Priorities

January 21, 2015

648909_9122271_lzHazy and chilly this late afternoon on California’s north coast — sunny and bright for most of the day, however, and supposedly rest of the week.

Although President Obama last night chided those who “dodge the evidence” of climate change, a poll released last week from the Pew Research Center indicates a nation’s public policy priorities — via the Washington Post:

Terrorism and the economy topped the list, with three quarters listing each a top priority.
Jobs and education come in third and fourth on the list.
Global warming is one of the great challenges of our time, but it doesn’t show up in the top 10.
Nor in the top 20.
The issue comes in 22nd of 23, with only 38 percent of Americans granting it high importance.

(Illustration found here).

Indeed the ‘greatest‘ challenge of our time — and at least the subject is closer to the front burner than it was a short time ago.
In December, a poll found solid majorities of Americans want the United States to act boldly on global warming: ‘Sixty one percent, for example, agree that the “United States should be a leader on global warming, even if meant taking action when others do not.”

And the climate ain’t standing still, even as Americans dither between serious and catastrophic. In the wake of reports last week on the faster-than-previously-figured rise in sea levels, another associate by-product in a related category, melting glaciers, and subsequent methane gas release, a sad, bad effect, but now organic carbon could be inundating waterways.

Last bit from an abstract off a study published online Monday at Nature Geoscience, and the phenomenon’s impact:

Climate change contributes to these fluxes: approximately 13 percent of the annual flux of glacier dissolved organic carbon is a result of glacier mass loss.
These losses are expected to accelerate, leading to a cumulative loss of roughly 15 teragrams (Tg) of glacial dissolved organic carbon by 2050 due to climate change — equivalent to about half of the annual flux of dissolved organic carbon from the Amazon River.
Thus, glaciers constitute a key link between terrestrial and aquatic carbon fluxes, and will be of increasing importance in land-to-ocean fluxes of organic carbon in glacierized regions.

In plain English, via Raw Story:

Florida State University assistant professor Robert Spencer and his colleagues have spent nearly a decade researching this overlooked aspect of glacial melt.
In a paper published Monday, the team presented the first-ever estimate of how much carbon is due to be unlocked as the glaciers disappear — and just how little is known about what that might mean for aquatic ecosystems and the fate of surrounding fisheries.
Glaciers across the globe are melting.
Already, 40 percent of the glaciers on the Tibetan plateau are projected to disappear by 2050.
An ice sheet in West Antarctica is shedding a volume of ice equivalent to Mount Everest every two years.
The Mendenhall Glacier, a popular destination for visitors to Southeast Alaska, has retreated roughly 1.3 miles in the last 50 years.
When Spencer returns to Alaska each summer, he says he can clearly see how much the glaciers have shrunk since the summer before.
“It’s an ongoing story of misery,” he says, likening the speeding rate of melt to an ice cube on a countertop.
It begins to melt slowly.
For a while, you still have something that looks like an ice cube.
But at a certain point, it begins to melt very fast.
Suddenly, you have a puddle.
“You’re going to reach a tipping point in the quite near term. We’re talking about major loss of glaciers in our lifetime.”

And the ice loss means that methane problem gets worse.
From Alaska Dispatch last week and another study, this on methane shit happening near the Yamal Peninsula, northwest Serbia — same place where some craters were discovered last summer made by methane explosions. The new problem centers in offshore fields in the nearby Kara Sea.
Bubbling rate closer to the surface:

Portnov and his colleagues have recently published the results from studies done on the seafloor of the Kara Sea in the Russian Arctic.
The results are scary reading: The West Yamal shelf is leaking at depths much shallower than previously believed.
“Significant amount of gas is leaking at depths between 20 and 50 meters,” or 65 to 164 feet, the paper reads.
“Terrestrial Arctic is always frozen, average ground temperatures are low in Siberia which maintains permafrost down to 600 to 800 meters (1,968.5 to 2625 feet) ground depth.
But the ocean is another matter.
Bottom water temperature is usually close to or above zero.
Theoretically, therefore, we could never have thick permafrost under the sea,” says Portnov.
“However, 20,000 years ago, during the last glacial maximum, the sea level dropped to minus-120 meters (minus-394 feet). It means that today´s shallow shelf area was land. It was Siberia. And Siberia was frozen. The permafrost on the ocean floor today was established in that period.”

The study has discovered that gas is released in an area of at least 7,500 square meters (80,730 square feet), with gas flares extending up to 25 meters (82 feet) in the water column.
With a warmer climate, more permafrost will melt, and more methane gas will leak out.
The fear is a “point of no return” where leakages of methane will continue to warm the climate even if all human-caused releases are stopped.
Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, 28 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

The priority list should amended, and sooner than later.

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