Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Hard Winter Waits

As the electoral process moves into its final stages, and the financial crisis begins to set like a six inch concrete slab, another much larger and ultimately more powerful process continues its march into the human consciousness. Here's the story from MSNBC:

'Dramatic evidence' of Arctic melt, experts warn

WASHINGTON - Autumn temperatures in the Arctic are at record highs, the Arctic Ocean is getting warmer and less salty as sea ice melts, and reindeer herds appear to be declining, researchers reported Thursday.

"Obviously, the planet is interconnected, so what happens in the Arctic does matter" to the rest of the world, Jackie Richter-Menge of the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, N.H., said in releasing the third annual Arctic Report Card for the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"There continues to be widespread and, in some cases, dramatic evidence of an overall warming of the Arctic system," the experts stated in their report.

Compiled by 46 scientists from 10 countries, the report looks at six areas in the Arctic: atmosphere, sea ice, Greenland, ocean, biology and land. It found a "warming" trend in the first three signals and "mixed" signals in the latter three. (clip)

"Changes in the Arctic show a domino effect from multiple causes more clearly than in other regions," said James Overland, an oceanographer at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle. "It's a sensitive system and often reflects changes in relatively fast and dramatic ways."

Air temps 9 degrees above normal

For example, autumn air temperatures in the Arctic are at a record 9 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.

The report noted that 2007 was the warmest year on record the Arctic, leading to a record loss of sea ice. This year's sea ice melt was second only to 2007.

Rising temperatures help melt the ice, which in turn allows more solar heating of the ocean. That warming of the air and ocean affects land and marine life, and reduces the amount of winter sea ice that lasts into the following summer.

The study also noted a warming trend on Arctic land and increase in greenness as shrubs move north into areas that were formerly permafrost. (clip)

Other findings from the report include:

The Arctic Ocean continued to warm and freshen due to ice melt. This was accompanied by an "unprecedented" rate of sea level rise of nearly 0.1 inch per year.
Warming has continued around Greenland in 2007 resulting in a record amount of ice melt. The Greenland ice sheet lost 24 cubic miles of ice, making it the largest single contributor to global sea level rise." (more)

Last night, I found myself thinking out on the fringes of the collective super ego.

And it goes something like this:

If you are very rich, very well informed, and in position to make very big things happen, would you rather watch the world's markets run into the double brick walls of peak oil and climate change, with pieces of your wealth vehicle flying off in all kinds of places with a jillion unpredictable events to manage, or would you rather slam on the brakes now, drive oil prices down, drive demand down, and at the same time, defer the need for meaningful carbon legislation?

And with the massive cash reserves that you have accumulated from a great era of record breaking profits, along with the capital that you and your pals foist from the public sector in one of the greatest reverse bank robberies of history, you will be in a strong position to buy into the market when the "buying is good".

Unlikely you say.

That's probably what a large shrub thinks,

Until the time the master of the garden whacks it back for winter.

And make no mistake.

It's been a warm wet summer.

But a hard winter waits.

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