Monday, October 10, 2005

Mike Davis, Has the Age of Chaos Begun? 

Discussions of "tipping points" have, in recent times, largely been relegated to the war in Iraq where such moments, regularly predicted by the Bush administration, never arrive. In the meantime, an actual tipping point may have been creeping up on us on another front entirely, one that is anathema to this administration -- that of climate change.

The latest news from scientists laboring in cold climes has been startling. The expanse of Arctic sea ice has been shrinking in the summer since the late 1970s, though usually rebounding to near normal levels in the winter. Until recently. For the last few years, winter ice cover has been shrinking as well. This will be the fourth consecutive year of record, or near record, shrinkage of September sea ice in the Arctic. Scientists speculate that a threshold has been crossed.

"Experts at the U.S. National Snow and Data Center in Colorado," writes David Adam, environmental correspondent for the British Guardian, "fear the [Arctic] region is locked into a destructive cycle with warmer air melting more ice, which in turn warms the air further. Satellite pictures show that the extent of Arctic sea ice this month dipped some 20% below the long term average for September -- melting an extra 500,000 square miles, or an area twice the size of Texas. If current trends continue, the summertime Arctic Ocean will be completely ice-free well before the end of this century."


"How is it possible that we can now contemplate with scientific seriousness whether our children's children will themselves have children? Let Exxon answer that in one of their sanctimonious ads."

TomDispatch - Tomgram: Mike Davis, Has the Age of Chaos Begun?


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