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Cheers - AE

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

No, it can't be.

In the runup to Christmas and my poor attempt to get organised in time (I demand at least a year's notice for Christmas 2011) I missed the fact that the arctic icecap is not doomed after all.
There is no 'tipping point' beyond which climate change will inevitably push the Arctic ice cap into terminal melt off, according to a study published today.


One of the factors in this calculation is a so-called positive feedback, in which a reduced area of floating ice helps to stoke global warming.

As ice cover recedes decade by decade, more of the Sun's radiative force is absorbed by dark-blue sea rather than bounced back into space by reflective ice and snow.


Up to now, many scientists worried that there was an as yet unidentified temperature threshold which, once passed, would doom the ice cap.
But... but... but that would mean that two and a half years ago when he said it was going to melt in five years Al Gore was... wrong? And so were Prince Chuckles and his mate Pen Hadow when they gave it ten.

I'll go an update the warble gloaming diary dates with a big fat line through the ice-free North Pole ones, yes?

<sarcasm>My God, and there I was believing both mutually exclusive claims.</sarcasm> Ah, not so fast, Angry. Almost inevitably when it comes to all things ecoid every silver lining has to have a big fucking cloud in the middle of it, and this news is no exception.
But the study, based on computer models, indicates that if annual emissions of greenhouse gases are substantially reduced over the next two decades, an initial phase of rapid ice loss would be followed by a period of stability and, eventually, partial recovery.
So the message really hasn't changed that much. Reduce emissions, reduce living standards, shrink economies and all will be well once more.

Except of course there's still the point that the existence of a net positive feedback is still assumed* and, since positive feedback is unusual in nature and tends to be unstable, seems unlikely. If positive feedback were a reality how did the world avoid runaway warble gloaming in the past when CO2 levels were naturally much higher than even today with a little help from industrial activity? So before I ditch the car, the water heater, the electric and electronic appliances and everything else that comes with living in the early 21st Century rather than the 18th, is it too much to ask that someone goes out and actually confirms positive feedback empirically rather than taking it as read and shoving it and its assumed values into yet another fucking computer model?

I'd be so grateful.

* As far as I'm aware, anyway. Such a discovery would confirm a great deal which is still in doubt and disputed by sceptics, so I'd have expected it to have been headline news and very hard to miss even for me when I'm busy with other things.
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