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One By One, the Flood Gates of Antarctica are Breaking Open

“We have still time to avoid the worst of it, but we have already opened a number of flood gates, one in West Antarctica, and several in Greenland.”Dr Eric Rignot.

“This kind of rifting behavior provides another mechanism for rapid retreat of these glaciers, adding to the probability that we may see significant collapse of West Antarctica in our lifetimes.” Ian Howat, Earth Sciences associate Professor at Ohio State University.

“Burning all the world’s coal, oil and gas would melt the entire Antarctic ice-sheet and cause the oceans to rise by over 50m, a transformation unprecedented in human history. The conclusion of a new scientific study shows that, over the course of centuries, land currently inhabited by a billion people would be lost below water.” — The Guardian.

*****

Massive Rift Forming in Larsen C

Larsen C. It’s the next big ice shelf on the butcher’s block in West Antarctica. And now it appears the shelf may be well on its way to facing the same fate as its companions Larsen A and Larsen B. That fate — disintegration and the ultimate release of glaciers that have been held in check for thousands of years into the world ocean.

It was only about 150 years ago that the Larsen Ice shelves were discovered. And the Larsen shelf system is thought to have been mostly stable throughout the last 12,000 years. But in 1995 Larsen A splintered into a million icebergs. And in 2002 the larger portion of Larsen B broke apart. Warming Ocean waters heated by an atmosphere loaded with greenhouse gasses did the damage. And now the same warm water currents that shattered Larsen A and Larsen B are endangering their larger cousin — Larsen C.

larsen-c-ice-rift

(Ice shelves and sea fronting glaciers serve as the flood gates keeping West Antarctica’s glaciers from spilling into the ocean and raising sea levels by as much as 20 feet. But warm ocean waters are causing these flood gates to melt and crack wide open. The above image shows a massive abyssal rift forming in the Larsen C ice shelf. A similar rift formed in the center of the Pine Island Glacier last year. A signal that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could undergo a major collapse over the next 100 years. Image source: NASA.)

For today, a huge rift running through the ice shelf is about to break off a Delaware-sized iceberg into the Atlantic Ocean. The rift is broadening, deepening and extending. And it now measures 70 miles long, 300 feet wide, and a third of a mile deep. Once this enormous abyssal crack runs its course and causes about 10 percent of the ice shelf to break off, the big land-grounded glaciers sitting upon mountainous slopes behind the ice shelf will have less protection. They will increase their forward speed and contribute larger volumes of ice outflow to the growing problem of global sea level rise.

In this way, rifts in Antarctica’s sea fronting glaciers and ice shelves can be seen as giant cracks in the flood gates holding back enormous glaciers that, when released, will lift global sea levels by feet and meters.

Big Crack in the Pine Island Glacier

Closer to the center mass of West Antarctica, the Pine Island Glacier serves as one of the most important of these flood gates. In total, the large grounded glaciers in what could best be termed as an ice bottle neck hold back about 10 percent of all of West Antarctica’s interior ice mass. But just last year a huge rift that formed in this glacial buttress during 2013 cracked wide open — causing three massive icebergs totalling ten times the size of Manhattan to break off.

According to a new study, warm ocean water flooded far inland along the underside of the Pine Island Glacier. It ate away at its base and then spilled down-slope to cut out a melting hollow in the glacier’s heart. Ultimately, an enormous crack formed within the glacier 20 miles away from where the ice mass meets the ocean at the surface.

(Massive crack forms in the Pine Island Glacier, then causes three very large icebergs to break off during 2015. A new study finds that the Pine Island Glacier is melting from the inside out and an inland flood of warm ocean water is causing both the melt and the formation of large rifts in the ice. Scientists believe that these could be the first signs of a significant collapse of West Antarctica that could occur without our lifetimes. Video source: Ohio State.)

Then, in 2015, gigantic chunks of ice covering 225 square miles broke off from the Glacier and floated out into the Amundsen Sea. This was the second series of icebergs to break off from the Pine Island Glacier in as many years. And scientists were notably very concerned.

Pine Island Glacier is particularly vulnerable because it sits on a reverse slope. In other words, a below sea level bed slopes lower as you progress toward the center of the Continent. And, in fact, large portions of West Antarctica are below sea level (see topographic image below).

Pine Island Glacier itself rests upon an opening to one of the deepest valleys sloping inland. At the location of the Pine Island glacier a rift between 500 and 2,000 feet below sea level runs down toward a central region of West Antarctica that sits between 2,000 and 6,000 feet below sea level. And within this basin is a pile of glacial ice that from bedrock to its highest point above sea level towers two and a half miles high. The very valid concern for this glacier is that melt and rifting, once started, will tend to accelerate — taking out larger and larger chunks of the inland ice as it is exposed to the warming ocean and heating atmosphere.

The Larger Picture — Glacial Flood Gates are Cracking Open

Larsen C and Pine Island Glacier serve as but two of the many flood gates that run all along the coast of West Antarctica and East Antarctica. But the increasing flows of warm water coming in from the ocean and a related rise in the frequency of events where large masses of ice break off from buttressing glaciers and ice shelves has put West Antarctica in danger of facing a near term collapse.

west-antarctica-below-sea-level

(Islands encased in ice. Much West Antarctica, on the left side of this topographic image, sits between 0 to 6,000 feet below sea level. If the buttressing glaciers and ice shelves like Larsen C and Pine Island are lost, there is little to prevent the warming oceans from flooding inland and setting off a rapid cascade of melt and seaward outflow. Scientists now believe that such a collapse could happen within our lifetimes. Image source: Antarctic Bedrock.)

