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Global Warming To Leave North Pole Ice-Free 664

Posted by simoniker
from the penguins-mildly-irritated dept.
cwolfsheep writes "Tonight, Yahoo & AFP news are reporting on a study, further backing up a previous report, that suggests the North Pole will be ice-free in the summer by the next century. Oddly enough, they say the melting will not add to the sea-level of the ocean (since the ice is already in the ocean) and that the extra water will help absorb more greenhouse gases. Maybe we need to start using more aerosols."
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Global Warming To Leave North Pole Ice-Free

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  • Penguins? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Alex Reynolds (102024) * on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:12AM (#6693019) Homepage
    Penguins live on the other side of the earth -- they probably won't care too much about this.

    Cheers,
    Alex
    • I remember reading recently that penguins live even at 15 degrees South (almost the tropics)... nothing for them to get worried about.

      OTOH, if Seattle gets submerged....

      -
      • Re:Penguins? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by slothman32 (629113)
        Some penguins even live as far north as 0 degrees. That's right on the equator. 1 species of penguin live on the Galapagos Islands; which for your trivia pleasure lies at almost exactly 0N, 30W.
    • Re:Penguins? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Raw Ostrich (619490)
      Western people live on the same side of the earth -- and they dont care too much about this either.

      Is it just me or are we getting dumber and dumber? We used to have great leaders who led us to great achievements and great hights. Now we have these rich politicians who do not have enough balls to go against the will of their stupid voters.

      How does their thinking go? "Hmmm.... the professors are telling me that we are damaging the environment and that I should tax gasoline heavily and ban SUVs. LOL! I wo

  • *cries* (Score:5, Funny)

    by DarthVeda (569302) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:14AM (#6693022)
    *Holding precious copy of Water World*. You mean Kevin Costner LIED to us?! But this was such a good movie!
    • Re:*cries* (Score:5, Funny)

      by fireboy1919 (257783) <[rustyp] [at] [freeshell.org]> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:26AM (#6693268) Homepage Journal
      He didn't!

      Such an extremely high quality actor in such an extremely high quality film couldn't possibly be lying! You scientists! With all of your science (pardon my French, but it had to be said)! What could you possibly know that hollywood doesn't? Can you make movies? I didn't think so. Next you'll be saying that you can't make a world where computers use people for energy!

      When the smokers come to take over MY atoll, I'll be ready! I'm trying to grow gills even as we speak.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:14AM (#6693024)
    I for one welcome our new polar bear overlords!
  • If the ice melts, the volume of water generated would be less than that occupied by ice, follows that the volume of the seas should actually decrease...

    -
    • by MadKeithV (102058) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:19AM (#6693057)
      No, the ice displaces an amount of water equal to it's on weight, and that's why some of it sticks out above the water.
    • by Zork the Almighty (599344) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:21AM (#6693064) Journal
      Except a lot of ice (ex : much of Antarctica) is on land in the form of glaciers. If you melt the North Pole, you'll surely melt these glaciers too, and then we'll all be fucked. Well, not me, I'll become a Tibetian Monk. They have internet access, right ? I saw it in an IBM commercial.
      • by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <yoda@e t o y o c .com> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:42AM (#6693144) Homepage Journal
        You do get internet access, but why not just become a Taoist? All the enlightenment, none of the dogma.

        In any case you are correct. There is a hell of a lot of ice on land that will be added to the seas. Just look at the melting permafrost and receeding glaciers of Alaska and Canada.

        This report also glosses over the affect all that melted ice will have on the ocean's salinity. It is predicted that a slight change in ocean salinity is enough to turn the taps off on the Gulf stream. This would leave Europe pretty screwed. England's weather would start to be more like Nova Scotia's.

        • Even if the Gulf stream stays intact, Europe will still be screwed. I mean, here I am, living in Amsterdam, with my head just above the water level if I stand on my toes. A dike is a much too thin line between a productive life and extinction if you ask me. My computer is on the second floor though, so I guess I'll still be allright if I have to start using boats to get anywhere...
      • by flyingdisc (598575) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @05:42AM (#6693466)
        Except a lot of ice (ex : much of Antarctica) is on land in the form of glaciers.

        The bulk of the earths water not contained in the oceans is hold up in the glaciers. Antartica's being the bigest by far, with the greenland ice sheet still being substantial.

