Ice Free Arctic, Uninhabitable Cities, Devastating Storms, and Humanity’s Cognitive Dissonance

This blog is a brief review of statements recently provided by three people: James Hansen, Peter Wadhams, and Noam Chomsky.

James Hansen
Redacted from The Guardian

In an interview with The Guardian, Hansen notes that the current rate of global warming could raise sea levels by “several meters” over the coming century (the next 50 to 150 years), rendering most of the world’s coastal cities uninhabitable and helping to unleash devastating storms. This is a plausible scenario according to a paper published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics by James Hansen and his 18 colleagues. The available data suggest that the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets will contribute more to sea level rise than previously anticipated through the IPCC review process. For this reason, a sharper reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is needed to limit sea level rise and other problems. We are currently experiencing warming of about 1C above pre-industrial, and it is not much farther to 2C warming – a result that would be “dangerous” and risk submerging cities. Hansen’s research warns that humanity would not be able to properly adapt to such changes.

Peter Wadhams (Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University)

Redacted from The Independent

Prof. Wadhams has forecast that the Arctic is on track to be free of sea ice soon, possibly in 2016, and for the first time in more than 100,000 years. This forecast is supported by satellite data that shows that there was about 11.1 million square kilometres of sea ice on 1 June 2016. A difference of 1.5 million square kilometres since the same time in the previous year, and an area different equal to about six ‘United Kingdoms’.

[Authors Note: The important implication is a major change to the energy balance of the Arctic, and amplifying feedbacks this could have on global warming. This could be the onset of abrupt climate change.]


Noam Chomksy
Channel 4 News and The Elephant (YouTube)

Chomsky explains that humanity is at a cross-roads, and to survive we must reorganise to avoid running over the precipice of environmental collapse and/or a terminal nuclear war. These issues are fundamental to our political and economic systems, and the only hope is that sufficient pessimism will trigger pragmatic new solutions. Otherwise we are just sleepwalking to our collective demise.