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james cobban
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Reported Aug. 29, 2013, from NASA (sorry if this is old news to everyone): "Hidden for all of human history, a 460 mile long canyon has been discovered below Greenland's ice sheet. Using radar data from NASA's Operation IceBridge, scientists found the canyon runs from near the center of the island northward to the fjord of the Petermann Glacier. The researchers believe the canyon plays an important role in transporting sub-glacial meltwater from the interior of Greenland to the edge of the ice sheet into the ocean. Evidence suggests that before the presence of the ice sheet, as much as 4 million years ago, water flowed in the canyon from the interior to the coast and was a major river system. "It is quite remarkable that a channel the size of the Grand Canyon is discovered in the 21st century below the Greenland ice sheet," said Studinger. "It shows how little we still know about the bedrock below large continental ice sheets." The IceBridge campaign will return to Greenland in March 2014 to continue collecting data on land and sea ice in the Arctic http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/nasa-data-reveals-mega-canyon-under-greenland-ice/#.UpO2gOI0zCp
Toggle Commented Nov 25, 2013 on PIOMAS November 2013 at Arctic Sea Ice
Colorado Bob, Here's a quote I like, to add to your others: “It's the tide. It's the dismal tide. It's not the one thing.” ― Cormac McCarthy
Toggle Commented Nov 7, 2013 on PIOMAS October 2013 at Arctic Sea Ice
@jdallen_wa "Regarding the "100 million" assertion, I've seen a bit of this before, and don't buy it." While you're undoubtedly right that improvements in materials science will be relevant to carrying capacity, I'm not so sure I can agree with your other arguments. You say "It is founded on a number of assumptions which are not dependable. First, that classic capitalism will remain as the driving economic force." I haven't delved deeply into Alpert's publications, but he does not seem to premise his ideas on 'classic capitalism' continuing to operate. He makes it clear that any expansion of consumption must be balanced by a further reduction in carrying capacity; even an increase in average life-span from 85 to 86 years would require a 1% reduction in population for sustainability to be maintained. Capitalism is premised on infinite growth, and would seem to run counter to the spirit of what Alpert is trying to say. "Next it presumes "North American" quality of life cannot be reached sustainably." But he does so presume, though only for 100 million or so people. That's his whole point. "Lastly, it assumes we cannot or will not change our behavior." I think you might be right there. Alpert makes it clear that he thinks those 100 million humans will probably want to continue to improve their quality of life, but that IF that improvement required more material throughput from the environment, then the carrying capacity would have to drop commensurately. OTOH, if people gave up some of the North American habits, like eating so much meat, then the carrying capacity would increase. He's not asking what the absolute number of humans is that the earth could support, but what that number would be at a North American level of comfort (or indulgence). "I do not doubt that humanity is going to suffer a few rather painful reversals; it has happened before." Well, it hasn't really, not like this. Sure, we were down to perhaps 4000 individuals at one point in the distant past, but that did not involve the potential collapse of a global civilization, or the potential death of many billions within just a few generations, nor the accompanying loss of biodiversity that is clearly happening now. For that you have to go back 65 million years, before humans existed, and this extinction event might even outdo that one. I too have some criticisms of Alpert, but they are of a different nature than yours. For one thing, he has assumed that 100 percent of the arable land would be used for food production for humans, with none of the most productive land being set aside for other species' exclusive, and perpetual, use. Fields would lie fallow for 15 years, but would not revert to old-growth forests or any other kind of self-sustaining ecosystem, because they would be plowed under again too soon. This would have to have some impact on the rest of Earth's ecosystems, in ways that might not be favourable to humanity's perpetuation, at least not at that level of land-usage. Secondly, he doesn't seem to address the northward shift of the growing belts into regions of poor soil quality. Your idea of growing lyme grass notwithstanding, I don't see how those regions could make up for the loss of productivity of our current agro-belts, especially around the major deltas. How many calories/hectare could lyme grass and the like produce anyway, even if such arctic species were able to survive in their new, sub-arctic or temperate climate? As for a Malthusian collapse not being inevitable, I hope you're right but I fear mightily that you're wrong. A controlled economic contraction of about 9 percent/year is thought to be required this century, IIRC, to avoid intolerable climate change, and Soviet Russia imploded with only a 1 percent/yr contraction. The idea of contraction is repellent to capitalism, and to capitalists who want to see healthy returns, and to a debt-based banking system that requires endless expansion to work, and to politicians who have counted on growing their way out of debt. What are the odds that we can keep a tightly-integrated global economy functioning, with just-in-time delivery (and therefore with little resilience to shock), practically no food reserves, diminishing oil for (food) transportation, a teetering banking system, and many, many other factors that readers of this blog are familiar with, all the while maintaining degrowth at 9%/yr, without descending into conflict and systemic disruption or outright failure? I think its best to expect a massive disruption, and for smart, creative people to start thinking about what it would look like, and what might be done to ameliorate its worst effects. Just in case you're wrong. :^)
