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← Arctic Death Spiral and the Methane Time Bomb

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Showing Revision 44 created 04/14/2014 by Rodrigo Cardoso.

  1. Last Chance Films

  2. In association with
  3. Event Horizon Productions
  4. Presents
  6. Emergency Broadcast System
  7. We interrupt our programming.
    Important details will follow.
  9. The emergency alert "system" has been activated.
  10. Ladies and gentleman.
  11. The very word secrecy is repugnant,
    in a free and open society.
  12. We decided long ago,
  13. that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted
    concealment of pertinent facts
  14. far outweigh the dangers
    which are cited to justify it.
  15. But I am asking your help,
  16. in the tremendous task
    of informing and alerting the American people.
  17. For I have complete confidence, in
    the response and dedication of our citizens.
  18. Whenever they are fully informed.
  19. Many rivers and the air in many cities,
    remain badly polluted.
  20. And our citizens, suffer,
    from breathing that air.
  21. We lived with conditions like these
    for many many years.
  22. But much that we once accepted as inevitable,
  23. we now find absolutely intolerable.
  24. Each of us all across this great land
  25. has a stake in maintaining
    and improving environmental quality,
  26. clean air and clean waters,
    the wise use of our lands,
  27. the protection of wildlife and
    natural beauty, parks for all to enjoy.
  28. These are part of the birthright of every American.
  29. To guarantee that birthright,
    we must act, and act decisively.
  30. It is literally now, or never.
  31. Our program will emphasize conservation.
  32. The amount of energy being wasted,
    which could be saved,
  33. is greater than the total energy
    that we are importing from foreign countries.
  34. We will also stress development
    of our rich coal reserves.
  35. In an environmentally sound way.
  36. Now it seems to me that if, we would concentrate
    on resolving the problems,
  37. uh... of the automobile, the combustion engine,
  38. thee, the pollution factor
    and we've gone a long way in that,
  39. I think of myself as an environmentalist.
    I uh...
  40. I don't wanna see all this beauty
    around us wiped out and destroyed.
  41. We all know that human activities
    are changing the atmosphere
  42. in unexpected, and in unprecedented ways.
  43. I recommend that we adopt a BTU tax
    on the heat content of energy,
  44. as the best way to provide us
    with revenue to lower the deficit,
  45. because it also combats pollution,
    promotes energy efficiency,
  46. promotes the independence
    economically of this country,
  47. as well as helping to reduce the debt.
  48. And it is environmentally responsible.
    It will help us in the future,
  49. as well as in the present with the deficit.
  50. The United States is committed
    to strengthening our energy security
  51. and confronting global climate change.
  52. And the best way to meet these goals is for
    America to continue leading the way
  53. toward the development of cleaner,
    and more energy efficient technology.
  54. We're gonna leave this planet...
  55. At least as good as the, planet we inherited,
    from our parents
  56. but, we've got... we've got a
    bigger problem with climate change.
  57. We sent, we sent a billion dollars to foreign nations,
  58. many of them hostile, and in the...
    because of our addiction to oil,
  59. and in the bargain
    we're melting the polar ice caps.
  60. Changing the weather patterns
    all around the globe...
  61. The science is clear that man-made emissions
    of air pollution and global warming gases
  62. are changing our atmosphere.
    - Anthropogenic global warming is still an issue
  63. that the scientists are still debating
    and you know it and I know it.
  64. The debate on the causes of Climate Change
    are far from settled.
  65. Well the climate's always changing.
    That's not the fundamental question.
  66. The fundamental question is whether man-made
    activity, is the, is what's contributing most...
  67. I think CO2 Is a problem, and therefore
    I don't think it needs to be regulated.
  68. We all breathe CO2, climate changes,
  69. but there's no evidence at all that it's man-made
    CO2 that causes the climate to change.
  70. The idea of human induced global climate change is...
  71. one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated
  72. out of the scientific community.
    It is a hoax.
  73. I'm only concerned about the,
    incredible frenzy and hype
  74. for something that's a total myth.
  75. It's AMAZING to me how aaah,
    upset so many people are...
  76. The existence of all these billions of people
    on earth, have all influenced the climate of earth.
  77. but NONE of it, is of significance, uhh...
    and thank goodness,
  78. things are doing just fine.
  79. The question is the degree to which man influences
    the climate and whether actually we can...
  80. ...this is anything we should worry about
    or whether we should be...
  81. bombing the global economy into the
    dark ages to try and stop it.
  82. Ya know, the greatest hoax
    I think has been around,
  83. in many many years,
    if not hundreds of years
  84. has been this hoax on the environment
    and global warming.
  85. You notice they don't call it global warming
  86. No no no. It's because it's getting cooler!
  87. It's "Weather Control".
  88. Yeah! It's getting cooler, you can't call
    it global warming anymore.
  89. So what we need, what the world needs is more
    fossil fuels.
  90. The evidence we have, is not just that fossil
    fuels aren't ruining our planet.
  91. They're making it much better...
  92. Climate related deaths are going down.
  93. And, so, what we need is many many
    more fossil fuels.
  94. So that people can eat.
    And they can have food.
  95. Through the years of high school,
    "Aqua Net" hair spray use have done
  96. more damage to the ozone
    than any global warming scam has.
  97. Aqua. I remember Aqua Net.
  98. Aqua Net.
  99. (Laughter)
    Every every, every.
  100. I remember Brill creme.
  101. But I don't think that had anything to do
    with the climate change.
  102. "A little dab'll do ya" Remember that?
    That's it!
  103. There´s more!
    The CO2 can also go...
  104. (Crazy Gestures & Comic Sounds)
  105. At times when CO2 was rich in the atmosphere,
  106. there was... greater growth of farms, vineyards
    and so forth.
  107. Uh, I guess in England,
    there was a time when
  108. growth of vineyards was so great
    there was this wine all over the place and...
  109. But I'm still open to the possibility. So
    if there's anyone from Exxon-Mobile here...
  110. I've got a bank account and routing number
    available for you. (Laughter)
  111. One could argue from an economic point-of-view...
  112. We should be burning fossil-fuels like "Gangbusters"
    to generate as much wealth as we can.
