Arctic ice at second-lowest extent since 1979

By Phil Plait | September 21, 2011 10:33 am

In late August, sea ice extent was way below average for that time of year, and it was predicted we were headed for at least a near-record low this year. Those predictions have, unfortunately, turned out to be true. On September 9, sea ice extent reached its yearly minimum, the second lowest since satellite records began in 1979 — and so close to the record low in 2007 that it’s a statistical tie.

NASA has posted series of pictures of sea ice this year taken by its Aqua Earth-observing satellite. Here’s the Arctic ice as it was in March (top) and September 2011 (bottom):

They put together a series of the images into an animation that really gives you a clear picture of what’s going on:

Of course, you expect more ice in the winter and less in the summer and fall, so by itself those pictures don’t tell you what this means. You need to compare the current extent with how things were in the past. As it happens, the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder does just that.

This graphic by the NSIDC shows the north pole (you can see North America at the bottom, Greenland to the right, and Asia at the top) with the ice extent on September 9, 2011 marked in white. The orange line marks the median extent of the ice from 1979 to 2000 as measured on September 9 of each of those years. Putting a number on this, the current extent is nearly a million square miles less than that median value.

Yikes.

How bad is this? Well, from what I can tell, it’s not good. In 2007, the sea ice cleared enough that the Northwest Passage became navigable by ship without the help of an icebreaker for the first time in recorded history. We’re there again right now. And it’s not just extent — that is, the area covered by ice — it’s also the volume: that’s at the lowest amount on record this year as well.

As pointed out above, the lack of ice means that the northernmost latitudes are able to be plied by ships in the summer. But every year there is less ice even at maximum, meaning more and more area is accessible year-round. It’s well-known that there are deposits of oil and natural gas up there, and of course the oil companies want access to them. That’s why it’s particularly interesting that Exxon is investing billions of dollars in offshore drilling there, in places previously not accessible due to ice (full disclosure: that article was written by my nephew-in-law Chris Jones). In other words, even Exxon is putting its money where its mouth is, saying not only is global warming real, but that its effects will be around for a while.

I have no grand conclusions here, no line in the sand to draw. This is simply yet another data point in an increasingly long line of evidence showing global warming is real, along with all the evidence that it’s getting worse, we’re causing it, and the spin against it by the deniers is approaching light speed. The Related Posts links below make all that clear.

I just hope that by talking about this, more and more voters will listen. In a very real sense, what happens next is up to us.

Image and video credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio, Goddard Space Flight Center; National Snow and Ice Data Center


Related posts:

- Arctic sea level ice will be below average again this year
- Sea level rise has slowed… temporarily
- NASA talks global warming
- Our ice is disappearing
- Dramatic glacial retreat caught by NASA satellite
- Case closed: “ClimateGate” was manufactured

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, NASA

Comments (45)

Links to this Post

  1. Lorne Gunter spews hot air | Terahertz | September 21, 2011
  1. Gaah!
    The video must be Flash based. Won’t play on the iPad.
    Poop!

    But at least my comment gets to be #1!
    I’m #1, I’m #1! W00T!
    (Pathetic, I know…)

    This article shows the slippery slope we’re on is changing its slope, getting steeper! Basically we’re doomed. And the polar bears are REALLY doomed. The global warming deniers will attack mercilessly and the brainwashed middle class will vote for whomever the overlords tell them to and the ice will vanish. Then the deniers will deny that there ever was ice up there…
    Full disclosure: I used to be a travel agent in the 1980/81 timeframe & wrote tickets for Pat Michaels, the “State Climatologist” of Virginia, later to be the King of deniers. I really liked the guy, he was a ton of fun. But now, with this staring me in the face… Well… [Sigh.]

  2. Nicholas

    I’m slowly becoming a convert; I just want to see more information that this is a man made problem; and there is a realistic solution. If 10 million people go green and 6.90 Billion people don’t that’s not a solution.

    Also, I as much as anyone else enjoy cheap goods. I don’t want to pay more for energy, food, clothing etc…

    There need to be real solutions on a global scale if this is a man made cause.

  3. DrummerGeek

    Devil’s Advocate question (to be clear, I believe Global Warming to be real), with our data on extent and volume only going back to 1979 (32 years), what are the possibilities of this being cyclical and on it’s way to a minimum. 32 years isn’t a very long period of time in the grand scheme of things and I wonder what the extent/volume would be going back 100 years or more. I can’t off the top of my head think of what could cause a cycle related to the ice that would be that long.

    Most of my information I have on Global Warming comes from blogs like yours or the occasional Google on the subject, so I could be (and probably am) way off base, but I thought I would throw it out there.

  4. Pete Jackson

    It is amazing seeing ice melt around the southern parts of the most northerly Canadian islands, north of even the NorthwestPpassage. As for the Northwest Passage, forget icebreakers or even steel hulls. Some dude just sailed his sailboat through! As more ice melts, even the date of minimum ice gets later each year since the warm water already melted keeps circulating even though the air is below freezing.

  5. Grizzly

    @3. There are people who live in those regions who are older than 32, older in fact than triple that. Anecdotal evidence, and yes I know that this is not data, indicates that this is not cyclical.

  6. Cathy

    Ahhhhhhhhh that explains why Exxon and the other oil companies are spending so much money on anti-global warming propoganda. They WANT us to ignore the problems so they can get at all that sweet, sweet crude up there.

  7. @ #2 Nicholas, if 10 million out of 7 billion start the process, perhaps others will follow. Also, there is a samller number of people producing a disproportinate percentage of the manmade CO2. Many people live an almost pre-industrial lifestyle on this planet. If we get Europe, North America, China, and India to make serious committments to going green, that should impact the major sources.

    And if anything, there could be an economic benefit in going green that can ensure a more sustainable economy. The current batch of green technology is immature, and also has a premium placed on it because it gives people some sort of feeling that they are helping (I am somewhat reminded of the “Smug” episode of South Park with Randy getting a Prius). Once green technology becomes the norm, that premium should (hopefully) fade away.

  8. Here’s my now traditional memo to all the climate contrarians out there who disagree with the scientific consensus of 97% of the world’s expert climatologists :

    Before you comment on this thread please watch :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52KLGqDSAjo

    the first of an excellent series on youtube by “Potholer54″ & also please observe this youtube series of videos :

    http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/climate-denial-crock-of-the-week/#sense

    Plus see what David Attenborouregh has to say on Youtube too :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9ob9WdbXx0

    Additionally, please, click on my name and check through the liszt of debunked arguments and climatological facts presented on the ‘Skeptical Science’ website regarding the many climate canards that get continually, tediously posted despite being long known to be false or misunderstandings of the suituation planetary climate~wise.

    Plus ask yourselves this, please :

    - Would you trust NASA rocket scientists to build a rocket to fly you to the Moon?

    - Would you trust a NASA flight surgeon to medically clear you for the flight as healthy enough to do so?

    - If so, then why would you NOT trust a NASA climatologist to warn us of potential climate problems?

  9. Will we one day envy Mars for its still existing polar ice caps?

  10. Dan

    This isn’t Arctic ice-related, but may have some relevancy to the global warming situation.

    I’ve noticed we’ve been having more frequent torrential downpours here in Chicago, and heavier rains are another sign of a warming climate. I access a web site that tracks day by day precip in Chicago back to 1871, so I went year by year to see if my impression was correct that heavy rains are occurring more frequently. It was.

    Since 1871, Chicago has had 10 days in which 4 or more inches of rain fell. Nine of those 10 have occurred since 1959. We’ve had four in just the last decade alone. So, 40% of the days with 4-inch plus rains have occurred in the last 10 years out of the 141 years I studied.

    Chicago never had a day with 6 inches of rain until 1987. Since then, we’ve had two more – one in 2008, and one in 2011. (There was a 5.6-inch rain day in 1885, but no other 5-inch rains until the 6-incher we got in 1987).

    Between 1886 and 1958, there wasn’t a single calendar day with 4 inches of rain. Since then, there have been nine, with 4 of those in the last 10 years. We’ve had three 6-inch rains, all in the last 25 years.

    Also, since higher snowfall can also be a sign of global warming, it’s worth mentioning that we’ve just had four winters in a row with 50 inches of snow or more. This is a first. Normally, Chicago has a 50-inch snow winter about once a decade. In fact, between 1982/83 and 2006/2007, there was only one winter with 50 inches or more (1998/99). Since 2007, there have been four.

    From a statistical standpoint, it could be argued that the numbers I have are too low to be statistically significant, I suppose. Obviously, it would be a lot better if I had 1,000 years to go on rather than 140.

    In addition, I’d have to track some more cities other than Chicago, as one location alone doesn’t really prove too much. Perhaps at a later date. I have precip records for a number of major cities, including NYC and LA.

  11. Holms

    Your post links to the NSIDC, but I thought I’d provide some additional ice measurements.

    International Arctic Research Center / Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency:
    http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm
    This graph shoes 2007 as something of an outlier; sea ice extents have rebounded somewhat, with 2011 tied with 2008 and 2010; 2009 was greater still.

    University of Bremen:
    http://www.iup.uni-bremen.de:8084/amsr/ice_ext_n.png
    This is almost identical to the data provided by IARC-JAXA, with 2011 tied with 2008 and 2010; again, 2009 is higher still and 2007 clearly lower.

    Danish Meterorological Institute Center for Ocean and Ice:
    http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/plots/icecover/icecover_current.png
    Differs slightly in that 2011 is shown to be between 2008 and 2010, rather than in a dead heat. Again though 2007 is clearly lower, and sea ice area appears to have rebounded somewhat.

    Arctic Regional Ocean Observing System, Nansen Environmental & Remote Sensing Center:
    http://arctic-roos.org/observations/satellite-data/sea-ice/observation_images/ssmi1_ice_ext.png
    Same deal.

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ice Center:
    http://www.natice.noaa.gov/ims/images/sea_ice_only.jpg
    Possibly the most pessimistic of the sea ice extents linked so far, though it still shows 2011 as slightly higher than 2008.

    Out of all the various Arctic ice monitoring organisations (note that there are probably more still than I know of), you seem to have chosen the least detailed which does not give multiple recent years for context. Not that I am doubting the trend that has been noted in the Arctic, but with multiple sources showing a clear improvement since 2007, it really does seem to be a statistical outlier.

    Perhaps this point is best seen in terms ice area anomaly, via Arctic Climate Research at the University of Illinois:
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.anomaly.arctic.png
    Following 1996 (which also appears to be another outlier, though in the opposite direction), there is a gradual but clear trend downwards in ice extent; however, 2007 does seem to be a severe spike that has not (yet…) been revisited.

  12. Pete Jackson

    @1Richard: I wouldn’t say the polar bears are doomed, but they will have to migrate. They have long lived on the shores of Hudson Bay despite having four months of ice-free conditions (mid-July to mid-November). Even when all ice disappears from the Arctic Ocean in the summer, it will still return in winter and the polar bears can hunt seals then (and live off the fat in the summer, and get hungry and grouchy, as they do now in Churchill, Manitoba).

  13. sorter

    Our problem is the money trail.

    We have to change the whole system to get rid of this problem, no other option is available, “they” dont want to change anything.

    Yes we want “cheep” goods, but whats the price for anything ?

    We cant give a price for the rainforest’s, in this system, but it has to be priceless.

    We have to support Ecuador, not to drill for its oil, that would be a start.
    We have to accept that Gaza needs its own state!

    Also i hope (as a german) that the ppl in Europe get their ass up.
    We Germans haven’t understand yet, that we are the cause of a lot of trouble in our zone.

    In the next system, you will not pay for “energy” (the normal one for the living)!
    When you revisit the history of man, alot is about energy thats how you can control people and how you can cut evolution.

    @6 yes they just want to make money till its over, because they had a good life till then, but if they get their wish, we will loose our planet and i think we are not allowed to let that happen.
    Change is really coming.
    Support Anonymous, its “the” global movement!
    We are one species, we have to accept this now or we will loose, of course its sound “utopia”, but when you wanne start to act like one planet ?
    There is no time left to state that this would be the task for the next generation its OUR task! right now!
    at the year 2100 we will have over 20 bn ppl (bad assumptions call for 28bn ….)
    No chance to control that with this system!
    Its not acceptable anymore that people die because of lack of food, when the UN says we could fed 12bn ppl right now, but waste the land/money for stupid thinks.
    It has to stop NOW.

  14. DanVeteran

    #7 A big problem we are going to face is when those “pre-industrial” peoples become “industrial”. Fossil fuels are cheap and unless we (humankind) find a way to make green technology cheap, developing countries will use fossil fuels to fuel their industrialization. China has become the largest contributor of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere (http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jan/31/world-carbon-dioxide-emissions-country-data-co2#zoomed-picture). The chart shows most “western” countries are reducing their output as the developing countries increase. This is a global problem and we need to find a global solution.

  15. Jim Baerg

    #2 Nicholas:

    Replacing coal with nuclear for electricity generation would be a large part of a realistic solution.

  16. CraterJoe

    About time I try taking my boat in Barrow over to see my friends in Murmansk. =)

  17. Robert

    Minor nitpicking, but it seems to me that it’s Scandinavia, Great Britain and parts ofthe European continent that’s “on top”, and not Asia. Thanks again for a thought provoking post.

  18. DennyMo

    “Exxon is putting its money where its mouth is, saying not only is global warming real, but that its effects will be around for a while.”

    So not only is combatting global warming bad for Exxon’s current business, global warming itself will be good for their future business as well. Hmm, sounds like the perfect self-licking ice cream cone.

    Dan Says:
    “heavier rains are another sign of a warming climate.”

    I bet the folks in Texas wish that was true…

  19. Uncle Al had 29 messages in bottles jettisoned into the Artic north of Barrow, AK this past August. If the ocean had been iced the bottles would have been stuck. Thanks to post-glaciation we have a chance at the Beaufort Gyre and Siberia landings. You got a problem with that?

    http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/arcbot03.jpg
    The bottles, Mark IV seven-layer seal.
    http://nsidc.org/seaice/images/beaufort_gyre.jpg

  20. @#19DennyMo, I think Dan should have said that some heavier rains are a sign of the global climate change (it depends on atmospherics, ocean temperatures, already existing patterns and where they normally happen, and a nearly innumerable number of factors). What Texas is dealing with was actually somewhat predicted by climate models that figure that state will become quite the desert as time progresses. :(

  21. QuietDesperation

    Yes we want “cheep” goods, but whats the price for anything ?

    What the market says it is. Any market. Did you know if you want to find the real value of something in a *cough* planned economy, you look at the (inevitable) black market? You cannot hide. It’s like thermodynamics.

    We have to change the whole system to get rid of this problem, no other option is available

    No. The other option is R&D and new technology and a healthy economy driving those things. There is no elder wand to wave or boxes of Orden to rewrite reality.

    Also i hope (as a german) that the ppl in Europe get their ass up.

    Not my favorite type of porn, but- oh, wait…

    at the year 2100 we will have over 20 bn ppl (bad assumptions call for 28bn ….)

    Rational assumptions call for 10B.

    Support Anonymous, its “the” global movement!

    Pinkie Pie, you are so random!

    Yeah, I felt so empowered when they hacked Sony, because nothing sends a message to the U.S. Government about the state of the world like punking a Japanese corporation over installing Linix on a PS3.

    Oh, I had to get a new credit card because your heroes of The People sold them to the highest bidder. Way to defend the little guy. Thanks!

    Its not acceptable anymore that people die because of lack of food, when the UN says we could fed 12bn ppl right now, but waste the land/money for stupid thinks.

    Well, a lot of famine is caused by horrible little governments across the world who want nothing better than large segments of their populace to vanish.. What do you suggest we do? When we *do* go in and implement, er, a regime change, everyone hates us.

    It has to stop NOW.

    Is that a mind control ray in your pocket or are you just happy to see us?

    Change is really coming.

    And hope. Don’t forget hope. And chocolate sprinkles. Muffins!

    and how you can cut evolution.

    I cut mine with quinine and phenobarbital, but- wait. WTF were we talking about again?

  22. QuietDesperation

    Will we one day envy Mars for its still existing polar ice caps?

    Polar caps are overrated. Good riddance. They made the Earth look old.

    I, for one, welcome our new youthful looking Earth.

    Now we just need those equatorial implants to really buff the old boy out.

  23. VinceRN

    Seems it would be more useful, and more convincing to present this a “second lowest extent since…” some much longer period of time. Certainly ships have been going up there and taking accurate positions near the edge of the ice for at least a couple hundred years, and that data should be available. The British in particular have records of everything every naval vessel did, every position taken, for at least that long.

    32 years is a pretty meaningless span for the environment. We should have the data available (perhaps not easily available) to show where these lows fit in a span at least six times as long. Using geologic data we might compare to longer periods of time, even compare to earlier periods of natural global warming, like during the Holocene Climate Optimum.

    I think it would better demonstrate that there was a problem, and the severity of that problem if we didn’t measure on such a short scale. Using 1979 as a baseline just seem absurd.

    Also, cool graphics and all, but I think photographs would be more convincing than computer graphics. Graphics like that invite the argument that the guy making the graphics can make them show whatever he wants. Since we’ve been taking pictures from space for longer than the 32 year period being talked about, I would rather see the photos.

  24. Tristan

    Actually, at the individual level there’s a ton of examples where going green is very much in your economic interest – as long as you understand economics. If you have a house with a mortgage, all that requires is purchase of things which save better than ~10% of their up-front cost per annum in reduced energy usage. That’s why our house is well-insulated, uses an air-sourced heat pump for hot water, is lit by LEDs throughout, and has a 1.5 kW solar array on the roof. All of these were put in not (just) because I wanted to go green, but because my calculations said that each would pay for itself in 2-4 years – and after that it’s sweet, sweet gravy.

    Admittedly, the heat pump and solar panels were subject to substantial government rebates and a generous electricity buy-back scheme which may not be available in your area. But the Australian government recently announced that they were cutting the solar rebate scheme early because prices are reducing much faster than they anticipated – to the point that some people were getting their systems entirely free.

    If you do a bit of shopping around, there’s some substantial savings to be had.

  25. Dan

    I agree with those who say 32 years isn’t long enough to make a scientific conclusion on this one.

    And 1979 is an interesting base year, because northern hemisphere winters were pretty cruel in the late 70s (I recall talk that we were entering a new ice age). So depicting 1979 as the norm is probably misleading.

    That said, it was only recently that ice retreat opened up the Northwest Passage for the first time in recorded history, so I think there is some evidence that the ice up there is shrinking below historic levels. I’d just like to see pre-1979 data. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s available.

  26. Dave R

    >I’d just like to see pre-1979 data. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s available.

    History of Arctic (and Antarctic) Sea Ice, Part 1: tamino.wordpress.com/2010/10/16/history-of-arctic-and-antarctic-sea-ice-part-1/

    History of Arctic Sea Ice, part 2: tamino.wordpress.com/2010/12/27/history-of-arctic-sea-ice-part-2/

  27. Brian Too

    When you hear from the Inuit, their oral history is awfully consistent. They see longer summers, less severe winters, less ice cover. The traditional knowledge does not contain any reference to weather like this in the past.

    Also, species from the south are showing up in places where they have never been before. The pine beetle has been around for at least thousands of years but winter die-off kept it in check. Now the entire boreal forest is experiencing a massive wave of beetle infestations.

    None of this is automatically bad, but it is different.

  28. Wzrd1

    @QuietDesperation #22, ROFLMAO! Thanks for saving me the trouble. :)

    @VinceRN, @24, there are studies going all the way back to the mid to late 1500′s for the Northwest passage, due to difficulties involved in passing through certain conflicting nation’s “oceans”, so the Vatican financed several expeditions, as did those who could not reach India and Asia by sea, due to that conflict.
    While sea ice thickness wasn’t up to today’s measurements, the lack of a passage throughout history, without icebreakers, is quite notable.

    When I saw that imagery from NASA, I slumped in my chair and considered the fair level of probability that this nearly 50 year old man may well have beachfront property, just outside of Philly, in my lifetime, rather than by the end of the century. :/

  29. QuietDesperation

    the Inuit … see longer summers, less severe winters

    And do they thank us? No! Sheesh!

  30. sorter

    ohh sad im not allowed to answer you …

    the master thinks its bad to call money a tool and not the goal!

    you have the wrong vision of the world thats all you cant think about all the possibilities, sadly but im thinking why are you here then?

    gimme some facts for all the nonsense. wikipedia calls for 10B at 2050 .. my calculation based on “population reference bureau”, you need war to get to your 10B for 2100.

  31. It’s all very well for NASA to take photos and make measurement of arctic sea ice but…surely there must be an ex-’tobacco is good for you’ scientist out there that can make some soothing statements?

    You all know the drill:

    “My tax dollars, blah blah, rush to judgement, blah blah, Al Gore is fat, blah blah, what about those emails, blah blah, Squirrel!!, blah blah, I’m not a denier, blah blah, just need more evidence, blah blah, give me another 50 years to make up my mind, blah blah, don’t rush me, blah blah, etc.”

    Climate deniers: Because NASA sciencey stuff doesn’t count unless Foxnews says it’s ok.

  32. Frozen water in the arctic is being reduced by the Ionospheric Research Instrument in Gakona, Alaska which generates electrically-charged particles that are ricocheted off contrails to form diffuse beams of light two miles wide, supposedly to prevent another ice age. The de facto director of the CiA Dr. John Chadwick Rockwell, who I have known since we were students at Northwestern University in the early 1980s, has admitted to using HAARP to cause earthquakes which released methane from fissures in the seabed beneath the so-called Gulf Of Mexico. Even worse, his terrorist attack against Fukushima-Daiichi in northern Japan over-heated nuclear fuel rods to melt through their containment vessels and foul most of the world’s atmosphere with metals that will burn for the next hundred thousand years. I created a new form of fractal geometry when I was in the sixth grade, became the Director of a shadow strategic defense initiative for Ronal Reagan and created portable, ambient-powered laser weapons to disintegrate air-borne nuclear missiles. The united states (sic) is using ice-breaker ships to clear away glaciers for deep-water drilling of petroleum.

  33. @35
    I want some of what you’re having. :D

  34. Steve Metzler

    Yeah, looks like sorter #32 forgot to take his meds, and ChiefHuntingBear #35 took too many :-) (and yes, I know #35 is a Poe).

  35. dmbeaster

    32 years is not statistically insignificant for sea ice data. Plus like countless other indicia of global warming, its significance is reinforced by the overall trend of evidence of warming over the last century (i.e., glaciers and just about everything else). If it was the sole indicator, then more circumspection would make sense, but it is not.

    Equally important regarding data on sea-ice extent is ice volume in the arctic. Visually, sea-ice extent is more compelling, but the data on overall sea-ice volume is more revealing. Overall volume is at its lowest ever, which is due to the loss over the last decade of huge volumes of thick multi-year ice. The typical thickness of the sea-ice is also something that has been measured for years, and it is much thinner than in the past. Although the winter freeze replaces the amount of surface melted, it does so with less ice volume each year. This is a huge positive feedback loop.

    As for 2007 being on outlier, go read WeatherUnderground for an explanation of weather conditions that year that made melting that year so extraordinary. Here is his most recent post on this, though he has been posting on it for years. Basically, 2007 was a 1 in 20 year climate event that greatly increased melting, whereas this year which essentially tied the record was ordinary in terms of arctic weather. Here is the formal study on this subject in Geophysical Research Letters.

    The ever greater extent of the melting of ice each year reflects the long term loss of thick ice and the gradual warming of arctic waters. The prediction is a virtually ice free Arctic Ocean at the peak of summer by 2030, and an ice free North Pole even sooner. And for all those who love to pretend that the scientists are “alarmists,” go back and read the predictions 20 years ago on the anticipated loss of arctic sea ice due to global warming. Essentially no one expected the actual amount of loss that has occurred – the current actual data reflects drastic loss of ice compared to previous predictions.

  36. Joseph G

    @22 QuietDesperation: Muahahahaha :D I’m so glad you went there so I didn’t have to.

    I know I shouldn’t make fun of sorter, I’m sure English isn’t his/her first language. But where do Gaza and Ecuador come into this?

    @23 QD: Personally I think we should be working to slow the Earth’s rotation. That oblate spheroid look is just embarrassing.

  37. Joseph G

    @#35 ChiefHuntingBear: Bravo! You almost got me. Alllllllllmost.

    QuietDesperation: I do have a question for you. You seem pretty optimistic about the private sector coming up with technologies that will help us mitigate AGW, and I agree on that point, but I get the impression from your other comments that you think that government policy changes (at least, those that affect the market) are either ineffective or just plain counterproductive. Or did I interpret that incorrectly?

  38. QuietDesperation

    @#40 As long as government policy does not degrade technological advancement. The government can even invest in it, or provide tax incentives for verified R&D, or, oh, any of a multitude of other ideas we seem unable to explore.

    Optimistic? I have no idea if we *can* solve these issues. I just see that as the best route based on past performance.

    Not anti-government, just not real happy with *any* of the folks populating it at the moment.

    And assuming we can ever get this economic mess in order. Bernake opened his stupid yap again, and you see what that did. Oy vey, I need to get on the ball and and learn to short some stocks in advance of any of his public appearances.

  39. Joseph G

    @41 QuietDesperation: Ahh, I see. I think I’ve been browsing RationalWiki too darn long. I see hardcore Libertarians erverywhere! :-P

    I’d definitely agree with that – in fact I think incentives for R&D would be a much better sort of leverage then some carbon credit scheme, which to me feels like something that could make the mortgage securities market circa 2006 look downright dependable and entirely on the up-and-up.

    Not anti-government, just not real happy with *any* of the folks populating it at the moment.

    At this point I think we’d be better off just randomly picking people. Like jury duty, but with a longer term and a better hotel room :D Seriously, though, it seems like the very skills necessary to win in the election process select for a very particular sort of person. Over and over and over again.

  40. Matt B.

    “This is simply yet another data point in an increasingly long line of evidence showing global warming is real”

    Ah, but it takes an infinite number of points to make a line, Phil. Therefore you can never prove global warming and the ensuing climate change are real. Mwa-ha-ha-ha!

  41. Michael

    We know that through the history of the earth, it has been warmer than we are now.

    Should we not learn how to tap into this extra energy and use it, while getting ready

    For the changes it will surly bring?

  42. D. Mick Rabe

    Lets get our heads out of the sand, turn our lawn mowers off & let the grass grow! One small step for our earth.
    Cutting your grass around your home is great but can’t we stop cutting our 2,3 or 5 acre plots?
    It IS costing us more than gasoline & a new riding mower.
    Get real. Become active. Let the grass grow!!!

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