Thank you Wal, I think you've found who I was looking for, or at least a prominent member of the same camp. Jack Alpert comes up with the figure of <100 million, assuming that all 100 million will be able to live at current North American levels of consumption indefinitely. Here's a six-minute video for anyone who wants to hear Jack Alpert summarize his ideas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTWduFB_RX0
Colorado Bob, or anyone, I've been trying to remember the source of something I read within the last few months on the topic of the Earth's sustainable carrying capacity for humans. Someone here may have linked to it, but I couldn't locate it with a google search. The author's conclusion was remarkable - that the carrying capacity was a mere 70 million. This is far lower than other estimates, of course, but the reasoning they used seemed quite sound. He or she took more issues into consideration than other writers in this field do, which, IMHO, causes those writers to posit unrealistically high figures for a sustainable human population, on the order of 1.5 billion. He/she points out that in the absence of FF-based nitrogen fertilizers, upon which our current civilization is based, a field will have to lie fallow for 17 years between each crop, with a cover crop of clover or some other nitrogen-fixer, if it is to be truly sustainable indefinitely and not become exhausted in a few years or decades. This requirement alone radically reduces the amount of usable arable land, which, IIRC, comprises a mere 9 percent of the planet's land surface. And this figure will drop very precipitously (does anyone have estimates of how much?) in the fairly near future due to desertification, drought/flood intensification making it more difficult to bring a crop to maturity, salt-water intrusion due to rising sea levels, northward shift of the growing belt (into areas with poor soils, as stated above), and the expected increase of days with daytime highs, in the agricultural belts, hitting a maximum temperature of 112 F. or above, a temperature which instantly kills wheat or corn crops (can't remember which). I would like to re-read that article, so if anyone knows of it, I'd be thankful if they could post a link to it.
Larry, I would like to change my entry upthread from 2.8 to 4.8 Mkm2. I no longer think there can be a huge flash melt in August given the moribund state of the melt in the last week and the -5C air temperatures.
2.8 I'm sticking to my original figure out of sheer bloody-mindedness. Commenters on this blog make powerful arguments for both higher and lower figures, making it difficult for me to decide who's more likely to be right, and having no real knowledge of my own to draw upon, I am left as adrift as a bouy at the North Pole. Admittedly, most of the weight of those arguments is in the direction of higher estimates, and if I were betting money I would raise my estimate substantially. But my gut feeling is that the ice is vulnerable this summer, and will flash melt sometime in August, and then continue to melt until around the end of the third week in September, giving a low monthly average.
james cobban added a favorite at Arctic Sea Ice
Jun 30, 2013
2.8 MKm^2 Same estimate as May, based on the weak and well-churned state of the ice.
Its too much to get into right here, but perhaps the Christian environmental theology you mention is at least somewhat influenced by the Gnostic traditions Elaine Pagels writes about in 'The Gnostic Gospels', which deals with the 52 papyrus texts found at Nag Hamadi in 1945, and which clearly demonstrate that the Church in the early Christian era in the first and second centuries AD was far from monolithic, with many branches of Christianity simultaneously extant, some of which promulgated an Immanent God. Scientific materialism was a development that occurred within the culture-sphere of these Occidental religions, rejecting the belief in the Transcendent God, but continuing to accept the idea of duality, the separation of the material world from the mental (what religion would term the spiritual) world (this is Cartesian duality). Science could operate without persecution from the Church so long as it confined itself to investigating only the material aspect of things. But, as Rupert Sheldrake argues, this materialistic view has hardened into a dogma amongst modern scientific materialists, who position themselves as self-appointed guardians of the materialist creed, pretending to represent science as a whole, when in fact science is a method, not a position, and the materialists are actually defending an ideological position that can be termed 'materialism'. Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens are two prominent materialists. Rupert Sheldrake points out that these dogmatic materialists tend to be atheists whose antipathy towards Christianity is so strong that they will go to any lengths to deny scientific evidence for the existence of consciousness existing independently of the brain, lest this open the way for spirituality, or worse, the Pope, to slip in through the back door. The point I was trying to make is that our cultural traditions in the West have made it easy for us to regard the Earth as something that is there to be exploited, without any real concern for its well-being. The field of Economics has run with this idea, with its concept of 'externalities'. I was trying to suggest that we should try to understand what elements of our culture have brought us to this unfortunate point, the point that Edward Albee has called 'the saddest of all points, the point where there IS something to be lost', so that we may pick out the best elements to carry forward, while leaving behind the worst. I am not hostile to Christianity, for it has at least kept alive the idea of divinity, of sacredness. Nor am I hostile to science, which, as a method of rational inquiry, is innocent of ideologies such as materialism. I think, in fact, that it is time for science and religion to become much more unified through the scientific exploration of consciousness. The word 'religion' itself, I remember from my Joseph Campbell, comes from re-ligio, referring to the ropes (ligatures) that bound a team of oxen together, with 're', indicating a re-uniting with the ineffable, with God, binding us once again to God. Science, without the dogma of materialism, seems to me to be a quest for exactly that.
