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AP: Melting Sea Ice Forces Walruses Ashore in Alaska

By Joe Romm on September 13, 2010 at 5:06 pm

"AP: Melting Sea Ice Forces Walruses Ashore in Alaska"

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Incident Has Happened Twice Before, in 2007 and 2009, Because Sea Ice They Normally Rest on Has Melted

Tens of thousands of walruses have come ashore in northwest Alaska because the sea ice they normally rest on has melted.

U.S. government scientists say this massive move to shore by walruses is unusual in the United States. But it has happened at least twice before, in 2007 and 2009. In those years Arctic sea ice also was at or near record low levels.

Polar bears are the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie of climate-change-endangered Arctic species. They get all the press (see Will polar bears go extinct by 2030?)  Heck, they even get their own TV ad!

But not-so-photogenic animals will suffer at the hands of human-caused global warming, too.  Seth Borenstein has a good AP story today on the plight of the walruses (photo above from USGS via WWF).  It concludes:

Loss of sea ice in the Chukchi this summer has surprised scientists because last winter lots of old established sea ice floated into the region, said Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. But that has disappeared.

Although last year was a slight improvement over previous years, Serreze says there has been a long-term decline that he blames on global warming.

“We’ll likely see more summers like this,” he said. “There is no sign of Arctic recovery.”

And yes I’m much more concerned about impacts on humans (see “An introduction to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water” and Let’s Dump “Earth Day”).

Last year I reposted a Nick Sundt piece on the WWF blog (see “Are walruses the latest canaries in the climate-destroying coal-mine?“) with this photo:

The real effects of climate change: The carcasses of up to 200 dead walruses piled on an Alaskan shore are seen in this image taken earlier this month

Saturday Sundt posted another piece, “Tens of Thousands of Walruses Concentrating Along Alaska’s Shore,” which I reprint below:

Alaska Dispatch in Anchorage reported yesterday (10 September 2010) in Massive walrus haulout observed near Point Lay, Alaska that USGS researchers were estimating that “anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000″ walruses now have hauled out along Alaska’s Chukchi coastline.  Walruses have been known to haul out onto land in large numbers in Russia,” the article says, “but never on the Alaska side of their migratory corridor in the tens of thousands, as is being witnessed this year.”

On 30 August we first noted evidence that walruses were being forced ashore as sea-ice disappeared from the Chukchi (see Walruses Again Being Forced Ashore as Arctic Sea Ice Retreats).  Arctic sea ice continued to decline and by Friday 3 September had dropped to the third lowest extent on record (see Arctic Sea Ice Extent Now Third Lowest on Record — and Still Dropping ), as the USGS reported that thousands of walruses were hauling out on the Alaska shore (see USGS Alaska Science Center Weekly Highlights for 9-2-2010 and our 7 Sept 2010 posting, USGS Confirms Thousands of Walruses Hauling-Out on Alaska’s Northwest Coast as Sea Ice Rapidly Retreats ).

Last year under similar sea ice conditions, there were comparable haul-outs on the Russian shoreline of the Chukchi; and smaller haul-outs on the Alaskan side.

According to Alaska Dispatch yesterday:

“USGS scientists traveled to Point Lay earlier this month to tag some of the walruses in an effort to track and study their movement. They’re particularly interested in how much more swimming the hauled out walruses, most of which are females, will have to do to find food and how that extra effort will affect the animals’ health. They’re also worried about how young walruses — which rely on a mother’s care for two years and which nurse for the first six to seven months of life — will fare.”

Conditions Imperil Young Walruses

Above: A walrus pup alone in the Arctic Ocean in 2006, one of nine calves seen swimming far from shore at the time and presumed to have died.   Photo by Carin Ashjian, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Before the young walruses can haul-out onshore, they must survive an extended period offshore without sea-ice to rest on and must successfully make the long voyage with their mothers to the coast.  As sea ice has receded over the last decade, young walruses are increasingly separated from their mothers, drifting in the open-sea. For example, according to Walrus Calves Stranded by Melting Sea Ice, a posting (13 April 2006) from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution:

“Nine lone walrus calves were reported swimming in deep waters far from shore by researchers aboard the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy during a cruise in the Canada Basin in the summer of 2004.  Unable to forage for themselves, the calves were likely to drown or starve, the scientists said.

Lone walrus calves far from shore have not been described before, the researchers report in the April issue of Aquatic Mammals. The sightings suggest that increased polar warming may lead to decreases in the walrus population.

`We were on a station for 24 hours, and the calves would be swimming around us crying. We couldn’t rescue them,‘ said Carin Ashjian, a biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and a member of the research team….`If walruses and other ice-associated marine mammals cannot adapt to caring for their young in shallow waters without sea-ice available as a resting platform between dives to the sea floor, a significant population decline of this species could occur,’ the research team wrote.”

Where the young walruses survive the ordeal offshore, they find new perils along the coastline.  When walruses congregate in large numbers onshore, they may stampede into the water if frightened.  The smaller females and young may be trampled to death.  This has occurred along the Russian shoreline in recent years; and was documented last year along the Alaskan shore.

On 14 September 2009, scientists encountered 131 walrus carcasses near Icy Cape, Alaska.  A USGS report (Enumeration of Pacific Walrus Carcasses on Beaches of the Chukchi Sea in Alaska Following a Mortality Event, September 2009) said:

“All appeared to be young animals …. The events that led to the death of these animals are unknown, but appear to be related to the loss of sea ice over the Chukchi Sea continental shelf. In years prior to this event, other investigators have linked walrus deaths at other Chukchi Sea coastal haulouts to trampling, exhaustion from prolonged exposure to open sea conditions, and separation of calves from their mothers.”

“Were it not for the dramatic decline in the sea ice, the young walruses at Icy Cape most likely would be alive on the ice and not dead on a beach,” said WWF biologist Geoff York last September.

A yearling calf (center) with its mother hauled-out at Point Lay, Alaska.  The smaller younger walruses can be trampeled to death by much larger adult males when they are frightened into stampeding into the water.  Source: USGS.

Above: A yearling calf (center) with its mother hauled-out at Point Lay, Alaska.  The smaller younger walruses can be trampled to death when much larger adults are frightened into stampeding into the water.  Source: USGS

Dead calf walrus in front of the village of Wainwright 42 miles north of Icy Cape, Alaska, September 2009.  Source: USGS.

Above: Dead calf walrus in front of the village of Wainwright 42 miles north of Icy Cape, Alaska, September 2009.   Source: USGS.

Federal Report Identifies  “Clear Trend of Worsening Conditions for the Pacific Walrus,” over the Course of the 21st Century

On Friday (10 September 2010), the USGS released Projected status of the Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) in the 21st century, summarizing its model-based assessment of the prospects of walruses during the rest of this century.  The results show a “clear trend of worsening conditions for the Pacific walrus,” with the decline of sea ice — especially in summer and fall – identified as one of the dominant factors.  The researchers linked the decreased sea ice habitat to “decreased body condition from poorer ice availability and increased total mortality from increased crowding and disturbance mortalities on the haul-outs.”

The study finds that the summed probabilities of the the walrus population being “vulnerable,” “rare” or “extirpated” (i.e. “absent through all, or nearly all, of the Chukchi and Bering Sea region”) could increase from the current 5% in 2004 to 40% by 2095.

The study says that “projections indicate that ice-free conditions over the entire [Chukchi] shelf will occur during August, September, and October (during summer/fall) by the end of the century.” That is consistent with a report released last month (August 2010) by USGS, Arctic sea ice decline: Projected changes in timing and extent of sea ice in the Bering and Chukchi Seas.  However, the researchers in the August study note:  ”The present condition of Arctic sea ice and its steep rate of decline warrant serious consideration to the possibility that the CMIP3 GCM [model] projections collectively portray 21st century sea ice losses on a conservative time frame.”

Similarly, the study released on Friday acknowledge that “summer Arctic sea ice extent could decline more rapidly than forecasted…” Should that in fact occur, they say, “changes in the status of the walrus population could occur more rapidly…”

In a press release issued yesterday (Pacific Walrus Faces Dire Future: Federal Report Predicts Extinction Risk Due to Global Warming), the Center for Biological Diversity responded to the findings:

“Today’s report, although based on optimistic and ultimately unrealistic assumptions about sea-ice loss, reaffirms what is all too obvious: Unless we dramatically reduce our greenhouse emissions, the walrus is on a trajectory toward extinction,” said Rebecca Noblin, the Center’s Alaska director. “The walrus clearly meets the criteria for protection under the Endangered Species Act.”