        These glaciers would substantially add to the earth's sea levels but are more stable than the sea ice. Current projections give the greenland glaciers around 300 years before they become totally unstable, whilst the model simulations suggest that the antartic sheets will remain stable (and my even grow abit, due to increased percipitation). Cryosphere (ice) models are perhaps the lest well understood, and these projections may well change as our models improve.

  • by mabinogi (74033) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:16AM (#6693036) Homepage
    I've never understood why the media has always gone on about polar ice melting causing the oceans to rise....

    If anything's going to cause the oceans to rise, it would be the heat expansion of the water that's already there.....
  • by dcypher_67 (674764) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:16AM (#6693038)
    Santa on a houseboat?
  • I guess (Score:4, Funny)

    by 0x12d3 (623370) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:19AM (#6693050)
    I guess santa's gonna have to trade that big red suit and sleigh in for a tank top and a suv
  • Here, let me help (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rabtech (223758) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:19AM (#6693055) Homepage
    Let me help clue some people in here. One of the wonderful properties of water (which helps to make earth more conductive to life I might add) is that it becomes less dense and expands when it freezes. It is one of the few natural materials that does so. Most things become more dense. (Hence, lakes don't freeze solid killing all the fish. The ice forms an insulating layer at the top because it is less dense than water and floats.)

    As a result, the complete melting of the polar ice cap would result in, quite possibly, a slight reduction in sea levels, as the resultant water from the melting will take up less space than the ice did. However, since ice floats, some of it was above the waterline so it may end up a wash.

    If the antartic melted, that would be very bad. You see, there is a land mass there. With ice frozen on top of it. If that ice melts, that is new water added to the ocean as a whole, NOT water replacing ice that was already in the ocean. A totally different animal.

    As for all this? we knew that we were coming out of the last mini-iceage already. It doesn't shock me in the least to see what the ice is still receeding on the whole. Maybe if we warm things up slightly we won't see any more large-scale ice ages. As much as I delore some of the insane policies of the eastern ultra-liberal nutjobs, I have no desire to see New York covered in a glacial blanket.
    • by Pavan_Gupta (624567) <`pg8p' `at' `virginia.edu'> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:29AM (#6693090)
      That's a good point, and with that point taken into account, here's another interesting twist on the story that's come out...

      They're saying that the ocean would thus absorb more co2, but this won't possibly make an impact if the surfaces of the ocean aren't greater.

      In fact, Harvard Magazine says, "The ocean absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere in an attempt to reach equilibrium by direct air-to-sea exchange. This process takes place at an extremely low rate, measured in hundreds to thousands of years. However, once dissolved in the ocean, a carbon atom will stay there, on average, more than 500 years, estimates Michael McElroy, Butler professor of environmental science" which seems to indicate that though we might be able to absorb a bit more co2, it won't make a difference.

      The time constraints are very large, but moreover, the amount of co2 that contacts the ocean won't be high enough for somethign dramatic to happen before we destroy the precious things we already have.

      Thus, I'd like to think that we should still be very careful about how we just arbitrarly throw co2 into the air.
    • Re:Here, let me help (Score:4, Informative)

      by Negative Response (650136) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:37AM (#6693131)
      As a result, the complete melting of the polar ice cap would result in, quite possibly, a slight reduction in sea levels, as the resultant water from the melting will take up less space than the ice did. However, since ice floats, some of it was above the waterline so it may end up a wash.
      Whatever object that floats does it be repelling water of the same mass as itself, thus melting a piece of ice floating on a water body will result in the water level being exactly the same as before, not "less space" or "end up a wash". Seriously.
    • Re:Here, let me help (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jrumney (197329) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:37AM (#6693134) Homepage
      Canada, Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway are land masses too, with lots of glaciers and permafrost. I don't think the North Pole is going to melt in isolation. A lot of "scientists" seem to lack the common sense to see the bigger picture.
    • Re:Here, let me help (Score:5, Informative)

      by Nyh (55741) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:49AM (#6693174)
      Two things:

      1 Ice floating in water displaces as much water as it mass. So when it melts the volume will not change.

      2 The interesting thing is that water shrinks when you heat it from 0C to 4C so in that traject it will take up less space. Continue heating above 4C it it starts expanding again.

      Warmer oceans will mean higher sea level because warmer water is less dense.