  113. Divert some of that into alternative energy research
    and we might get to those alternative energies
  114. faster, than if we...
    starve poor people
  115. and ruin the world's economies,
    and reduce CO2 emissions.
  116. (Applause)
  117. Now, as we agreed, you owe me two beers.
  118. (Laughter)
  119. "Scientific American" editorialized on the
    escalating ugliness of climate denier tactics and rhetoric.
  120. The editors wondered if we are a people
    increasingly estranged from critical thinking,
  121. divorced from logic,
    alienated from objective truth.
  122. Now to the big headline from
    "Climate Scientists" tonight.
  123. The UN International Panel on Climate Change
  124. says we are hurdling toward the day when
    Climate Change could be irreversible,
  125. with catastrophic consequences they say.
  126. It's only going to get worse if we don't take
    drastic measures.
  127. We've seen an increasing number of regions
    over the decades, starting to lose ice,
  128. but this is the first time we've seen it
    ALMOST globally.
  129. Most ominously, the report says
  130. we are in REAL danger of
    exceeding our carbon limit of one-trillion tons.
  131. Scientists say that would warm the earth more
    than three and a half degrees Fahrenheit,
  132. making the impacts of climate change
    MUCH more dangerous...
  133. And that's the worry.
    Many of the worlds cities are in the crosshairs.
  134. Most of the people around the world
    live in coastal areas,
  135. it's where most of your major cities are
    because that's where ports are.
  136. And they are at sea level.
  137. So even small changes in sea level rise can
    displace millions of people.
  138. Scientists fly over a giant chunk of Antarctic
    ice as it cracks and collapses.
  139. The chunk is enormous.
    About seven times the size of Manhattan
  140. 160 Square Miles.
  141. It was part of the Wilkins Ice shelf.
  142. The biggest on Antarctica yet, scientists
    say to fall victim to Global Warming.
  143. Watching Wilkins ice shelf disappear at the moment,
  144. we learn a lot more about
    how Ice responds to climate change.
  145. The Ice is just a small fraction of the
    Antarctic ice sheet.
  146. But it broke off well before scientists predicted.
  147. A sign they said that Climate Change may be
    happening faster than expected.
  148. One expert told us last year:
  149. "I think what we, what we do know is that
    ice, uhh, uh, is probably our best sensor,
  150. of these large scale changes taking place.
  151. And in many ways I think we're in
    unchartered territory."
  152. Ice plays a vital role in cooling the Earth's
    temperature and regulating sea levels.
  153. As it´s lost, the planet gets warmer,
    sea levels rise and more ice is threatened.
  154. A vicious environmental circle.
  155. There are glaciologists now
    who are getting very worried.
  156. But they haven't really come out
    and said what they think.
  157. Take a good look at it,
    because it won't be there for long.
  158. It's cracking and it's breaking up.
  159. And it's only one of dozens
    of Antarctic ice shelves
  160. collapsing faster than anyone predicted.
  161. I would say the vast majority of we we're
    looking at back there is broken up this year.
  162. It was a cool summer right? Chicago, New York,
  163. places like that, so.
    How could it be Global Warming?
  164. This is how.
    Look at the context.
  165. These blue dots over North America represent
    below average temperatures
  166. for the Summer... June, July, August.
    What we call "Climate Logical Summer".

  167. But look at the context. They're lost in a sea of red dots across much of the rest of the globe.
  168. Just a couple other blue dots here and there.
  169. Those red dots are above-average temperatures.
  170. What that translates to in terms of a ranking
    for this summer and for August
  171. globally, second warmest on record. Period of record going back a little more than a century.
  172. June through August globally.
    The third warmest on record.
  173. The oceans which had cooled for a couple years
    now recovered with a vengeance.
  174. August the warmest on record. June through August also the warmest on record.
  175. Now, if the scientists are anywhere near correct,
  176. then this is the greatest challenge
    facing humanity today.
  177. It is the greatest challenge
    humanity has ever faced,
  178. and probably WILL ever face.
  179. If someone asks me,
    if the climate system were changing.
  180. I would say, look at the data.
  181. The Arctic is, is experiencing, uh..
    I would say a crisis.
  182. The meltdown is changing long held beliefs
    about the Arctic and it's weather patterns.
  183. As well as being blamed for
    affecting conditions around the globe
  184. and triggering a rise in global sea levels.
  185. From all these collective studies of the whole
    Arctic region,
  186. you can see that it's warming much faster
    than the rest of the planet.
  187. In 2012, we had the new record set
  188. in terms of melting
    over the Greenland ice sheet.
  189. But here, amid this snow and ice
  190. It's hard to believe that the ice sheet is
    melting as fast as scientists say.
  191. But it is.
  192. Scientists say, we are watching the polar
    regions melt right before our eyes.
  193. So you can tell, there's a stream, here.
  194. And then there's a bunch of flow
    coming down on this right side.
  195. Interpreting the info that comes from satellites
    called "The Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment".
  196. In science circles, it's called "GRACE".
  197. "GRACE" can detect the most subtle minute
    changes in land ice,
  198. down to the width of a human hair.
  199. The faster speeds that we're seeing uhh...
  200. In Greenland are not going to slow down.
  201. That's not the way, uh, ice sheets behave.
  202. Ooohohohooooo!
  203. Ouch! Oh my God!
  204. "Here comes the water...
  205. Uh ohoo."
  206. "Look at that."
  207. "ohoo, ohoo..."
  208. Woooooow!
  209. So how big, was this calving event that we
    just looked at?
  210. We'll resort to some illustrations again to
    give you a sense of scale.
  211. It's as if the entire lower tip of Manhattan
    broke off.
  212. Except that...
    the thickness, the height of it
  213. Is equivalent to buildings that are two and
    a half or three times higher than they are.
  214. That's a magical, miraculous
    horrible, scary thing
  215. I don't know that anybody's really seen the
    miracle and horror of that.
  216. It took a hundred years for it to retreat
    eight miles, from 1900 to 2000.
  217. From 2000 to 2010, it retreated nine miles.
  218. So in ten years, it retreated more than it
    had in the previous one-hundred.
  219. First of all, we're going to look at the
  220. runaway behavior, that is actually happening,
    to the Arctic system.
  221. Going almost exponential.
  222. We saw the rate of change of ice area, accelerating.
  223. We saw the change in ice mass, or thickness
  224. also accelerating and moving towards zero,
    over the next two or three years.