The USGS used climate models that underestimate emissions, warming and rates of Arctic sea-ice loss. The report also dismissed as negligible the impacts from reduced food supply for the walrus. Sea-ice loss in the Bering Sea is already leading to declines in the walrus’s bottom-dwelling prey; ocean acidification is making Arctic waters increasingly corrosive and potentially lethal to the clams and mussels it eats. Still, the USGS determined that these threats have negligible influences on the walrus’s future. The study would have found a significantly worse outlook for walruses if it had used more realistic assessments of these threats.

While global warming and ocean acidification are the greatest threats to the Pacific walrus, the species is also threatened by the Interior Department’s plans to allow offshore oil drilling in its Chukchi Sea habitat.

“The Endangered Species Act is our nation’s strongest law for wildlife protection and, properly applied, can help the walrus survive the stress of a melting Arctic,” said Noblin. “But unless we take immediate action to reduce greenhouse pollution, the grim reaper of global warming will ultimately claim the Pacific walrus as a victim.”

The CBD in February 2008 petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the Pacific walrus under the Endangered Species Act. The agency must decide whether the walrus will be protected under the law by Jan. 31, 2011.

Online Resources:

For more on walruses, climate change and Arctic sea ice, see the following from our climate change blog:

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50 Responses to AP: Melting Sea Ice Forces Walruses Ashore in Alaska

  1. Hey! Look on the bright side! This could go a long way to solving any climate-change related feeding problem for the polar bears! Less seal, more walrus! It must be Nature’s way.

    He macabrely sez with his best “don’t worry, be happy”, everything-is-just-natural-and-we-aren’t-resonsible spin…

    :(

  2. Paul K2 says:

    On a topic only slightly connected… It appears that one of the North Pole cams could be going for a swim soon. Some of the recent pictures from the cam seem to show the cam is now on a floe with significant open water in the southeast direction the camera is pointed. The floe should be moving in that direction as well, according to the position chart.

    Here is a snapshot that appears to show open water:

    Sept 11 Ice Cam Snap

  3. MapleLeaf says:

    Yup Paul @2, if I remember correctly, polar explorers call that a “water sky”.

  4. Nyalls Duckworth McShane says:

    This is terrifying. We must make all public school teachers show this to their students immediately during class to make them aware of that their mere exhaling CO2 is sending walruses to their graves!

    [snip]

    [JR: You have nothing better to do than come here and pretend to be ignorant environmental extremist? Seriously. I'm just saying that you are young enough that you will live long enough to see how catastrophically wrong you are, that your willful scientific ignorance has contributed to the needless suffering of many many millions of people.]

  5. Windsong says:

    This (the above post by Nyalls Duckworth) is an example of why the world is in such awful shape: heartless people who have no empathy and even joke at others’ distress.

    What is occurring in the arctic is so heartbreaking (for those who have a heart), but then, this is just one example of the atrocities. It’s happening all over the planet! Obviously, the world is full of evil, ignorant, materialistic people who care for no one but themselves.

    [JR: Sorry. This is about the 20th such nonsense post this guy has tried to get on this site. Sometimes it is worthwhile to see what we are up against.]

  6. Paul K2 says:

    MapleLeaf, Regarding “water sky”… I thought the same thing, and I still am not sure, but this same feature seems to be showing up a lot since September 2nd, so I looked around and found Patrick Lockerby (who spends a lot of time watching Arctic ice) had posted something on this at his blog. Here is what he had to say:

    The North Pole camera

    The camera located on a floe, originally close to the North Pole, shows thick snow. The ice has thinned during summer, so it is unlikely to be able to carry much weight of snow without being submerged. The floe is headed south towards warmer waters. From images in which the sun appears it is possible to deduce that the camera is pointing roughly south east.

