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Earth Stats Science Politics

Arctic Ice Cap Rebounds From 2012 — But Does That Matter? 400

bricko writes "There has been a 60 per cent increase in the amount of ocean covered with ice compared to this time last year, the equivalent of almost a million square miles. In a rebound from 2012's record low an unbroken ice sheet more than half the size of Europe already stretches from the Canadian islands to Russia's northern shores, days before the annual re-freeze is even set to begin. The Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific has remained blocked by pack-ice all year, forcing some ships to change their routes. A leaked report to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) seen by the Mail on Sunday, has led some scientists to claim that the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century." "Some scientsts" in this case do not include Dana Nuccitelli, who blogs cogently in reaction at The Guardian that the 60 percent increase observed in Arctic ice is "technically true, [but] also largely irrelevant." He has no kind words for the analysis in the Daily Mail (and similar report in The Telegraph), and writes "In short, this year's higher sea ice extent is merely due to the fact that last year's minimum extent was record-shattering, and the weather was not as optimal for sea ice loss this summer. However, the long-term trend is one of rapid Arctic sea ice decline, and research has shown this is mostly due to human-caused global warming." If you want to keep track of the ice yourself, Arctic Sea Ice News & Analysis offers frequent updates.
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Arctic Ice Cap Rebounds From 2012 — But Does That Matter?

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  • by nadaou ( 535365 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @03:42AM (#44795129) Homepage

    are you so obtuse that you can't see what's happening here? []

    or are you purposefully keeping your head in the sand until this all blows over?

    If nothing else, I hope we can agree that the outlook for polar bear cubs born today is pretty fucking grim.

  • by nadaou ( 535365 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @04:51AM (#44795377) Homepage

    the laws of physics care not what Al Gore thinks or does.

    it does not matter if it is Al Gore, JP Morgan & Co., or Colonel Fucking Sanders who points it out: internalising the market externalities around the burning of fossil fuels is the single greatest tool we have to do something about this before it is too late.

    we know pretty much how many barrels oil, gas, and coal we sell (and so extract and burn) each year. We know quite well how many molecules of CO2 that will release. We know, pretty much, since the mid-1800s (starting with Fourier) what effect that CO2 will have on our atmosphere. We monitor it both in amount and radioisotope and it matches expectations pretty much spot on.

    arguing over the minute details or the character of the messenger is both totally irrelevant and short sighted, not to mention intellectually dishonest.

    A cap and trade marked based solution worked beautifully for SO2, there's absolutely no reason it wouldn't work for other pollutants as well, beyond intentional and sociopathic sabotage that is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 09, 2013 @05:04AM (#44795433)

    internalising the market externalities around the burning of fossil fuels is the single greatest tool we have to do something about this before it is too late

    Actually no, the single greatest tool against climate change is Managed Intensive Rotational Grazing [] to reverse desertification and sequester CO2 in grassland soil. [] Proponents claim if all US beef were produced this way, it would sequester all the CO2 emitted since the industrial revolution in ten years.

    [posting as AC to preserve mod points]

  • by nadaou ( 535365 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @05:10AM (#44795453) Homepage

    The ability to spot a scam is VERY easy, here is how:

    You'd do better to learn from the master:

    Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit []

  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @06:55AM (#44795791)

    Exactly. This means that the data is bad and you can't change that. Period.

    By the prudent norms of science, this is an excellent first approximation. For the first hundred years, the satellite data will support at most modest convictions. Our accumulated climate record will really hit its stride two centuries from now. And actually, from nearly every perspective of human progress, this represents a tremendous leap over what was known previously. Why should the earth's climate prove easier to decode than Mendel's peas? We finally found the actual genes and we're still pretty sketchy about how they really work. Complicated little buggers they are.

    That said, the satellite data isn't actually bad, it just falls way short of historical norms of scientific prudence. We're stuck wandering around in the uncanny valley between one sigma and five sigma.

    This doesn't mean society can't choose to draw a tentative, intermediate conclusion and act on that basis. However, the consequences of human political resolve are even murkier than the climate science itself, and the scientists can't help up sort this out, unless they have a giant boner for N=1. We have no control planet. Any choice we made can only be compared to counterfactual outcomes grounded in a proto-science itself still slowly gaining clearance from the null hypothesis on its major claim and with error bars a mile wide on the magnitude and immediacy and severity of the presumed effect.

