A reflection on truth.
This is not the first time that I have wandered through this subject. Indeed, Learning from Dogs would never have seen the light of day if, all those years ago, Jon Lavin hadn’t raised the fascinating idea that dogs are integrous animals. As the quote says in the sidelink Purpose of Learning from Dogs;
There is nothing to fear except the persistent refusal to find out the truth, the persistent refusal to analyse the causes of happenings. Dorothy Thompson.
So what is it that has rocked my boat again? A number of things, to be honest. So much so, please forgive me for running these musings over to tomorrow!
Regular readers may have noticed that both Tuesday’s post Modelling the future and yesterday’s A study of man’s behaviours explored determining truth; frequently a fickle beast to track down! Then last Monday, I read the latest post from Climate Denial Crock of the Week that was about Sea Ice Slowing to Minimum. It was yet another reminder that embracing the truth of what is happening to our planet is vital, I mean VITAL, for anyone who has a reasonable expectation to be alive in 20 years time.
Here’s how Peter opened that post (published with Peter’s kind permission):
Not there yet, but in an interview with Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers last week, the message was clear – the ice has retreated so much that at this point, we will already be experiencing the impacts of a low or no-ice arctic minimum, including “very interesting” weather in the northern hemisphere this fall and winter. Wow. I can’t wait.
Peter then included an update in that post, a reference to a report published in the Australian newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald. I requested permission to republish the SMH article but that wasn’t granted, well to be factual it was offered at a fee of $420.75 – say no more. Here is how that report from on board the Greenpeace ice-breaker Arctic Sunrise opened,
We are a few hundred miles from the north pole. The air temperature is -3C, the sea freezing. All around us in these foggy Arctic waters at the top of the world are floes – large and small chunks of sea ice that melt and freeze again with the seasons.
Arne Sorensen, our Danish ice pilot, is 18 metres up in the crow’s nest of the Arctic Sunrise vessel. Visibility is just 200 metres and he inches the 1,000-tonne Greenpeace ice-breaker forward at two knots through narrow passages of clear water.
A few paragraphs later come this:
More than 600,000 sq km more ice has melted in 2012 than ever recorded by satellites. Now the minimum extent has nearly been reached and the sea is starting to refreeze.
‘‘This is the new minimum extent of the ice cap,’’ [Sorensen] says – the frontline of climate change. ‘‘It is sad. I am not doubting this is related to emitting fossil fuels to a large extent. It’s sad to observe that we are capable of changing the planet to such a degree.’’
British, Italian and American scientists on the Arctic Sunrise say they are shocked at the speed and extent of the ice loss.
Over at the Guardian newspaper, their reporter John Vidal, also aboard the Arctic Sunrise, reports:
One of the world’s leading ice experts has predicted the final collapse of Arctic sea ice in summer months within four years.
In what he calls a “global disaster” now unfolding in northern latitudes as the sea area that freezes and melts each year shrinks to its lowest extent ever recorded, Prof Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University calls for “urgent” consideration of new ideas to reduce global temperatures.
In an email to the Guardian he says: “Climate change is no longer something we can aim to do something about in a few decades’ time, and that we must not only urgently reduce CO2 emissions but must urgently examine other ways of slowing global warming, such as the various geoengineering ideas that have been put forward.”
Sea ice covers 7% of the surface of our planet. It is one of the most important and variable components of the planetary surface and is the key to understanding many basic questions about the energy balance of the Earth. The ice-covered seas represent the cold end of the enormous heat engine that enables the Earth to have temperatures suitable for human life over most of its surface.
Just go back and re-read, “.. the enormous heat engine that enables the Earth to have temperatures suitable for human life over most of its surface.”
So determining the truth of what is happening to our planet is not some elegant academic exercise, it is about determining the likelihood of human life surviving or not!
Doesn’t that put everything else we are doing into some form of perspective? Let me rant on tomorrow!