Antarctica and Other News

Comments that go beyond praise and nays Johan adds information about Antarctica and why the British are worried — Antarctica is not an island with ice, it’s a continent with ice. Apparently the balance between melting in one area and more ice being deposited in another area may no longer be holding. When I find more information on this, I’ll post myself.

In a January 19 post on his own blog, Johan discusses this further. His blog is always interesting, check it out generally.

The always excellent Juliet Elperin in today’s Washington Post looks at some of the concerns being strongly expressed in the scientific community about how rapidly people need to cut back carbon use (half in 50 years, even as population and per capita consumption continue to rise). As I understand it, there are a range of estimates coming from the science and energy policy communities, and many recommend much more rapid and sharp reductions in carbon use, but the article doesn’t reflect that there are pessimists involved in climate and energy policy more pessimistic than those cited.

Major point: we are looking at creating a Earth widely different from the one we currently live on, just as this Earth is very different from 20,00 years ago, think ice several km thick over Wisconsin. This new Earth may occur in the lifetime of many people who are alive today.

Also discussed is the Bush administration’s attempt to muzzle one of the most respected people studying climate change, James Hansen of NASA. This is a clever tactic, encouraging news sources and blogs that only cover controversy to cover climate change as well. The result is that Bush doesn’t get any kudos from any source, but the information is more widely spread.

But not widely spread enough. Think how slowly Americans responded to information about tobacco. We don’t have that amount of time, apparently, to respond to climate change.

Real Climate looked more than a year ago at What does the lag of CO2 behind temperature in ice cores tell us about global warming? While the numbers appear to be slightly different from what I heard John Harte say (preceding blog), the concept is the same: normally orbital changes cause the Earth to start warming, more carbon dioxide is produced, and the Earth warms much more than can be explained by the orbital changes alone.

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