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2013 on PIOMAS February 2013 at Arctic Sea Ice
And from: http://content.unity.org/publications/archives/unityMagazine/religionAtoZen.html "Who or What Is God? Joseph Campbell made a useful distinction. In the religions that originated east of Iran, ultimate reality is generally understood as an immanent, impersonal energy within everything, whereas west of Iran, ultimate reality is understood as a transcendent being, a personified entity above and outside the created world. This fundamental distinction would have far-reaching effects. In Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism, this immanent source is known as Brahman, Buddha-consciousness and Tao, a reality beyond all concepts and definitions—the mystery behind the masks. All existence, including the gods, flows from this ultimately nameless source. In Hinduism, this is particularly apparent. The many gods of the Indian pantheon are part of the created world, not its ultimate cause. West of Iran a very different understanding of God or ultimate reality emerged out of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Here God attained personhood and stands above and outside the created world. We are not manifestations of God-consciousness; He is the creator and we are merely creatures. This fundamental dualism shapes all of the other elements of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic worldview. In the fundamentally nondualistic eastern worldview, the spiritual path involves realizing one's unity with this divine source, a realization covered over by ignorance. God-discovery is, in a very real sense, self-discovery. The purpose of religion and spirituality in the east is to awaken us to who and what we really are. In the western traditions, the spiritual path is one of obedience to a set of divinely revealed doctrines, beliefs and practices designed to bridge the chasm between us and a distant God, a God who cares, but a God who we have exiled through disobedience."
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2013 on PIOMAS February 2013 at Arctic Sea Ice
A4R, Thank you for clarifying the position of modern Christian environmental theology, of which I was unaware. You said: "James, your reference to Joseph Campbell exposes a gap in either his or your understanding of the Judeo-Christian worldview of the sacred relation of the world in relation to God. Also, the Biblical-Christian worldview is counter to your presumptions above." I do not think that I have misrepresented Joseph Campbell's position. Whether there are gaps in his understanding of the Judeo-Christian worldview I leave to scholars more competent than I to judge. Briefly, here is Campbell's position, from a review of his book 'Masks of God' found here: http://www.amazon.com/Masks-God-Vol-Occidental-Mythology/dp/014019441X "Religion in the West is the story of the battle between immanence (God as present in and suffusing the existence of the world) and transcendence (God as removed from and greater than existence). OCCIDENTAL MYTHOLOGY, Volume III in Campbell's MASKS OF GOD series, tells this story: how Western mythology turned slowly away from polytheism, the transcending of duality, and God's immanence, and toward monotheism, the ontology of duality, and God's transcendence." /cont...
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2013 on PIOMAS February 2013 at Arctic Sea Ice
Sorry A4R, I didn't see your comment. I will reply later on today.
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2013 on PIOMAS February 2013 at Arctic Sea Ice
Thank you Neven, for reposting my fragments, and more importantly for launching your new Sea Ice Forum later this week. Judging by the pool of talent your ASI blog has attracted, its fair to say that you may soon have two blogs of world-class importance and influence. You are building the kind of community that I wrote about above, and that is sorely needed. I only hope that you will find the time to be as active a participant in that discussion as we all would wish. Cheers to you, Neven.
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2013 on PIOMAS February 2013 at Arctic Sea Ice
Thanks Neven!
Toggle Commented Feb 2, 2013 on 2013 Open thread #1 at Arctic Sea Ice
Neven, I think typepad just spammed my comment.
Toggle Commented Feb 1, 2013 on 2013 Open thread #1 at Arctic Sea Ice
High Arctic, Low Ice. 80% of sea ice gone.