      Nyh
    • As for all this? we knew that we were coming out of the last mini-iceage already. It doesn't shock me in the least to see what the ice is still receeding on the whole.

      Sure, that's possible. We don't really want to bet coastal cities on it though.
    • by nadaou (535365) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @05:54AM (#6693508) Homepage
      Let me help clue some people in here.

      Because Me so smart.
      come off it dude.

      Better than throwing about your half understandings as truth, you could actually look at your notes from first year physics and understand the wonder of Archimedes' principle for yourself, THEN try to explain it.

      [everything2.com]
      href="http://everything2.com/index.pl?node=Archi me des'+principle

      As others have noted, if you melt the north pole, you're probably melting Greenland & co. as well, which does add to sea-level rise++. Also your ice melted becuase the oceans are a little warmer (latent heat of liquification, yea, yea. it still gets warmer after the ice is all gone) thus the oceans are less dense, and expand (ie upwards).

      The bit about all the added fresh water being less dense is interesting, but doesn't make up for the "it isn't just the sea ice melting" problem.

      The bit that really scares me: Antarctica. The ice in the center is several miles thick. Around the edges along the coast you have sea ice.
      The sea ice melts quite fast due to the thermal conductivity of the ocean water around it. That melting is going on now (eg the Larsen B ice shelf collapsed last year to the shock & awe of many ice-ologists). If you remove those buttresses, the center collapses outwards to the sea. This could happen over the course of a few hundred years(!!!). That's where the vast majority of land-locked water is, and that's what'll do the serious 75' rise if it happens.

      It is estimated that a 100 year storm on the East Coast of the US (read NYC) will be a 3-5 year storm in 50 years. Add to that the east coast is natuarally sinking (the continental plate), and you really don't want any extra sea level rise if you can help it. And we can help it, we're just being selfish lazy fucks. Don't deny it.

      Even if things are warming up naturally, we shouldn't help it along to make it go faster.

      We aren't fucking the planet, it'll survive, were fucking ourselves. All but a few of the world's major cities lie along the coast. ALL of the great port cities..

  • Santa?? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So if there's no North Pole where will Santa live. And all the elves, and the reindeer! They'll drown!!!
  • Sea level... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Urkki (668283) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:20AM (#6693060)
    Sure thing melting northern polar cap doesn't affect sea level, it's floating already.

    But melting Greenland ice will affect it. Probably also permafrost in Siberia and Canada would start melting, which will potentially release a lot of methane from the northern marshes.

    And I have hard time believing that if northern ice cap melts, also southern ice cap won't get smaller (and that will rise sea level)...

    Better watch out if you live by the sea... Lease the land for your new house for 50-100 years, don't buy it, and you should be fine ;)
    • Re:Sea level... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rikkus-x (526844)
      Release of large quantities of methane could cause interesting effects, but I'm not sure exactly what effects they would be.

      Some methane rises to the stratosphere and becomes CO2 and water vapour. Is the amount of methane likely to be released under such a scenario going to have significant effect on these?

      Some methane oxidises in the troposphere, removing oxygen. That water vapour in the stratosphere eventually gives oxygen back, so should we expect a net gain or loss of oxygen? I'm guessing a loss, but
    • Re:Sea level... (Score:5, Informative)

      by jez_f (605776) <jeremy@jeremyfrench.co.uk> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @07:48AM (#6693839) Homepage
      Thanks that was almost what I wanted to say.
      one other big factor that dosn't seem to have been mentioned yet is that ice is very good at reflecting light and water is not so good. If the planet is covered in ice it gets very cold if the ice melts it takes less energy to heat it up. Take a look at the snowball earth theory [uwsp.edu].
  • Northwest passage... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tinrobot (314936) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:21AM (#6693067)
    Might not be good for the environment, but it will probably be good for all the shipping corporations. It'll cut a thousand miles off the commute.

    I'm buying beachfront property in Point Barrow.
  • by epicstruggle (311178) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:23AM (#6693073)
    how at one point africa was a very fertile land. Was it because there was more or less ice at the poles. I cant remember but over a millenium or two wasnt egypt and the surrounding areas (including ethiopia and ethrate) the bread basket of the world? Would the melting of the ice caps help or hurt the countries in africa?

    later,
    epic
    • by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <yoda@e t o y o c .com> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:33AM (#6693115) Homepage Journal
      Desertification is what destroyed North Africa. The area that is now the Sahara was once a fertile plain. As the soil dries out, it destroys a fungus that actually helps bind it together and retain moisture.

