Fw: The Ice Melts Into Water

Alison Banville alisonbanville at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Oct 2 13:16:46 BST 2012

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To: Alison Banville <alisonbanville at yahoo.co.uk> 
Sent: Tuesday, 2 October 2012, 13:10
Subject: The Ice Melts Into Water
 The Ice Melts Into Water  
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October 02, 2012 
The Ice Melts Into Water
Arctic Ice Melt, Psychopathic Capitalism And The Corporate Media 
By David Cromwell and David Edwards 
Last month, climate scientists announced that Arctic sea ice had   shrunk to its smallest surface area since satellite
observations began   in 1979. An ice-free summer in the Arctic, once projected to be more   than a century away, now looks possible just a few decades
from now.   Some scientists say it may happen within the next few years. 
The loss is hugely significant because Arctic sea ice reflects most   solar energy into space, helping to keep the Earth at a
moderate   temperature. But when the ice melts it reveals dark waters below, which   absorb more than 90 per cent of the solar energy that hits them,
leading to   faster warming both locally and globally. 
Peter Wadhams, professor of ocean physics at Cambridge University, warns that   the Arctic may be ice-free in summer as soon as 2015. Such a massive loss would have a warming effect roughly
equivalent to all human   activity to date. In other words, a summer ice-free Arctic could double the rate of warming of the planet as a
whole. No wonder that leading NASA climate scientist James Hansen says bluntly: ‘We are in a planetary emergency.’ 
In a comprehensive blog piece on the Scientific American website, Ramez Naam points out that: 
‘The   reality of changes to the Arctic has far
outstripped most predictions.  Only a few years ago, in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate   Change report, the bulk of models showed the
Arctic ice cap surviving in   summer until well past 2100. Now it’s not clear that the ice will   survive in summer past 2020. The level of sea
ice we saw this   September, in 2012, wasn’t expected by the mean of  IPCC models until  2065. The melting Arctic has outpaced the predictions 
of almost  everyone – everyone except the few who were called alarmists.’ 
As well as global warming from carbon dioxide (CO2), there is the additional risk of warming from methane
(CH4)  being released into the atmosphere. Huge quantities of methane are  locked up in land permafrost. But even vaster quantities exist
as  methane hydrates frozen below the shallow waters of the Arctic Ocean’s  continental shelves. Naam warns: 
'If even 10% of the northern permafrost’s buried carbon were released  as  methane, it would have a heating effect over the
next decade  equivalent  to ten times all human greenhouse emissions to date, and over the next century equivalent to roughly four times all
human greenhouse emissions to date.' 
That's just the methane on land, trapped in the permafrost. If the  methane hydrates buried on the Arctic continental shelves were
to be  released, that would have a warming effect equivalent tohundreds of times the total human carbon emissions to date. 
Although Namm says 'we are probably not in danger of a methane time  bomb going off any time soon', recent observations show that
Arctic methane is being released into the atmosphere. And there is scientific controversy over how serious and how rapid this release is. 
In summary, Naam points to a triple whammy effect: 
1. Warming from the greenhouse gases we are currently emitting. 
2. Warming from the loss of ice and permafrost in the Arctic, and the exposure of dark water and dark land below. 
3. Warming from the release of more carbon into the atmosphere as the permafrost and the Arctic sea floor methane begin to
The situation is already dire. According to a new report commissioned by twenty governments, more than 100 million people will die  by 2030 if the world fails to
tackle climate change. Five million deaths already occur  each   year from air pollution, hunger and disease as a result of  climate   change and
carbon-intensive economies. This death toll would  likely rise   to six million a year by 2030 if current patterns of  fossil fuel use   continue.
More than 90 per cent of those deaths will  occur in developing   countries. 
On a sane planet, action would have been taken long before now to   limit the risk. But, as Greenpeace International  head Kumi
Naidoo notes, fossil fuel industries have been working hard to corrupt the political process: 
‘Why our governments don't take action? Because
they have been captured by the same interests of the energy industry.’ 