    It is very difficult to judge from photos, but the mirage-like appearance at the camera’s horizon could be due to open water. It seems that there is a race on. Will the ice freeze together and keep the floe from drifting further south, or will the floe break up as it enters warmer waters?

    Time will tell.
    .
    ‘North Pole’ camera image September 09 2010 – 17:41 UTC.
    .
    ‘North Pole’ camera location September 09 2010.
    Camera image and map source: http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/gallery_np.html

    The map is a section of a full map from NOAA. I have added an arrow in red to show what appears to me to be the likely direction in which the camera is currently pointing.

    Here is Lockerby’s blog post.

  7. Mike#22 says:

    Dr. Romm,

    Thank you for this excellent piece of journalism.

    –Mike

  8. Ben Wolf says:

    Your callous disregard for the welfare of other species is telling McShane, and extraordinarily unethical.

  9. OregonStream says:

    Shocker: The NY Jets, music awards, and the removal of monsterous breast implants were more interesting to CBS News readers:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/2240-100_162-0.html?tag=pop

    Oh, and Nyalls, before spouting off, at least learn something about the carbon cycle and why exhaling isn’t the problem.

  10. wes george says:

    Really now, Dr. Romm

    It’s a bit over the top to suggest that anyone who doesn’t agree with your belief in catastrophic climate change is guilty of “willful scientific ignorance (that will) contribute to the needless suffering of many many millions of people.” Are you sure?

    There is a perfectly rational, evidence-based POV which would suggest that should your vision of a climate apocalypse be false then the misdirection of trillions of dollars to fight Climate Change will be wasted and many other far more pressing environment and human poverty issues will go without, resulting in the death of many, many millions of people and perhaps even the very sort of environmental apocalypse you so righteously seek to avoid.

  11. Ryan T says:

    How about some credible studies supporting a NET cost estimate of trillions of dollars, Wes? And if we take the risk (and assume developing nations aren’t extra-vulnerable to rapid climate change), are you going to promise that trillions of extra dollars will go to addressing those pressing (yet chronically underfunded) issues you presumably care so much about?

  12. 11. wes george says:
    September 13, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    There is a perfectly rational, evidence-based POV …

    Were that statement not nonsense on stilts, you might have an argument.

    First off, observe the blatant circularity of it. There is no evidence to support the rationality of the claim, only a kerygmatic declaration that It Is So. Also, given that it is a hypothetical (“IF … THEN”) whose antecedent presupposes the radical falsehood of the overwhelming bulk of genuine scientific evidence, then the consequent hardly merits serious consideration. (And directly casts doubt on the supposed rationality of those persons entertaining it.)

    Secondly, that the appeal is not to evidence, not to facts, not to logic or principles, but to a “perspective,” is scarcely the sort of thing that builds confidence in the “reality based” community. While not conclusively damning, it certainly merits doubt when what is being appealed to is a “point of view;” it looks very much like the tedious “he said/she said” form of pseudo-journalism that has reduced so much of the media to otiose exercises in remedial rhetoric.

    Science is not about “points of view”, it is about facts. Policy bloody well ought to be as well.

  13. #11 Far be it from me to defend Dr Romm. However I have yet to see real evidence that we are not risking climate apocalypse. (After ten years of searching, I dearly would love to see it.) Interestingly most analysis show that dealing with climate change by improving energy efficiency, alternative sources of power, reducing particulate emissions, create jobs and so on provide a host of benefits to our health, save money, etc.

    This is all pretty obvious, so why would reject taking action on climate unless you have some non-rational, ideological-based belief?

  14. wes george says:

    Ryan,

    To suggest the global economic system shift to a non-carbon foundation before 2040 isn’t a multi-trillion dollar affair is disingenuous. Technological evolution is occurring at an almost exponentially accelerating pace so a non-hydrocarbon based global economy is simply a matter of time. But the implication of this whole blog is it isn’t occurring nearly fast enough, change needs to be mandated by a central global authority by freezing at today’s level energy produced from hydrocarbon sources. That would be catastrophic for over a billion people in extreme poverty.