      The rub is, Desert begets desert. As the land becomes arid, it heats up the surrounding land, causing the desert to spread.

      Now one thing not helping the situation is Man. Certain agricultural practices accellerate desertification.

      Indeed, start looking for deserts to form in Brazil. Rain forests don't really build good soil, and when you slash and burn the rainforest down to form farmland you only get a few good years out of it before the soil breaks down. Rain Forests generate their own weather patterns, and with no forest, no rain.

  • Archimedes Principle (Score:5, Informative)

    by panurge (573432) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:27AM (#6693085)
    If he is capable of reading some of these posts, Archimedes must be revolving in his grave.

    Anything floating in water displaces a volume of water EXACTLY equivalent to its own weight. If ice melts, the part that was above the water is exactly equal to the reduction in volume, and there is exactly no change in the water level.

    On the other hand, if the non-floating ice on Antarctica or Greenland melts, since it wasn't displacing any water, the ocean levels will rise. And there is a LOT of ice on Antarctica.

    The melting of floating ice makes little difference to sea temperature since it is water at close to 0 degrees, but melting glacial ice generally runs off into warmer water, causing sea temperature reduction with potentially catastrophic effects (e.g. stopping of the Gulf Stream).

    • Gulf stream stopping (Score:5, Interesting)

      by alistair (31390) <[alistair] [at] [hotldap.com]> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:52AM (#6693179)
      You explain the Archimedes Principle very well, but the threat to the Gulf Stream, which is one of the most serious possible effects of global warming, has little to do with sea temperature reduction in Northern waters. It is a general trend to increasing quantities of fresh water of any temperature being produced as run off in Europe which could stop this salt pump / conveyor belt effect. This has happened at least twice before with the result of major temperature drops in Europe.

      There is an excellent summary here [cf.ac.uk]. One interesting quote "[the gulf stream] carries over 3 trillion KW of heat to Europe - roughly 100 times the world's consumption of energy"
    • You also forget some details.

      1: greenland isn't likely to stay as icy if the north pole doesn't.

      2: northern canada

      3: alaska

      4: siberia

      5: scandinavia

      I'll stop there but you get the picture.
  • How do they figure melting ice won't raise sea levels? even if the glacier is 20 feet above water, won't the excess buoyant pieces of ice melt down into the ocean?
    • No, BUT... (Score:5, Informative)

      by danro (544913) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:57AM (#6693191) Homepage
      How do they figure melting ice won't raise sea levels? even if the glacier is 20 feet above water, won't the excess buoyant pieces of ice melt down into the ocean?

      Actually no. Water is more dense than ice (this is why it floats above the water in the first place). So so far this theory seems ok.

      What they don't account for, and what makes this bunk is that it doesn't account for the huge amount of landlocked glaciers (The south pole, Greenland, etc.).
      Someone kindly explain how you propose to melt just the floating ice and not the rest of it?

      This crap is posted just to further the official slashdot agenda of:
      "I'll do whatever the hell I want to and I'm sure it'll have no consequences whatsoever on the environment. And if it has, it's my lazy worthless childrens problem!
      You'll pry the steering wheel of my SUV from my cold dead fingers, commie-boy!"


      Now go ahead and label me a crazy environazi, if you like.
      It doesn't make my point any less valid.
  • by asb (1909) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:30AM (#6693099) Homepage

    Mod me down as a troll if you like but I declare cwolfsheep the stupidest Slashdot article submitter EVER and he needs to know it!

    "Let's climb mt Everest because it exists. Let's also melt the north pole because it exists."

    I wonder if he considerer one second about what happens to the Antarctic and Greenland (and let's not forget all the ice covered mountain regions around the world, can you say "mud slide") while he is busy spraying CFC in the air (yeah, aerosols no longer contain CFC's, so he was wrong about that too).

  • Additional effect? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MadKeithV (102058) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:31AM (#6693103)
    I'm just a backseat environmental scientist, but what is the effect of losing the temperature-buffer that is the ice-cap? I mean, while it's melting, it will retain a temperature of 0 degrees, at least if I recall my physics/chemistry correctly. That means the icecaps provide a nice energy buffer for rises and falls in temperature. If they MELT, they obviously no longer do that. So, will global temperatures rise faster when the icecaps are gone?
    • There is the additional problem: Gulf stream would probably come to a halt making whole Western Europe "as could as it should" considering it's geographical location. The global impact of this would be huge.
      • True. At least we'd finally get rid of this damned heatwave! Bring out the igloos!

