Friday, July 26, 2013

Greenland and sea level rise: my last post for a while ... by gimleteye

My posts from Greenland triggered an interesting conversation among scientists by email. Absent their permission, I will not disclose their names.

The question raised: can recruitment of new mangroves at the Florida shoreline be relied on to absorb the energy of rising seas under current conditions. The discussion involved an idea that has gained some credence in public discussion of climate change adaptation: that natural systems and species evolution can adapt to changes in the climate due to global warming.

The bottom line, at least in their discussion, is: no. The rate of change is too fast.

South Florida's coast -- in the scientists' estimation -- will resemble the Louisiana shoreline today, where tens of thousands of acres of mangroves have disappeared, turning the coastline into a muddy mess.

This photo was taken at Ilulissat, at a UNESCO site (UNESCO being one of the programs the radical right has no use for) commemorating an original Inuit settlement on the island. In the background, icebergs flowing off the Greenland ice sheet. Our Inuit guide told us that severely impoverished native tribes used this chasm to cull their human population. The old and sick would throw themselves into the chasm, or be thrown, in order that the rest of the tribe -- on the verge of starvation -- could survive.


Anonymous said...

Your beautiful photos brought back memories of my visits there with the Air Force in the 60's. Thule and Sondre Stromfjord were active Air Force bases for what was then the Air Defense command. The Inuits I met were amazing hunters and the image I carry with me to this day is of them returning from hunting trips with caribou kills draped over their backs.

Anonymous said...

You say the rate of change is too fast, but is there anything on a small local individual level (besides getting in lawmakers that are intelligent and care)that we can do to help?
Planting more trees, recycling, etc? Does doing these things really help or are we way past that point in our technology driven industrialized society?

Gimleteye said...

Every bit helps, especially voting out of office elected officials who are climate change deniers. We also need to vote out of office, former climate change deniers who now say, there is nothing we can do, or, it's India and China's fault. What I would like to see, more than anything else, is a rational discussion about the pathways from economies that rely on fossil fuels. It is clearer and clearer that the focus on "sustainable" energy like solar and wind is a massive distraction from the reorganization of our on-demand electricity and power supplies. The politicization of these issues and misinformation -- fueled by the GOP radical right, via oil, coal and gas interests -- is at the root of the problem. For that to change, we need to change the composition of Congress and, eventually through the president, the Supreme Court. As you can see from the ferocious battle in Florida against Fair Districts, and the influence of pall-bearers like the American Legislative Exchange Council and through the corporate funders of the Tea Party, the way ahead is very cloudy.

Gimleteye said...

We stopped at the old Sondrestrom air base, an outpost of the Cold War. It looks like the arctic north has reclaimed an area that was never very tame to begin with. In late July, the weather was unusually warm, in the low 60's.

Anonymous said...

Had the enormous privilege and pleasure of touring Greenland with Colonel Bernt Balchen the arctic explorer and aviation pioneer. If interested, his life history makes for an amazing read. "Come North With Me" is his autobiography.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like we're going to have to change the minds of lots of people.
Thanks for sharing this - I thought myself knowledgeable but I too have focused on the 'sustainable' sources you mentioned.

Barbara Bisno said...

My comment really applies to all of your work, especially on this topic which receives "surface" coverage (please forgive the pun) by main media.

I write to moan that I hope your well-deserved respite lasts only thru the month of August (when so much shuts down in Miami) and that you come back refreshed and battling in September.

Best regards