Arctic sea ice

Source: NASA

My most recent blog entries have been a shade indulgent. I write about my holiday; actually, a rare occasion when I do not add an awful lot of CO2 into the environment. That said, the tandem’s manufacture probably added considerably to my carbon footprint. The holiday was made by the beauty of the natural environment fed by a powerful river (the Rhine).

It has been a long time since I have been a serious environmentalist. I cut my campaigning teeth with Friends of the Earth in the early 1980s; and I bought the Guardian newspaper specifically to read the environment stories. Today I am reminded – as a somewhat older man – that the issues have not only not gone away, but rather they have worsened. Our knowledge about what is happening has increased, but the denial across the developed world is not retreating.

What has actually reminded me? The Guardian newspaper has published a short article quoting Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University. This year has been catastrophic in terms of arctic ice melt. It is now down to a mere 3.5m sq km down from the previous lowest recorded in 2007 of 4.17m sq km. He predicts this will have retreated fully by 2015/16. “As the sea ice retreats in summer the ocean warms up (to 7C in 2011) and this warms the seabed too. The continental shelves of the Arctic are composed of offshore permafrost, frozen sediment left over from the last ice age. As the water warms the permafrost melts and releases huge quantities of trapped methane, a very powerful greenhouse gas so this will give a big boost to global warming.”

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