Although you may read incorrect reports that the planet has not warmed in the last decade, those reports are usually inaccurately reported. It is impossible to summarise a detailed scientific analysis of global warming in the sound bite journalism beloved of the popular press. It is true that global mean temperatures in the past decade, taking the planet as a whole and based on those parts of the land surface that are measure have not risen in the past ten years, but two thirds of the planet is covered by water or ice and those parts of the planet have experienced warming.
The Arctic as a whole is warming twice as fast as the rest of the earth; some parts of the Antarctic are experiencing a rate of warming that is 50% higher than that of the Arctic. The extent of Arctic summer sea ice in 2012 was the lowest ever recorded, so when you read the headlines of the popular press and hear the sound bites that follow from them take care: things are not quite so simple.
The warming of the Polar Regions is real and the best evidence of that is to follow the money. The nations that border the Polar Regions are staking out claims to exploit the oil gas and minerals that lie beneath them. The revenues of the Panama Canal will shrink as more vessels cross the American Continent by taking the North West Passage; it took Amundsen three years to navigate this one hundred and ten years ago; today (albeit with faster vessels) it takes less than three weeks.
There are two major effects on climate of the melting of the Polar ice. The first is the loss of albedo – the white of snow and ice that reflects radiation back into space and prevents the sun from over cooking the earth. The second is that release of methane trapped under the ice which bubbles through the sea, adding to the greenhouse gases that shroud the earth like a blanket, keeping in heat. If there is too much atmospheric methane that keeps in too much heat it adds to the danger of too much atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Under International law states claim the right to exploit resources that are within 200 miles of their shores, provided the 200 mile limit does not cross a 200 limit of a neighbouring state. United States, Canada, Russia, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland are all making claims to exploit resources that extend more than 200 miles beyond their shores, sometimes using the most fanciful devices to claim ownership of the sea bed. No doubt an independent Scotland would try to get in on the Act, provided it retained jurisdiction of the Shetlands. The Scots smell the opportunities and the money that can be made and would be prepared to argue with Norway and Denmark (that has jurisdiction over the Faroe Islands).
So next time you consider whether global warming is real, just follow the money that is being spent because there is a belief in global warming that brings opportunities to make money. There is no point in following the money spent to delay fast global warming; that is so small, it can hardly be counted.
Filed under: carbon emissions, climate change, energy, global warming | Tagged: albedo, atmospheric carbon dioxide, atmospheric methane, climate, environment, extent of summer sea ice, global warming, international law, melting Polar Regions, methane release, North West Passage, ownership of resources on the sea bed, resources under the Arctic, science, summer sea ice |