was having first choice as to the male dog she was going to mate with – thus demonstrating how women always choose! ;-)

Her second important duty was deciding that her pack’s home range was insufficient for the needs of her ‘family’.  As wolves still do, wild dogs lived within small, well-defined territories when food was abundant.  When food became less abundant then it was time to move to more fertile grounds.  As an aside, research in South Africa as to the area requirements for a small pack of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) shows they require from 65 square kilometers (25 square miles) to 150 sq. km. (58 sq. mi.). (See footnote.)

Dogs, like all wild animals, instinctively live in harmony with nature.  So the call from the alpha dog to find a new range didn’t mean they left their old one as a barren disaster area.  You can see where this is heading!

Wild dogs were in contact with early man at least 50,000 years ago. (Just reflect for a moment on the length of that relationship between man and dog.) So each specie has had plenty of time to learn from the other.

Thus, as mankind is on the verge of discovering that our existing ‘territory’ is becoming unsustainable for the healthy life of the species,  one fundamental learning point from dogs appears to have escaped us: Mankind doesn’t have a new range available to our species.

This preamble came to mind when I recently read a short but powerful essay on Alex Jones’ blog The Liberated Way.  The essay was called A global leaky bucket.  Alex has very kindly given me permission to republish it.

A global leaky bucket

Global weather extremes will force people to hard choices.

Nature will have the last word in the debate over sustainability.

Nature will have the last word in the debate over sustainability.

I write this in despair, it is snowing again here in Colchester UK.  I admit envy for those of you who live in California or Hong Kong area, I see your photographs where the seasons always seem to be warm and sunny.  The northern Jet Stream refuses to move, Greenland enjoys growing strawberries as the lambs die in the fields of Britain from the winter that refuses to let go.

The extremes of weather are noted in the South of the world as well as the North.  Argentina has had the worst floods in decades last week.  The cause is that the systems such as the Jet Stream are paralysed in one place, thus everyone suffers flood, drought or winter in excess.  Nobody is sure why this paralysis is going on with systems like the Jet Stream, some say it is climate change, the point is that we are experiencing this, and it appears to be more than a temporary issue.

My opinion is that these weather extremes are here to stay for the long duration.  One is then left with a harsh reality of does one seek to control the weather or adapt to the weather? How does one control the weather, a chaotic energy system where even a small change can have great consequences? Perhaps adaptation is the better option, but does one know how huge those adaptations will have to be where drought and flood could be lasting decades?

Lets say food, water and energy are all contained in a bucket.  We take a jug and scoop out from the bucket what we need.  There is a tap that is constantly running filling the bucket with the food, water and energy.  We waste those resources so the bucket leaks.  We disrupt or destroy the renewal systems in the ecosystems so the tap is no longer running as fast as it should.  We are greedy consumers so we take more than we need from the bucket with our jug.  How will the bucket look now? Is this a sustainable future to you?

If our global weather extremes continue as they are it will be like a storm rocking the bucket spilling its contents, will our bucket future look even less sustainable? Extreme weather destroys harvests, kills animals, sends already distressed ecosystems into the abyss.  What happens when the bucket is so empty that people can no longer enjoy their lifestyle of wasteful excess, or worse that people grow cold, hungry and thirsty? Do they sit there and do nothing but die? Will they fight? Who will fight who? As the bucket contents get ever smaller, who will win in the fighting for what is left?

Copyright (c) Alex Jones 2011-2013.

Colchester has a place in my past as I started and ran a business there between the years of 1978 to 1986.  More about that some other day.

Back to Alex’s essay.  It strongly resonated with a recent item on Peter Sinclair’s excellent blog Climate Denial Crock of the Week which I will refer to tomorrow.

So I will leave you with this tragic, emotional thought – where, oh where, is our alpha dog?

Footnote:  The figures for the ranges of wild dogs were taken from a fascinating paper published by Lindsay, du Toit and Mills that may be read here.

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The sound of change.

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The awareness of the vulnerability of mankind is growing apace.