  225. And taken all together,
  226. we have the unmistakable footprint of a system
    in, what we call, self-amplification
  227. or, "Runaway Behavior".
  228. Uhh, you may remember that in 2007,
    there was a, uh,
  229. a big study that came out
    from this group called
  230. "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change".
  231. And, they looked at computer models of how
    rapidly Arctic ice would go away.
  232. And, as of early 2007,
    this is what they were telling us.
  233. That, aahm...
  234. We would see, gradual drop in Arctic... ice minimum.
  235. going down to where we probably still have
    a fair amount of ice left in the year 2100.
  236. Worst case, maybe by 2070,
  237. we would see open water, in the Arctic,
    in the Summertime.
  238. That very same year,
  239. we saw, in the actual observations, a
    huge drop in the Arctic ice.
  240. And, that drop has continued so that in 2012,
  241. this is now where we are.
  242. So we're something like fifty years ahead
    of the worst case scenarios,
  243. that the scientists were giving us
    just five years ago with Arctic Ice.
  244. I'm actually in agreement with many climate
    change deniers, in that the IPCC is wrong.
  245. But I think, they're actually wrong, because
    they're too conservative.
  246. And they haven't really been telling the story
    of what really could happen...
  247. Can you summarize the effect
    of an ice-free Arctic on the world.
  248. Yes, the effect of an ice-free Arctic on the
    world is a very large one,
  249. because it goes way beyond the Arctic itself.
  250. Because once thee sea ice has disappeared,
  251. firstly, that produces a decrease
    in the global albedo,
  252. the amount of radiation reflected by the earth.
  253. And has a knock-on effect in the sense that
    the warmer air masses in the Arctic in summer,
  254. cause a retreat of the snowline,
  255. and the snow-line decrease has just as big
    an effect on the albedo as the sea ice decrease has.
  256. So as global albedo change, which affects
    thee temperature of thee entire planet,
  257. it warms it all up.
  258. Uh, and then, there's the fact
    that as the sea ice retreats
  259. it allows the water masses around
    the shelves of the Arctic to warm up.
  260. And that warms up the seabed and releases
    more Methane from the sub-sea permafrost
  261. which is melting away.
  262. And, that methane itself
    is a very very powerful greenhouse gas.
  263. So we're having a methane kick, uh,
    coming in from the retreat of the sea ice,
  264. which again, is a global effect rather than
    simply an Arctic effect.
  265. When the IPCC is uh...
  266. It's not a whole load of people agreeing.
  267. It's a load of people saying, oh, it's this,
    it's this, it's this.
  268. It's just that, nearly, everybody thinks that
    we are warming the planet,
  269. they, disagree about how fast it'll happen.
  270. They disagree about whether negative or positive
    feedbacks are going to be more important.
  271. This is one of the more conservative scientific
    bodies on the planet. They work by consensus,
  272. and, after the scientists reach consensus...
  273. they then, vet they're report through the
    political process.
  274. So politicians have to sign off on the IPCC's
    assessment before it's released.
  275. And they conclude that, that we've reached
  276. in the absence of Geo-engineering.
  277. And, this is not in the model.
  278. The models don't show this happening.
    This IS happening.
  279. So what happens when we update the models,
    so that it does reflect that the Arctic is melting?
  280. So we're seeing effects.
  281. And, one of thee primary effects, that, uh...
  282. grabs most peoples attention is
    what's happening with the Arctic sea ice,
  283. the ice that's floating on the Arctic ocean,
    that covers usually most of the Arctic Ocean.
  284. Last year 2012 was the record low as lowest,
    Arctic summer ice that we have seen
  285. ever since we've been observing it.
  286. Whereas the rest of the globe has cooled,
    since 1997,
  287. temperature in the Arctic has started to increase
    and increase, increasingly rapidly.
  288. The hotter it gets, the faster it gets hotter.
  289. 2007 alone, in one year, it melted more in
    the previous year
  290. by an area equal to
    three times the size of California.
  291. And it will be all gone, in five or ten years.
  292. It's pretty clear from the death spiral,
    that's the way in which the volumes of ice
  293. in the summer are zeroing in towards
    uh, towards zero,
  294. that the ice can't last more
    than a couple more years.
  295. There's no way... that ice mass,
    of the end of September,
  296. can continue going round this circle,
    for the next five decades.
  297. It's moving very rapidly
    into the zero point in the center.
  298. It's been decreasing for several decades.
  299. In fact, way back into the nineteen-sixties
    and seventies,
  300. we have a trend pattern of decreasing area of sea ice,
    particularly at it's minimum.
  301. and the minimum sea ice occurs in September
    at the end of the summer warming.
  302. But, do have a look at the last few years,
    from 2007 onwards.
  303. The data points have been pulling way down
    below the straight line.
  304. It becomes more and more obvious that straight
    line representations are no longer
  305. the appropriate statistical tool for demonstrating what is
    going on in the Arctic.
  306. Then we see it looks like the end of the
    Arctic sea ice area
  307. in September, by about 2015.
  308. So we're seeing a temperature rise, this is
    the NASA temperature graph,
  309. going back to 1880 when we feel
    we have good global coverage with instruments.
  310. We can take it back much further.
  311. In fact, a very significant paper came out,
    just this past Spring,

  312. which looked at a number of different...
    temperature Proxies, as we call them,
  313. like tree rings and corals
    and stalactites in caves and things like that.
  314. And we pushed back the temperature record
    eleven-thousand years...
  315. And what you've got is this, uhn...
  316. you've got us coming out
    of the ice age, back here,
  317. and then we've got a slow, slow, slow gradual,
    gradual decline, until the last century.
  318. And then, this is us.
  319. So, we're... we're... we're pretty clear that,
    that, uhh...
  320. something's changed
    in the last two-hundred years
  321. and the only thing that we've been able to track down
    that really answers it is the... uhn
  322. greenhouse gases
    that human beings have been putting out.
  323. What's going on in the Arctic area at the
    moment is, probably, the fastest moving response,
  324. to Global Warming and Climate Change
    anywhere on the planet.
  325. In 1859, the English physicist John Tyndall,
    using equipment of his own design,
  326. showed that certain gases in the atmosphere blocked
    and absorbed long wave or heat radiation.
