Thwaites and the Race to Understand Antartica's Most Terrifying Glacier

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Thwaites and the Race to Understand Antartica's Most Terrifying Glacier

So the Luddites in Alberta were out protesting the loss of jobs in the fossil fuel industry again this week. Chances are we are already probably screwed by our lack of adequate response to global warming, but if we listen to people like those idiotic Alberta protesters, we are definitely screwed, blued, and tattooed    

Few places in Antarctica are more difficult to reach than Thwaites Glacier, a Florida-sized hunk of frozen water that meets the Amundsen Sea about 800 miles west of McMurdo. Until a decade ago, barely any scientists had ever set foot there, and the glacier’s remoteness, along with its reputation for bad weather, ensured that it remained poorly understood. Yet within the small community of people who study ice for a living, Thwaites has long been the subject of dark speculation. If this mysterious glacier were to “go bad”—glaciologist-­speak for the process by which a glacier breaks down into icebergs and eventually collapses into the ocean—it might be more than a scientific curiosity. Indeed, it might be the kind of event that changes the course of civilization.


It's a dangerous world for land and environmental defenders


With courage, there is a way forward for the federal NDP


With seemingly little left to lose on its current path, an emboldened NDP with visionary policies to address climate breakdown, the rise of right-wing populism and the evident failures of capitalism could very well appeal to millennial voters.

Millennials (those born since 1980) will form the largest-single voting bloc in the 2019 election and together with Generation Xers (those born between 1964 and 1979) will represent two-thirds of the electorate next year.

Trudeau has betrayed the trust they placed in him in 2015, notably with his push for tar sands pipelines that worsen climate breakdown, his about-face on electoral reform that ended the burgeoning prospect of proportional representation, and his disregard for Indigenous rights.

Will Singh's NDP have the imagination and courage needed to win their vote?

Timid and centrist didn't work for the NDP in 2015. Let's hope that they don't repeat that mistake and see a further collapse of their vote in 2019.


Very sad!

These low oil prices are quite tragic but for for all the wrong reasons. Not because of the lack of jobs, but because it will attract more people into using fossil fuels and we have to stop that immediately.

Alberta is in 'crisis' over low energy prices, Trudeau acknowledges, as thousands protest in Calgary




Canada participating in a feel-good farce

What was agreed at COP24 in Poland and why did it take so long?

Fractious UN climate change talks ended with a deal on putting the Paris agreement into practice – but much else left unresolved


This is heresy. Imagine listening to the scientists instead of the Luddites. We won't have any of that nonsense in good ole capitalistic Canada. 

To head off climate catastrophe, a World War II-type effort needed, Canadian activists say


Karl Nerenberg

December 4, 2018



On Monday, December 3, Canadian environmental activists convened by the Group of 78 (G-78), a progressive foreign policy institute, demanded that the world – and especially Canada – do more to help the victims of a warming planet.

Those who suffer most from climate change are in the poor countries of the global south, the activists point out, yet they are the least responsible for it.

To help mitigate the devastating impacts of global warming, the G-78 proposes that the Government of Canada allocate $3 billion to $4 billion a year toward international climate finance, in the form of grants.

In addition, the group wants the Government of Canada to lead an initiative to reform global trade institutions so that they “enforce climate change mitigation measures” and oblige the richer nations that have, for the most part, caused climate change, to share environmental technology with the world’s poor.

Later that day, as though in response to these demands, the World Bank, whose leaders are attending the UN climate change meeting in Poland, pledged US $200 billion to the fight. The government of Canada has yet to make a commensurate pledge.

A national carbon budget and a transition away from fossil fuels

The G-78’s annual conference, which it held in September in Ottawa, was devoted to the global challenge of climate change, with a focus on Canada’s role and responsibilities. The conference’s damning conclusion was that Canada is “losing the fight against climate catastrophe.”

G-78 executive members Roy Culpeper and Susan Tanner were blunt in their appraisal: “We have insufficient resolve to reduce the supply and consumption of fossil fuels; we need better incentives to promote the development of and shift to renewable energy; and national and provincial plans to prepare for catastrophic weather extremes are absent.”