        I'm growing a beard, and I'll be ready for Vikings 2005 - Rape, Pillage, Surf and Hack.
    • by Fungii (153063)
      I don't think you'll have to worry too much about that - water has such a high specific heat and conductivity it works pretty well as an energy buffer.

      If you don't believe me look at the climate of island states compared to land locked states. For example I live in Ireland, and the annual temperature range is ~20 degrees celcius maximum. It can be *way* more than that even in places in continental europe at the same lattitude.
  • More Oil! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MunchMunch (670504) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:31AM (#6693104) Homepage
    Oddly enough, they say the melting will not add to the sea-level of the ocean (since the ice is already in the ocean) and that the extra water will help absorb more greenhouse gases. Maybe we need to start using more aerosols.

    Boy howdy. Did you read the CNN Article [cnn.com]?:

    "...Johannessen works at the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Norway. 'This will make it easier to explore for oil, it could open the Northern Sea Route (between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans)," he said of the report, dubbed the Arctic Ice Cover Simulation Experiment. '"

    I dunno, its theoretically possible (though pretty improbable) that there's absolutely nothing to worry about when our polar ice caps melt completely, but I'm of the mind that when the article is more concerned about the new oil drilling prospects and trade routes than climate instability, cancer-causing UV rays, and so on, maybe its time to get a second opinion.

  • Too funny (Score:3, Funny)

    by Pompatus (642396) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:33AM (#6693108) Journal
    From the article:

    the disappearance of the Arctic ice cap would benefit maritime transport as it would create a new northern shipping route along Russia's northern coast that could save some 10 days in journey time between Europe and Japan.

    I guess every dark cloud really does have a silver lining. And to think I was worried. Don't I feel foolish
  • Rapid climate change (Score:5, Informative)

    by halfseaice (624714) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:34AM (#6693118)
    Only within the past decade have researchers warmed to the possibility of abrupt shifts in Earth's climate. Sometimes, it takes a while to see what one is not prepared to look for:
    http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-56/iss-8/p30.html

    Todays sea ice maps: http://www.seaice.de

  • by SuperDuG (134989) <be@ec l e c . tk> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:36AM (#6693127) Homepage Journal
    you're all relieved the water level won't rise ...

    But where the hell is santa gunna live if his homeland is melted??

  • Don't live at the north pole, you insensitive clods.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2003 @03:37AM (#6693132)
    The radioactive waste means you dont need lights any more, and the mutants chase off the terrorists!

    What more can you ask for?
    think about the children (TM)!
  • How much ice (m^3) is present on the earth's land masses (Antarctica and Greenland mainly) and what effect would the melting of this ice (25%,50%,75% and 100% melted) have on global ocean levels?
  • What about europe (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tanveer1979 (530624) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:02AM (#6693212) Homepage Journal
    This summer Europe is reeling under a severe heat wave which has killed several people and also led to cattle deaths.

    In case of temparature rising further, people may start using air conditioning but I guess the natural wild life as we know it will be extinct and we will have the tropics movin northwards. Already Mosquitos and flies have started showing up in various places where they were never seen before

    Also think about the tropical diseases to which the north folks have absolutely no immunity, epidemics anyone? The article is extremely shallow or too ironic for me to figure out. The possibility of new diseases, epidemics and extensive wildlife destruction is looming and the authors are concerned about maritime shipping routes!!

  • Wow, I've never thought of it before. I remember seeing all of those hyped up "year 2000" shows all throughout the 90's on TV. Many of them predicting the end of the world by the year 2000. They all seemed to have the common theme about global warming causing the polar ice caps to melt, and raising the water level, causing many major cities to be entirely flooded. It seemed pretty realistic to me at the time, and made sense. They melt, the water level rises.. right?

    Hmm, this article has got me thinkin
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:11AM (#6693233)
    I grew up in Florida, have lived most of my life here, and will probably be here for years to come. And I hate hot weather, so I'm totally against this warming trend.