    If this were to occur in the developing world, yes, then Romm’s fear of many, many millions of premature deaths would come to pass. China, India and much of the rest of the world longs for something of the energy security we have in the West. To seek policy that threatens that development might be seen by some as, well, shortsighted at best and probably immoral as well…

  15. wes george says:

    Stephen,

    Who’s against “improving energy efficiency, alternative sources of power, reducing particulate emissions, creating jobs” ? Not me. I’m for innovation and socio-economic evolution. What I am against is the use of fear to force innovation, because I don’t think innovation can be forced and to use fear as a tool to manipulate mass behavior is a very questionable use of power, even if we are facing increased rates of climate evolution due to human economic activity. Last time fear was used to manipulate public opinion we invaded Iraq!

    As for evidence that we are not facing a climate apocalypse may I suggest looking out your window. Climate apocalypse=WMDs.

    Besides why in the world would adjusting your thermostat, slapping a solar panel on the roof and creating a few green jobs save the planet from an impending climate apocalypse? If the Four Horsemen are coming to get us, it’s gonna take something a bit more dramatic then the remedy you suggest to save us.

    So get your logic together, Stephen, either we are facing climate doom and need a radical socio-economic revolution now or simply accelerated climate evolution which we can be ameliorate as you suggest by “improving energy efficiency, alternative sources of power, reducing particulate emissions, creating jobs, etc…

  16. adelady says:

    wes, it’s not just the efficiency and sources of power that need attention. Though, let’s face it, if the EU can have much the same standard of living as the US with about half the emissions, that looks like a worthwhile target. The big, big things are reorganising so that there is less need for power / fuel and that it is easier for individuals to make better decisions, rather than feeling that they’re turning themselves into martyrs or hippies or misers.

    Mass transit in cities, trans-continental high speed rail, town planning and urban design. None of these things can be done effectively without government intervention and finance.

    The great thing about these projects is that they create massive employment opportunities. More employment, more economic activity, more taxes in government coffers to offset the costs.

    Tell the Russians and the Pakistanis and us Aussies that there’s no danger.

  17. Lars Karlsson says:

    wes george,
    If we in the developed world, who hardly live in extreme poverty, were to significantly reduce our fossil fuel consumption, it world hardly harm those people that do live in extreme poverty in the developing world. On the other hand, if we continue with (or increase) our current levels of consumption, we will reduce the possiblity for those exremely poor to use fossil fuels in the future.

  18. wes george says:

    adelady,

    You sound very reasonable.

    Of course, no one objects to mass transit, better urban design and technological evolution toward what Buckminister Fuller called back in 1958 “ephemeralization.” That’s doing more with less resources. That’s all happening. In 1965 the weight – yes weight – in tons of the US GDP was more than today’s GDP, but it was worth many times less. A worker lying naked on a beach with an iPhone is more productive than a whole office in 1975 with 2 tons of gear and paper hard copy. It’s all good. If trends – like Moore’s Law – continue we’ll all be naked on the beach soon! Problem solved.

    So Aussies, Ruskies, Pakis there is little bloody danger. That is unless irrational fear derails our polity into making irrational decisions based upon a less than accurate measure of reality. Joe, for one, seems inclined towards going all medieval on our asses. Don’t think that would be helpful.

    The peat of Russia has burned regularly in the past. The Indus valley wouldn’t be fertile without thousands of past floods exactly like July’s and the great Australian drought is so over. The Murray is flowing back into the Southern Ocean again. Now if you fools would stop selling all your water off, maybe the red gums will have a future. A perfect example of how an indisputably real ecological issue – over allocation in the Murray’s water catchment basin – is being obscured, even blamed upon, the tautology of “climate change.”

    Btw, the City of Churches is a world-class example of a good urban planning.

  19. Arjen says:

    How dare you, Mr Romm, to call walrusses, these majestic animals, “not-so-photogenic”. On the other hand, I find almost everything photogenic, you just have to find the right angle.

    Excellent piece though, as usual.

  20. wes george says:

    Lars, you say:

    “…if we continue with (or increase) our current levels of consumption, we will reduce the possiblity for those exremely poor to use fossil fuels in the future.”

    Are you advocating not only zero growth economics but reversing the GDP (a proxy for consumption) of your nation?