Last Thursday, I wrote a piece called The year of separation.

Icebergs calved from Jakobshavn Glacier  float to sea near Illulissat. This glacier dumps more ice into the global ocean than any other glacier in the Northern Hemisphere, and is thus Greenland's single biggest contributor to the global sea level rise of one-eight inch per year.Photograph: James Balog/Extreme Ice Survey

Icebergs calved from Jakobshavn Glacier float to sea near Illulissat. This glacier dumps more ice into the global ocean than any other glacier in the Northern Hemisphere, and is thus Greenland’s single biggest contributor to the global sea level rise of one-eight inch per year.
Photograph: James Balog/Extreme Ice Survey

When researching material for that article, I came across the official trailer for the film Chasing Ice.  The fact that this film is being shown in cinemas and movie theaters across the world is highly relevant.

Because it demonstrates that there is a public appetite for such a film otherwise it would never had made it as a film project.

But not only that, read some of the reviews mentioned on the Chasing Ice website.

From The Guardian newspaper:

Jeff Orlowski’s documentary begins as a straightforward biographical profile, before shifting up into something more urgent, impassioned and compelling. Its subject, James Balog, is a photographer who goes to extremes to prove the existence of global warming: his latest expedition involves descending Arctic cliff faces to fit time-lapse cameras with which to monitor glacial erosion.

The review concludes, thus:

If any film can convert the climate-change sceptics, Chasing Ice would be it: here, seeing really is believing.

Then there is the review in The Observer newspaper:

The Observer, Saturday 15 December 2012

Jeff Orlowski’s first-rate documentary begins with complacently smug anti-global-warming clips from Fox News and from the owner of America’s weather channel. It then introduces the persuasive environmentalist James Balog, a celebrated photographer working for National Geographic, who became fascinated with what glaciers can teach us about our changing planet.

In 2007 he set up the Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), a well-funded project to monitor glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, Montana, the Alps, Canada and Bolivia, and the results – photographed using state-of-the-art time-lapse cameras – are sensational in their beauty, terror and the irrefutable evidence they provide of the rapidity with which age-old ice packs are melting away. It’s like watching our world disappear.

Let’s come this side of the ‘Pond’.  Here’s a review in The Kansas City Star:

BY MICHAEL O’SULLIVAN

The Washington Post

“Chasing Ice” aims to accomplish, with pictures, what all the hot air that has been generated on the subject of global warming hasn’t been able to do: make a difference.

The documentary by Jeff Orlowski follows nature photographer James Balog as he documents melting glaciers, beginning in 2007, in Alaska, Iceland, Greenland and Montana. Called the Extreme Ice Survey, the project works like this: Balog sets up still cameras that have been programmed to take a picture, once every hour, for three years, of the same glacier from a fixed spot.

Concluding:

“Chasing Ice” will make an impact, that’s for sure. Whether it can be said to have been effective remains to be seen. This portrait of a man on a mission moves us, not by showing us what we’ve already lost, but what’s still at stake.

My final dip into the review pot is from America Magazine – The National Catholic Review.

The Cold Hard Truth

Wil Lepkowski

The bracing ‘Chasing Ice’

Anyone with a desire to preserve our planet has no choice but to see Chasing Ice, the gorgeous, inventive documentary released last month. As of this writing it has been shown to selected audiences but has yet to reach the popularity of a film like “An Inconvenient Truth.” Give it time, however, and hopefully further promotion, because it is truly revelatory. Produced by Paula DuPré Pesmen and Jerry Aronson and directed by Jeff Orlowski, the film is a unique pictorial about global warming, which left me impressed, thoughtful and sad.

Wil Lepkowski closes with these words,

Take the time to see “Chasing Ice,” even if it is not the type of film you would typically see. These are not typical times. We must begin to act. In the wake of a devastating hurricane on the East Coast of the United States, the United States may finally be taking steps to address climate change. Ordinary citizens must take on a greater role too. We cannot dwell on our sadness, but work to provide hope for our children, who will suffer the most if we continue to ignore the disaster on the horizon.

