Arctic Sea Ice Continues Decaying to Record Lows

Slowly, the mainstream media is coming around to cease enabling denialism of climate change and anthropogenic global warming. An initial watermark was the revelation last year that Exxon Mobil had spent decades hiding research results and giving millions to entities that worked to seed doubt. A more recent watermark is found by simply looking at the Arctic sea ice decline. We reasonably assess polar sea ice decline in three ways: areal extent of the ice, thickness of the ice, and age-distribution of the ice. The latter two parameters are of course closely related.

Here are two graphics depicting the extraordinarily rapid destruction of the Arctic ice that has existed throughout human history, providing a stabilizing base for our weather patterns. The embedded video shows a time-lapse simulation of daily Arctic sea ice extent from September 2015 onward. The JPEG below compiles four images, at 8-year intervals from 1990 to 2014, showing the near-disappearance of all ice more than 2-years old.

SOURCE: NSIDC via Climate Central and Ecowatch.com (click on image to view a 22-second video with weekly ice conditions over the 1990-2015 timeframe)

SOURCE: NSIDC via Climate Central and Ecowatch.com (click on image to view a 22-second video with weekly ice conditions over the 1990-2015 timeframe)

Aviation, especially by residents of the most ‘advanced’ economies, makes a substantial contribution to this sea ice decline, both in generated greenhouse gasses and in dark soot that accumulates on the ice and then accelerates summer melting.

Research suggests that our continued excessive fossil fuel consumption is the root cause of this rapid polar ice decline and related phenomena of global warming, weather intensification, and regional instabilities. Further, that if trends continue, we will soon be urgently seeking ways to stop generating greenhouse gasses such as CO2. This distills down to a problem of hyper-consumption, and in solving the problem one of the easiest targets is aviation. So, perhaps in the next few years we might see a stiff carbon tax on all aviation fuels, to discourage excessive flying in all forms: commercial airline passengers, subsidized bizjets (for business, as well as for golf junkets), and even small plane recreational flying.


See also:
  • 2/21/2016 – What Happens if Arctic Ice Seasonally Disappears?
  • 2/9/2016 – ICAO Announces New CO2 Rules … Their Proposal is All Hype & Offers Little Meaningful Progress
  • 7/24/2015 – Arctic Ice Melt on a Tear in Recent Weeks
  • 12/9/2014 – Oceans Will Rise more Quickly as Antarctic Ice Melt Accelerates
  • 10/9/2012 – Is Arctic ice melting faster than expected?

ICAO Announces New CO2 Rules … Their Proposal is All Hype & Offers Little Meaningful Progress

In early December, world leaders met at COP21 in Paris to try and work out agreements to get our collective fossil fuel addiction under control. Conspicuously, two major transport modes were not even part of the debate: maritime and aviation. The COP21 leaders could have at least declared targets and ‘asked’ world aviation officials to aim at meeting these targets. Instead, we were told, let’s let the U.N. group ICAO take care of creating their own targets. Sort of like letting the foxes define the daily predation rate at the local henhouse.

ICAO has now delivered, and the product is underwhelming. Here is their Press Release link, as well as a copy of a New York Times article, with highlights (and footnoted analysis) added by aiREFORM.com:

This pop-out view is scrollable, and the PDF copy may be downloaded.

As noted in the aiREFORM footnotes to the New York Times article, this ‘agreement’ by a large group of people who generate profits by burning fossil fuels to move people and cargo… well, it’s all hype. The net positive improvement is frankly insignificant, yet all the official cheerleaders (including the White House and FAA’s Michael Huerta) are announcing this as a great achievement. It is not.

As further emphasis of the fraudulent cheerleading, read the statement within the News Release by GAMA, the General Aviation Manufacturing Association. Their headline was ‘Business aviation hails historic global agreement on CO2 standard for aircraft’, but within, note that small business jets are exempted from the new standards. This means that the most intensive CO2 generators – private jets with few passengers, flown on business trips and golfing junkets – are not even covered in this proposed agreement. No wonder people like GAMA President and CEO Pete Bunce are smiling during this PR moment.

A short film by Germanwatch.org, about carbon-intensive living in Germany. Strong points made, especially at the finish.

Click on image to watch a short film about climate injustice and carbon-intensive living by some Germans. Strong points made, especially at the finish. (Germanwatch.org)

If our Congress (and FAA) wanted to do something truly ‘Transformational’, they would focus efforts on imposing a substantial aviation carbon tax, and disincenvitizing energy-wasteful airline hubs – hubs that simply have grown to be ‘too big to fly straight’.