With information from new glacial stability assessments in hand, Antarctic ice specialists are warning that the western region of this frozen land may collapse in a major melt event that over the next 100 years could raise sea levels by 10 feet. And West Antarctica is but one of three global regions — including Greenland and East Antarctica — capable of contributing significant glacial outbursts during this period.

Links:

West Antarctica Ice Shelf is Melting From the Inside Out

With a Collapsing West Antarctica, Sea Levels Could Rise Twice as High as We Thought

Combustion of Available Fossil Fuel Reserves Sufficient to Eliminate Antarctic Ice Sheet

Burning all Fossil Fuels Will Melt Entire Antarctic Ice Sheet

Rift in Antarctica’s Larsen C Ice Shelf

The Larsen Ice Shelves

NASA Captures Disturbing Images of Antarctica Ice Rift

Antarctic Bedrock

Pine Island Glacier Topography

Hat tip to Colorado Bob

Hat tip to ClimateHawk

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108 Comments

  1. bostonblorp

     /  December 6, 2016

    Given that ice melt is a lagging indicator of CO2 I’m curious as to what the projections look like if human emissions simply stopped today. What sea level rise is already baked into the cards without some miracle carbon capture?

    Inquiring minds want to know how far up the hill to go.

    I still marvel at my trip to Ft. Lauderdale last year where cranes are throwing up high rises mere yards from the ocean.

    Reply
    • 410 ppm CO2 probably produces about 20 to 60 feet of sea level rise long term. 495 ppm CO2e probably produces 60-130 feet of sea level rise long term. In Virginia and Maryland, my advice to parents, friends and relatives is that if you want to be certain, move back above the fall line. Over our lifetime, anything below 10 feet of sea level is at high risk of increased flooding. Lower areas in the range of 6 feet above sea level and below is at high risk of being completely taken in by the ocean in our lifetime. Regional factors amplify and mitigate this risk. But the US Gulf and East Coasts are high risk regions.

      Reply
      • bostonblorp

         /  December 6, 2016

        Thanks, RS. It seems we are just a couple years away from 410 ppm and it’s hard to imagine it flatlining there barring some miracle.

        Farewell, Florida!

        Reply
        • No worries, Boston. Hope it’s helpful. We will hit near 410 ppm CO2 at peak during April of 2016. In just two years after that, by 2019, the global atmospheric average will be near that value. CO2e hits 495 ppm in the 2017 to 2018 timeframe.

        • Hatrack

           /  December 6, 2016

          Per Robert’s note, we’re already at 485 CO2e – I’d give us until 2019 for 495, and 2021 for 500.

        • For 2015-2016 the annual increase in CO2e is approx 4.5 ppm. This may drop to 3-4 ppm post El Nino, but it hasn’t yet. NOAA’s 485 CO2e approx value is for 2015. 2016 is approx 490 CO2e given current trend.

          I tend to give estimated values for current year to try to not underplay what is a presently very rapid rate of increase. NOAA ESRL does provide the official results. My statements should only be seen as estimates based on extrapolating the trend in CH4, CO2, and NOx increases.

        • Hatrack

           /  December 6, 2016

          Robert, thank you for the correction!

        • Not really a correction. Just a clarification. I’m leading the official NOAA results by a year. So the value they produce for 2016 will be the final positive/negative confirmation of my present estimates.

      • Suzanne

         /  December 6, 2016

        Robert do you think we will see the salt water intrusion in the S.Florida aquifers first? And if so, how far ahead of the SLR? I wonder if most people who live in S. Florida even understand that we are sitting on porous limestone that will suck up that salt water and contaminate our fresh water supply as the seas continue to rise.

        Reply
        • bostonblorp

           /  December 6, 2016

          To tack on an addendum to your post, I’ve read that that same limestome makes building seawalls difficult to futile as the water will slink its way in beneath them. I wonder if SLR is covered by flood insurance!

        • Impacts to S. Florida aquifers due to salt water intrusion is already an issue that is requiring changes in infrastructure to address. So this is an issue now. At some point, protecting aquifers is going to be very difficult due to the very porosity problem you mention.

          For general reference, here’s a map showing the elevation of South Florida related to near term sea level:

          And here is the salt water intrusion line in Miami-Dade County relative to the location of aquifer wells as of 2014. Note the many wells that have already been crowded by the advancing salt water intrusion line.

        • Suzanne

           /  December 6, 2016

          Thanks Robert. I would love a link to this map..as I live in the northern most town of PB County…Jupiter…which is a “bit” higher than Miami Dade and Broward Counties. I just don’t get why this is not being reported 24/7 down here.

        • Just right click on the image to ‘copy image address.’In any case, Jupiter isn’t as vulnerable as Miami-Dade at this time. However, the salt water intrusion will tend to spread inland and northward from that low-point.

        • Suzanne

           /  December 6, 2016

          Thank you so much for posting this video. I just love the “new” house being built in that flooded neighborhood….on short pilings to raise it a bit off the street. Do they not get that they are not going to have fresh water for that house? Do they not get that with all those septic tanks…and the flooding they will be living surrounded by a bacteria filled swamp with disease potential?