The G-78 came out with the full report from the conference on Monday, which it unveiled at a news conference on Parliament Hill. The report has a number of practical and tangible suggestions for ramping up the climate-change fight.

For starters, the Group of 78 proposes that the federal government, and all other levels of government, commit to what it calls a “national carbon budget,” which would be “informed by Canada’s equitable share of the global carbon budget for limiting warming to 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level in order to reduce greenhouse pollution.”

The group believes the federal government’s carbon-pricing scheme is a good idea, but argues that it does not go nearly far enough. The report recommends that the federal government “substantially increase carbon pricing to align with mitigation scenarios that limit warming to 1.5°C above the pre- industrial level.” Currently the target for Canada’s climate plan is quite a bit higher. It is the Paris target of 2˚C above pre-industrial levels.

In addition, the activists make the radical, but eminently reasonable, suggestion that the “Government of Canada and its provincial counterparts facilitate the managed decline of fossil fuel production that includes the elimination of all fossil fuel subsidies.”

Rather than continuing to subsidize the oil and gas industries, through such measures as tax write-offs for exploration, the G-78 proposes that Canada “accelerate renewable energy production and infrastructure.” This entire enterprise, the report adds, “should be achieved within a just transition framework to support workers and communities adversely impacted.”

Finally, the Group proposes that all levels of government work toward a “transformation of our food system away from industrial agriculture towards small scale ecological farming with the aim of carbon neutrality in both distribution and production.”

None of this is on any government’s agenda in Canada. In fact, despite the evidence that Canada is not doing nearly enough to head off the global catastrophe of a 4-degree rise in temperature by the end of the century, there is neither political will nor momentum to adopt any new and more robust anti-climate-change measures.

All the pushback is from the who-cares-about-the-climate side

What the G-78 proposes would be a mobilization on the scale of World War II – a far more radical approach than the Trudeau government’s mild, moderate and revenue-neutral carbon-pricing scheme. Instead of pressure to do more, however, we have increased and vocal pushback against any climate-change fighting measures from Ontario, from New Brunswick, from Saskatchewan and from Conservatives throughout the country.

Populist and right-of-centre politicians have sensed the advantage in making a simplistic and demagogic appeal to the hundreds of thousands of car commuters of this country’s burgeoning suburbs. We’ll give you cheaper gas at the pump, they say, adding, with neither fact nor convincing arguments, that carbon taxes “kill jobs.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford even tried to claim that carbon taxes were somehow responsible for General Motors’ abandoning its Oshawa workers. That is the opposite of the truth. GM wants, in fact, to produce more environmentally-friendly vehicles and is closing plants in both the U.S. and Canada as part of that new direction. It’s a nasty decision, but nothing to do with carbon pricing.  

The federal Liberal government, and those few provincial governments that still care about the climate crisis, are fighting a rear-guard action now. All the noise they hear and all the heat they feel is from the other side. They will hardly be in a frame of mind to consider the more vigorous measures activists, such as those convened by the G-78, advocate.

Nor will they likely be motivated toward stronger action by the dire warnings of the   UN’s international panel of climate scientists.  That panel argued, not too long ago, that the Paris Accord’s targets – which we are not yet meeting – are, in truth, way too weak. If we want to even begin slowing down the rate of planetary warming, we will all have do much more that we agreed to do in Paris three years ago.

Perhaps what we need, in Canada and elsewhere, is some serious and concerted pressure from the pro-environment side, from those who can see beyond the price of filling their gas tanks and who care about the perilous fate of the planet we are bequeathing to our children and grandchildren.


Photo: Representing the Group of 78 at a news conference in Ottawa on Monday: Susan Tanner (left to right), Anthony Garoufalis-Auger and Roy Culpeper. (Karl Nerenberg, rabble) 

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Emission trading systems and weak carbon pricing coupled with a new tar sands pipeline do not add up to a credible action plan to stop climate breakdown. via

9:38 PM - 18 Dec 2018



Good on Boyle as she is on the right track and we can’t wait for our useless Canadian government to act


Congratulations Seth you done good and best wishes for your future endeavours


Global warming of oceans equivalent to an atomic bomb per second


No disrespect towards Albertans, but this whole fossil fuel industry needs to die, and sooner rather than later, before we do!