  327. Four decades later, Svante Arrhenius,
    with thousands of manual calculations,
  328. made an estimate of the global warming power of CO2,
    that was very close to today's best models.
  329. In the 1950's, american Charles Keeling
    began to measure accurately
  330. the steady increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.
  331. Spectrographic analysis soon showed that the
    new carbon was, without a doubt, man-made.
  332. So it's a rare gas.
  333. The atmosphere is almost all, Nitrogen and
  334. But you see here that,
    out of a million molecules of air in 1958,
  335. about 314 of them would be
    carbon dioxide molecules.
  336. And you see the graph there at the lower left,
    tracing the first few years.
  337. So, you can see a lot of things on this graph
    just, right away.
  338. First of all, it's increasing with time.
  339. And here's what the Keeling curve,
    which is the popular name for this,

  340. looks like today.
  341. And you can see that what was 314 then,
  342. is now 395 or so,
    pushing 400 today.
  343. That's a remarkable story right there.
  344. Because that increase is something like 25%.
  345. Mankind is changing the chemical composition
    of the atmosphere in important ways.
  346. And, the greenhouse effect had been understood
    for a long time.
  347. The fact that Carbon Dioxide, and other molecules
    trap infrared energy, they trap heat essentially,
  348. had been known to experimental physicists
    in the middle 1800's.
  349. John Tyndall, in London,
    put Carbon Dioxide in a tube
  350. and measured how it could absorb
    infrared energy, which he could shine on it.
  351. The first attempts to understand the implications
    of this for climate date back to the 1890's.
  352. So, in a sense, the science was there,
  353. connecting Carbon Dioxide amounts of the atmosphere
    to Climate Change
  354. until we had the measurements
    showing that the CO2 was actually increasing
  355. and increasing much more quickly than had
    been foreseen in the nineteen century.
  356. There were more people using more coal and
    oil and natural gas,
  357. and the rapidity of the growth of CO2 was
    a surprise to everyone.
  358. Popular mechanics magazine
    wrote about this in 1953.
  359. The products of research were showing us that
    if we continue to add Carbon Dioxide to the atmosphere,
  360. by burning fossil fuels,
    we're going to see a rise in temperature
  361. This was the work of Doctor Gilbert Plas, who
    published a very significant paper on this.
  362. This had been an issue that had been kicked
    around for the previous hundred years or so,
  363. but, it was this research that really kind
    of nailed it in so far as making the science clear.
  364. Yet it's taken us this long to really even
    begin to get through to the public dialogue
  365. on how important this is.
  366. The amount of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere
    is what matters to the climate.
  367. Climate just reacts to how many and what kinds
    of heat trapping gases are there.
  368. The more there are of an important gas,
    like CO2
  369. which is by far the most important man-made gas,
  370. the warmer it gets.
  371. Now, on this graph is temperature and Carbon
  372. Let's look at the black line first.
    That's Carbon Dioxide.
  373. 1880 on the left,
    the present on the right,
  374. and so, we know that it was rising gradually
    before Keelings measurements began.
  375. And that, in the times before the 1800's,
  376. when human activities presumably had no strong
    effect on climate,
  377. It was near a value of 280
    and these same units of molecules per million molecules.
  378. So CO2 has been rising, but
    in all the years before the 1930's,
  379. you might say, every year
    was below that average,
  380. and in recent years,
    every year's been above it.
  381. Again, the natural variability is due to factors
    like El Nino and the occasional strong Volcano,
  382. which temporarily cools the climate
    for a year or two.
  383. And uh, so these things here are some of the
    strongest El Nino's on record.
  384. But that there's a warming now
    and that this period is different
  385. from this period,
    isn't in doubt at all.
  386. So the question that
    people typically ask is...
  387. How do we know this isn't just
    some kind of a normal cycle?
  388. OK. It's getting warmer but,
    It's been warmer in the past.
  389. It's been colder in the past.
  390. How do we know this is
    different from the past?
  391. Well.
  392. We can measure what's coming into and out
    of the planet by satellite,
  393. and the satellites do
    a pretty good job of this.
  394. We know, that, the planet is in energy imbalance.
  395. We know that that energy imbalance is completely
    consistent with the predictions
  396. that have been made
    about greenhouse gases.
  397. And we know that
    that's quite a big energy imbalance.
  398. It's not small.
  399. In fact, it's equal to about 400 thousand
    Hiroshima nuclear bombs exploding everyday.
  400. That's about four or five
    every second or so.
  401. That's how much energy is being trapped,
    primarily in the ocean
  402. because the ocean is
    the biggest heat sink, by far.
  403. So, natural sources are in balance between
    emission and absorption.
  404. The oceans are actually net absorbers but...
  405. Human beings. It's one-way traffic.
  406. So it's only us that can be causing the increase.
  407. Everything else, even volcanoes,
    is balanced by uptake.
  408. So, it's only us,
    that can be causing the increase.
  409. From here you are in the early
    nineteen hundreds til today.
  410. Blue is cooler than average, and yellow and
    orange are warmer than average
  411. and you can see here,
    it's still some blue areas and so on.
  412. But starting in the 1970´s, you start to see
    the yellow and orange colors predominating.
  413. By the time this ends in 2010 or so,
  414. you can see what the world looks like
    today in this picture.
  415. There's warming everywhere.
  416. There's more warming over the continents
    than over the oceans.
  417. There's more warming in the North
    than in the South.
  418. And there's the strongest warming in the Arctic.
  419. This is a Mercator projection so it exaggerates
    the area of the Arctic.
  420. But the warming is strongest in high Northern
  421. And that's because of a number of feedbacks
    that we think we understand
  422. of which the most important is that,
    when warming occurs in the far North,
  423. the ice and snow melt ,
    as we've seen.
  424. And, the ice and snow having melted revealed
    darker water and darker land that was under them,
  425. which reflect less sunlight and therefore
    absorb more sunlight.
  426. So the chain of events is
    Carbon Dioxide causes the warming,
  427. the warming melts snow and ice,
  428. the melted snow and ice make the surface darker,
  429. the darker surface absorbs more sunlight,
  430. and that adds to the warming.
