Sunday, September 09, 2007

Ice Sheets Speak: Do Or Die

In today's The Oregonian, an article painted what we have been hearing as a very dire future for Greenland and West Antarctica. Now, new data has shocked scientists because Greenland, like the Arctic sea ice, is melting much faster than the most optimistic projections of the IPCC, as expected. You see, the IPCC has people who really know their thing, and people who kind of know and so want to fight about what is said. From now on, we should base what we know about climate on current observations, not a document that will be unchanged for at least 5 years.

At the UK Climate Camps, organized by climate activists who see the growth in aviation a huge barrier to eliminating global warming pollution, George Monbiot said his recent book, Heat, is now outdated because of the recently recorded effects of global warming, which point to the fact that the industrialized world must be climate neutral within 2 decades to perhaps have a chance of preventing the ice sheets from fighting back.

Perhaps scarier than that was the idea that as these massive ice sheets melt, the land beneath it springs back. What if the land beneath these ice sheets can influence land elsewhere? Another scary observation is the fact that the Arctic tundra, as opposed the the Alaskan tundra, has been found to contain massive amounts of carbon as well that could spontaneously be released with moderate warming. All this points to a clear picture. We need a climate neutral world as soon as possible.

How can this happen? Well, carbon capture and sequestration won't be commercial until at least 2020, and even if it did China will not pay more for something it's sure it hasn't largely caused (though recently it has announced it will spend over $250 billion in renewables, more than the U.S. has committed to; plus, they have an RPS, and we don't). A new international treaty must be about greenhouse gas elimination and equity. The world must become climate neutral, but nations should pay their fair amount. The developed world, having put up there some 70% of all emissions, must pay 70% of what it will cost to make the world climate neutral (and this means shutting down every single coal-burning power plant and being fully powered by renewables). After all, if it can waste money in useless wars, unnecessary congestion and consumption, and huge armies, it can pay for the most threatening problem ever to face humanity. The good news is that it may well turn out to be a money-maker in the long-term, though at an initial cost.

The Ice Sheets are speaking. Their message is clear: either we do or we die.

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