Saturday, January 18, 2014

Because of Climate Change you’ll need another globe


CCArcticCapMaps change. It’s life. Communities build new roads (though, they almost never remove them) and every year you’re supposed to update your GPS software to reflect these changes. Our species’ marvelous capacity for industry produces a dazzling abundance of transformations across our landscape as new buildings, bridges, and new homes sprout like goose bumps on an early morning swimmer.

But globes don’t usually change. Granted, there was a big addition after 1492. Really big. If you still have a globe that doesn’t have North and South American on it; you’re probably holding on to a very valuable antique. Of course, these two continents were always there, we just didn’t know about them; though to be accurate those folks who were actually living on these continents for millennia were quite aware of them. But they didn’t make globes. We make globes and for the most part the only reason globes change is because we discover stuff—not because we annihilate stuff.

However, quietly, beneath the attention of mainstream media, our politics, and our economic concerns, the Arctic ominously melts. Soon you’ll have to buy another globe because your present one will be outdated.  Here’s a 27-second video from NASA illustrating what would be too time consuming and chilly to observe ourselves:

Arctic Sea Ice Minimum in 2013 is Sixth Lowest on Record After an unusually cold summer in the northernmost latitudes, Arctic sea ice appears to have reached its annual minimum summer extent for 2013 on Sept. 13, the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado in Boulder has reported. Analysis of satellite data by NSIDC and NASA showed that the sea ice extent shrunk to 1.97 million square miles (5.10 million square kilometers). This year's sea ice extent is substantially higher than last year's record low minimum. On Sept.16, 2012, Arctic sea ice reached its smallest extent ever recorded by satellites at 1.32 million square miles (3.41 million square kilometers). That is about half the size of the average minimum extent from 1981 to 2010. NASA

On the local level, Rochester’s visage too has changed due to Climate Change. But these changes are harder to spot than Arctic melt. If you were mapping local birds you’d see a dramatic shift. If you’re a farmer, you’d see that you can plant stuff earlier in the spring and harvest it later in the fall. If you were running a skiing business or making maple syrup, you’d notice. If you were shipping stuff across the Great Lakes and had to avoid ice, you’d notice a lot less ice. If you were insuring against floods, you might be concerned about the new flooding maps. If your media was on the job, you’d notice less snowfall, less snow cover, less snow pack, and more extreme weather in the form of flooding. Instead, you’ll have to go to a couple of studies to see all that: Climate Change Indicators in the United States (2012 EPA) and Report 11-18 Response to Climate Change in New York State (ClimAID).

If you only buzz about in your car, work all day inside, and attend to only our local news, you probably think Climate Change has bypassed us. But it hasn’t, and when the Arctic finally does disappear from our planet and then from our globes, you’ll see what those who have been saying otherwise for quite some time now is quite true.

All this change should get us moving on Climate Change, so we don’t let other changes occur that we cannot cope with. To stop Climate Change, we’ll have to first stop ourselves from causing Climate Change. On that front, things aren’t looking good. This dismal article on our relentless predation of the Arctic makes me think of maggots feeding on a frozen carcass until it thaws, suddenly releasing the full feeding-frenzy potential of our insatiable appetites.

Antarctica and the Arctic: A polar primer for the new great game Antarctica and the Arctic are the focus of global hunger for untapped resources – and global warming has helped drive the polar rush. (January 12, 2014) Christian Science Monitor

While standing in front of the painting Guernica that depicted the horrific injuries inflicted on the innocent victims in the Spanish Civil War in 1937, a German officer asked, “Who was responsible for this?” Pablo Picasso is alleged to have said, “You were.” We won’t have to ask ourselves who removed the whitish area at the top of the new globe.

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