    I'm in favor of a good old-fashioned nuclear winter to cool things down. As a bonus, I'm hoping it would decrease the tourist trade.

    The only thing I hate more than hot weather is yankees.
  • by cassidyc (167044) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:15AM (#6693249)
    Well melting ice caps are all well and good, but I've yet to see real evidence that it is related to "global warming" in the sense that the warming is caused by pollution, and not say, the fact that we are still emerging from an ice age??

    Historically (geologically speaking) we are not in an ice age when there is, essentially, no ice!

    There are many reason purported to the rise in global temperatures, from greenhouse gasses, to sunspot activity to to earths position relative to the sun (Milankovitch cyclical variations) etc.

    Also with the removeal of bulk of the ice glaciers, much of the land that was under the weight of the ice is actually rising.

    So I've yet to be convinced that we are in any real trouble that we have brought upon ourselves.

    CJC
  • by quinkin (601839) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:44AM (#6693319)
    Presumably this goes some measure towards explaining why some of the global conveyor belt currents have been slowing down [noaa.gov].

    Generally the cold (gas absorbing) waters of the poles, sink to the ocean floor carrying large amounts of CO2 and O2. This dissolved oxygen is critical in keeping aerobic conditions in the deep sea (several early mass extinctions have been attributed to anaerobic organisms flourishing in oxygen depleted waters) and the dissolved carbon dioxide is attributed to the lower than expected climatic changes from greenhouse gas emmissions.

    Why are we not freaking out about this??

    This is the great engine of Earth (forget Deep Thought). It is responsible for the majority of heat storage and transfer in our environment, allowing disparate areas to acheive a modicum of energy equilibrium.

    Without this "smoothing" force to even out the bumps - storms will become more violent as the coriolis effect is reinforced by the increasing density of the atmosphere as you travel towards the poles - sea currents will alter drastically, causing mass extinctions - seasons will be more extreme hot or cold.

    All in all, this issue in no way deserves the (more than usual) flippant, offhand and dismissive treatment it is receiving.

    Q.

    • by MarcQuadra (129430) * on Thursday August 14, 2003 @10:01AM (#6694616)
      Why arent I freaking out? I think the human effects might be large, but the earth is a dynamic thing. Climates changed abruptly and dramatically WAY before we showed up, and they will continue to do so well alfer we are gone. I'm not worried about temperature changes or sea levels, I'm worried about straight-up toxic pollution, because that's what'll end up being our demise. Already fertility rates are down and indicative diseases of long-term toxicity are up (obesity, cancer, and diabetes anyone?). If the sea levels go up we can move inland or adapt, if it gets got or cold we can move more indoors. If the rains burn the soil and make it so plants can't grow and the ocean is devoid of all but jellyfish bacause we filled it with poison, we're really done for!

      Seriously, this global warming shit is a distraction from the real enemy, it's something we CAN'T do anything about in the long term; WE might stop our part, but the earth will make it's own rules. Meanwhile, why we all sit around trying to figure out how to burn coal without putting up 'greenhouse gasses' the farms are dumping tons of poisons into our GROUNDWATER!

      I'm not saying we should all drive SUVs and leave the lights on, but there's only so much we can do about the climate. Trying to keep everything the way it is would be the most expensive, destructive, and futile effort mankind has ever assumed. Do your part to live 'green', but not to prevent global warming, do it to reduce the poisons you put into the earth and to help us be less energy-dependant.
  • Some images... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cruachan (113813) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:52AM (#6693342)
    Did these some time ago using global DCW data. Shows effects of progressive sealevel rises on England. 6 Metres (West Antartic & Greenland ice caps collapse) is drastic but still reconisably the same world. However if the East Antartic cap goes we're living in a completely different planet.

    Global Warming and the End of England [geomantics.com]

  • by weave (48069) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @05:01AM (#6693366) Journal
    From sometime in the future next century...

    Global warming is a liberal myth. There is no evidence the world is warming up. The complete melting of the polar ice caps this summer is just anecdotal evidence.

  • by hughk (248126) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @05:18AM (#6693409) Journal
    Whilst the North Pole may become a polar sea or ocean, I can't see that happening without a lot of other stuff melting, as other people have observed.

    In particular it would probably mean the disappearence of snow from the alps and possibly some other mountain ranges, possibly including the resorts in the US and Canada. Essentially, it means if I want to ski, then I had better do it on water!!!

