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Climate Change Economics

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Our glaciers are shrinking

So Tell Me How Bad Is It Now?

By Barry Piacenza

February 18, 2013

Educational Purposes only

Title sounds like a story about love broken. I wish it was that simple.

Unfortunately it’s the state of climate change in 2013. It’s apparent from various studies that the great ocean conveyor belt - that part that operates in the North Atlantic known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation - is slowing down. At the same time the height of the Gulfstream offshore is flattening out in height, this coming from studies from satellite altimeters.1 Freshwater is less dense than the salt water in the ocean and has a more difficult time sinking as it begins its journey southward so the surface water is warmer and less dense than the cold water adding to the problem. The potential outcomes of the slowing of the, AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation), has substantial negative outcomes for the northeastern United States and possibly Europe.

Additional reports from respected scientists such as Dr. James Hansen conclude that the extra heat energy being trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere is like exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day 365 days per year.

The World Bank is estimating that according to Price Waterhouse that we’re on a path to heating the entire surface of the planet by an average of 4 or 5°C before 2100.2 The IEA( The International Energy Agency) has declared that a rapid de-carbonization of the electric supply is needed to avoid that future. The IEA released in its new book, Electricity in a Climate Constrained World.3 (I encourage our visitors to read Stephen’s Leahy‘s article under his column located in the front page of the website)

The University of North Carolina researcher Rose Corey informs Stephen Leahy of IPS, that human emissions are headed for 4°C global heating. Their research group found that sunlight increases bacterial conversion of exposed soil carbon into carbon dioxide gas at least 40% compared to carbon that remained in the dark. The team reported its findings in an article published online February 11 in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This means permafrost carbon is potentially a huge factor that will determine how fast the earth warms,” said co-author George Kling, a University of Michigan ecologist.4

“We can’t say how fast this arctic carbon will feed back into the global carbon cycle and accelerate climate warming on earth, the fact that it will be exposed to light means that it will happen faster than we previously thought”, said Kling in his statement.5

All of these changes could mean colder winters for North America due to the slowing of the great conveyor belt and hotter summers.6

As noted all of these changes an open Arctic leaves a resource rush into the new ocean void for the very carbon that caused the melt in the first place. This behooves the nation states to cooperate, The Arctic Council - made up of core members Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

Reports in the United States by the General Accounting Office have stated that the US is at a high risk from climate change that climate change represents a significant financial risk to the federal government and the federal government is not well-positioned to address this financial exposure. The GAO stated in 2011 at they found no coherent strategic government wide approach to climate change funding and it federal officials do not have a shared understanding of strategic government wide priorities. At the same time the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been warning for 18 months it faces gaps in weather satellite coverage as early as 2014 unless it gets the funds to put up a new satellite in time. The gap in coverage could last as long as 4 ½ years, according to NOAA.

It is becoming increasingly clear that no matter how many scientific, financial, military, strategic, voices come to the global consciousness we are slow to react even though storms keep coming like super-typhoon Bopha which struck the Philippines.


1 Michael D. Lemonick, Climate Central, February 14, 2013- East Coast Faces Rising Seas from Slowing Gulfstream.

2 Stephen Leahy IPS, thawing permafrost may be huge factor in global warming. February 14, 2013.

3 Stephen Leahy IPS, thawing permafrost may be huge factor in global warming. February 14, 2013.

4 Stephen Leahy IPS, thawing permafrost may be huge factor in global warming. February 14, 2013.

5 Stephen Leahy IPS, thawing permafrost may be huge factor in global warming. February 14, 2013.

6 Michael D Lemonick, Climate Central, Arctic storms: the climate danger nobody is talking about. December 20, 2012.