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We are just beginning to understand why the sudden melt-back of the Arctic Sea ice could change the climate of the world. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, your own weather has changed already because of it.
This may not be pleasing holiday fare, but our time together is limited and valuable. Critically important news cannot go unreported, no matter what local tragedy dominates the mainstream headlines.
As we will hear in this program, there is enough methane buried in the Arctic to drive us into an extinction event from runaway climate change, well beyond our ability to adapt.
I'm going to talk at length with Paul Beckwith. He's trained in engineering and physics, but is now working on his PHD in climate science at the University of Ottawa.
That connection began in our Radio Ecoshock program featuring Dr. Guy McPherson on the most alarming climate news. Guy mentioned Beckwith's
claim that Earth's mean temperature could go up as much as six degrees in a decade or two. Beckwith confirmed the statement.
Surely it can't be true? So I going to call up Beckwith in Ottawa - hoping to find out more. I also know Paul is part of a group of scientists and activists called the Arctic Methane Emergency Group or AMEG. You can find my earlier interview with one of AMEG's scenior scientists, Arctic ice expert scientist Dr. Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University. That's in the Radio Ecoshock show February 15th, 2012. I also interviewed critics of this theory that methane from melting permafrost and shallow northern sea beds pose an immediate emergency for the planet.
I'll ask Paul Beckwith about all that. But I also hope to get a better grip on how melting sea ice could possibly cause the unstable weather we've seen this year in North America, and Europe. Why did March of 2012 become more like summer all of a sudden? Why do sudden cold snaps hit in Europe, changing from balmy weather to the deep freeze in just a day or two? Why has a massive drought stalled over the croplands of the United States? Have changes in the Arctic destablized weather in the Northern Hemisphere? We'll find out.
I'm also going to present for the first time a radio adaptation from a new movie by the Arctic Methane Emergency Group. You will hear from Dr. Wadhams, but also James Hansen, the NASA super-scientist, plus Natalia Shakhova, a Russian scientist now working at the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and David Wasdell, founder of the Apollo-Gaia Project.
Here is a link to my intriguing Radio Ecoshock interview with David Wasdell in our December 10, 2010 show "Beyond the Tipping Point" 34 min
All this comes against a chorus of steadily worse revelations about the prospect of very dangerous climate change developing now and in the decades to come.
As you heard in our recent programs, the possibility of staying below the alleged safety point of two degrees temperature rise has more or less passed away. Reports from the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and many more, show the world is headed to at least a 4 degree warming by 2100, if not sooner.
The year 2012 has been the hottest in the instrumental records. Hotter than the previous tied records of 1998 and 2005. According to Joe Romm at thinkprogress.org, the "very warm November and early December assures record-breaking 2012."
Weather-meister Jeff Masters from the Weather Underground writes "The year-to-date period of January – November has been by far the warmest such period on record for the contiguous U.S.–a remarkable 1.0°F above the previous record."
Not coincidentally, and despite all the expensive international climate talks, world greenhouse gas emissions are not dropping but rising steeply, year on year. The Global Carbon Project, which measures such things, finds global emissions in 2012 set a new all time record. In 2012 we pumped out an eye-popping 58% more greenhouse gases than in 1990.
I also play you a short clip from Corrine Le Quere. She is a Professor of Climate Change Science and Policy at the University of East Anglia in the UK, and the Director of the prestigious British climate modelling agency, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
The supposed 2 degrees "safe" limit for warming is now something viewed only in the rear view mirror. All we don't know is how far, and how fast, the former Earth climate will unwind.