As we noted in an alert last year, a Greenpeace study titled Who's Holding Us Back? reported: 
'The  corporations most responsible for contributing to climate  change  emissions and profiting from those activities are
campaigning to   increase their access to international negotiations and, at the same   time, working to defeat progressive legislation on climate
change and   energy around the world.' 
Greenpeace added: 
‘These   polluting corporations often exert
their influence behind the scenes,   employing a variety of techniques, including using trade associations   and think tanks as front groups;
confusing the public through climate   denial or advertising campaigns; making corporate political donations;   as well as making use of the
"revolving door" between public servants   and carbon-intensive corporations.’ 
Unsurprisingly then, meaningful action on tackling climate change is nowhere on the political agenda. 
Drilling To Oblivion 
Around the same time that a record low in Arctic sea ice was being   recorded, a new report from the UK’s House of Commons
Environmental   Audit Committee urged a halt to all oil and gas drilling in the Arctic, at least 'until new   safeguards are put in
place.' Committee chair Joan Walley MP said: 
'The   shocking speed at which the Arctic sea ice is
melting should be a   wake-up call to the world that we need to phase out fossil fuels fast.   Instead we are witnessing a reckless gold rush in this
pristine   wilderness as big companies and governments make a grab for the world’s   last untapped oil and gas reserves.' 
Caroline  Lewis, member of the committee, warned that ‘the race to  carve  up the  Arctic is accelerating faster than our regulatory or  technical  capacity 
to manage it.’ 
But the record of corporate capitalism shows   that powerful industrial forces will do all they can to lobby   governments to allow for
continued economic exploitation of the planet’s   resources. According to the US Geological Survey,   within the Arctic Circle there are some 90 billion barrels of oil - 13   per cent
of the planet's undiscovered oil reserves - and 30 per cent  of  its undiscovered natural gas. The race for corporate profits is now  on,  with Shell
already committed to a ‘multi-year exploration program’ in the Arctic. 
The receding Arctic ice is a 'business opportunity' for those   wishing to exploit newly available shipping routes. Cargo that now goes via the Panama Canal or the Suez Canal will, in many cases, have a   shorter Arctic route, ensuring ‘efficiency savings’ for big
Companies are also licking their lips at the prospect at getting their hands on vast deposits of minerals as Greenland’s ice cap recedes. 
‘For me, I   wouldn’t mind if the whole
ice cap disappears,’ said Ole Christiansen,   the chief executive of NunamMinerals, Greenland’s largest homegrown   mining company, with
his eyes on a proposed gold mining site up the   fjord from Nuuk, Greenland’s capital. ‘As it melts, we’re seeing new   places with
very attractive geology.’ 
A good example of the psychopathic mind-set at the heart of corporate capitalism. Science writer Peter Gleick responded incredulously on Twitter: '25 foot sea rise?' For that is indeed the catastrophic scale of global sea level rise that would occur with the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. 
The BBC Parks The
The BBC’s extremely poor and biased coverage of climate change  continues to  dismay seasoned observers. As Verity  Payne
and Freya  Roberts noted on The Carbon Brief website, the corporation’s ‘fondness for pitting non-experts against each other over particularly complex areas of climate science   reached surreal heights’
in a recent BBC2 Newsnight segment on Arctic  sea ice loss. The encounter between Conservative MP Peter Lilley  and the Green Party’s  new
leader Natalie Bennett eventually  degenerated into an argument over  the merits of locally-sourced food.  Payne and Roberts concluded: 
‘It's   hard to understand how, over a year
after the BBC Trust reviewed the   corporation's science coverage, paying particular attention to topics   such as climate change, this is what we end
up with.’ 
In fact, the BBC's awful performance is not that much of a mystery. The corporation has always been a reliable supporter of state and corporate power. But particularly since the fallout from   reporting the government’s
‘sexing-up’ of discredited claims about   Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, when heads rolled at the   BBC, the
broadcaster has been at pains not to offend the government and allied interests. Its abysmal failure to inform the British public of the coalition’s effective dismantling of the National Health Service is another key example. 
