Bloom Blog

Insights from Michael Bloomfield, Founder and Executive Director of the Harmony Foundation http://www.harmonyfdn.ca/

Climate Change Skeptics Hit By Iceberg

On Saturday August 7th it was announced that a giant 260sq km sheet of ice, four times the size of Manhattan Island, had broken off of Greenland.

It is the largest iceberg to have broken free since 1962, according to the BBC, and there is enough fresh water locked in the iceberg to supply American demand for four months. [1] No ordinary ice cube, indeed.

What caused the break is not entirely clear, though many scientists strongly suspect that it is related to global warming, citing that the first six months of 2010 have been the hottest on record globally.[2] Furthermore, according to the NY Times, Greenland as a whole is rapidly warming, and its vast ice sheet has lost more than 1.5 trillion tons of ice over the last decade.[3]

The same phenomenon is occurring in the Arctic. The National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that the July sea ice is the second lowest thickness on record and the old, thick ice that moved into the southern Beaufort Sea last winter is beginning to melt out.[4] The lowest year in the 30 year record was 2007. These latest reports follow a decidedly grim trend that shows a linear decline of ice at a rate of 6.4% per decade.

As a great Canadian Press article reports, “It’s been a summer of near Biblical climatic havoc across the planet, with wildfires raging in Russia and floods claiming lives across Asia.” However, as the report also notes, there is something particularly emotive about the break up of an ice sheet this size.

Icebergs are, after all, a near universal symbol for catastrophe. For added emphasis the one that sank the Titanic was also of Greenlandic origin.

Sunday August 8th marked the 35th Anniversary of the term Global Warming. Quite an anniversary it has been.

More than symbolism though, the break- up of this ice sheet has enormous implications, for both the present and the future. There are big dangers if this ice-island makes it out of the Nares strait and into the open Atlantic before the winter freeze, which will begin at the end of this month.

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-10900235

[2] http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100715_globalstats.html

[3] http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/09/iceberg-as-a-metaphor-for-inaction/

[4] http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/

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This entry was posted on August 18, 2010 by in Commentary: Current Events.
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