Toggle Commented Jan 25, 2013 on Slogan contest at Arctic Sea Ice
Arctic sea ice corks the Weather genie in its bottle
Toggle Commented Jan 25, 2013 on Slogan contest at Arctic Sea Ice
Healthy planet: Priceless Dying planet: Iceless
Toggle Commented Jan 24, 2013 on Slogan contest at Arctic Sea Ice
Yesterday I went to see Chasing Ice, the film chronicling James Balog's Extreme Ice Survey project (trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIZTMVNBjc4 ), and since then I've been trying to come up with some way of visualizing the yearly addition of GIS, WAIS and glacial meltwater to the world's oceans. What would it look like if all that meltwater was averaged out to a steady flow from a single source? Would it look like a river? How big a river? How many fire hoses would it take? How many garden hoses? What I've come up with so far seems unbelievable to me, so I would appreciate it if someone could check my math and point out where I may have gone wrong, because if my crude calculations are correct then it would take 8.6 Niagara Falls flowing for an entire year to equal 500 cubic kilometers. Can that much ice really be melting now? My first assumption is that about 500 cubic kilometers of water is being added to the world's oceans every year. I know that this figure is higher than the average since 2000, but it seems reasonable to me given this year's 574gT loss from Greenland alone (I'm assuming a gigaton of ice is roughly equal to one cubic km.of water). Am I right to think that the real figure might be much higher, say at least 600 km^3? So, 500 cubic km = 500,000,000,000 cubic meters, divided by 365 days = 1,369,863,013 divided by 24 hours = 57,077,625 divided by 60 minutes = 951,293 divided by 60 seconds = 15,854 cubic meters of water per second. Wikipedia says the average flow rate of Niagara Falls is 1,834 cubic meters per second, so 15,854/1,834 = 8.65 Niagara Falls! Can that be right? If this is correct, then 15,854 m^3/s could also be visualized as: water spewing out of a one-meter-square culvert flowing at a rate of 15.854 km/s or 57,074 km/h (!)(the jet of water would exceed escape velocity and continue into space), or: 1,014,331 2-inch fire hoses pumping out 938 liters/sec. or: 14,783,387 common garden hoses pumping out 64.34 liters/sec. or: water flowing out of one of the 7.6 meter diameter channel tunnels at a rate of 349 m/s or 1,258 km/h (nearly ten times faster than the trains!), but: only 0.075 Amazon rivers, at 209,000 m^3/s Or have I made some obvious mistake?
Toggle Commented Dec 13, 2012 on 2012 Greenland records at Arctic Sea Ice
james cobban added a favorite at Arctic Sea Ice
Nov 3, 2012
james cobban added a favorite at Arctic Sea Ice
Oct 26, 2012
Meanwhile thursday saw record high temperatures here in Ontario: 24C in Wiarton (on Lake Huron) and over 20C from Toronto to Sudbury. Weird indeed to be so hot when the CBC warns that the Snowicane is coming.
Toggle Commented Oct 26, 2012 on Looking for winter weirdness at Arctic Sea Ice
Scarlet, Or how about: A barrel of oil: $90 A doomed civilization: iceless
Toggle Commented Oct 7, 2012 on More vids at Arctic Sea Ice
Brian Wind | October 04, 2012 at 07:14 "What we are seeing here is: No arctic ice by 2015. We all see this. But by 2015, what will the Greenland ice be doing? Antarctic ice? Both melting much faster than expected, much faster than we want to admit. How about the possibility of massive methane release? How about severe weather and drought? And ultimatly agriculture... We cannot grow food with spiking temperatures and irratic weather, and global population will be hitting 8 billion people. Basic ecology and natural history suggest we are about to lose about 7 billion people within 20-30 years. I have young adult kids and I bet you do too. People around me think I am a nut if I discuss these things, so I rarely do, but I am sure we all see... We are looking at the beginning of a huge planetary catastrophe." Brian, I share your forebodings. The fairly near-term future may turn out to be somewhat apocalyptic. Too many separate strands are tending in the same (negative) direction to allow one to reasonably expect a salutary outcome. Climate change, peak oil, suicidally psychopathic corporations and governments, mystifyingly bizarre US Republicans, etc., etc. As they said in No Country for Old Men, 'its not the one thing, its the dismal tide'. As has been discussed on this blog, a main source of distress is likely to be food shortages due to widespread drought. I am beginning to learn how to grow my own food in case I am still around when things start to really change. I have just run across what seems to be a very informative site run by Jules Dervaes at http://www.urbanhomestead.org/ He and his three young adult children produce about 6000 pounds (about 2700kg)of produce each year on their 1/10th acre city property. Watch this 15 minute youtube video, and perhaps you will feel as eager as I do to start digging in the dirt! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IbODJiEM5A&feature=related
Toggle Commented Oct 5, 2012 on PIOMAS October 2012 (minimum) at Arctic Sea Ice