    Seriously, there are many alpine valleys which do not make enough from farming, so instead they rely on an influx of winter sports enthusiasts. The summer hikers don't seem to come in the same quantities and many don't spend as much.

  • Yeah fine, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ralphclark (11346) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @05:30AM (#6693426) Journal
    With the northern ice cap gone, the Earth's overall albedo will be lower, hence the planet absorbs more heat from the sun, the temperature goes up, Antarctica starts to melt, the Ross ice shelf slips down into the sea, then sea level DOES rise, then with the southern polar cap gone, the albedo falls even further... I think you see where this is going.

    Pass me the sun cream.
  • by ratfynk (456467) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @05:52AM (#6693506) Journal
    If we examine the climate records we are due for another southern centered ice age. Perhaps the climate cycle of the Earth coincides with polar magnetic shifts at known intervals. We are at the end of such an interval. Will the spin alignment of the Earth change? Some scientists have speculated that the Earth could change its polarity very rapidly if the spin direction undergoes a radical change. This could be due to the change in relative position to ionic particle streams from the Sun. Give the Earth enough of a Sun spot burst and bingo it flips polarity and relative spin. This would explain the polarity differences in rocks.

    To understand that we do not yet understand climatic change and radical environmental change is key. Put all that aside and look for explinations of the geo-magnetic and climate record. It is possible that after a melting of the North pole might come the oceanic expansion of the south pole which would then assume the polarity of North. Not the Earth flipping on it's axis but a polarity change caused by the magnetic effects of increased ion streams on the Van Allen belt. Move the Van Allen belt around and you move the magnetic poles. This could be the start of a major 100,000 year cycle. If this is so then what is now the Sahara and all the deserts will bloom and become a watered land. Sorry Austrailia you will become a frozen desert again. Central North America, Europe, and North Central Asia will become deserts. This all could happen within 1000 years,if there are major Solar cycles that can effect the Earths polarity. This would also explain much about the geo-magnetic record and the climatic record. The now frozen North would then become a very attractive land again. As would the equatorial regions, and the southern temperate zones, Cape Town might become almost like Helsinki, and Southern Africa like Northern Europe. Time to write a Sci Fi novel.

  • by adzoox (615327) * on Thursday August 14, 2003 @07:54AM (#6693867) Journal
    This was a jornal entry I made two months back that relates to this topic.

    I saw a story on CNN this morning about Greenpeace saying the polar ice caps have melted and that the water levels in the oceans have risen 2.5 - 2.75 inches in the last 25 years. This is supposedly beyond normal and clear evidence that the polar ice caps are melting.

    I had two "seemingly absurd" at first glance explanations for water, or tide levels rising, but possibly peaking right about now. (Now being the year 2000+)

    First, what sort of water displacement has occurred due to cruise ships, barges, subs, oil tankers, oil rigs, and other man made water craft? I know the ocean is huge and it's not like my bathtub, but it HAS to be at least a minute amount!

    Second, if the theory of plate techtonics is true, couldn't our land masses have shifted/grown substantially (in the case of Hawaii) also causing significant water displacement?

    Third, hasn't some sediment/diatomation/oceanic (organic/volcanic) growth also occurred & also caused water displacement

    I have seen a Canadian study (forget where) that there's more ice in the upper regions of the country than ever. So rather than the poles melting, is ice just shifting a little? As glaciers move and "ice masses" float, won't they melt anyway?

    In a way, this relates to my earlier "statistics, shmatistics" post below. It just really annoys me for business's and especially charity/non profits to use "Beyond FUD" to scare up money.

    Whether global warming or erosion of the atmosphere is happening or not, conservation and world health organizations should be worried about just that and focusing their funds on research rather than paying for stupid studies to be run in the liberal media. The study about tides rising cost 15 million dollars to Greenpeace! Do you know how much that would have advanced solar energy research or subsidized solar home construction? Or how many wind mill and turbine powered generators that could have built?
  • by peter303 (12292) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @09:53AM (#6694563)
    Peter Malin, the designer of the Mars Surveyor camera, said at his Denver lecture last night [dmnh.org] that three years of photography have observed the Martian polar ice caps are melting away. Each year they are smaller. This suggests there could be a solar component to global warming if it affects two planets.
  • CO2 Emission (Score:4, Insightful)

    by semanticgap (468158) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @10:01AM (#6694614)
    While it may well be that the ice in the arctic ocean will melt, I find this study highly suspect.