So you get the message!

Here’s that film trailer.  And make a note to go to the website of the Extreme Ice Survey and ponder on what you can do to make a difference.  That’s the broad ‘you’ by the way.  The one that includes you and me and all those on this planet that want to make a difference.

Sceptical voices, reflections

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If there’s any doubt, there’s no doubt!

I know that expression from my days as a private pilot.  It makes such obvious sense, especially in a single-engined light aircraft with one pilot on board.  It’s all about risk.

Frederick Herzberg, the famous American psychologist, coined the term ‘hygiene factor’.  It was the second part of a two-factor approach to the management of people.  According to Herzberg’s theory, people are influenced by two sets of factors, motivation factors and hygiene factors.  More background on this aspect here.

To me, as I reflect on the messages offered in the Sceptical Voices article, Part One and Part Two, the concepts of risk and hygiene seem totally appropriate to the topic of AGW, Anthropogenic Global Warming.

Whether or not AGW is a valid theory behind the rapid change in global warming is utterly irrelevant.  It is the risk to humanity that matters.  There is absolutely no harm done from assuming that AGW is happening and that feedback processes run a grave risk of tipping planetary conditions out of control, and getting that wrong.

On the other hand, assume that AGW is such an uncertain concept that it really isn’t wise to adjust our life styles, and getting that wrong would endanger the human species.

Think of being on a commercial airline flight and you become aware that one of the two pilots in the cockpit is incapacitated through food poisoning.  No doubt that you, with all your fellow passengers, would vote for an immediate diversionary landing.  It’s to do with risk.

From the perspective of Herzberg, a co-ordinated program by the world’s leading governments to tackle AGW might also improve the overall motivation of their peoples in a whole manner of ways.

Merci voiced this perfectly in her comment to Sceptical Voices, Part One, thus,

Yes, question all we want, yes, there are other important issues to resolve in the world, but WHAT IF “Climate Change/Global Warming“ is for real, what then?

Dan wrote also in that Part One piece,

And by “peel-back-the-onion”, I mean that any ardent, independent researcher should publish both sides of the story as a matter of course.  Especially in regards to global warming.

But publishing both sides of the story is not the argument.  The argument is the risk to humanity of doing nothing, and getting it wrong.

That well-respected weekly newspaper The Economist had a recent article about the melting of Arctic ice, from which is quoted,

Arctic sea ice is melting far faster than climate models predict. Why?

Sep 24th 2011 - from the print edition

ON SEPTEMBER 9th, at the height of its summertime shrinkage, ice covered 4.33m square km, or 1.67m square miles, of the Arctic Ocean, according to America’s National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC). That is not a record low—not quite. But the actual record, 4.17m square km in 2007, was the product of an unusual combination of sunny days, cloudless skies and warm currents flowing up from mid-latitudes. This year has seen no such opposite of a perfect storm, yet the summer sea-ice minimum is a mere 4% bigger than that record. Add in the fact that the thickness of the ice, which is much harder to measure, is estimated to have fallen by half since 1979, when satellite records began, and there is probably less ice floating on the Arctic Ocean now than at any time since a particularly warm period 8,000 years ago, soon after the last ice age.

That Arctic sea ice is disappearing has been known for decades. The underlying cause is believed by all but a handful of climatologists to be global warming brought about by greenhouse-gas emissions. Yet the rate the ice is vanishing confounds these climatologists’ models. These predict that if the level of carbon dioxide, methane and so on in the atmosphere continues to rise, then the Arctic Ocean will be free of floating summer ice by the end of the century. At current rates of shrinkage, by contrast, this looks likely to happen some time between 2020 and 2050.

Re-read the sentence, “The underlying cause is believed by all but a handful of climatologists to be global warming brought about by greenhouse-gas emissions.”  In particular, “by all but a handful of climatologists”  Think of risk.

That article, which should be read in full, concludes thus,

A warming Arctic will bring local benefits to some. The rest of the world may pay the cost.