 

Aviation Emissions were Not Part of the COP21 Negotiations

COP21, the international negotiations in Paris, aimed at bringing nations together to minimize the potentially dangerous impacts of anthropogenic climate change, closed one week ago. There has now been enough time for the details of the agreement to be assessed. One early publication is a simple infographic by euractiv.com. Here is a screen-capture of the last panel in their infographic:

(click on image to view full infographic at online source, euractiv.com)

(click on image to view full infographic at online source, euractiv.com)

The omission of the aviation sector is noted on the left side, and the attached yellow post-it has this comment: “International shipping and aviation emit as much as entire wealthy nations, but they’re not bound by the COP21 deal. These emissions won’t be covered by reductions being discussed at COP21, because they don’t happen within the boundaries of any specific countries. They’re also projected to rise dramatically by 2050.”

Since FAA and most other world aviation regulators are moving slowly (if at all?) on climate change, and since COP21 is trusting the industry will self-regulate, we need the aviation industry leaders to take charge. They need to work toward a steep carbon tax, and they need to discover ways to significantly improve their energy efficiency. Air travel is better than it was in the gas-guzzling days when jet travel began, but air travel remains as the fastest way for a human being to create CO2.

If aviation industry leaders do not act promptly, they very soon may be looking at substantially scaling back their industry. Perhaps even within a decade. It would not be surprising to see flying become a mode of travel used only out of extreme need; to see aviation vacations become a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ event.

[QUOTE]: A Blogger with Doubts about COP21

Aside

Quote:

“…What is going on in Paris this week is not serious, nor is it hopeful, nor even meaningful. Just call it bread and circuses, without the bread.”

– Conclusion in an 11/30 blog by Tom Lewis, at DailyImpact.net

Click here to read the original blog post.

Thousands of delegates – and well over a hundred heads of state – all flew to Paris for COP21. Did they fly just to make an appearance, saying one thing but acting another? Or, did they fly with authentic intent, to get down to business and finally (after two+ decades of senseless delays!) take real action to address the looming climate change problem? Time will tell.


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Recent Articles about Climate Change

On November 6th, President Obama announced his decision to kill Phase IV of the Keystone XL Pipeline. In announcing his decision, President Obama said: “Ultimately, if we’re going to prevent large parts of this Earth from becoming not only inhospitable but uninhabitable in our lifetimes, we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky.”

In the wake of President Obama’s decision, there has been a flood of articles focusing on the key reason behind that decision: human-caused climate change.

Here are short summaries and links to five recent articles:


1

20151117scp... 'Obama, keep some fossil fuels in the ground'

Climate activist Bill McKibben puts into perspective President Obama’s evolution from a fossil fuel advocate to potentially become a leader of climate action. McKibben offers a fair analysis of the politics that delay responsible climate action. He then expresses his hope that we may be accelerating toward real climate action: “Four years ago neither Obama nor Romney even mentioned climate change during their presidential battle. This year Bernie Sanders has made it one of the two centerpieces of his campaign (alongside inequality), and he’s skillfully pulled Hillary Clinton along with him.”


2
When we are not being bullied by climate-deniers, it becomes clear that climate change is widely accepted in the science community. Among the earliest impact manifestations of anthropogenic climate change, we are now recording rising temperatures in both the atmosphere and the oceans. In just the past few decades, scientists have come to understand the El Niño / La Niña cycles that would cause fluctuating weather patterns even without our off-the-charts atmospheric CO2. 20151117scp.. 'El Nino & Climate Change' (Ecowatch post) In a World Meteorological Organization press release, WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud stated: “Our scientific understanding of El Niño has increased greatly in recent years. However, this event is playing out in uncharted territory. Our planet has altered dramatically because of climate change—the general trend towards a warmer global ocean, the loss of Arctic sea ice and of over a million square kilometers of summer snow cover in the northern hemisphere.”

3
Just hours after the second televised Democratic Party debate, Senator Bernie Sanders was interviewed on ‘Face the Nation’. The interviewer asked him to further clarify the connection between climate change and the social instability and forced migration that can increase terrorism. “When people migrate into cities and they don’t have jobs, there’s going to be a lot more instability, a lot more unemployment, and people will be subject to the types of propaganda that al Qaeda and ISIS are using right now.” It is important to note that this is not just a Presidential candidate and Progressive leader speaking; this belief has also been expressed by both the CIA and the U.S. Defense Department.