    First, it assumes that a rise in temperatures since 1978's constitute a trend. There has only been two and a half decades since, 2.5 datapoints, that is not enough to establish a trend IMHO.

    Second, it makes a direct correlation of rise in temperature to CO2 emissions. But to the best of my knowledge we don't know for certain that CO2 indeed plays a direct role in Earth's temperature, and I think that to assume that human population can single-handedly affect amount of CO2 being emitted on the planet, much less have any control over climate is incorrect.

    I think the main thing about studies such as this, is not to "freak-out" as someone suggested. The scientists are working on learning more about our planet, and that is a good thing. The the press and politicians signle out studies that can help them push their agenda and publish them as if it's the absolute truth, and that's a bad thing.

    Why is it, for example, that any climate change is percieved as something to be fearful of? What if it's only going to be for the better?

    I also wish that the environmental powers that be focused more on pollution in large metropolitan areas. More and more people are sick because of terrible air and water quality as well as improper disposal of all kinds of waste, especially in countries with weaker economies (e.g. eastern europe), but because it is not something of global proportions, we don't get to hear about it.
  • Just remember.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hellfire (86129) <deviladv AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 14, 2003 @11:33AM (#6695546) Homepage
    Like George Carlin said...

    "The Earth is going to be fine. It's the people who are fucked."
  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @12:00PM (#6695819)
    Global warming is not caused by aerosols or burping cows or anything else that liberal leftists have been talking about for years. Although there is a problem with the disposal of certain products that don't biodegrade within a reasonable time, this is not going to cause the end of the world.

    The increasing temperatures around the world are caused by something very simple: The Earth's orbit.

    The Earth does not go in a circle around the sun. It goes in an elliptical orbit. This ellipse does not maintain its major and minor axes over time: It slowly but surely changes. Over many thousands of years, the ellipse becomes more like a circle, bringing the Earth closer to the sun for longer periods throughout the year, and then for a few thousands of years more, the orbit gets increasingly elliptical again, taking the Earth farther away from the sun for much of the year. This is quite natural and nothing you do with aerosol cans is going to change that.

    Want to fight air pollution? Then just say that you want to breathe clean air and not a bunch of smoky grime. That's simple enough. But don't go around saying, "The water on the Earth is going to cover all the land and we're all gonna DIE!!!" That just makes you look like a wacko.

    And if you really want to clean air pollution, then instead of going after something small and insignificant like an aerosol can, go after something big and polluting, like eliminating the use of fossil fuels to power cars, trucks, airplanes, trains and everything else out there. There MUST be another way to power these things and someone is gonna find it. But don't go around complaining about aerosol cans. Because by eliminating all the fossil fuels, you'll make a 95% difference (so that all other air pollution becomes insignificant enough that it can be completely ignored) but by eliminating all the aerosols in the world, you'll make less than 1% difference in the overall scheme of things.

  • by Catbeller (118204) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @02:34PM (#6697495) Homepage
    We should use more aerosols?

    Um, how do I say this... aerosols, by which I assume you mean CFC-based aerosols, float to the upper atmosphere and catalyze the very thin layer of ozone that sort of floats like a skin over the whole planet. This causes sporadic thinning of the ozone layer, which is usually not a big deal, since ozone regenerates. But the CFC's float about for a while, and do persistent damage until they disappate.

    Ozone depletion is a different problem than the greenhouse effect, which is caused by increased amounts of CO2 in the lower atmosphere caused by burning fossil fuels and of all things, flatulence of our herd animals.

    The confusion of CFC pollution which causes ozone depletion and the global warming engendered by CO2 seems to widespread everywhere. I can't count the times I've seen intelligent people mix this up.
  • by master_p (608214) on Thursday August 14, 2003 @04:52PM (#6699243)
    Maybe we (as humanity) stop thinking individually and start thinking globally. We need a Borg-like mentality to survive. If we don't, its bye bye human race.

    Maybe we can one day forget religions and political differences and start behaving as we really should, i.e. as passengers on a spaceship with limited resources.

    By the way, 3000 people died in France from the heat. Almost as many as they died on 9/11/01. My condolences to anyone that lost a relative.

"Just Say No." - Nancy Reagan "No." - Ronald Reagan

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