Rapt attention

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Breaking the ice

There was a neat bit of cognitive dissonance last week at President Trump's address to the Coast Guard Academy. Reversing course on the plans to cut a billion dollars from the Coast Guard's budget that he announced in March, Trump now wants to build a new fleet of icebreakers.
"It's only the Coast Guard that has the power to break through 21 feet of rock solid Arctic ice -- right?" Trump said to the crowd. "And I am proud to say that under my administration... we will be building the first new heavy icebreakers the United States has seen in over 40 years. We're gonna build many of them. We need 'em," Trump told the crowd.
Icebreakers are of course necessary because due to global warming, large blocks of arctic ice are now breaking off into the sea, creating serious navigation hazards. While some are welcoming global warming for its potential on opening up new sea lanes to the north, the Coast Guard Academy has long seen the peril in climate change. Read US Navy and Coast Guard testimony on the subject here.
Climate change impacts in the Arctic have resulted in significant reductions in sea ice, making the Arctic Ocean increasingly accessible. We have also seen an increase in shipping through the Bering Strait, a potential future funnel for trans-Arctic shipping traffic. In addition, the ice-diminished maritime environment is attracting resource exploration in areas previously inaccessible. Advancing safety in the Arctic Ocean requires improved maritime domain awareness, for which navigational services such as weather and sea ice forecasting and nautical charting are critically important.
We are prioritizing emergency response by convening exercises under the auspices of the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic and the Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic to examine the coordination of emergency response capabilities of the Arctic States, in conjunction with local communities. We are fostering new partnerships with government institutions, the private sector and indigenous communities for emergency response and environmentally responsible maritime activity in the region. The Arctic Council also continues to develop a network of existing marine protected areas to leverage international best practices for sensible maritime activities that avoid areas of ecological and cultural significance where possible. In addition, a Task Force on Arctic Marine Cooperation is assessing future needs for deepened coordination among the Arctic States in the Arctic Ocean.
The cold temperatures of the Arctic Ocean make it particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification. If current emissions trends continue, scientists predict that, by the end of the century, the Arctic waters will become corrosive to all shell-building organisms, thereby threatening an important component of the marine ecosystem as these organisms are a critical food source. The Arctic Council is working to expand the Arctic reach of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network, increase the number of stakeholders trained to conduct ocean acidification monitoring, and raise public awareness of this threat to the entire Arctic food web and the people whose livelihoods depend on these creatures.
We remain cognizant of how changes in the Arctic have created significant challenges and opportunities for every Arctic nation, especially for our own American citizens in Alaska. The warming climate threatens the traditional ways of life of Arctic residents and risks disrupting ecosystem balance. During the U.S. Chairmanship, we are striving to bring tangible benefits to communities across the Arctic. Admiral Robert Papp, Jr., USCG, Retired U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic, U.S. Department of State
Global warming is seen by Navy and Coast Guard experts as dangerous on a myriad of fronts, which include rising sea levels, ocean acidification, supercharging of hurricanes and other extreme weather events. But it is taboo for people in this administration to mention the elephant in the room, climate change, so we now have the prospect of a President ordering new tools to fight a problem that officially doesn't exist. Brilliant!


Glacier Park had 159 glaciers when it was founded in 1920. It is now down to 39 but 10 of those have lost at least half their area in the last fifty years. These glaciers have been on the planet for the last 7000 years. We are poised to lose them within a generation. Read about the subject here. Reportedly the USGS is removing information from its websites relating to glacial loss.

Nature - new study refutes Scott Pruitt on global warming.

Look at the top graph. Do you see the overall trend as going up, going down or staying even over time?

No comments: