Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Long Emergency: The arctic is on fire . . .

. . . but the corporate media in the U.S. haven't noticed. I looked at the web sites of every major news outlet today and saw absolutely nothing about this. So I'll link to The Guardian. Sure, the Brits have their own problems but they can still stop gazing at their own navels long enough to notice this.

A spate of huge fires in northern Russia, Alaska, Greenland and Canada discharged 50 megatonnes of CO2 in June and 79 megatonnes in July, far exceeding the previous record for the Arctic. The intensity of the blazes continues with 25 megatonnes in the first 11 days of August – extending the duration beyond even the most persistent fires in the 17-year dataset of Europe’s satellite monitoring system.
The smoke cloud covers 5 million square kilometers -- larger in area than the entire European Union. It is depositing soot on what's left of the ice, accelerating the melt.  The fires this year alone have discharged as much carbon into the atmosphere as 36 million automobiles.

This is what's called a positive feedback loop. It's what climate scientists have long feared but were reluctant to incorporate into their models because the effects seemed speculative -- until now. It's happening. Iceland is preparing for the time soon to come when it will be ice free. Will they have to change their name? This New York Times article refers to "the massive, centuries-old ice sheets of Greenland and the polar regions." In fact the Greenland ice sheet is the last remnant of the arctic ice sheet and it is not centuries old: it is almost 2 1/2 million years old. At the rate we're going, it will be gone in less than 1,000 years, and while you probably aren't planning to be around for that you probably are planning to be around for the global food shortages and killer heat waves that are coming soon.

I'm sorry to be a downer but I am writing this because I want to inspire action. Sure, do what you can to reduce your own carbon footprint but that isn't going to save your ass -- only political action will. So get out in the streets, get out the vote, yell and scream at your congresscritter, and do whatever it takes to get rid of the putrid, stinking excrescence occupying the office of president. 

Update: China is the nation with the most carbon emissions, but they are working to eliminate them and they appear to be ahead of schedule on their Paris commitments. The U.S. needs to assert leadership, both politically and technologically, if we are to save our sorry butts.


Don Quixote said...

I had no idea so many human beings, especially in the USA, play violin. Especially the congresscritters, as you wrote.

You know ... they're fiddling while Nome burns ...

Don Quixote said...


The reason the Brits can stop gazing at their navels long enough to see the existential threat we face with anthropogenic climate change is this (and I thank a Welsh friend for pointing this out to me): they understand that what they see on TV is not reality.

Many Americans do not.

This is a huge problem. People spend a lot of time quoting non-existent characters on TV shows as if they are real people. They watch "Fox" and think it's reality-based. They think they "know" an actor or politician because of the words that come out of his mouth on TV.

They watch Donald Shitler and think he's a "president." But he's still just a worse-than-worseless, reprehensible, fraudulent piece of shit.

This is tragic.