According to former BBC correspondent and editor Mark Brayne, who was privy to  internal editorial
discussions in 2010, the BBC has ‘explicitly parked   climate change in the category “Done That Already, Nothing New to Say”.’ Brayne added: 
‘On climate change, that BBC journalistic
urgency to be seen to be fair now means, after a period between Al Gore’s Inconvenient   Truth and the disaster of [the 2009 UN Climate
Summit in] Copenhagen   when global warming was everywhere in the output, that the Corporation   has been bending over backwards to reflect the
opposite, sceptical   view.’ 
Consider the analogy of two men at a bar, says Brayne. One man claims   that two plus two equals four, and the other that two plus
two equals   six. The BBC solution to this disagreement? ‘Put them both on the Today   Programme, and the answer clearly lies somewhere in the
The Today programme, BBC Radio 4’s ‘agenda-setting’ morning   programme, is a serial offender when it comes to
irresponsible climate coverage. On July 13 this year, veteran interviewer John Humphrys   interviewed Ralph Cicerone, president of the US National
Academy of   Sciences. Part of the interview went like this: 
JH:  ‘But   to say nearly every spot on the
globe has warmed significantly over  the  past 30 years and indeed the entire planet is warming is different  from  saying it's going to continue to
warm to such an extent that we  have to  spend vast and unimaginable amounts of money to protect  ourselves  against a catastrophe that many people,
some distinguished  scientists  say, isn't actually proven.’ 
RC: ‘Well   of course the way you've worded it,
it was quite strong; "vast and   unimaginable sums of money", I don't think I've heard anybody make such a   proposal.’ 
Moments later, Humphrys made the idiotic assertion that: 
‘You can’t absolutely prove that
CO2 in the atmosphere is responsible for global warming.’ 
As climate writers Christian Hunt and Ros Donald put it politely: 
‘If the   Today programme brought this level of
research and preparation to   interviewing politicians, it probably wouldn't be taken particularly   seriously.’ 
In fact, the standard of political debate on Today, as with the rest   of BBC News, is on a similarly appalling level: routinely
tilted  towards  state-corporate power, and all at public expense. 
Meanwhile, BBC News happily chunters along issuing a stream of   articles and broadcasts about Britain’s ‘dreadful
weather’ this year and  how it  has, for example, ‘cost rural Britain £1bn’ in lost income. But you would be hard pressed to find any links drawn between
this and human-induced climate change. 
Guarding The
Mythology Of 'Feeble Response' 
Greens like to flock to the Guardian almost as though it were the  house paper of the environment movement. One recent Guardian editorial noted   that: ‘pessimists in the climate change community warn that within the   next century global mean
temperatures could rise by 6C. A fierce,   sustained drought in the US, with 170 all-time US heat records broken in   June alone, has already hurt
world food stocks.’ 
These are important points. But given the observed rapid changes in   the Arctic under global warming, the Guardian’s
pejorative use of   ‘pessimists’ should probably be replaced with ‘realists’. The Guardian  continued: 
‘The global response to these signals of
potential calamity has so far been feeble.’ 
This hugely understates the problem. But, even more damning, it   diverts attention from root causes. As mentioned earlier, huge
vested   interests have mounted decades-long campaigns of disinformation,  fierce  lobbying and intimidation to subvert and bully governments
into  (a)  avoiding what needs to be done in the face of climate chaos; and  (b) providing tax breaks,   subsidies and other measures to enhance
rapacious corporate practices   under the guise of boosting economic ‘growth’ and ‘job creation’   (newspeak terms for
corporate profits). 
Senior Guardian editorial staff seem unable to move beyond the same anodyne waffle they have been publishing for thirty years: 
‘Britain's   “greenest government
ever” has shown what it thinks of scientific   evidence, by placing a homeopathic medicine enthusiast in charge of the   National Health
Service, and a reputed climate sceptic as environment   secretary. The outlook is not promising.’ 