          Jeff Goodell is right…Florida has a mind set of…”We are on vacation and living in Paradise…so I don’t need to worry”. I have seen it my whole life. I have lived here since I was a child..over 50 years. I wrote on the previous post…my entire family of origin are 1%-ers living here in S. Florida…all of them on the ocean…and all of them voted for the Lunatic. And the sad thing is several of them actually see CC as a problem, yet are unwilling to vote for a Democrat because they might have to pay more taxes on money they have so much of they won’t be able to spend it all in their lifetimes…and believing that somehow the problem will be fixed (I call it Grown Up Magical Thinking). Suffice it to say…they see me as a alarmist freak…Holidays are never fun for this lone Progressive in the bunch. In fact, this year I have made other plans because since November 8th…I just can’t face them. This election broke something inside of me…I still can’t quite articulate, and I just can’t forgive them this time for their selfish voting choices.

        • Griffin

           /  December 7, 2016

          It is also important to remember that sea water intrusion into an aquifer depends not only on sea level but also the fresh water level in the aquifer itself. As more groundwater is pulled and the aquifer level drops, it becomes easier for the sea water to intrude. It is therefore imperative to not let an aquifer level drop. Easier said than done in the long term! As the sea level rises, all the problems become compounded.
          http://www.floridabulldog.org/2015/06/south-florida-winning-war-against-saltwater-intrusion-but-its-not-cheap/

        • Ryan in New England

           /  December 7, 2016

          That video of the high tide flooding in Florida is crazy. The most affected areas have maybe a few years left before they can’t drive to their homes…and they’re still building new homes! Unbelievable! I am now convinced that people won’t move (the smarter ones will) until they are literally washed away. And even then, they will swim back and try to rebuild.

    • mulga mumblebrain

       /  December 7, 2016

      The top of the hill will do, Sisyphus-if you get my drift.

      Reply
  2. All quiet on the southern Arizona dezert front, still cool seasonal weathermfor Nov and Dec 2016. People getting ready for holidays and generallly in good moods because of both holidays and our winter weather.
    I am enjoying it because I fear for what comes midJanuary. Winter ended abruptlymid Feb in 2016. Hope it doesnt come midJan 2017.
    Thanks for the info , as always , Robert.
    Sheri

    Reply
  3. miles h

     /  December 6, 2016

    the sleeping giant awakes…
    worrying news.
    I live on the side of a steep valley at around 600ft; but one day my house will look out over the Midlands sea.

    Reply
  4. Ailsa

     /  December 6, 2016

    Horrendous stuff happening now…

    Climate & Extreme Weather News #12 (December 3rd to 5th 2016)

    So much bad news people. Thank goodness for DAPL victory – we need to keep this in mind, and put our energy into creating community, teaching the principles of ecology (interconnectiveness and the web of life)

    All power to the remarkable Scribbler caring, hard-working, truth-reverencing tribe. xx

    Reply
    • Thanks for this, Ailsa. DAPL, Keystone, Northern Gateway are all victories. All are reasons to keep fighting. To keep communicating. To keep doing the right thing.

      Reply
      • Ailsa

         /  December 6, 2016

        Yes RS, powerful and wonderful things are there, in the midst of all the deadening and disempowering stuff.

        For instance, how about sending some love and/or bucks to this incredibly brave guy:

        Reply
  5. Cate

     /  December 6, 2016

    http://www.climatecentral.org/news/climate-denier-nasa-transition-20938

    A Climate Denier is Leading the NASA Transition

    “….the alarm started ringing louder last week with the announcement that Chris Shank, the deputy chief of staff to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), will be heading the transition at the agency. Now Shank will be in charge of helping lay out the priorities for the next NASA administrator and if his past is any indication, NASA’s $1.9 billion earth science budget will be square in the crosshairs….Shank has questioned the underpinnings of climate science….”

    A recent (Sept 2015) public comment by Shank:
    “The rhetoric about climate pollution, which is CO2 which I am emitting here today, is this really about some neo-Malthusian discussion on population control that we’re talking about here?” he said, alluding to the idea that climate change could be used by governments to invade people’s personal lives. “Some of the rhetoric coming out that it’s the hottest year in history actually is not backed up by the science.”

    Reply
    • In response to the numbskull who may well be in charge of NASA funding allocation and planning under Trump…

      Well, it’s kinda funny to me how the opponents to climate responses talk about invading other people’s lives. But the real invasions are happening right now due to sea level rise, forced migration, and changing climate zones threatening food and water supplies. Government policy is mild and moderate compared to the changes produced by climate change. And, in any case, this is about acting to save lives rather than ignoring a problem to the point that it becomes unmanageable and more and more lives and livelihoods are lost.

      In addition, NASA now faces an invasion of a very real kind by climate change deniers, who like any other witch hunter, tends to actively deny both facts and science. What we have here is the equivalent to a climate flat Earther who will be making critical decisions regarding NASA and, by extension, the future prospects of all people living in the US and around the world. For if you can’t actively monitor climate and weather data, then you’re going to be unprepared for climate/weather/geophysical events that will inevitably arise.

      Reply
  6. climatehawk1

     /  December 6, 2016

    Tweet scheduled, thanks for the hat tip. 🙂

    Reply
  7. Ailsa

     /  December 6, 2016

    Came across this youtube posting of the 2009 film ‘The Age of Stupid’ recently. Free to view and posted by the makers, its really worth the watch, to see how much was common knowledge 8 years ago, but we haven’t got past arguing even now… excellently done, worth the watch if you have the time (1 and 1/2 hours):

    “The Age of Stupid stars Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father, The Usual Suspects, Brassed Off) as a man living in the devastated future world of 2055, looking back at old footage from our time and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?”