Greenland's ice melting faster than scientists previously thought – study

The pace of ice loss has increased four-fold since 2003, where it melts, causing sea levels to rise


Mon 21 Jan 2019 20.00 GMTLast modified on Mon 21 Jan 2019 20.50 GMT



Study shows Greenland lost around 280bn tons of ice per year between 2002 and 2016, enough to raise the worldwide sea level by 0.03 inches annually.


Study shows Greenland lost around 280bn tons of ice per year between 2002 and 2016, enough to raise the worldwide sea level by 0.03 inches annually. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Greenland is melting faster than scientists previously thought, with the pace of ice loss increasing four-fold since 2003, new research has found.

Enormous glaciers in Greenland are depositing ever larger chunks of ice into the Atlantic ocean, where it melts. But scientists have found that the largest ice loss in the decade from 2003 actually occurred in the southwest region of the island, which is largely glacier-free.

This suggests surface ice is simply melting as global temperatures rise, causing gushing rivers of meltwater to flow into the ocean and push up sea levels. South-west Greenland, not previously thought of as a source of woe for coastal cities, is set to “become a major future contributor to sea level rise,” the research states.

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“We knew we had one big problem with increasing rates of ice discharge by some large outlet glaciers,” said Michael Bevis, lead author of the paper and a professor of geodynamics at Ohio State University. “But now we recognize a second serious problem: increasingly, large amounts of ice mass are going to leave as meltwater, as rivers that flow into the sea.”

The strange science of melting ice sheets: three things you didn't know


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The research provides fresh evidence of the dangers posed to vulnerable coastal places as diverse as Miami, Shanghai, Bangladesh and various Pacific islands as climate change shrinks the world’s land-based ice.

“The only thing we can do is adapt and mitigate further global warming – it’s too late for there to be no effect,” Bevis said. “This is going to cause additional sea level rise. We are watching the ice sheet hit a tipping point.

“We’re going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future. Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?”

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used data from Nasa’s gravity recovery and climate experiment (known as Grace) and GPS stations scattered across Greenland to analyze changes in ice mass.


This showed that Greenland lost around 280bn tons of ice per year between 2002 and 2016, enough to raise the worldwide sea level by 0.03 inches annually. If all of Greenland’s vast ice sheet, 3km thick in places, was to melt, global sea levels would rise by seven meters, or more than 20ft, drowning most coastal settlements.

The rate of loss hasn’t been even, however, with the ice melting four times faster in 2013 compared to 2003. Researchers said this was driven by rising global temperatures from human-induced climate change as well as the North Atlantic Oscillation, a periodic weather phenomenon that brings warmer air to western Greenland.

The fate of Greenland’s huge glaciers in the south-east and north-west has long been viewed as a key factor in global sea level rise but the Ohio State-led research suggests the ice fields of the island’s southwest may prove an unexpectedly large source of meltwater.

Scientists have been gaining a greater understanding of how the two massive ice masses on the planet, in Greenland and Antarctica, are reacting to a warming ocean and atmosphere.

Arctic ice loss has tripled since the 1980s, with melting in places such as Greenland and Alaska providing the greatest instigator of sea level rise while destabilizing the very ground underneath four million people’s feet.

Antarctica is becoming an increasing concern, however, with ice vanishing at its fastest rate in recorded history. The world’s largest expanse of ice is now losing around 219bn tonnes of ice a year, a trajectory that would contribute more than 25cm to total global sea level rise by 2070. Should the entire west Antarctic ice sheet collapse, sea levels would balloon by around 3.5m, albeit over a lengthy timeframe.

“We are warming the planet, this is melting ice, and that is raising sea level,” said Richard Alley, a geologist and glacier expert at Pennsylvania State University. Alley added that while there are uncertainties over future sea level rise “if the big ice sheets change more rapidly than expected, they could drive faster or much faster rise than expected”.