The Guardian has almost nothing to say about the deep-rooted changes required to redress the imbalance of power in society; or about its own role in pushing climate-damaging policies and practices. The Guardian is a corporate newspaper dependent on advertisers for around 70 per cent of its income. Put simply, like other corporate media, it is part of the problem. 
Media Malpractice -
Challenging The Decline In Coverage 
In the US, climate blogger Joe Romm notes that the decline in corporate media climate coverage has been well documented, both in print and the evening news. Bill Blakemore of ABC News observes that   a number of the climate scientists ‘are perplexed by — and in some   cases furious with
— American news directors.’ Blakemore elucidates: 
‘“Malpractice!”   is typical of the
charges this reporter has heard highly respected   climate experts level — privately, off the record — at my professional   colleagues
over the past few years. 
‘Complaints   include what seems to the
scientists a willful omission of  overwhelming  evidence the new droughts and floods are worsened by man  made global  warming, and unquestioning
repetition, gullible at best, of  transparent  anti-science propaganda credibly reported to be funded by  fossil fuel  interests and anti-regulation
Blakemore adds that he has spoken with climate scientists who ‘agree   with those, including NASA scientist James Hansen,
who charge that fossil   fuel CEOs are guilty of a “crime against humanity,” given the   calamity that unregulated greenhouse emissions
are quickly bringing on.’  With 100 million deaths from global warming predicted by 2030, the charge is no  hyperbole.   Indeed this surely
represents the greatest crime in all human history.  And yet   governments and  big business, shielded by the corporate    media, are getting away
with  it. 
It probably comes as no surprise that the worst US media offenders belong to the Murdoch stable. A study by   the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) shows that Fox News had been  'misleading' viewers  about climate
science in 93 per cent of primetime  programmes that  addressed the subject over a six-month period in 2012.  Fox News hosts  and guests ‘mocked
and disparaged statements from  scientists and drowned  out genuine scientific assertions with  cherry-picked data and false  claims.’ The
opinion pages of the  Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal  performed slightly better: only 81  per cent of the examples studied were  misleading,
according to the UCS  analysis. Similar surveys of the UK  media are sorely needed. And, more  to the point, action taken to challenge this corporate
media complicity  in history's premier crime. 
We  have to re-examine our assumptions about what might be most
effective  in changing things for the better. For years, left and green activists have  argued that we should work with corporate media to reach a
wider public.  For a long time the argument may have seemed unassailable. But after  decades of accelerating planetary devastation and rapidly
declining  democracy, the argument has weakened to the point of collapse. By a  process of carefully rationed corporate 'inclusion', the honesty, 
vitality and truth of environmentalism have been corralled, contained,  trivialised and stifled. 
Corporate  media 'inclusion' of dissent has deceived the public
with the illusion  of openness and change, while business-as-usual has taken us very far in  the opposite direction. Ironically, meek 'cooperation'
has handed  influence and control to the very forces seeking to disempower dissent.  And in the absence of serious left/green criticism, corporate
media  performance has actually deteriorated. 
Why  should progressives help this system sell the illusion that
the  corporate media offers a ‘wide spectrum of views’ when its biased output  overwhelmingly and inevitably promotes Permanent War for
resources and  war on the planet? The corporate media must be confronted with  the reality of what it is, and what it has done. It is vital
that this  be highlighted to the public it has been deceiving. 
While  the power of the internet remains relatively open, there is
a brief  window to free ourselves from the shackles of the corporate media and to  build something honest, radical and publicly accountable. Climate crisis is already upon us, with much worse likely to come. The stakes almost literally could not be
The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and  respect for others. If you do write to journalists, we strongly
urge you  to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone. 
Write to: 
Helen Boaden, head of BBC News. 
Email: helen.boaden at bbc.co.uk 
Fraser Steel, Head of the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit. 
Email: fraser.steel at bbc.co.uk 
Alan Rusbridger, Guardian editor. 
Email: alan.rusbridger at guardian.co.uk 
Twitter: @arusbridger 
John Vidal, Guardian environment editor. 
Email: john.vidal at guardian.co.uk 
Twitter: @john_vidal  
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The Ice Melts Into Water 
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