This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Arctic Ice is Melting Fast--This is Not Good

It has been many years now since we had the first confirmation of the rapid melting of Arctic ice. But every time I see a new story about it, I am startled to remember what a big deal this is--and who is responsible. The latest information comes from an op-ed in today's NYTimes written by Dr. Cecilia Bitz, who is a professor of atmospheric sciences and director of the Program on Climate Change at the University of Washington.
In late February, a large portion of the Arctic Ocean near the North Pole experienced an alarming string of extremely warm winter days, with the surface temperature exceeding 25 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. 
These conditions capped nearly three months of unusually warm weather in a region that has seen temperatures rising over the past century as greenhouse gas concentrations (mostly carbon dioxide and methane) have increased in the atmosphere. At the same time, the extent of frozen seawater floating in the Arctic Ocean reached new lows in January and February in 40 years of satellite monitoring.
The extreme Arctic warming this winter is a foreshadowing of things to come. On our current greenhouse emissions trajectories, the Arctic Ocean is expected to be ice-free in late summer by about midcentury or possibly as early as 2030, depending on natural variability. The impact will extend beyond the Arctic, adding to warming and sea level rise throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
If you have read my book, or any number of other books and articles, you know that the proximate cause of these rapid climate changes is human activity. Over the last century we have grown in unprecedented numbers and have used resources and polluted the earth and atmosphere in unprecedented ways. We are not on a sustainable path at the moment. We know what to do (stop population growth and use resources only in a sustainable way) but as a group we can't yet come to grips with those solutions. For additional useful information on these things, I recommend you visit the website of UK-based Population Matters

No comments:

Post a Comment