4

20151117cpy.. coal strip mine pic.pgOn November 4th, Senator Jeff Merkley (Oregon) introduced S.2238, the ‘Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground Act of 2015’. Cosponsors included Bernie Sanders (Vermont), Patrick Leahy (Vermont), Ben Cardin (Maryland), Barbara Boxer (California), Kirsten Gillibrand (New York), and Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts). The legislation aims to stop endless government giveaways of oil, coal, and other resources, both offshore and under government lands, so as “… to prevent the release of 90 percent of the potential emissions from Federal fossil fuels.”

20151117scp.. 'Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground Act' w map of U.S. fossil fuel locations

(click on image to view article at EcoWatch.com)


5

20151117cpy.. nyemeltdownIn a 44-minute video posted online by the National Geographic Channel, Bill Nye pretends to be a typical person worried about climate change, visiting with his shrink, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The therapy session is both amusing and informative. ‘Dr. Schwarzenegger’ suggests that his troubled patient is suffering from ‘Climate Change Grief’, and needs to progress through the five classic stages of grief:

  • Stage 1: Denial (starts at video time 3:03)
  • Stage 2: Anger
  • Stage 3: Bargaining
  • Stage 4: Depression, and
  • Stage 5: Acceptance.


Unfortunately, late on the morning of November 17th, during this writer’s review of the video, National Geographic decided to block free online access (hmmm, feels like Stage 4?). Maybe Bill Nye has put together an outstanding presentation, which could help more people begin to fully understand the gravity of our changing climate situation. We may never know. But, if the whole video is as good as the first ten minutes, let’s hope National Geographic will do a good deed for the Earth, and remove the paywall, restoring free online access that can encourage more people to learn and take action. In the meantime, this link does offer a brief slideshow.


2015: A Record Year for Arctic Ice Melt?

The two graphs below are produced by the National Snow and Ice Data Center, in Boulder, CO. The full graph is updated daily, and can be viewed (and customized) at the NSIDC website. In this Post, aiREFORM has selected the record-low years (2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015), and zoomed in to create detailed screen-captures, presented below to allow a closer analysis. Continue reading

Seven Months above 400ppm

We’re already back above 400 parts per million of CO2 in our atmosphere.

Last year, we hit this mark in early April. This year, we are two months earlier. Given the clear trends since Keeling first started measuring atmosphere CO2 in the late 1950’s, we can expect to briefly pass below 400ppm next Fall, then pass above 400ppm late in 2015, never to fall below again.

The text below was posted a year ago, and it still applies…

Geologists are confident that, going back to at least 800,000 years ago, the CO2 in our Earth atmosphere has never exceeded 300ppm … or at least not until AFTER mankind started creating CO2 by burning coal, oil and natural gas. When measurements were started in Mauno Loa, in 1958, the annual peak for CO2 was 315ppm. As shown by the graph below, for the past week, the daily average has remained above 400ppm.

20150130scp.. KeelingCurve holding at 400+
So, the pressing question is:

…when (and how) will we get control
of our addiction to fossil fuels?

See also:
  • The Scripps Institution of Oceanography updates this online graph everyday.

The Lack of Tracking

20150101cpy.. QZ8501 crying prayingIn today’s aviation, hundreds of people can disappear in an instant. We have the technologies to safely track flights, but implementing these technologies does not conform with the fiscal bottom line. So, one flight disappears, tens of millions are spent fruitlessly searching, then another disappears, and we just stumble about … while the families and friends of those lost grieve horribly. They grieve for their real personal loss, and their pain is intensified by the cold lack of explanations.

Granted, we will not necessarily save lives by showing up at an oceanic crash scene within three hours. But, let’s not forget that one of the primary reasons for preserving this flight data is to learn from the incident and prevent it from happening again. In the U.S., we have spent decades studying civil passenger aviation and slowly acquiring new knowledge. We have learned about: wake turbulence, microbursts, crew coordination (and the need for crew resource management), icing, spatial disorientation, and basic human fatigue. In most cases, we have applied the lessons learned to create new technologies, new procedures, and new protocols. All for safety.

Today, perhaps more than ever, our government regulators are clearly teamed up with corporate officials to encourage the rapid growth of a robust trans-oceanic passenger airline industry. Countries like Malaysia and Indonesia are prime markets, owing to their populations and multi-island geography. But, we as passengers are left to wonder: are our government regulators placing enough emphasis on safety and risk reduction, to learn from one accident so that a repeat accident never happens?

Case in point: the flight data recorders, aka ‘black boxes’. These devices have been around for six decades. They record all the key flight data, but they function remotely, like padlocked desktop computers without an Internet connection. When an accident happens, we still have to find the black box and hope it provides the data we need to see. And within these black boxes, the design anachronistically records voice over what was recorded two hours earlier. This is the design standard approved by agencies such as the FAA. It is as if we want to minimize our odds of producing hard data. And yet, if we can put thousands of songs on a slim personal device, surely we can record an entire flight’s worth of flightdeck conversations, right?