Indeed, the rest of the world may pay the cost!  As I wrote, it’s all about risk.

So whether or not one wants to believe every word of that Economist article is irrelevant.  Or whether one should have believed, or not, the article in New York’s The Sun newspaper back in 2007,

By SETH BORENSTEIN, Associated Press | December 12, 2007

WASHINGTON — An already relentless melting of the Arctic greatly accelerated this summer, a warning sign that some scientists worry could mean global warming has passed an ominous tipping point. One even speculated that summer sea ice would be gone in five years.

Greenland’s ice sheet melted nearly 19 billion tons more than the previous high mark, and the volume of Arctic sea ice at summer’s end was half what it was just four years earlier, according to new NASA satellite data obtained by the Associated Press.

“The Arctic is screaming,” a senior scientist at the government’s snow and ice data center in Boulder, Colo., Mark Serreze, said.

Last year, two scientists surprised their colleagues by projecting that the Arctic sea ice was melting so fast that it could disappear entirely by the summer of 2040. This week, after reviewing his own new data, a NASA climate scientist, Jay Zwally, said: “At this rate, the Arctic Ocean could be nearly ice-free at the end of summer by 2012, much faster than previous predictions.”

So scientists in recent days have been asking themselves these questions: Was the record melt seen all over the Arctic in 2007 a blip amid relentless and steady warming? Or has everything sped up to a new climate cycle that goes beyond the worst case scenarios presented by computer models? “The Arctic is often cited as the canary in the coal mine for climate warming,” Mr. Zwally, who as a teenager hauled coal, said. “Now as a sign of climate warming, the canary has died. It is time to start getting out of the coal mines.” [My emphasis, PH]

So, in conclusion, scepticism is healthy and is an important aspect of open debate within an open society, part of determining truth, however challenging that simple concept might be.

But eventually one needs to take a position, to take a stand on the really important issues in life and in the case of climate change the risk of being too sceptical, too cautious is to put the lives of future generations at stake.  For me, and I guess for tens of thousands of others, that is a risk too far.

Transitions, pt Two

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Reflections on these present times, concluding part.

I closed yesterday with, So maybe there’s a blindness with humans, and then set out the characteristics of that blindness.  One of those characteristics being,

Our obsession with how things are now prevents us from reflecting on those signs that indicate changes are under way, even when the likely conclusions are unmistakeable.  The ecological and climatic changes being the most obvious example of this strange blindness that mankind possesses.

Let’s move this on a little.  The arguments from a wide range of scientists are overwhelmingly in favour of the proposition that mankind is using vastly more resources from the planet than the planet can provide.  Take oil.  This graph show past and projected oil production for the whole Earth out to 2050, less than 40 years away.

Here’s an extract from that website which I encourage you to read in full,

The part before 2007 is historical fact. The part that comes afterward is an ASPO extrapolation.

This graph is worth careful attention as a lot of world history is written into it. Note the steep rise in oil production after World War II. Note that 1971 was the peak in oil production in the United States lower 48. There is a sliver of white labled Arctic oil. That is mostly Alaskan Prudhoe Bay oil, which peaked in 1990. Prudhoe Bay was almost big enough to counteract the lower 48 peak of 1971. The sliver is very narrow now. The OPEC oil embargo of 1973 is very visible. The oil produced by non-OPEC countries stayed nearly constant while OPEC production nearly halved. The embargo caused the world economy to slow. But the high cost of energy spurred the development of energy efficient automobiles and refrigerators and a lot of other things. Note the effect of the collapse of the Russian economy in 1990 on Russian oil production. Note the rapid increase in oil production when the world economy boomed near the end of the twentieth century. Oil was $12 a barrel at that time. Note that European (North Sea) oil peaked in 2000. Note especially what would have happened if the 1973 embargo had not occurred. It is possible that the world would now be on the steep part of the right side of the Hubbert curve.

Take population growth. Here’s a graph that shows that going through seven billion, which is due shortly, is likely to be way short of the eventual peak.  Likely peak might be in the range of  eight to ten billion!  Just take a look at that graph,

Take global warming.  Here’s a graph from NASA, from which I quote,

The five warmest years since the late 1880s, according to NASA scientists, are in descending order 2005, 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2006. (reported in the year 2007!)

No apologies for bashing you around the head with these graphs and figures – most people have a good sense about these aspects of our life on this planet.  But, in a very real sense, that’s the point.

The point that despite powerful and obvious evidence, mankind has great difficulty accepting obvious trends and understanding that whatever ‘today’ feels like, ‘tomorrow’ is almost certainly not going to be more of the same.

At the risk of hammering this point to death, here are two pictures and some text to show how quickly ‘today’ changes and becomes ‘tomorrow’.

Scientist left speechless as vast glacier turns to water

by Helen Turner, Western Mail

THESE images show the astonishing rate of break-up of an enormous glacier in north Greenland – from ice to water in just two years.

The before and after photographs, which left a Welsh scientist who led the 24-month project “speechless”, reveal the worrying effects of climate change in an area previously thought too cold to be much affected.

The Petermann glacier pictured August, 5th, 2009

Petermann glacier, pictured from same position, July 24th, 2011

Dr Alun Hubbard, a reader at Aberystwyth University’s Centre for Glaciology, returned from the Petermann Glacier in north-west Greenland a month ago, but did not see the stark images documenting the changes until this week.

He said: “Although I knew what to expect in terms of ice loss from satellite imagery, I was still completely unprepared for the gob-smacking scale of the break-up, which rendered me speechless.  It was just incredible to see. This glacier is huge, 20km across, 1,000m high.”

“It’s like looking into the Grand Canyon full of ice and coming back two years later to find it’s full of water.”

“It’s quite hard to get your head around the scale of the change.  To be able to see that, everything changed in such a short period of time, I was speechless.”

Do read the full article on the Wales Online website here.

Stay with me a little longer, if you will.

Yves Smith in her wonderfully broad and addictive Blog, Naked Capitalism, had the first part of a powerful interview with Satyajit Das published on the 7th.  Here are a couple of extracts,

 It’s amazing how much money you can make just shuffling paper backwards and forwards. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a piece praising John Paulson who made a killing from the subprime disaster as an entrepreneur. But what did he make? What did he leave behind? Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, argued: “I wish someone would give me one shred of neutral evidence that financial innovation has led to economic growth — one shred of evidence. US financial services increased its share of value added from 2% to 6.5% but is that a reflection of your financial innovation, or just a reflection of what you’re paid?”

Just let that quote from Paul Volcker stay with you for a while.  Satyajit goes on to say,

Management and directors of financial institutions cannot really understand what is going on – it’s simply not practical. They cannot be across all the products. For example, Robert Rubin, the former head of Goldman Sachs and Treasury Secretary under President Clinton, encouraged increased risk taking at CitiGroup. He was guided by a consultant’s report and famously stated that risk was the only underpriced asset. He encouraged investment in AAA securities assuming that they were ‘money good’. He seemed not to be aware of the liquidity puts that Citi had written which meant that toxic off-balance sheet assets would come back to the mother ship in the case of a crisis. Now, if he didn’t understand, others would find it near impossible. And I’m talking about executive management.

Non executives are even further removed. Upon joining the Salomon Brothers Board, Henry Kaufman, the original Dr. Doom found that most non-executive directors had little experience or understanding of banking. They relied on board reports that were, “neither comprehensive … nor detailed enough … about the diversity and complexity of our operations.” Non-executive directors were reliant “on the veracity and competency of senior managers, who in turn … are beholden to the veracity of middle managers, who are themselves motivated to take risks through a variety of profit compensation formulas.”