    Reply
    • T-rev

       /  December 8, 2016

      Watching the ‘Age of Stupid’ in 2009 was what finally got me to act. I moved (220m above sea level), started voting Green and cut my emissions footprint to 2.5t per annum. I could no longer stand by and throw fuel on the fire by being one of the folk helping cause this.

      As Professor Kumdieck points out, doing anything substantive about climate change is beyond our current system. Even a complete change to renewables for electricty isn’t close to enough and while a great step, without acknowledging it’s only some 30% of emisions, all we do is kick the can down the road.

      Business leaders recognise that the biggest risk to their business is energy transition. The most popular concept of this transition involves a substitution of renewables for fossil fuels and development of elusive tail-pipe technologies like carbon-capture and storage. This concept is comforting and simple. But it is also profoundly wrong. There is no way to achieve an energy transition without completely reworking every aspect of our infrastructure, industry and economy to vastly reduce energy demand. Changing the global economy to nearly eliminate the use of fossil fuels is a “wicked problem” – a problem with no known solution

      *Dr Susan P Krumdieck is Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Advanced Energy and Material Systems Lab, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

      Reply
  8. Cate

     /  December 6, 2016

    NSIDC today: Sea ice hits record lows

    https://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/2016/12/arctic-and-antarctic-at-record-low-levels/

    “Average Arctic sea ice extent for November set a record low, reflecting unusually high air temperatures, winds from the south, and a warm ocean. Since October, Arctic ice extent has been more than two standard deviations lower than the long-term average. Antarctic sea ice extent quickly declined in November, also setting a record low for the month and tracking more than two standard deviations below average during the entire month. For the globe as a whole, sea ice cover was exceptionally low.”

    Plenty more details in the article.

    Reply
  9. Cate

     /  December 6, 2016

    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/12/canada-corporations-dapl-mining-imperialism-tar-sands

    “Canada’s Dirty Secret: Canadian mining and petroleum companies rank among the most world’s most abusive and destructive.”

    Except that it’s hardly a secret. The article discusses the implications for activism.

    “Since the beginning of the neoliberal era, Canada’s economy has become dominant in many ecologically destructive industries. This has upended traditional leftist analysis of Canada’s economy as one completely subservient to the United States. Canadian activists have begun organizing against them; international activists should do the same.
    The TSX, the world’s eighth-largest stock exchange, lists more oil, gas, and mining companies than any other. Over half of the world’s mining companies are headquartered in Canada.
    Canadian oil companies (also) enjoy a significant amount of power. Their lobbying in Ottawa outpaces every other industry and special interest group. These lobbyists and the companies’ massive public-outreach efforts argue that Alberta produces “ethical oil.” “

    Reply
  10. coloradobob

     /  December 6, 2016

    “The Age of Stupid stars Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite —

    I saw this when this was released in theaters on closed circuit . There were 3 of us in theater.

    Reply
  11. Cate

     /  December 6, 2016

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2016/dec/06/more-terrifying-than-trump-the-booming-conspiracy-culture-of-climate-science-denial

    On the “booming” online “conspiracy of climate change denial” in the post-truth era, as exemplified in sites such as Inforwars, Drudge Reports, and Breitbart, all of whose monthly page views count well into billions.

    “The problem is not that these sites exist but that not enough people seem to know the difference between actual news, fake news, partisan opinion and conspiratorial bullshit. One of those people is the president-elect of the United States.
    Either that, or people don’t even care to differentiate between fake and real, especially if what they read taps into their own prejudices.
    There is a concerted attempt to cut sensible climate policy off at the knees by building a popular online movement against the science itself.”

    Reply
    • They are rabble rousing for an anti-science witch hunt.

      Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  December 7, 2016

      (RS note: link taken down… ie ‘fake news/industry based misinformation.’)

      The CEO of Ford just perfectly summarized the biggest problem for electric cars

      numerous electric-car startups aiming to join Tesla, and the major automakers were producing their first EVs since GM had killed it EV-1 in the 1990s.

      Since then, the promise of an electric-car revolution hasn’t just failed to materialise — it’s actually retreated.

      The reason is simple: consumers don’t want electric cars. It’s the D-word — demand. And demand isn’t there.

      This market reality has collided head-on with an increase in federal fuel-economy standards, mandated by the EPA. Automakers want the government to ease up on the timetable, so that they can sell as many profitable pickup trucks and SUV in the US as possible, while sales are running at historically record levels and gas is cheap.

      This is purely good business — carmakers want to bolster their balance sheets now, while the bolstering opportunity is good, ahead of the inevitable downturn.
      Trump to the rescue?

      Auto industry leaders are now seizing a chance to get President-elect Donald Trump’s administration to give them a break, while at the same time not completely backing off the EV aspects of their product portfolios.

      Reply
      • Greg

         /  December 7, 2016

        Wrong. Anyone who doesn’t see how disruptive electrification of all transportation is, should step out of the way. If you study new technologies you know that once 1% penetration occurs there are rapid increases:

        Reply
      • Paul PNW

         /  December 7, 2016

        Why are you posting fossil fuel industry FUD Abel?

        FWIW IMO the notion that there’s no demand for electric vehicles is patently ridiculous, Tesla had over 100,000 preorders, taken over the previous ~24 hrs, before they even revealed the Model 3! They *still* haven’t shown the final design and I would say reasonable speculation puts them at over half a million (they’re no longer providing an update to the last official figure several months ago, which was low-mid 400,000 IIRC).

        I know you’re a regular and link to many on point pieces but I don’t think this is the first time I’ve seen you link to something that’s clearly FUD/biased to the contrary aims of the site here…

        Reply
        • Abel Adamski

           /  December 7, 2016

          Sorry , but I have posted an article from Australia’s premier Financial Paper, it has major influence in business and financial circles. Unfortunately no ability to comment on the article, however it is reflective of the attitude and approach of Corporate US and we in Aust are cursed with one of the most incompetent and Denier ultra rabid right wing governments we have ever had who would lap this up as further justification for their stance

          “Automakers want the government to ease up on the timetable, so that they can sell as many profitable pickup trucks and SUV in the US as possible, while sales are running at historically record levels and gas is cheap”

          Highlighting short term thinking and profit at all costs that must be confronted even if they bleat platitudes ad Nauseum , it is with forked tongue

        • Cate

           /  December 7, 2016

          I wonder if there is some kind of unwritten internet assumption that posting something means that you agree with it? I often post articles that I disagree with, especially if they appear in MSM or in major/influential journals because I think it is very important to stay on top of what gets dished out as “news” in the post-truth era. I have noticed that climate denialism is often squirrelled away in the “business pages” . Pieces like this one from AA need to be rooted out and exposed.

      • So you should probably add a caveat when you re-post fossil fuel based industry misinformation… I’m taking the link down as I don’t want to feed traffic to a fake news site.

        To be clear, the major automakers basically do not want to change. They built their business models to produce fossil fuel vehicles. And they’ve learned how to do that with varying degrees of success. Since they are so old and set in their ways, they’re not very good at producing high-quality electrical vehicles. Furthermore, since jump they’ve been in bed with the fossil fuel industry. Pretty much every time the EPA increases CAFE standards, they oppose it. And pretty much every time they approach the design of an electric vehicle, they pretty much have to be dragged into it.

        If you take the Volt, which is an excellent electric vehicle as an example, you can see what I’m talking about. Since the start, the Volt produced a huge amount of interest. But the initial model was produced in very low volumes. In addition, the initial Volt had zero marketing budget. Word of mouth sold the vehicle. And even then salespersons working in show rooms were often reported to be down-playing the Volt, which is actually an excellent automobile, in favor of fossil fuel based alternatives. It took about 3 years for GM to finally wake up and support the car. And it is now one of their best-selling models.

        GM is taking a similar tac with the Bolt. To be clear, the Bolt is not a competitor to the Model 3. The Bolt is basically a high quality compliance car with a long electric range. The Model 3 is a small sporty luxury vehicle that is priced in the 30,000 dollar range. In fact, the only way in which the Model 3 and the Bolt are similar is on range and price. The Model 3 is faster, it is higher quality in every respect, and it’s not shaped like an economy car. Not to say that the Bolt is a bad vehicle. But it’s pretty obvious here which company is trying to produce a car that will move out of showrooms in high volumes. Already, there are rumors that GM is not going to produce the Bolt in high enough volumes to be a model 3 competitor and is instead looking to maybe hit 20-30 K per year in sales. After all the big talk, this is very little to show. By comparison, the Model 3 could move 200K in the first year — which would make it one of the single best selling models in its class in the world overnight.

        And to be very clear, Tesla is a pure EV manufacturer. The company has a direct interest in actually selling EVs — not in putting out pacifiers for what amounts to a very high base demand for sustainable transportation. The major automakers, if they do not follow suit, and they seem very reluctant to do so, face a similar problem as oil, gas, and coal producers. If they can’t or won’t produce sustainable vehicles and actually try to sell them, then they are placed in a position to attempt to prevent a response to climate change. And that puts them in a position where they are actively suppressing solutions and where they are working to lock in conditions that are going to harm pretty much everyone. Based on who they’ve supported politically it’s pretty clear that this is the case.

        Now I’m not going to say that everyone in the auto industry thinks this way. But it’s the way the cards have fallen generally. And I think a lot of people are going to regret this obstinate and destructive way of thinking.

        All that said, this notion that people don’t want EVs is pure bunk. It’s pretty clear here that there are people who are doing everything they can to talk down EVs because they are very real competitors to current fossil fuel vehicles that represent a pretty big speculative monetary interest, just like fossil fuels…

        Reply
    • Anne

       /  December 7, 2016

      Apologies if this has already been posted but this is a very important – and chilling – article by Jonathan Albright (an assistant professor of communications at Elon University in North Carolina) on how fake news is generated and propagated by what he calls the right-wing propaganda machine. Snippage (from Guardian/Observer article covering the story on 4 December): “I took a list of these fake news sites that was circulating, I had an initial list of 306 of them and I used a tool – like the one Google uses – to scrape them for links and then I mapped them. So I looked at where the links went – into YouTube and Facebook, and between each other, millions of them… and I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

      “They have created a web that is bleeding through on to our web. This isn’t a conspiracy. There isn’t one person who’s created this. It’s a vast system of hundreds of different sites that are using all the same tricks that all websites use. They’re sending out thousands of links to other sites and together this has created a vast satellite system of rightwing news and propaganda that has completely surrounded the mainstream media system.”
      He’s warning us off doing anything that will feed into their linkage.

      I’ll post the Guardian link in the next comment. Meanwhile, Albright’s research is here – a long piece in two parts and worth attention:
      View story at Medium.com

      Reply
      • mulga mumblebrain

         /  December 8, 2016

        Anne, that is certainly true, but the central organs of the ‘fake news’ Moloch are tose of the business-owned MSM itself, including the ‘Guardian’. Much of this Right fake, climate destabilisation denying, garbage begins in organs like the UK Daily Mail or the Nurdoch cancers in Australia, or is regurgitated there. And the Guardian itself, while much better, but by no means good enough, on environmental matters, is itself a mighty Wurlitzer of fake news re. Russia, Syria, China and Ukraine etc. These are people living in glass mansions throwing boulders, which, unfortunately, detracts from the message re. Rightwing propaganda, which is an outbreak of mass, genocidal, hysteria, without precedent in history. I always strongly suspected, from my knowledge of Rightwing authoritarians, and their behaviour over the last forty years, that the climate destabilisation crisis, now upon us, would be met, not by a Damascene conversion to rationality, logic, science and Truth, but to ever more maniacal lying, misrepresentation and vilification of the truth-tellers, and so it is panning out. And I’m afraid I know where it will, inexorably, lead, but that’s not a topic I wish to broach here.

        Reply
    • Anne

       /  December 7, 2016

      And here is the Observer article drawing on Albright’s research, and that of others who have looked at Google and how it’s being gamed, the alarming autocomplete suggestions and so on. Snippage:

      “Google is search. It’s the verb, to Google. It’s what we all do, all the time, whenever we want to know anything. We Google it. The site handles at least 63,000 searches a second, 5.5bn a day. Its mission as a company, the one-line overview that has informed the company since its foundation and is still the banner headline on its corporate website today, is to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. It strives to give you the best, most relevant results. And in this instance the third-best, most relevant result to the search query “are Jews… ” is a link to an article from stormfront.org, a neo-Nazi website. […]
      “There’s one result in the 10 that offers a different point of view. It’s a link to a rather dense, scholarly book review from thetabletmag.com, a Jewish magazine, with the unfortunately misleading headline: “Why Literally Everybody In the World Hates Jews.”

      I feel like I’ve fallen down a wormhole, entered some parallel universe where black is white, and good is bad. Though later, I think that perhaps what I’ve actually done is scraped the topsoil off the surface of 2016 and found one of the underground springs that has been quietly nurturing it. It’s been there all the time, of course. Just a few keystrokes away… on our laptops, our tablets, our phones. This isn’t a secret Nazi cell lurking in the shadows. It’s hiding in plain sight.”

      More, much more at the link. Read this article at least if Albright’s is too long!
      https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/04/google-democracy-truth-internet-search-facebook

      Reply
      • Marcusblanc

         /  December 7, 2016

        Important journalism that, although I find it disturbing that the situation has got so bad before the story gets recognition.

        See how quickly Google moved to address some of those search suggestions, they know how toxic this subject could be for their brand (and the same applies to FB).

        We who keep an eye on the climate wars have all seen the climate denial echo chamber in effect for many years, but the techniques are being used all over the place now. Search engine optimization/fake news has got completely out of hand, as we see in recent political races.

        Reply
      • Ever feel like you’re being hunted down on the net? Ever get the sense that there’s a huge system in place out here designed to tell you what to think and feel? Designed to feed into this right wing ideological BS? This is the most direct reporting on the matter that I’ve ever seen. From the article linked by Anne:

        “I scraped the trackers on these sites and I was absolutely dumbfounded. Every time someone likes one of these posts on Facebook or visits one of these websites, the scripts are then following you around the web. And this enables data-mining and influencing companies like Cambridge Analytica to precisely target individuals, to follow them around the web, and to send them highly personalised political messages. This is a propaganda machine. It’s targeting people individually to recruit them to an idea. It’s a level of social engineering that I’ve never seen before. They’re capturing people and then keeping them on an emotional leash and never letting them go.”

        This is what we’ve talked about here over and over and over again. There is this huge system that just produces bad information. That is designed to produce bad information. That is set up to try to convince you that the unreal is real. That is designed to put a big crack in your filtering mechanisms and then flood you with crap. And this is why the best solution, the only solution at least for a small blog like this one, is to delete the fake news whenever it shows up. I just take it down. The links feed the beast, so we shut down the links.

        Reply
        • Shawn Redmond

           /  December 7, 2016

          Unbelievable isn’t it. I’ve had nothing but mistrust for the corporate world pretty much my whole life. No good reasons just never passed the sniff test, IMO. I regularly delete all the cookies on my computer for this reason. Its a bit of a pain in it that I end up going through filters a lot such as Roberts here and my banking. You know answering the ” we don’t recognize this computer” who are you questions over and over. Helps to keep them fresh in my head though. I no longer use google either because of the tracking. The other search engines are not likely much better. Best if you can find your way around without the damn things. Slower though.

        • In the end, greed is a pretty ugly thing…

        • Cate

           /  December 7, 2016

          Again, words fail, but who is really surprised that this is happening, or at the scale and extent of it? Just this morning I had occasion to look at—and then remove—- the many and varied “interests” that FB stores about me on my behalf, in the interest of helpfully providing with me ads that match my profile and “behaviour” both on FB and elsewhere on the internet. My “behaviour”? It was a sobering and instructive exercise, to say the least. And yet again, grasping for context, I find myself thinking in biblical terms, of a great evil loose upon the world.

  12. Ryan in New England

     /  December 7, 2016

    A Guardian article about the record low Arctic and Antarctic sea ice.

    The Arctic’s record low, beating a mark set in 2012, was driven by unusually high temperatures over the Arctic Ocean, persistent winds that pushed ice north and a warm ocean. Areas of the Arctic have reached more than 20C (36F) warmer than usual, with an area of Russian Arctic forecast to be 33C (59F) warmer than normal on Thursday. 2016 is on track to be the warmest year on record globally.

    “Typically sea ice begins to form in the fjords at the beginning of November, but this year there was no ice to be found,” said NSIDC scientist Julienne Stroeve, who assessed ice cover in Svalbard during November.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/dec/06/arctic-antarctic-ice-melt-november-record

    Reply
  13. Griffin

     /  December 7, 2016

    Another excellent and informative post Robert. Thank you for the work that you put into this!

    Reply
  14. OT but to follow DAPL:

    A local Raleigh vet is at the Standing Rock camp and reported last night that there are now 5,000 vets from Veterans for Peace there. They worry that Energy Transfer Partners will go ahead regardless – they already have the permits – and pay the fine, described as ‘lunch money’. Here is a link to a recent ETP response –
    http://thefreethoughtproject.com/pipeline-defy-army-corps-order-standing-rock/

    According to a statement from Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics, which is acquiring ETP in a merger:
    “As stated all along, ETP and SXL are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.”

    I hope there is a dedicated chronicler out there somewhere.

    Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  December 7, 2016

      On that whistleblower video are links to other informative videos re the Indian Nations and their prophesies and why this is so important to them.
      They have had a herd of wild buffalo appear, a Golden Eagle landed in their camp, other totemic birds have also appeared at their site. Unusual occurrences especially at the same time in the one location and of great spiritual significance to the whole Indian Nations.
      This to them is prophesy 8 of 9 prophesies common to the Indian Nations that were independently arrived at both by the Hopi and Lakota.
      The prophesy of the black snake seeking to cross the river to wreak death and destruction

      Reply
    • Glad to see they’re keeping a keen watch. 5,000 veterans. The numbers astound. And these guys and gals know how to organize. Corporations have, for a long time now, given a cold shoulder to veterans after serving this country for years and decades. They’ve lobbied to cut veteran benefits and to cut the social programs that help veterans after providing an essential service. Many have ended up homeless as a result. I can’t help but find the current situation more than a bit ironic. Two victimized groups standing together to face down one of the most harmful and exploitative industries in existence. That’s the very definition of social justice in action.

      Reply
  15. Suzanne

     /  December 7, 2016

    Noam Chomsky: Trump’s Climate Change Denialism will Accelerate Global Race to Destruction….December 5th….speech at 20th Anniversary of DemocracyNow:

    Reply
  16. Vic

     /  December 7, 2016

    An oil and gas exploration company is seeking $2.7 billion in damages from the Victorian Government after the state moved to ban fracking, saying the decision was “unlawful”.
    Lakes Oil, which is part owned by Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting, said it was seeking to recover the losses it suffered by the ban.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-06/victorian-sued-for-2-7-billion-dollars-over-fracking-ban/8097860

    Because the first $12.2 billion is never enough.


    “The Banquet of Gina and Ginia” by Warren Lane.

    Reply
  17. Hatrack

     /  December 7, 2016

    Cross-Posting to Democratic Underground

    Reply
  18. I’m curious if the sea level numbers quoted have already included the following factors. Two big gravitational things will happen as Antarctica melts – first as the Mass of land ice loses it’s gravitational pull on the southern oceans, sea levels around Antarctica may not rise very much for awhile, because the released ocean mass migrates toward the northern hemisphere. Second, the Earth’s crust rebounds once the weight of thick land ice is gone. This is a very slow process, but guaranteed. Since Earth is a ball of almost fixed volume, a rebound in one continental area causes subsidence elsewhere. Both of these gravitational effects will be extremely bad news for the northern hemisphere, which will already be dealing with urban mega-disasters from just the meltdown/rebound of Greenland.

    As William Gibson once said – “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”

    Reply
    • Abel Adamski

       /  December 7, 2016

      The other factor I wonder about is that all this information and research and conclusions were prior to what is currently happening at both poles.
      If as I believe has been suggested we are experiencing a Climate step change, what will that mean going forward

      Reply
  19. It’s worrying how more and more ice shelves in the antarctic are under threat. On Brunt ice shelf, they are now moving a research station further inland because of new crack activity (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/07/british-antarctic-research-station-crack-ice). And then there’s the one’s we may not know about yet, i.e. destabalisation processes not visible with the naked eye or satellite…

    Reply
  20. Spike

     /  December 7, 2016

    I was a bit depressed by the relentless onslaught of recent bad news yesterday. These guys have cheered me up a bit with their plan.

    http://theconversation.com/we-can-limit-global-warming-to-1-5-c-if-we-do-these-things-in-the-next-ten-years-69158

    Reply
  21. coloradobob

     /  December 7, 2016

    Polar bear numbers to plunge a third as sea ice melts: study

    Polar bear numbers could drop a third by mid-century, according to the first systematic assessment, released on Wednesday, of how dwindling Arctic sea ice affects the world’s largest bear.

    There is a 70 percent chance that the global polar bear population –- estimated at 26,000 -– will decline by more than 30 percent over the next 35 years, a period corresponding to three generations, the study found.
    Other assessments have reached similar conclusions, notably a recent review by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which tracks endangered species on its Red List.
    The IUCN classified the sea-faring polar bear—a.k.a. Ursus maritimus—as “vulnerable”, or at high risk of extinction in the wild.

    Read more at: Link

    Reply
  22. coloradobob

     /  December 7, 2016

    Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores

    At two miles long and five inches in diameter, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide (WAIS) ice core is a tangible record of the last 68,000 years of our planet’s climate.

