Canary In Ice

September 5, 2010

One of those extremely-dramatic moments, though, executed in easy, slow steps: Scientists studying an Indonesian tropical glacier witnessed first hand life with climate change: The glacier was literally melting under their feet.

From NPR (including the highlighted sentence above), a piece on a research team’s two-week outing earlier this summer on Puncak Jaya Glacier in Papua, Indonesia, and unusual the expedition — it rained every day.
The leader of the group, Lonnie Thompson, an experienced field researcher and earth sciences professor at Ohio State University: “Rain is probably the most effective way to … cause the ice to melt,” Thompson says. “So this was the first time you could see the surface actually lowering around you.”
And just during the team’s brief stay, the glacier dropped 12 inches, a rate that would cause the glacier to disappear in less than five years.

Although, as Thompson told NPR, Puncak Jaya would not seriously impact the local environment, the ice melting would devastate the indigenous peoples: “For the tribes that live in that area, the glaciers are the head of the skull of the god and the mountains are the arms and the legs,” he says. “If they lose the glaciers then they’re going to lose part of their soul.”
And the melting ice is a laboratory for climate change, becoming the old, “canary in a coal mine.”

“When we look at what’s happening to the ice on the planet, we use satellites.
The problem with the satellite or aerial photography is you don’t see the vertical thinning that’s taking place,” Thompson says.
“Consequently there’ll come a year in the future that there’ll appear to be a glacier but it will disappear the next year because of the thinning from the top down.
And to me, that’s very sobering.”

“Part of our mission was to collect the record before it disappears so that we have a history from that part of the world,” he says. “We store part of those cores in our cold room here at Ohio State because we know that 20 years from now there’ll be new technologies and a better understanding of the climate system — but there’s not going to be any ice to drill.”

In a similar vein, just this morning via ClimateProgress, and how climate-change deniers/MSM are not only way behind the curve, but muddling the waters.
William R. Freudenburg of UC Santa Barbara discussed his research on the Asymmetry of Scientific Challenge:

There are lessons both for scientists and for the mass media.
Scientists need to be more openly skeptical toward supposed “good news” on global warming.
Reporters need to learn that, if they wish to discuss “both sides” of the climate issue, the scientifically legitimate “other side” is that, if anything, global climate disruption is likely to be significantly worse than has been suggested in scientific consensus estimates to date.

And does all this actually mean shit?

One for-instance problem: Proposition 23 on California’s November ballot.
Prop 23 — if passed would delay implementation of California’s Global Warming Solutions Act, which is scheduled to come on line in 2011, until unemployment drops to 5.5% — insane if not worse.
And the backers of Prop 23?
According to the LA Times: Texas oil giants Valero and Tesoro, the state’s biggest polluters, along with the infamous oil billionaires Charles and David Koch.
From the Koch brothers link at The New Yorker — Charles Lewis,  founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group: “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”

Do any of these nasty, hard-hearted sonofabitches — the two Koch boys, Sen. Jim Inhofe, or any of these assholes — have children or grandchildren?
Despite all the money, all the blubbering denial, climate change will most-indeed seriously touch everyone of us — maybe not the older dip-shits like myself (I’m near 62), but it sure as shit will command a focused attention from younger people — they will inherit a living, moving nightmare.
And that canary will way-long be dead.

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