The results are now becoming clear from the International Polar Year (IPY): earlier estimates of climate change were too mild. Change is happening faster than the IPCC expected.
We all know the once mythical Northwest Passage now exists, in summer you can take your ship from Europe across the Arctic Ocean to the Pacific. Arctic sea ice may be gone entirely in the summer by 2040. Polar bears fitted with life jackets?
Greenland, too, is shedding mass faster than preidcted. Much of that is melting glacial ice, running into the Atlantic. 52 cubic miles per year, and the melt rate is accelerating. That could raise sea levels more than three feet this century. One commonly written counter to rising sea levels is the warming-doubters' claim that all the ice melting is just floating in the ocean. The ice cube ina glass example. Well, geography shows that Greenland is a land mass once largely covered with thick ice sheets. Going too are glaciers from the Andes to the Alps, not to mention ice melting off the continent of Antarctica.
Perhaps the more worrisome finding of IPY: the permafrost, now melting across the Arctic, contains three times as much CO2 as was estimated before the IPY. Worse yet: it contains twice as much CO2 as is already in the earth's atmosphere. Climate models currently blame increasing CO2 levels for much of the global warming. Doesn't look like that process will do anything but accelerate.
If the ice melt and CO2 increases continue to accelerate it is likely to mean a rush toward green tech by the wealthier nations and corporations on the planet. And it forebodes a major shift in real estate values that will make the sub-prime mortgage scams look minor. In Silicon Valley there's already concern about protecting assets from salt water. Katrina may have simply been a harbinger of New Orleans' inevitable fate. Still trying to recover from a 2004 tsunami, Maldives is one of many island nations that may face extinction if oceans rise one meter. Get out you atlas or check Google Earth for your own lost of spots on "dry land" soon to become seabed.
STANDARD BOILER PLATE
This verbiage will now be attached to any blog I do about global warming. It’s amazing to me that somebody who can apparently read and then post comments still wonders in public why global warming matters on a technology web site. But I am naive, always assuming everybody’s paying attention.
It’s because of money. If global warming has enough acceptance among corporations, the public and even pols, there will be more money spent on green tech, wisely or unwisely. If oil prices stay low and most people don’t care a fig about global warming, green tech will have a difficult time succeeding, regardless of its merits. Not every good idea succeeds. VCs usually invest where they think there’s best chance for a good return. In greentech as in any tech the winners will often be determined by luck, brilliance, timing, happenstance and even marketing. Behind it all will be the money and behind that: whether the evidence for global warming and curtailing pollution drive action or is written off as claptrap.