In this coastal Arctic city of Tromso, Norway, where sunrise and sunset merge into a multi-hour winter glow, and where twenty-something women proudly roam the ice-coated streets under the sub-freezing black sky wearing stiletto heels and little else, nothing seems too bizarre. But I was still struck to see uniformed Navy generals, politicians and bureaucrats (from Russia, China, Norway, the United States, and many other countries), scientists, energy and fisheries industry executives, and environmentalists all converging at a university here to attend a conference called the Arctic Frontiers.
Perhaps no other topic is more politicized than climate change, so it makes sense that this "gateway to the Arctic" would host a conference on "Geopolitics and Marine Production in a Changing Arctic." The gathering spans five days and covers issues ranging from the state of climate science in the Arctic Ocean, shifting fisheries politics as mackerel and cod swim northward to colder waters, and how indigenous coastal communities could reap the benefits--or suffer the failures--of mineral and oil and gas extraction.
On the opening day, platitudes from politicians flowed as plentifully as strong coffee. But at least most of them--including China's ambassador to Norway, Zhao Jun--professed up front that climate change is real. Some of them, particularly European politicians, nudged the United States to act more aggressively to acknowledge and combat climate change. Maybe they didn't get a chance to hear President Obama make up for lost time by declaring in his inaugural address on Monday, "We will respond to the threat of climate change."
Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, and it highlights several alarming developments in the Arctic while projecting an accelerated trajectory for the future.Most of the science-centered talks come later in the week. But members of the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental body consisting of representatives of the eight states that hold Arctic territory plus six organizations representing indigenous communities in the region, announced their commitment to climate change research and education. They released a new report, called "Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic." It draws from a much larger report issued in 2011 by the Council's
Among the report's projections:
-Air temperatures will continue to rise faster in the Arctic than elsewhere in the world, with models suggesting that temperatures could be 3 to 6 degrees Celsius higher than they are now by the end of the century.
-The snow season will shorten by as much as 20 percent over most of the Arctic, even though snow will get deeper in many places.
-Permafrost, a major carbon sink in the Arctic, will continue thawing.
-The thickness and extent of sea ice will continue to decline and the Arctic Ocean will be largely free of ice in summer in the next 30 to 40 years.
"That's probably the take-home message, that things are accelerating, and that there are uncertainties about how much the acceleration will be, and that we don't have the right models to describe these changes," said Gustav Lind, Sweden's Arctic ambassador who leads the two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Canada will soon assume the chairmanship role.
Robert Corell, who was the lead scientists on a four-year research project under the Arctic Council, called the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment and completed in 2005, told me at a conference reception Sunday night the new report reflects how the Council, which has no regulatory authority, is becoming more proactive in trying to educate and influence governments about the regional and global impacts of climate change in the Arctic.
"Let's face it," he said. "Sea level (rise) is going to eat our lunch."
Susan Moran is a freelance journalist based in Boulder, Colo., covering energy development, climate science, agriculture, environmental health and other issues. She writes for the New York Times, The Economist, Nature and other publications. And she co-hosts a weekly science show on KGNU community radio, called "How On Earth."
“Let's face it. Sea level (rise) is going to eat our lunch.”
Actually, because of humanity eating his lunch, ever expanding in all areas, the sea is rising.
There is a bit of hope out there. The Kogi, of northern Colombia, who are an autonomous and self-sufficient civilisation untouched since the days of the conquistadors, have decided to speak to us. They made a movie, called Aluna, and tell us how they think we can avoid a global catastrophe. Their civilisation is contemporeneous with the Maya and the Aztecs, both of whom they used to trade with. They have a message for us that needs to be heard. The movie does not have a distributor yet, but there is a trailer viewable at
the alunathemovie website
The more people who show some support, the more chance there is of the movie being put on general release.
Love those model predictions that haven't predicted anything right yet, though my money is on permafrost melting. That one make sense. Funny how all this change is a bad thing. Does anyone else think year-round shipping through the Arctic may be a good thing? Reducing travel time and fuel consumption (and gasp, CO2 output)? Here's a suggestion about dealing with change: adapt.
Yes, slow down the causes of global climate change and yes adapt to the warming climate!
Here's my suggestion for battling the sea level rising. Think of all of the biomass in the ocean. Jellyfish comprise several billion tones just by themselves. If we REMOVE that biomass, the sea level will drop based on how much that biomass displaced. We can take them onto land, allow them to decompose, then use the methane to produce electricity, and use the decomposed fish for natural fertilizer (it's GREAT fertilizer)
Of course, the downside of this is the burned methane turns into CO2, which will filter back down to the oceans and the populations of these critters will fairly quickly recover, so this will have to be an ongoing process. Other than that, no drawbacks!
Or, we can just remember that sea levels naturally fluctuate and let it be.
When i put ice into a glass of water and the ice melts the water level goes down because frozen water is less dense. so how will melted ice raise the level of the oceans? confusing.
Crej, the ice that's not floating such as land supported ice will cause a rise. The large chunks of ice floating have already displaced the water they ever will.
".....“Let’s face it,” he said. “Sea level (rise) is going to eat our lunch.”...."
Sea level rise is a problem in the Arctic? Isn't the part of Arctic surface inhabitable by humans entirely composed of ice? And if sea levels rise, won't the Arctic ice cap simply float a little higher?
A good article by Ms. Moran. The Arctic is extremely important for humanity going forward: as we are seeing, the broader environmental and climatic impacts from climate change can be huge for places around the globe. Also, the geopolitical issues in the Arctic are important, given the lack of a treaty to govern the region, the tremendous economic interests and the subsea jurisdictional "land" grab under the auspices of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea currently taking place, and Russia's blatant militarization up there. The Arctic Council has no teeth and is a weak talking forum. See e-thriller "Arctic Meltdown" for how this all could pan out if politicians are not careful...
The story of the sea level rising has been tossed at us since the very late 1980s. By now, my summer home along the coast of Georgia, should be under water.
This fiasco goes on at the expense of a public that still hasn't learned to distrust government and some aspects of media and science that are connected to the former.
<i>The virtue and perfection of cynicism is that you are rarely if ever wrong and never at all disappointed if you are.</i>