Community News

Melting ice, rising seas, hotter planet
11/23/2016 Volume XLIX, No. 46

In November, Arctic sea ice is usually on the rise. But extraordinarily warm temperatures in the polar region are having the opposite reaction.

According to the Washington Post, researchers in the Arctic report that as of last weekend Arctic sea ice was still shrinking, during a season when short daylight hours usually mean bitter cold and ice growth.

Why does this matter? Arctic sea ice acts as the Northern Hemisphere’s air conditioner, keeping vast parts of our planet cool enough for human habitation. The ice reflects light and heat from the sun, rather than absorbing it as a dark ocean would.

Arctic sea ice is one of many climate change topics explored in Before the Flood, a new documentary produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s recommended viewing for anyone who is interested in, or skeptical about, about climate change.

Leonardo and his team traveled the globe for two years to witness climate change firsthand and talk with experts about what can be done to prevent catastrophic consequences.

In Greenland, climatologist Jason Box describes how more than 30 feet of solid ice melted in just the past two decades, contributing to sea level rise. As the ice disappears, he explains, it disrupts global weather patterns, contributing to both flooding and droughts.

Before the Flood also takes viewers to Florida, where the mayor of Miami talks about “sunny day flooding” and a massive pumping project to buy his city another 50 years; to Beijing, China, where millions of people can’t go outside without face masks because of extreme air pollution from burning fossil fuels; to New Delhi, India, where millions of impoverished people without access to energy see coal as a solution despite its risks.

In the South Pacific, low-lying islands are being inundated by rising seas; in Sumatra, rainforests are burned to make way for palm oil plantations, destroying the last remaining places on Earth where elephants, rhinos, tigers and orangutans live together in the wild.

What are the solutions? Leonardo visits the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada to talk with founder Elon Musk about his vision for a future powered by solar energy. Since the sun doesn’t shine all the time, Musk believes new super-batteries capable of storing enormous amounts of power gathered by solar panels can completely eliminate the world’s reliance on fossil fuels.

In Sweden, Stockholm University professor Johan Rockstrom tells Leonardo of his country’s plan to have “free energy forever” through solar and wind power. Sweden aims to become the world’s first fossil fuel-free country.

Those who question climate change get stern words from NASA Earth Sciences Director Dr. Piers Sellers, a former astronaut. “The facts are crystal clear: The ice is melting. The Earth is warming. The sea level is rising. Those are facts,” he says as he demonstrates NASA’s satellite mapping of Earth’s ocean temperatures.

Sellers, who is dying of pancreatic cancer, tells Leonardo he is confident Earth’s residents will come “out of the fog of confusion” and stop climate change: “We need to be realistic and find a way out of it – and there are ways out of it.”

Takeaways from Before the Flood:

  • Consumers need to change their ways on what they buy, what they eat and how they get power.
  • We need to support leaders who will fight climate change by investing in renewable energy, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and backing a carbon tax.

Before the Flood – which gets its name from a panel in a 500-year-old painting, Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, depicting the fall of civilization – can be viewed for free online. Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ctu7O7cUtE. To check out the trailer first, go to http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/before-the-flood/videos/before-the-flood-trailer/.

To read the Washington Post story about Arctic sea ice, go to https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/11/21/things-are-getting-weird-in-the-polar-regions/?utm_term=.ccae4d194300.

And to learn about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, go to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at info@njconservation.org.

POSTS

A breath of fresh air for New Jersey?

Keep Liberty State Park free and open

A green agenda for Governor-elect Murphy

Life, liberty ... and a clean environment

New Jersey's aging water infrastructure

The land before time: NJ's Kittatinny Ridge & Valley

While bats hibernate, scientists hope for survival

Natural Resource Damages fund new parks and preserves

Save menhaden, a humble but mighty fish

Ballot question approval would lock in environmental funds

Sandy Millspaugh: Conservation Trailblazer

Extreme hurricanes highlight concerns about climate change

'Head start' for corn snakes

Protecting the Highlands - it's the water

When you could walk from New Jersey to Morocco

A bold plan for the planet

New Jersey's energy future at a crossroads

Tiny insect will have a huge impact on New Jersey

Protect New Jersey's Pine Barrens

Enjoy New Jersey's forests!

Maine-to-Florida urban trail celebrates 25 years

Rare plants and animals need help!

Ban offshore drilling and seismic testing off NJ coast!

Summertime and the digging is easy

Is the elusive bobcat here to stay?

NJ water supply plan rings alarm bells

NJ's Piedmont: Formed by volcanoes and erosion

Defend public health and safety in state budget

'Magical' early 17-year cicadas

June and open space: Perfect together

Hit the trails on June 3, National Trails Day

Socializing with nature

Preserve land - and state's in lieu of taxes program

New Jersey's 'marl' pits yield dinosaur discoveries

Vernal pools: Now you see 'em, now you don't

State targets illegal dumpers in parks and forests

Former governors and elected leaders stand up for environment

Join CSAs to support local farms, save money, eat better

Weather extremes may be New Jersey's new normal

Bald eagles and ospreys rebound in New Jersey

Pine Barrens prescribed fires: A renewal force

Take a walk on the bottom of the sea!

Energy efficiency saves money and land - and creates jobs!

The Pines of March

Trees are more social than you think!

New Jersey's geological 'layer cake'

Keeping the 'great' in Paterson's Great Falls

Some good news!

Take action to defend and protect land and water

Interested in ecology? Become a Rutgers Environmental Steward

ARCHIVE

December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011

CLICK FOR RECENT POSTS