Is anyone served well by the current program? No. Though, in an odd way, the lack of hard data denies legal proceedings. Instead, that lack of hard data fosters a quick round of apologies and payouts to victim families, followed by head-scratching and ‘let’s forget this happened, now, and get back to the business of growing this business’. Which, seemingly, is a lousy way to run a business.

“Given that a standard iPhone can record 24 hours of audio, surely the black box should have sufficient memory to record cockpit conversation for the full duration of any flight.”

– Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, after the disappearance of MH370

Basic Streaming Data for Flight Incidents

There is no valid reason that a system cannot be deployed to stream basic flight data for all commercial passenger flight emergencies. A device that assesses the flight second-by-second and, if key flight parameters are exceeded (rate of descent, rate of climb, bank angle, pitch angle, airspeed, altitude above terrain, distance from planned route, etc.), once any parameter is exceeded, the system independently transmits the basic data for accumulation into a data cloud. A small investment, to share data to a satellite, in a situation where an on-board device senses a developing incident.

Each second, a bundle of data gets stored for quick access by others, including rescue authorities. This is not a huge and expensive bundle of data. This bundle reduces to just three basic parameters: position (lat/long), altitude, and indicated airspeed. And, if the system notes substantial changes within the previous 15-seconds, add just a few other parameters to the bundle: the heading, and/or the pitch angle, and/or the bank angle. This way we can see if the aircraft went into a spin, perhaps related to catastrophic failure. This is a mighty small bundle of data, and the least that should be done for passengers on these over-water flights.

We’ve had the technologies for many years. Now, we need the will and the leadership to use them, to start collecting data from failed oceanic flights.


See also:

New Antarctic Study Looks at CO2 Changes During Post Ice-Age Deglaciation

Researchers from Scripps, Oregon State, and other schools recently published a study in the journal Nature, showing the results of an analysis of 3,405 meters of Antarctic ice core samples. The study was done at a base constructed on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) Divide, where annual snowfall would reliably accumulate and be subjected to minimal horizontal flowing.

At the coldest time of the last ice age, sea levels are believed to have been 120 meters below today’s levels, and atmospheric CO2 measured around 180 parts per million (ppm). Since then, the level of atmospheric CO2 has tracked upward along with average air temperature and sea level.

This new study was able to track the last ice age from its peak to complete deglaciation; it showed an increase in atmospheric CO2 of about 80 parts per million, taking place over 10,000 years. But the researchers were able to study fine time increments, and they found that there were three events within this deglaciation period, where CO2 levels surged 10-15 ppm during a smaller timeframe of 100-200 years.

“The rate of change during these events is still significantly less than present-day changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations. The Keeling Curve record of atmospheric carbon dioxide, launched by the late Scripps geochemist Charles David Keeling, recorded levels of 315 ppm when it began in 1958. In 2014, monthly average concentrations reached 401 ppm, an increase of more than 85 parts per million in less than 60 years.”

– an excerpt from the study, published in late October 2014 in the journal Nature

The dominant expectation had been that studies would most likely reveal a fairly steady rate of CO2 increase. Thus, in the 10,000 years following the last ice age peak, an increase of 80 ppm would mean roughly 0.8 ppm per century. Instead, the study revealed an even slower average rate of increase in atmospheric CO2, with surges possibly related to other earth processes. “Either the cause of these pulses is at least part terrestrial, or there is some mechanism in the ocean system we don’t yet know about,” said Oregon State paleoclimatologist Edward Brook, a co-author on the Nature study.

The results point out the extraordinarily rapid pace we are seeing today in the increase in our atmospheric CO2 level. Notably, the fastest observed rates were 0.8 ppm per century; today, our average annual CO2 increase is 1.4 ppm per year, thus 180-times the highest rate of increase for atmospheric CO2 level as actually observed in nature. The rate of fossil fuel consumption in today’s automobile-centric communities is historically amazing; in the U.S., each person consumes 21 barrels of oil per year … and that is only our oil consumption (and does not look at our trend to export huge quantities of coal and gas to other nations). The vast majority of this consumed fuel becomes water vapor, CO2, and other pollutants. If our current rapid increase in atmospheric CO2 is connected to human consumption of fossil fuels — and nobody has yet provided credible evidence of any other non-human source — then we will soon feel great pressure to severely cut back on the use of oil, coal, and natural gas.

And, Aviation (as well as all other transportation uses of energy) will be impacted enormously.


See also: