Friday , August 17 2018
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The permanent melting of sea ice in the Arctic was predicted by climate change models, but it wasn't supposed to happen for decades.

Climate Change Suddenly Looks a Lot Closer

The problem with bad news on climate change is that it just keeps stacking up and up, and the media, inevitably, gets bored with what seems to be “more of the same”. This is probably why the Arctic ice pack story hasn’t got anything like the attention it deserved this week.

Sea ice in the Arctic has failed to re-form for the second consecutive winter…

The greatest fear is that an environmental “positive feedback” has kicked in, where global warming melts ice which in itself causes the seas to warm still further as more sunlight is absorbed by a dark ocean rather than being reflected by white ice….

Although sea levels are not affected by melting sea ice – which floats on the ocean – the Arctic ice cover is thought to be a key moderator of the northern hemisphere’s climate. It helps to stabilise the massive land glaciers and ice sheets of Greenland which have the capacity to raise sea levels dramatically.

If that isn’t scary enough for you, the killer line is on the end of the article – that this outcome is predicted by climate change models, but under those models it was not supposed to happen for “a few decades yet”.

I’ve joined the Green Party, got involved in other small ways with environmental work, with the thought that I was doing my bit to prevent catastrophe after I was dead. After reading and thinking about this story, however, I had a flash of a serious thought, for the first time, whether I should buy 10 acres in some carefully calculated spot (somewhere high up, but not likely to get too hot), build a bloody great wall around it, and learn how to get self-sufficient, fast.

I’ve read a bit around the fall of the Roman Empire. They didn’t believe it could happen either – at least not in their lifetimes.

But hey, I have had one tiny success. I’m often at the British Library, where they supply thick, clear plastic bags for people to carry supplies into the reading rooms, which can be easily checked by staff. Every evening, there are stacks of these scattered around the locker room and cloak room, where readers have dumped them. Many of these same readers come back the next day and pick up a pristine new one, although I’ve found by experience they can easily last for months.

So I left a comment in the appropriate box and yesterday got back an email:

Your suggestion of a notice encouraging readers to re-use their clear plastic bags, when using the Library, is very much appreciated. Your comments have been forwarded to the relevant section requesting a notice be placed in the cloak room. It is hoped that this will soon be in place.

Might have saved about one cube of ice there; a “drop in the ocean” is the phrase that comes to mind.

About Natalie Bennett

Natalie blogs at Philobiblon, on books, history and all things feminist. In her public life she's the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales.

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