  21. Lars Karlsson says:

    wes georg,
    By “consumption” I mean “consumption of fossil fuels”.

  22. Inverse says:

    If you look carefully the dead walrus has two deep stab wounds in its neck so I am guessing it was killed by another walrus?

    I have watched nature programs for about 30 years now and they always show polar bears having a go at eating a walrus on the beach and not on ice!!!

    The second picture from the top looks like someone has just thrown a government climate grant to a bunch of scientists :-)

  23. TAFL says:

    @Inverse, the 2nd picture looks to me like the fossil fuels industry throwing cash to a bunch of conservative think-tanks, PR jockeys and politicians campaigning for office.

  24. TAFL says:

    @Inverse, but I should add that this would be severely insulting to the walruses….

  25. Edward Conway says:

    Absolutely fantastic piece of news. Also loved the link to the nissan leaf
    advert! I also wanted to say that I have recently started writing a blog and would love to get a few people reading it and giving some feedback. Thanks

    http://edconway88.wordpress.com/

  26. Colorado Bob says:

    JUVFONNA, Norway, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Climate change is exposing reindeer hunting gear used by the Vikings’ ancestors faster than archaeologists can collect it from ice thawing in northern Europe’s highest mountains.

    “It’s like a time machine…the ice has not been this small for many, many centuries,” said Lars Piloe, a Danish scientist heading a team of “snow patch archaeologists” on newly bare ground 1,850 metres (6,070 ft) above sea level in mid-Norway.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLDE6890A420100914

  27. Colorado Bob says:

    Sydney – Greg Combet assured the coal industry it had nothing to fear from his appointment as Australia’s new climate change minister.

    “You do not take the back of the axe to the fundamentals of the Australian economy,” Combet told The Australian newspaper Monday.

    Australia, the world’s biggest polluter on a per capita basis, is the biggest coal exporter and relies on coal for 90 per cent of power generation.

    http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/news/343974,commits-a-coal-powered-economy.html

  28. Colorado Bob says:

    The Germans weight in -

    Arctic ice melting quickly, report says

    “There are claims coming from some communities that the Arctic sea ice is recovering, is getting thicker again,” Mark Serreze, director of the American center, told Postmedia News. “That’s simply not the case. It’s continuing down in a death spiral.”

    http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Arctic_ice_melting_quickly_report_says_999.html

  29. TAFL says:

    @Colorado Bob, If Australia reduced its coal exports even a little it would send shock waves through China, which is now more or less dependent on coal imports for 10-15% of its total consumption and likely 90% of any of its future growth in coal use. It makes you wonder what the power plays behind the scenes of Australian-Chinese diplomacy and politics are. Australia could easily satisfy half and more of its electricity needs using solar, geothermal and wind given its exceptional resources in all three.

  30. Colorado Bob says:

    TAFL @ 30 -

    One wonders about where the Australians will be in 10 years if they merely accept being China’s open pit mine.

  31. Colorado Bob says:

    More fall out from the flooding this summer -

    Soaring cotton prices threaten to put further pressure on inflation amid a chorus of warnings over the likely impact on price tags.

    Devastating floods in Pakistan – one of the world’s largest producers – and fears over this year’s crop in China have sent cotton prices surging to 15-year highs in recent weeks.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/soaring-cotton-prices-put-pressure-on-inflation-2078855.html

  32. Colorado Bob says:

    Let’s see , that’s coffee, wheat, and cotton that all spiked because of climate change, in the past few weeks.

  33. Lore says:

    Small attempts at sophomoric humor shrouded in denial may seem cute to those who lack a sound grasp of the implications of the growing severity of climate change. Usually these people are at a loss to put it into any intelligent explanation that supports their ideology so they can only blindly strike out with a smart-alec remark.

    There is no evidence that investing in cleaner more efficient energy alternatives, or living a powered down live style will not have major benefits to the people and the planet in the future Regardless if it costs many trillions, or climate change is happening or not. Technology is a false god, waiting for it to catch up with reality will cause a lot of suffering. We have all that we need and the ability to make changes today.

    For the “it hasn’t happened yet” crowd. I can understand that living in a world of instant gratification has somehow skewed your perception of time, but climate change is not a fat food drive up window.

    Lastly, while walruses on the beach may not be a Christmas post card, it should put everyone on a storm watch, after all,…

    “I am he as you are he as you are me.
    And we are all together,… (we) are the walrus, goo goo goo joob.”

  34. Martha Mills says:

    More on the strange wandering habits of arctic wildlife.
    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/manitoba/story/2010/08/30/mb-polar-bear-shamattawa-manitoba.html

    No body noticed this back in August so I thought I’d share.

  35. jcwinnie says:

    I see little caption balloons with statements of climate change denial.

  36. Chris Winter says:

    Wes George wrote (#11):

    “There is a perfectly rational, evidence-based POV which would suggest that should your vision of a climate apocalypse be false then the misdirection of trillions of dollars to fight Climate Change will be wasted and many other far more pressing environment and human poverty issues will go without, resulting in the death of many, many millions of people and perhaps even the very sort of environmental apocalypse you so righteously seek to avoid.”

    (Emphasis added.)

    I agree that if the climate doesn’t change as drastically as most climatologists project, spending huge amounts of money to prevent the harmful effects of the change will be seen as a criminal waste. (I use “criminal” in the colloquial sense; it’s hard to see how anyone could be prosecuted for doing what the world said was needful.)

    But this is not what needs debunking. Rather, as my emphasis indicates, it is the projection of harmful climate change that needs to be proven false. I, like Stephen Leahy, have been hoping for such falsification, and I have repeatedly asked the people who assert that AGW has been falsified to point me to it. Their answer is nothing but more assertion.

  37. Colorado Bob says:

    Senate Republicans may use a markup of EPA’s annual spending bill Thursday to try and block the agency from implementing new climate change rules.

    An amendment to thwart EPA could gain traction on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which includes five Democrats who have previously backed proposals to delay or scuttle limits on greenhouse gases from power plants and other sources.

    http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/118545-gop-mulls-plan-to-stymie-epa-climate-regs-at-senate-markup

  38. peter whitehead says:

    what are all those walruses doing? Don’t they know that Sarah Palin will shoot them all if they hang out in the open?

    love the norwegian archaeology story – I bet no mainstream uk tv station puts that in a news bulletin

  39. adelady says:

    Sorry, wes. The city of Adelaide as originally laid out was, and still is, a model of order and good sense. Have you seen our suburban sprawl? Neither orderly nor sensible.

    As for danger. We’ve had people dropping dead from heat to the point where we now have a Red Cross system of volunteers set up to ring up and nag older people to drink water and keep cool.

    Very orderly and sensible given the conditions. But we really don’t want our new urban planning design to move straight to a Coober Pedy underground arrangement. (Personally I think that’s how my descendants will have to live if they stay here, but that’s because I think we’re past a couple of really important thresholds. Not scientific ones, because there’s not much science about individual locations, but thresholds nevertheless in my judgement.)

  40. Colorado Bob says:

    Vienna – The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is unhappy with what it sees as unfair competition from subsidized alternative energies, OPEC chief Abdalla el-Badri said Tuesday on the day of the group’s 50th anniversary.

    Experts have identified the rise of renewable energy as one of the challenges that the 12-country club of producers will have to deal with in the years ahead.

    http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/news/344202,chides-alternative-energy-subsidies.html

  41. llewelly says:

    oh, no. No, no, no, Joe. You can’t mention walruses. They’re not cute. They’re not cuddly. They don’t give bear hugs. They’re Jabba the Hut with fangs. Giant fangs.

  42. Chris Winter says:

    Wes George wrote (#15):

    “To suggest the global economic system shift to a non-carbon foundation before 2040 isn’t a multi-trillion dollar affair is disingenuous. Technological evolution is occurring at an almost exponentially accelerating pace so a non-hydrocarbon based global economy is simply a matter of time. But the implication of this whole blog is it isn’t occurring nearly fast enough, change needs to be mandated by a central global authority by freezing at today’s level energy produced from hydrocarbon sources. That would be catastrophic for over a billion people in extreme poverty.”

