Voyage for the Future
Greta and Johannes are two of 18 young people setting sail today for a 12-day Arctic voyage, along the coast of Svalbard. They have been chosen by WWF as “Ambassadors for the Future”, to learn about climate change and pass the message on to the world’s political leaders. They’ll be blogging as guests on the Ice Blog for the next 12 days, as they sail along this route:
DateJune 9, 2008 | 8:26 am
Baked Alaska Online!
My “Flash Gallery”, with Alaskan photos and information, is now online.
Baked Alaska Flash Gallery
And Deutsche Welle is currently broadcasting the first installment of the “Climate Change College in Alaska” radio feature series. You can listen online or subscribe to the podcast.
Alaskan Climate Change Series on LIVING PLANET
DateJune 5, 2008 | 7:58 am
Fuelling the Melt of the Arctic?
The Arctic made its way into the headlines again at the end of last week, when the five Arctic coastal nations met in Greenland to discuss sovereignty over the Arctic seabed.
Denmark, Norway, Russia, Canada and the United States are the countries concerned. Wouldn’t it be great if they were negotiating on who could do the most to protect this unique and fragile area? Of course what they are actually concerned about is who will have access to natural resources – for instance the right to drill for oil once the seabed becomes more easily accessible because global warming is melting the ice.
(The airport at Alaska’s oil centre, Prudhoe Bay).
The environmental groups were not invited to the meeting. As you might expect, most of them are concerned about the rush to exploit the Arctic further as soon as possible. One suggestion is to have a treaty similar to that regulating the Antarctic, which bans military activity and mineral mining, but this was rejected by the “Arctic 5”. Greenpeace Nordic campaigner Lindsay Keenan put the bizarre situation in a nutshell when he told Reuters “they are going to use the law of the sea to carve up the raw materials, but they are ignoring the law of common sense. These are the same fossil fuels that are driving climate change in the first place”. Good point Mr. Keenan. Greenpeace points out that the world already has four times more fossil fuel reserves than it can afford to burn.
DateJune 4, 2008 | 11:08 am
Alaska baking faster?
This was us in Barrow just two weeks ago.
This morning, this email reached me from George Divoky, our ornithologist friend, observing climate change as part of his work monitoring a black guillemot colony on the Arctic’s Cooper Island:
“Was able to follow your travels via the B&J website and your blog and it looked like you were able to see some impressive examples of climate change in Alaska.
I was impressed with both the quality of climate change ambassadors and the media traveling with them. I tend to be skeptical of much of what is said and done to bring climate change issues to the public but found this exercise to be a good one and was glad I could become involved.
(…) I head off to Alaska in a week and Cooper Island about a week after that. After the late and snowy spring (which you know about first hand) things have gotten very hot there (5 C as I write this) and the snow all melted in the past two days.
George J. Divoky
Friends of Cooper Island
DateMay 26, 2008 | 8:02 am
Lions, Giraffes and Hippos on Ice ?
So what are these African animals (I took the pictures in Tanzania) doing on the Ice Blog? Of course it’s all about biodiversity.
The Arctic is particularly sensitive to climate change and acts as a kind of early warning system. At the same time, ice melting up there will have consequences for the whole planet. I’ve gone on a lot about how melting sea ice affects the flora and fauna in Arctic regions. There’s also been a mention of how melting glaciers change the temperature, salinity and light conditions of the ocean. I’m currently working on a radio feature on my trip out onto the sea ice up in the Arctic with the “ambassadors” from the Climate Change College and scientist Chris Petrich. (Listen out for that in Living Planet). One of the main subjects of his research is the “albedo effect”. That is all about how the whiteness of ice and snow reflects solar radiation back up off the earth’s surface. When the snow cover decreases, the “melt ponds” are a much darker cover, and that absorbs warmth – exacerbating the overall warming effect. So, polar areas have a huge importance for the planet as a whole. Then there is the methane (around 23 times more powerful than c02 as a climate gas) being released from the huge areas of melting permafrost.
All this effects not only the area where it happens, but the whole planet. And of course, the sea level is rising, which will have disastrous effects for all the low-lying areas of the globe.
All our species of plants and animals are dependent on particular habitats and living conditions – from polar bears to giraffes, hippos, kangaroos or cuckoos. (Listen to Alison Hawkes on the plight of the “bird of the year” in the Black Forest. Will cuckoos exist soon only in those quaint – or exasperating – clocks?)
The Cuckoo Story
Last night the IUCN and UNEP staged an event here in Bonn to mark Biodiversity Day.
More about the IUCN
During it, I met Pavan Sukhdev,who’s heading the TEEB project,that is a study on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity. I felt very privileged to have the chance to talk to the man who’s in charge of what some people say could do for biodiversity what Nicholas Stern’s report did for climate change. The idea is to put a price on nature and make it clear, in economic terms, what it is worth to protect our biodiversity. The first part of the report will be presented in Bonn next week, but he did give me an idea of the scale of things. You can read the interview here:
Pavan Sukhdev on putting a price on nature
DateMay 23, 2008 | 8:43 am
TagsAfrica, Arctic, Biodiversity, Climate, Climate Change College, CO2, economics, feedback loops, IUCN, Living Planet, methane, permafrost, sea ice, Sea level, TEEB, UNEP, wildlife