  431. The human trigger is now almost irrelevant.
  432. The feedbacks have taken over.
  433. The mirror that's at the top of the world
    is gonna be gone.
  434. It won't be gone in the wintertime but the
    Sun's not shining on it in the wintertime.
  435. So, it matters in the summertime.
  436. One of the key effects that this has is that
    when all of these Northern areas are covered
  437. with white reflective snow and ice,
  438. it bounces most of the Solar energy off,
  439. bounces it back off into space.
  440. But, when we are seeing
  441. more and more open water, dark soil
    and dark surfaces,
  442. then the solar energy
    tends to get absorbed.
  443. So instead of reflecting 90% of all the energy,
  444. you're absorbing 90% of all the energy.
  445. So, this is what scientists call:
    "A Positive Feedback",
  446. and they don't mean that it's good.
  447. It's not a positive thing for us because,
    it's more like a vicious cycle,
  448. more heat equals less ice,
    and less ice equals more heat
  449. and it just sort of
    continues on in a spiral.
  450. And that's what we're seeing in the Arctic.
  451. And that's why the Arctic is warming at about
    twice the rate of the rest of the planet.
  452. And that means that Sun's energy is being
    absorbed into the tundra,
  453. the frozen areas of the Northern continental
    masses and into the open ocean where the ice was.
  454. So that the whole system is now accelerating
    and accelerating and accelerating
  455. and the hotter it gets
    the faster it gets hotter.
  456. The faster it gets hotter,
    the more water vapor.
  457. The more water vapor,
    the faster it gets hotter.
  458. The faster it gets hotter,
    the less ice.
  459. The less ice, the less reflection
    so the faster it gets hotter...
  460. You begin to get the idea?
  461. It has to be a downward curving,
  462. what we call exponential decay.
  463. And you project that line forward
    as is done in this particular setting of the equations
  464. and understanding of Arctic ice mass loss,
  465. then, once again, it shows
    zero ice floating on the Arctic ocean...
  466. by the end of Summer... 2015.
  467. Which confirms precisely, my own work
    on the decay of Arctic ice area to the same date.
  468. Mind you, at the same time, the thickness of the ice
    has also been diminishing.
  469. The ice in the Arctic now
    is thinner than it used to be,
  470. thus more vulnerable to melting.
  471. And just to give you an example of what's
  472. just in this past season...
  473. This is from March
  474. March and April of 2013.
  475. Looking at this area above Alaska.
  476. We had a cyclone going on, up in this area,
    that was moving, causing some torque on this ice
  477. and the ice just started to fracture and
    break up, in a manner that was very very unusual.
  478. I talked to scientists at
    the National Snow and Ice Data Center,
  479. and they said: "What you're seeing here is happening
    because this ice would've been maybe
  480. twenty feet thick thirty years ago,
    and now it's only three feet thick."
  481. And so it´s getting pushed around
    and broken up.
  482. And much of this did in fact refreeze,
    but it refroze in a manner that was much thinner,
  483. much more fragile, and it´s now being pushed around,
    deformed much more easily
  484. and melted much more quickly
    then it would've been fifty years ago.
  485. When our people think about Climate Change,
    they think in 2100. 2100!
  486. We might have two feet of more sea level.
  487. Gee, well, I can kinda deal with that...
  488. We're talking about 2010.
  489. It's gonna be really serious impacts.
  490. If any of these things happen
    which could happen... anytime.
  491. It's like playin Russian Roulette
    with kind of a few bullets in the chamber.
  492. As the temperature starts to increase
    more quickly,
  493. then other feedbacks are also
    brought into play,
  494. and more powerfully
    then they had been previously.
  495. The sixth consequence concerns
    what's happening to the Greenland icecap.
  496. Now, it sits there as a one-and-a-half mile
  497. layer of ice
    across a large piece of land mass.
  498. Once upon a time,
    15 000 years ago,
  499. we had great ice sheets,
    covering our most populous zones
  500. in the Western hemisphere.
  501. Those ice sheets retreated, very rapidly when
    the climate and the oceans switched.
  502. And what we're getting here now is a rate
    of retreat that, I believe, is unprecedented
  503. in terms of the last ten-thousand years.
  504. Earlier this month, the surface of the ice sheet
    covering Greenland melted more widely
  505. than has been seen in thirty-three years
    of satellite imagery.
  506. We got some reports that there was melt going
    on around Greenland.
  507. Literally, like so much water running off
    that it was washing out bridges and things.
  508. That there were runways that were on the snow
    that were having problems.
  509. You just had to be here,
  510. this time last year, to watch this bridge,
    completely wash-out.
  511. The discharge of the river, at the point
  512. basically two-hundred times that of the Thames.
  513. The effect is small, so far...
  514. but, Greenland's mass loss has doubled over
    the last decade.
  515. And if that pattern of doubling continues
    over coming decades,
  516. then we're gonna have to rewrite some of the
    predictions that we've made
  517. about how rapidly
    this is gonna happen.
  518. The bed of the ice sheet and the interior
    ice sheet is frozen to it's base.
  519. And it's starting to slip.
  520. This is the bedrock. OK?
  521. And this is your ice.
  522. And this is your water.
  523. And that this water suddenly and violently
    drains through this channel.
  524. Then suddenly you have a change in direction
    but it goes very fast.
  525. We're focusing on this little lake over here,
  526. you can see these mountain water lakes popping
    up across the surface of the ice sheet
  527. as the weather gets
    warmer and warmer.
  528. So, what you'll see here is this meanders along,
    it meanders along
  529. until it goes down,
    into the ice, right there.
  530. And as it goes down,
  531. it's delivering all that heat
    down into the deep levels of the ice.
  532. So now the heat goes down here and,
    just like a stick of butter,
  533. the ice sheet begins to get soft.
  534. It begins to move faster and that water goes
    down to the bottom
  535. and, because it's an incompressible fluid,
  536. It will support, even a kilometer of ice.
  537. It will lubricate even a huge volume of ice
    and make it move faster over that rocky surface.
  538. So that accelerates the process as well.
  539. The water across the surface of this ice sheet
    is rampant,
  540. and it's causing untold damage to the base
    of the ice sheet,
  541. and it's doing that in deep interior regions
    that never before,
  542. not least in the last ten-thousand years,
    have been susceptible to that warming.