Kaufman later joined the board of Lehman Brothers. Nine out of ten members of the Lehman board were retired, four were 75 years or more in age, only two had banking experience, but in a different era. The octogenarian Kaufman sat on the Lehman Risk Committee with a Broadway producer, a former Navy admiral, a former CEO of a Spanish-language TV station and the former chairman of IBM. The Committee only had two meetings in 2006 and 2007. AIG’s board included several heavyweight diplomats and admirals; even though Richard Breeden, former head of the SEC told a reporter, “AIG, as far as I know, didn’t own any aircraft carriers and didn’t have a seat in the United Nations.”

In other words, there is no shortage of information from all corners of the world to show, with very little doubt, that the last few decades have seen unprecedented mistakes by national governments, mistakes in corporate governance, a lack of understanding of economic fundamentals, poor financial and social management, and on and on and on.

But practically all of us, and I mean all of us, didn’t see it at the time, didn’t see where it was heading and only now, when it is full in our faces, do we get it and see it for what it has really been, a long period of over two decades where the ‘me‘ has been more important than the ‘us‘.

That me versus us even being promoted, if that’s the right word, by a British Prime Minister twenty-five years ago.  That quote from Margaret Thatcher back in 1987,  “And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” (Margaret Thatcher, talking to Women’s Own magazine, October 31 1987)

Let me draw this all together, yesterday’s part and this concluding part.

There is significant evidence, real hard evidence, that the patterns of mankind’s behaviours of the last few decades cannot continue.  Simply because mankind will go over the edge of self-extinction.  Darwin’s evidence and all that!  We have to accept that humans will see the bleedin’ obvious before it is too late.  We have to keep the faith that our species homo sapiens is capable of huge and rapid change when that tipping point is reached, so eloquently written by Paul Gilding in his book, The Great Disruption, reviewed by me here.  We have to embrace the fact that just because the world and his wife appears to be living in total denial, the seedlings of change, powerful change, are already sprouting, everywhere, all over the world.

So let’s welcome those changes. Let’s nurture those seedlings, encourage them to grow and engulf our society with a new richness, a new fertile landscape.

Let’s embrace the power of now, the beauty of making today much better and letting go of tomorrow.

For today, I am in charge of my life,

Today, I choose my thoughts,

Today, I choose my attitudes,

Today, I choose my actions and behaviours.

With these, I create my life and my destiny.

It’s very difficult to make predictions, especially when they involve the future!

More on Bill McKibben’s book, eaarth.

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Some very telling points.

I first mentioned this book on the 13th May when I was about a third of the way in.  Because I thought there might be material useful to the course that has been running here in Payson, I did skip around the book looking for ‘attention-grabbing’ points.  It wasn’t difficult to find numerous extracts.

Try this on page 214 from the Chapter Afterword.

As it turns out, however, the BP spill was not the most dangerous thing that happened in the months after this book was first published.  In fact, in the spring and summer of 2101, the list of startling events in the natural world included:

  • Nineteen nations setting new all-time high temperature records, which in itself is a record.  Some of those records were for entire regions – [then some of the details]
  • Scientists reported that the earth had just come through the warmest six months, the warmest year, and the warmest decade for which we have records; it appears 2010 will be the warmest calendar year on record.
  • The most protracted and extreme heat wave in a thousand years of Russian history (it had never before topped 100 degrees in Moscow) led to a siege of peat fires that shrouded the capital in ghostly, deadly smoke.  [Then goes on to mention the effect of this heat on global grain prices.]
  • Since warm air holds more water vapour that cold air, scientists were not surprised to see steady increases in flooding.  Still, the spring and summer of 2010 were off the charts.  We saw “thousand-year storms” across the globe [goes into details]
  • Meanwhile, in the far north, the Petermann Glacier on Greenland calved an iceberg four times the size of Manhattan.
  • And the most ominous news of all might have come from the pages of the eminent scientific journal Nature, which published an enormous study of the productivity of the earth’s seas. [More details follow - not good news!]
That last point can be read in more detail from Nature‘s website.  It’s here.
The book closes thus (referring to how the BP oil spill was, ultimately, an accident),
But the greatest danger we face, climate change, is no accident.  It’s what happens when everything goes the way it’s supposed to go.  It’s not a function of bad technology, it’s a function of a bad business model: of the fact that Exxon Mobil and BP and Peabody Coal are allowed to use the atmosphere, free of charge, as an open sewer for the inevitable waste from their products.  They’ll fight to the end to defend that business model, for it produces greater profits that any industry has ever known.  We won’t match them dollar for dollar: To fight back, we need a different currency, our bodies and our spirit and our creativity.  That’s what a movement looks like; let’s hope we can rally one in time to make a difference.
Powerful stuff from a powerful book.
Fired up?  Then go and join:  350.org