    So, to put the dispute as simply as possible, your counter to CP’s “Hurry up with that clean energy” is “Don’t worry; we’ll get ’round to it.” Is that a fair condensation? I note that scientists and energy experts have been recommending more clean energy, as well as more efficient use of energy, for at least twenty years. The much-vaunted market forces have given us very little of either. Why do you suppose that is?

    The reason more and more people are calling for haste in converting to clean energy is that more and more evidence suggests that time is running out. Vague assurances that undefined technical advances will alleviate the problem Real Soon Now grow increasingly empty.

  43. AlanH says:

    @wes george:
    There is a perfectly rational, evidence-based POV which would suggest that should your vision of a climate apocalypse be false then the misdirection of trillions of dollars to fight Climate Change will be wasted and many other far more pressing environment and human poverty issues will go without, resulting in the death of many, many millions of people and perhaps even the very sort of environmental apocalypse you so righteously seek to avoid.

    This is just wrong. We have to transition to renewable energy sources anyway, so your hypothetical trillions of dollars would be well spent, even if thousands of climate scientists were mistaken. Air pollution would be greatly reduced, which would mean less disease, and we could eliminate our dependence on other countries for oil. You also pose a false dichotomy: the choice isn’t A: transition to clean energy, or B: eliminate poverty. Both goals could be accomplished at the same time. What do you think would be better for someone in a third world country: a traditional multi-million dollar energy plant (with the associated debt,) along with the poles and wires to distribute the electricity, or an inexpensive solar or wind-powered generator that sits on-site and is a one-time cost, without the requirement to continuously purchase fuel?

  44. John McCormick says:

    RE # 37

    Chris, I get your drift but you said:

    “I agree that if the climate doesn’t change as drastically as most climatologists project, spending huge amounts of money to prevent the harmful effects of the change will be seen as a criminal waste.”

    Chris, you aren’t thinking or writing comprehensively.

    Add a sentence or two about increasing ocean acidfication as CO2 emissions and concentration increase (even if the climate was not affected) and how preventing that is “worth spending huge amounts of money” so that our species and others can survive.

    John McCormick

  45. Paul K2 says:

    Story from the Times Picayune in New Orleans showing massive fish and sealife kill.

  46. Ryan T says:

    Exactly, Alan. Although I said NET cost in response to Wes, because there are benefits to consider, I should’ve also said “in addition to what would be spent anyway”. An amount likely to be higher down the road with materials and energy price inflation.

  47. #16 Fear has often been the big stick for innovation: have you forgotten the space race? the arms race? I’ve looked out the window at the high Arctic, mountain glaciers, African plains, etc and talked to hundreds of experts around the world. Looks like climate change to me and any one else with their eyes open.

    Wes you make assertion after assertion and accuse others of illogic. Better stop throwing stones

  48. Richard Brenne says:

    Wes Incurious George (#s 11, 15, 16, 19, 21) -

    Your lack of empathy is as breathtaking as your smugness. In Moscow the peat fires created carbon monoxide levels six times average, with a record high of 102 and much suffering. Nationally Russia has banned wheat exports, lost 30 per cent of their wheat crop and estimates are that as many as 15,000 (or more) premature deaths might have resulted.

    In Pakistan much of their infrastructure has been shattered by floods that you claim have occurred “thousands of times before”. Millions are still desperate for food and clean drinking water, and the public health crisis could kill tens of thousands. The outrage about the lack of governmental response could ultimately lead to a successful coup that could endanger much of the region, since Pakistan has nuclear weapons.

    And in Australia lying naked on the beach can not only lead to cancer due to depleted ozone, but serious orifice sandification. Problem solved?

    You’re obviously a disciple of Bjorn Lomborg’s, who was a disciple of Julian Simon’s, who once claimed that population could grow at a rate of 2 per cent a year for 7 billion years with no problems. Problem solved, indeed.

    You’re right that not every problem is a result of climate change, but each of our most serious problems is the result of human impacts that simply can’t and won’t be sustained without catastrophic results.

    As Al Bartlett said to Julian Simon’s cornucopian nonsense, “You must be speaking about a flat Earth that could theoretically extend infinitely through space.”

    We live on the spherical Earth, the one governed by the laws of physics – you know, in reality. As the walrus said, I hope someday you join us. . .