  543. That water input.
  544. That water draining down into the ice
    is relatively warm.
  545. The average temperature of the ice sheet, at depth,
    is several degrees below the freezing point,
  546. whereas the water that's draining in is right
    at the freezing point.
  547. So this is relatively warm water that drains
    in and it heats the ice sheet, internally.
  548. Warmer ice deforms more easily than cold ice.
  549. So, an increase in melt water draining in
    to the ice sheet has a softening effect,
  550. especially when the amount of melt water is
  551. You know, Greenland is 23 feet of sea level.
  552. 7.3 meters, if it all melts.
  553. And the history is very clear.
  554. When it was warm, there's no ice on Greenland.
  555. When it's cold, there's lots of ice on Greenland.
  556. And so it's very clear Greenland is very tightly
    tied to temperature
  557. and if it gets too hot
    it goes away.
  558. And too hot is not very many degrees above
    where we are now...
  559. And this is the Ilulissat glacier.
  560. This is the calving front of Ilulissat glacier
    that we flew along on the first day.
  561. This is the fastest moving ice stream
    in the world.
  562. It's 400 feet high.
  563. The water is coming down under the ice and
    squirting out down here, below the water line,
  564. like... a Jacuzzi.
  565. And it's creating circulation down here
  566. and it's drawing warm ocean water
    in underneaththe the water line here.
  567. And it makes it accelerate the calving off
    of the giant glaciers.
  568. And this whole bay here is just full of gigantic
  569. As that movement accelerates...
  570. the ice upstream begins
    to crack and deform, like this,
  571. and, you can see, as it cracks, that water begins
    to collect in those cracks.
  572. And that water begins to absorb more heat
    and, because water is heavier than ice,
  573. it actually begins to hydro fracture it's way,
    down into the ice sheet.
  574. accelerating the movement even further.
  575. So what you're seeing is that,
    at every stage,
  576. there is a different kind of a process that,
    not only feeds on itself,
  577. but feeds into all
    the other processes in the cycle.
  578. On the ice sheet,
    if you wanna know what's happening,
  579. you need to just follow the water
    and see what it's telling you.
  580. And this is the story that it's telling us.
  581. This is why scientists
    are starting to feel that
  582. Greenland and ice sheets across the planet
    have the capacity to move much faster
  583. then what they have
    during human experience.
  584. So, the big concern is that we don't tip ourselves
    into some kind of an event like that
  585. where the ice sheets begin to move at a pace that
    is really beyond human capacity to keep up with.
  586. As we move to acceleratingly
    increasing temperature change,
  587. as the waters all around Greenland are no
    longer covered with floating ice,
  588. and as the temperature of those waters around
    begins to increase,
  589. so, of course the air over Greenland is hotter.
  590. The waters around it are hotter.
  591. The ice surface begins to melt,
  592. right across the dome.
  593. Well, last year in this place
    where we actually flew into, Kangerlussuaq,
  594. this is what the river looked like there.
  595. It was overflowing,
    this bridge was washing out,
  596. giant machinery was being swept away
  597. because we were seeing melting that was happening
    over the entire surface of the ice sheet.
  598. They had never seen this kind of water flow
    there in that river.
  599. So. The consequences for the Greenland ice
    cap are massive.
  600. And as it melts, it adds fresh water to the
    global ocean,
  601. and starts to raise the sea level...
  602. If it goes quickly then we can expect
    2, 3, 5, 7 meters of sea level change...
  603. right across the world,
  604. to happen, on a decadal basis.
  605. i.e., within 10 to 20 years.
  606. That would be catastrophic for civilization,
  607. many of whose urban centers would be below
    sea level, in the new situation.
  608. Actually, the Greenland ice sheet is de-glaciating.
  609. It's retreating...
  610. but it's retreat is dynamic.
  611. It's drawing down the interior of the ice
    sheet, faster than the models assume at present.
  612. And hence, the ice sheet and it's interior
    is accelerating,
  613. and the melt of the margin is enhanced,
  614. and I think that means that this ice
    sheet is ... actively de-glaciating.
  615. And that's... a pretty serious problem,
    for sea level rise.
  616. Let's move on now to the fourth consequence.
  617. And that is the impact on the tundra.
  618. Those land masses,
    that border onto the Artic ocean,
  619. now have a warmer, open sea coast,
  620. and the warmer air and the warmer temperatures
    are being fedback over the land mass.
  621. And of course what that does is increase the
    rate of melting of the tundra permafrost,
  622. and we get this depth of permafrost melt,
    which we call the cast,
  623. increases year on year.
  624. That also has consequences.
  625. For instance, there's a lot of biological
    material in the deep freeze of the tundra,
  626. and as that thaws out, it begins to decay,
    the microbes have a field day
  627. and out comes more carbon dioxide
    and more methane from the rotting vegetation.
  628. So, methane is being released into the atmosphere...
  629. not only from the ocean floor, but also, as
    I said, from the melting of the tundra.
  630. And the more methane there is in the atmosphere,
  631. as this next slide shows,
  632. the greater the greenhouse effect,
    and methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas.
  633. When the permafrost thaws,
  634. the organic matter in the permafrost thaws as well
    and begins to decay.
  635. The microorganisms start to eat it.
  636. If there's no oxygen,
    the microorganisms make methane.
  637. If there's oxygen,
    the microorganisms make carbon dioxide.
  638. Ahh, permafrost.
    Right here.
  639. Frozen dirt.
  640. We found, as far as
    the organic matter coming out of this hill slope,
  641. is that it's much more bio-available,
  642. meaning it's yummier for the microbes that
    are decomposing it,
  643. than carbon, or organic matter
    near the surface today.
  644. So that has climate implications.
  645. Because that means that this organic matter
    is processed quicker,
  646. it's return to the atmosphere is
    carbon dioxide and methane,
  647. and can feed back on climate that way.
  648. Sites like this where the permafrost is releasing
    organic matter act as accelerators.
  649. They speed up the process of human caused
    climate change.
  650. So it's uh, it's a large amplification of
    what we're doing.
  651. It feeds back on to our impact.
  652. It's important to realize that the scale and
    rate of change that we're talking about now
  653. is several degrees, two to five degrees in
    just a hundred years.
  654. So this is much faster than has happened in
    the last 50 million years.
  655. We're talking about unprecedented climate change
    and a very rapid abrupt response
  656. from this eco-system.
  657. There have been changes in the Arctic, in
    the permafrost,
  658. in terms of the temperature overtime,
  659. not only in the shallow layers near the surface,
  660. but at 10, 20 and 50 meter depths.
  661. You're seeing changes that are even more rapid.
  662. That indicates that not only is there heating
    near the surface,
  663. but that this heat
    is being transported to depth, very efficiently.
  664. The permafrost stores methane.
  665. As Richard was talking about,
    it's currently melting.
  666. It's warmer up there. It's like, 5 degrees warmer
    up in the Arctic than it is...
  667. The average temperature of the world
    is only up a degree
  668. but in the Arctic it's up five degrees.
  669. And it's releasing 50 million tons per year,
    which is a billion tons of CO2.
  670. And it's obviously rising.
  671. If it all went, we'd basically all be dead.
    I mean.
  672. And, it's happening now.
  673. And the problem here is it's accelerating.
  674. Once it starts generating, through this process
    or any of the other ones I talk about,
  675. once those processes
    generate more CO2 than we do,
  676. it won't matter if we stopped completely,
  677. it's gonna keep going.
  678. These are positive feedback loops.
  679. And by the way, it's not in the models.
  680. The fifth implication of the Arctic dynamics
    concerns the feedback of the methane release.
  681. It is probably one of the most important
    issues that we have to examine.
  682. We will be in danger of destabilizing these
    things called methane hydrates
  683. which store a lot of methane
    on the bottom of the ocean,
  684. in a kind of frozen form,
  685. 10 000 billion tons of this stuff.
  686. And they are known to be destabilized by warming.
  687. This chunk of ice may look pretty unremarkable
    at first glance,
  688. but put a match to it
    and something amazing happens...
  689. As reported in this month's issue of the Atlantic,
    it's called methane hydrate,
  690. and it's actually not unusual at all.
  691. In fact, there are more than one-hundred thousand
    trillion cubic feet of it on Earth.
  692. Volume wise, that's like the size of the Mediterranean
  693. And it has a greater energy capacity than
    all the coal, oil and natural gas on Earth combined.
  694. And well methane burns clean.
  695. Unburned methane is
    a potent greenhouse gas,
  696. and if it leaks,
    it can be devastating to the environment.
  697. The USGS is confident leakage won't be a problem,
    as long as proper precautions are taken.
  698. There are potential irreversible effects of
    melting the sea ice.
  699. If it begins to allow the Arctic ocean to
    warm up and warm the ocean floor,
  700. then, we'll begin to release methane hydrate.
  701. About 80 years ago, we switched to studying
    the East Siberian Arctic shelf.
  702. And actually, we've been studying it for
    the last 80 years.
  703. Continuously, year by year by year.
  704. Conducting one or two expeditions a year.
  705. That hydrocarbons are produced within the
    sedimentary drape, was sealed
  706. and prevented the methane escape into the atmosphere.
  707. That is why we're telling that this should
    be the largest hydrocarbon stock in the world.
  708. Over there...
  709. There is a potential risk that,
    if warming continues,
  710. the larger and, maybe, great and massive
    amount of methane
  711. could be released
    from this Arctic shelf.
  712. Of course there is a potential risk.
  713. And in terms of potential risk, I would say
    that this Siberian Arctic shelf has the most potential.
  714. Because, as I said, the carbon pool is huge
    and the wall of the shell is very shallow
  715. and the warming occurs stronger than in different
    areas of the worlds ocean.
  716. And of course it is a potential risk.
  717. So the methane in the atmosphere,
  718. the amount, the total amount of methane in
    the atmosphere,
  719. in the current atmosphere,
  720. it's about five Gigatonnes.
  721. The amount of carbon preserved in the form
    of methane in this East Siberian Arctic shelf,
  722. is approximately...
  723. from hundreds to thousands of Gigatonnes.
  724. And of course it's only one percent of that
    amount is required
  725. to double the atmosphere burden of methane.
  726. But to destabilize one percent of this
    carbon pool,
  727. I think it's not much effort needed,
  728. considering that the state of permafrost
    and the amount of methane currently involved.
  729. Because what divides this methane from the
    atmosphere is a very shallow water column,
  730. and a weakening permafrost,
  731. which is losing it's ability to seal,
  732. to serve as a seal.
  733. And this is, I think it's a matter of...
  734. it's not a matter of thousands of years,
    it's a matter of decades, I think.
  735. Maybe, at most, hundred years but
    I think,
  736. matter of decades.
  737. (It could happen any day)
  738. It might potentially happen because,
  739. I would list many factors that might, that are very convenient .. convincing for us.
  740. So that might happen.
  741. Not anytime.
  742. Anytime sounds like it might happen today.
  743. It might happen tomorrow.
  744. The day after tomorrow.
    (It might!)
  745. You think so?
  746. Igor is very convinced person
    because he spend a lot of time over there.
  747. And where the ice should be about two meters
    thick, it was 40 centimeters thick...
  748. That means that the processes...
  749. All the processes that serves the stabilization
    of everything...
  750. of the sea ice, of the water column,
    of the currents increasing,
  751. (the currents, I mean the movement of water
    beneath the sea ice increased).
  752. So everything, everything looks anomalous.
    Even from our experience from this ten years,
  753. everything looks anomalous.
  754. And this is what makes him thinking that...
  755. making him think that the worst thing might
  756. Shortly speaking, we do not like what we see
  757. absolutely do not like.
  758. Uh, look at this.
  759. In a matter of days...
    just days,
  760. we're having this huge, this huge area...
  761. look at this....
  762. going almost exploding with methane.
  763. The only way this is possible is by melting
    of methane clathrate.
  764. It´s just the only explanation
  765. Hi, uhm... how long do you think we have
    before it becomes
  766. socially and otherwise
    unacceptable to emit carbon.
  767. and, I mean, how radically do you think we
    need to act consensually?
  768. Right, well I mean...
  769. I think, it's, the more we act, the better
    things will be for future generations.
  770. I don't, yeah, I mean there's all sorts of
  771. And um...
  772. Basically, if we do a huge amount within the
    next ten years,
  773. we will still face quite an uncomfortable
  774. and the less we do, the worse it will get.