    Completed in 2011, the core is packed with information, but it’s also packed with noise and error, making the climate story hard to read. Figuring out whether blips in the data are evidence of humans spewing carbon into the atmosphere, odd North Atlantic weather events, or equipment malfunctions often challenges the scientists trying to read the ice cylinder’s story.
    Drawing from information theory, a research team led by Santa Fe Institute Omidyar Fellow Joshua Garland has proposed new, more sophisticated techniques that promise to make ongoing interpretation of the WAIS core easier and extract new kinds of data that could change the way we think about Earth’s climate.

    Read more at: Link

    Reply
  23. Ryan in New England

     /  December 7, 2016

    A good piece by Jeff Masters and Bob Henson that thoroughly explains why the Breitbart article claiming global temps are falling is complete and total bullshit. The worst part is that millions of people will see the Breitbart propaganda, but not see the reality-based explanation of why it’s nonsense.

    https://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/climate-change-wont-stop-in-2016-despite-misleading-reports

    Reply
    • Good response by Masters and Henson. And probably necessary. Unfortunately, this just draws more attention to Brietbart — which is how ‘the big lie’ tends to feed. It’s not the fact that most people at first believe it. It’s the fact that people just keep talking and talking about it. This turns what shouldn’t be a debate into a debate. But given the number of people who believe Brietbart — which is at this point an American atrocity — you have to respond in some manner to this crap. It’s the lesser of two evils. I just hope they don’t have live links to these guys.

      Reply
  24. coloradobob

     /  December 7, 2016

    Climate change threatens ability of insurers to manage risk

    The ability of the global insurance industry to manage society’s risks is being threatened by climate change, according to a new report.

    The report finds that more frequent extreme weather events are driving up uninsured losses and making some assets uninsurable.

    The analysis, by a coalition of the world’s biggest insurers, concluded that the “protection gap” – the difference between the costs of natural disasters and the amount insured – has quadrupled to $100bn (£79bn) a year since the 1980s.

    Link

    Reply
  25. coloradobob

     /  December 7, 2016

    This one’s for DTL –
    Urban Warming Slows Tree Growth, Impacting Urban Trees’ Role in Cutting Carbon

    New research from North Carolina State University finds that urban warming reduces growth and photosynthesis in city trees. In other words, as the world gets warmer, city trees grow less.

    Emily Meineke, lead author of a paper entitled “Urban warming reduces aboveground carbon storage,” which was published this month in the Royal Society journal Proceedings B, explains why this matters:

    Link

    Reply
  26. coloradobob

     /  December 7, 2016

    Take the Long View on Environmental Issues in the Age of Trump
    By: Dr. Ricky Rood , 3:47 AM GMT on December 02, 2016

    This is a stripped down version of an editorial that appeared on the American Geophysical Union’s EOS.org. Also note the formal citation at the end. Please read it there to give them the page counts. Thanks. r

    Link

    Reply
    • So do we really have time to take the long view? I think we need to do everything we can now, at this time, even without support from the President and Congress. We need fight the pipelines and the coal mines. We need to push for better policies at the state level in the state houses that are not dominated by republicans. We need to get cities involved. And we need to see if some of these republicans won’t defect and actually do something about climate change. We can’t just sit back for four years and just keep watching stuff happen.

      Reply
  27. coloradobob

     /  December 7, 2016

    Stopgap spending bill leaves US scientists in limbo
    Proposal would keep funding flat for most research agencies, but cuts could come early next year.

    Link

    Reply
  28. Greg

     /  December 7, 2016

    One more movement forward with electrification of transportation. This tractor will fill a niche for work that does not require 12 hour long work days.
    http://insideevs.com/john-deere-reveals-electric-farm-tractor-wvideo/

    Reply
  29. islandraider

     /  December 7, 2016

    November CO2 data is out:

    November 2016: 403.64 ppm
    November 2015: 400.24 ppm
    Year-on-year increase: 3.4 ppm

    NOAA monthly data can be viewed here: https://www.co2.earth/monthly-co2

    Reply
  30. Suzanne

     /  December 7, 2016

    Donald Trump picks Scott Pruitt, Ally of Fossil Fuel Industry to Lead EPA

    President-elect Donald J. Trump has selected Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, to run the Environmental Protection Agency, a transition official said, signaling Mr. Trump’s determination to dismantle President Obama’s efforts to counter climate change.

    Mr. Pruitt, a Republican, has been a key architect of the legal battle against Mr. Obama’s climate change policies, actions that fit with the president-elect’s comments during the campaign.

    Reply
  31. Looks like we are well and truly fracked. 😦

    PS My posts have been being eaten frequently these days. What’s up?

    Reply
  32. Meljay14

     /  December 7, 2016

    Me too, Suzanne. We are being driven off a cliff by leaders who have their feet jammed on the gas pedal instead of the brakes.

    Reply
  33. utoutback

     /  December 8, 2016

    Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to have real action is for things to get a lot worse quickly. It was the fear that Germany was working on nuclear weapons that pushed the Manhattan Project. Well, more climate disasters might be the only thing that will finally push us into to doing the right thing. Certainly the new administration looks to push us in that direction. Let’s hope it’s not too late when Fox news admits that climate change is real and people finally wake up.

    Reply
  34. Reblogged this on David JM O'Brien and commented:
    a billion people…

    Reply
  1. Pausuz pausu, ANTARTIDA biluzik geratzen ari da |
  2. A Flood of Warm Water the Size of 30 Amazon Rivers is Melting One of East Antarctica’s Largest Glaciers | robertscribbler
  3. A Flood of Warm Water the Size of 30 Amazon Rivers is Melting One of East Antarctica’s Largest Glaciers | RClimate

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