Total, utter madness, Pt 4

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Continuing the review of Lester Brown’s book World on the Edge.

Regular readers will be aware that I have been summarising each chapter of this pivotal book.  Chapters 2, 3 and 4 are part of the section that Lester Brown calls A Deteriorating Foundation.  But I am aware that wall-to-wall gloom is often too much for people to take in so I wanted to let you know that the third section, The Response: Plan B, is very much a realistic and pragmatic approach to the alternative, a planet that will let countless future generations live in harmony and sustainably.

So please take in the dire situation that we are in by reading these summaries or, better still, buy the book!

Chapter Four, Rising Temperatures, Melting Ice, and Food Security.

  • The Petermann Glacier calves an iceberg that covered 97 square miles on August 5th, 2010.
  • Scientists for some years have been reporting that the Greenland ice sheet was melting at an accelerating rate.
  • Richard Bates, from the University of St Andrews, part of a team monitoring Greenland ice melt, was reported as saying:

Dr Richard Bates, who is monitoring the ice alongside researchers from America, said the expedition had expected to find evidence of melting this year after “abnormally high” temperatures in the area. Climate change experts say that globally it has been the warmest six months globally since records began.

But he was “amazed to see an area of ice three times the size of Manhattan Island had broken off.

“It is not a freak event and is certainly a manifestation of warming. This year marks yet another record breaking melt year in Greenland; temperatures and melt across the entire ice sheet have exceeded those in 2007 and of historical records.”

  • A temperate rise of between 2C and 7C would cause the entire Greenland ice mass to melt – raising sea-levels world-wide by 23 feet (7 metres)!
  • In the United States last year saw record hot temperatures on the East Coast.
  • On September 27th Los Angeles recorded an all-time high of 113 degrees F, then the official thermometer broke.
  • A nearby thermometer survived to register a temperature of 119 degrees F, a record for the region.
  • Crop ecologists use a rule of thumb that for each 1-degree-Celsius rise in temperature above the optimum during the growing season, we can expect a 10-percent decline in grain yields.
  • Temperatures are rising much faster in the Arctic than elsewhere.  Winter temperatures in the Arctic, including Alaska, western Canada and eastern Russia, have climbed by 4-7 degrees F. over the last half-century.
  • This record rise in temperatures in the Arctic region could lead to changes in climate patterns that will affect the entire planet.
  • Even a 3-foot rise in sea level would sharply reduce the rice harvest in Asia. It would inundate Bangladesh, a country of 164 million people, submerge part of the Mekong Delta ( a region that produces half of Viet Nam’s rice).

That’s enough from me, simply because although this chapter in the book continues with many more frightening facts, I can’t continue to list them in this particular Post.  If the above doesn’t cause you to think and want to change, then a couple of dozen more facts aren’t going to do it either.

Just look at the photograph below and ponder on what we are leaving our children and our grand-children.  Indeed, if you are, say 50 years or younger, ponder on what the next few decades could offer for you.

We have to break our addiction with our modern way of living – or Planet Earth will do it for us.

A mother of an iceberg!

On Aug. 5, 2010, an enormous chunk of ice, roughly 97 square miles (251 square kilometers) in size, broke off the Petermann Glacier, along the northwestern coast of Greenland. The Canadian Ice Service detected the remote event within hours in near real-time data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. The Petermann Glacier lost about one-quarter of its 70-kilometer (40-mile) long floating ice shelf, said researchers who analyzed the satellite data at the University of Delaware. Taken from here.

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