  775. How much of it we can prevent,
    depends on how bold we are,
  776. how much we're prepared to do, and that in
    turn is going to depend on changing social opinions.
  777. What are the implications of all this,
  778. for global dynamic behavior,
  779. both in climate, and indeed,
    for humanity as a civilization,
  780. and the biosphere of which we are a part?
  781. Well obviously, the Arctic is connected to
    the rest of the world, it is part of the world,
  782. and what happens in the Arctic inevitably
    has implications and consequences and spin-off
  783. for the rest of the planet.
  784. Socially, we know we will be beginning to
    remove some of the aerosols,
  785. these particulates in the atmosphere that,
    at the moment,
  786. are reflecting much of the solar energy
    back into space.
  787. We also know that much energy is being taken
    up by heating of the deeper ocean, at the moment.
  788. And, as the effects of carbon dioxide,
    and the other greenhouse gases
  789. and the global behavior as a whole,
    begin to come back on stream,
  790. so, global temperatures will begin to respond
    much as Arctic temperatures did.
  791. Co2 begins to increase temperature,
  792. increased temperature drives water vapor feedback,
  793. water vapor feedback accelerates heating....
  794. And then we begin to get hotter conditions
    for some of the tropical forests,
  795. we get burn and dieback
    and increased release of carbon dioxide
  796. from the bio-mass of the planet.
  797. It's a different set of feedbacks from that
    operating in the high Arctic,
  798. but it is nonetheless potent.
  799. And as in the Arctic, so tomorrow, in the
    world, as a whole.
  800. And if the implications of jet-stream behavior
    and food production and Arctic dynamics spin-off
  801. into our survival as a species, into our economics,
    into our food production,
  802. into the abandonment of the poor,
  803. and the inability to sustain a population
    of eight, nine, ten billion people,
  804. so, also...
  805. The increasing acceleration of global behavior...
  806. which will inevitably follow...
  807. unless we are able to intervene,
    to slow it down...
  808. bring it to a halt...
    and reverse it,
  809. then, without that intervention...
  810. global dynamics hold a dark future for humanity...
  811. a dark future for the biosphere of which we
    are a part.
  812. It is time to take action...
  813. Not only for the Arctic...
  814. but for the global crisis in which we are
    all placed.
  815. There's not agreement on how much we need
    to do, how fast.
  816. To be honest, I don't think there needs to
    be, because the one thing I am certain of is
  817. that we will not do as much as the scientists
    say we need to do.
  818. That's why I've never sort of looked that
    closely at that particular question because,
  819. what the scientists say we need to do
    is over here...
  820. what we're currently doing is way over here....
  821. and what various global agreements have tried
    to get us to do, and often failed,
  822. is somewhere over here...
  823. So the gulf is so enormous...
  824. that um, I yeah, I mean, it's a perfectly
    fair question....
  825. but for that reason I've never really looked
    at it in much detail.
  826. But I do believe that
    the more people believe this...
  827. that the more likely they are to act, so I
    suspect that there's...
  828. also denial can operate on many levels...
  829. You can sort of believe something factually,
    but not believe it deep down in your heart,
  830. and so, if you say:
    "Oh, yes, I accept climate change",
  831. but, but you just won't allow yourself,
    on an emotional leve,l to think about
  832. what is gonna happen
    to the planet in the future,
  833. and you can sort of separate
    your everyday life
  834. from what you believe,
    in the more academic side of your mind.
  835. So, I think that uh...
    in many ways,
  836. changing social opinion is the
    most important thing we can do at present...
  837. to deal with this problem, because then...
  838. people might start moving towards what the
    scientists are saying we need to do.
  839. We've got a lot of work to do
    and not much time to do it.
  840. Um, as I Iook at the world,
    which is sort of where I start.
  841. Um...
  842. We've gotta cut carbon emissions fast.
  843. Then it becomes clear, we need to cut carbon
    emissions 80%, not by 2050, but by 2020.
  844. For decades now, we environmentalists have
    been talking about the need to save the planet.
  845. But as I think about it, the planet's gonna
    be around for a long time to come...
  846. What we need to save now is civilization itself...
  847. This is, this is what's at stake...
  848. Coming up here today, I have no hidden agenda.
  849. I am fighting for my future.
  850. I am here to speak for all generations to
  851. I am here to speak on behalf of the starving
    children around the world whose cries go unheard.
  852. I am here to speak for the countless animals,
    dying across this planet,
  853. because they have no where left to go...
  854. And now we hear of animals and plants going
    extinct, everyday, vanishing forever...
  855. All this is happening before our eyes and
    yet we act as if we have all the time we want
  856. and all the solutions.
  857. You don't know how to fix the holes in our
    ozone layer.
  858. You don't know how to bring the salmon back
    up in a dead stream...
  859. You don't know how to bring back an animal
    now extinct.
  860. And you can't bring back the forest that once
    grew where there is now a desert...
  861. If you don't know how to fix it,
  862. please... stop breaking it.
  863. I'm only a child yet I know
    we are all in this together,
  864. and should act as one single world
    towards one single goal.
  865. If a child on the streets who has nothing
    is willing to share
  866. then why are we who have everything still so greedy?
  867. I am only a child yet I know
    if all the money spent on war
  868. was spent on finding environmental answers,
    ending poverty and finding treaties,
  869. what a wonderful place this earth would be.
  870. At school, even in Kindergarten,
  871. you teach us how to behave in the world.
  872. You teach us, not to fight with others...
    to work things out,
  873. to respect others,
  874. to clean up our mess,
  875. not to hurt other creatures,
  876. to share,
    not be greedy.
  877. Then why do you go out and do the things you
    tell us not to do?
  878. You are deciding what kind of a world we are
    growing up in.
  879. Parent's should be able to comfort their children
    by saying
  880. "Everything's going to be alright, it's not
    the end of the world,
  881. and we're doing
    the best that we can..."
  882. But I don't think you can say that to us anymore...
  883. Are we even on your list of priorities?
  884. My dad always says
  885. "You are what you do, not what you say."
  886. Well, what you do makes me cry at night.
  887. You grown-ups say you love us.
  888. But I challenge you, please,
    make your actions reflect your words.
  889. Thank you.