    I think we should be paying plenty of attention to the impacts of climate variability whether or not the cause is anthropogenic. Let's just not put the knee-jerk "all change is bad" types in charge who once decided that forests should never burn. Blockading change is change, too. One of the consequences of embarking upon a global economy is that you soon reach the situation where there's no such thing as somebody else's problem, whether the root cause is anthropogenic or not.

    I have severe reservations about whether it's a good idea to instigate novel political initiatives on a global scale (e.g. abandonment of the hydrocarbon economy) against a back-drop of alarmist proto-facts. Much of the time our best, well-cured, time-proven facts barely suffice to move the political dial in any coordinated way. That's going to radically change over the twenty years? I highly doubt it. Of course, change has to begin somewhere, however bleak the early returns.

    I was reading about some dude yesterday knowingly infected with HIV who had sex with 300 partners, none of whom he informed, and many he lied to. The ultimate self-gratifying scumbag. But what if he only worried he had HIV and never got himself tested? Would he still be a scumbag? Yes, I think so. Even if his worry is only 1.5 sigma? Yes, I think so.

    But if Exxon has only 1.5 sigma belief that carbon emissions could prove disastrous, it's business as usual. "We didn't know!" Not with scientific certainty, anyway, which is unfortunately true. Any certainty worth having is late to the party. This is, however, entirely the wrong standard of prudence and concern. While 1.5 sigma is merely a proto-fact, not yet conclusively proven, it nevertheless demands proper consideration. Facthood in the moment is way too high a standard (and harlot to corporate convenience).

    In retrospect, we will know the difference. Just as we do now about the impact of CFCs on the ozone layer. Whatever doubt remained about this in 1970 is now totally busted. We could confiscate their profits in retrospect. That would make them think twice about not knowing in the first place. I understand that it's bad form to suddenly shout "New rule!" so we could instead begin by suggesting that existing companies take out insurance against future confiscation of profit derived from embarking upon unproven, potentially destructive lines of business—as soberly judged by a future generation with a vastly superior knowledge base (subject to the same hor

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @08:05AM (#44796097)

    2007 was an exceptional year for ice melt, a 1 in 1000 event.

    Or it could have been a 1 in 100 event and we hadn't paid attention before. Observation bias is an ugly thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 09, 2013 @09:32AM (#44796615)

    Yes, methane is a "worse" GHG than CO2, but it dissipates much faster. Also, less methane "gets away" with proper grazing. The farts do, of course, but there's a lot more contained in the dung, and this mostly gets processed by the soil biota. Before Europeans arrived in America, there were half-again as many bison on the plains than our current population of domesticated cattle, so clearly the planet can handle the "load" (pardon the pun, couldn't resist).

    Allan Savory (from the above-linked TED Talk) addresses this issue in some of his talks -- don't remember if he does in this one. Here's the Wikipedia page on him. []

    Another author to look at on this issue is Joel Salatin [] who uses rotational grazing on his farm in Virginia. His take on the methane issue is quoted in the Wikipedia article:

    "Wetlands emit some 95 percent of all methane in the world; herbivores are insignificant enough to not even merit consideration. Anyone who really wants to stop methane needs to start draining wetlands. Quick, or we'll all perish."

  • Re:Citation needed. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by div_2n ( 525075 ) on Monday September 09, 2013 @10:18AM (#44797059)

    Climate models have long said that as we trend towards very bad extremes (high temperature, low sea ice and melting glaciers) that you WILL see wild intra-value swings with higher frequency of those swings happening.

    Adding a single event into a pile of extreme weather/climate conditions makes sense. But to say "Aha! See the ice went way up this year, so how does that fit into your theory?" is silly. It fits nicely with the wild swings mentioned above. If the theory holds true then you'll see record lows yet again in a year or two. Followed by possible another year of "60% ice growth ZOMG AGW isn't real!" but again -- it fits the pattern.

    This isn't to say that every extreme weather event fits like a glove into this mold. It's just to say that when you get extremely unusual weather events of colossal size every year (like we've been seeing) and wild statistical swings in any one direction, then it gets easier to explain.

    BUT -- and this is size 600 font "but" -- you have to watch the trend lines over the years to understand where things are headed. The recent (i.e. 100 year) trend lines are all headed to very bad places. Even worse -- the only surprise in the trend lines has been how quickly they're happening.

The next person to mention spaghetti stacks to me is going to have his head knocked off. -- Bill Conrad