As record sea ice melt scarcely makes the news while the third runway grabs headlines, is there a form of reactive denial at work?
Yesterday was August 28th 2012. Remember that date. It marks the day when the world went raving mad.
Three things of note happened. The first is that a record Arctic ice melt had just been announced by the scientists studying the region. The 2012 figure has not only beaten the previous record, established in 2007. It has beaten it three weeks before the sea ice is likely to reach its minimum extent. It reveals that global climate breakdown is proceeding more rapidly than most climate scientists expected. But you could be forgiven for missing it, as it scarcely made the news at all.
Instead, in the UK, the headlines concentrated on the call by Tim Yeo, chair of the parliamentary energy and climate change committee, for a third runway at Heathrow. This sparked a lively debate in and beyond the media about where Britain's new runways and airports should be built. The question of whether they should be built scarcely arose. Just as rare was any connection between the shocking news from the Arctic and this determination to increase our emissions of greenhouse gases.
I wonder whether we could be seeing a form of reactive denial at work: people proving to themselves that there cannot be a problem if they can continue to discuss the issues in these term..(read more..... http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/aug/27/arctic-sea-ice-shrinks-lowest-extent?intcmp=239)
Record is widely seen by scientists as strong signal of long-term climate warming
John Vidal, environment editior
guardian.co.uk, Monday 27 August 2012 18.18 BST
The Arctic sea ice has hit its lowest extent ever recorded, according to the US-based National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Norwegian, Danish and other government monitoring organisations.
With possibly two weeks' further melt likely before the ice reaches its minimum extent and starts to refreeze ahead of the winter, satellites showed it had shrunk to 4.1m sq km (1.6m sq miles) on Sunday. The previous record of 4.3m sq km was set in 2007. The Guardian reported earlier this month that such a record low was likely to be hit imminently.
NSIDC scientist Walt Meier said: "This is an indication that the Arctic sea ice cover is fundamentally changing."
"The previous record, set in 2007, occurred because of near perfect summer weather for melting ice. Apart from one big storm in early August, weather patterns this year were unremarkable. The ice is so thin and weak now, it doesn't matter how the winds blow," said the NSIDC director, Mark Serreze.
The record is widely seen by scientists at the NSIDC and elsewhere as a strong signal of long-term climate warming.
"The Arctic used to be dominated by multiyear ice, or ice that stayed around for several years," Meier said. "Now it's becoming more of a seasonal ice cover and large areas are now prone to melting out in summer," said Serreze.
"These figures are not the result of some freak of nature but the effects of man-made global warming caused by our reliance on dirty fossil fuels," said John Sauven, the Greenpeace UK director.
"These preliminary figures provide irrefutable evidence that greenhouse gas emissions leading to global warming are damaging one of the planet's critical environments, one that helps maintain the stability of the global climate for every citizen of the world," said Sauven.
Arctic sea ice follows an annual cycle of melting through the warm summer months and refreezing in the winter. It has shown a dramatic overall decline over the past 30 years.