Please "Check In" here to the "A Farewell to Ice" book discussion!

#171: June - Sept. 2020 (Non-Fiction)
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Chris OConnor
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Everybody benefits by knowing who else is planning to read and discuss the book so please make a brief post here checking in and letting us know of your intention to join the A Farewell to Ice: A Report from the Arctic by Peter Wadhams book discussion. Thank you!
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Robert Tulip
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Hi Chris

Many thanks for choosing this important book. I would be keen to lead the discussion.

Professor Wadhams has had an extraordinary career in study of the Arctic, and remains deeply engaged in discussion of the implications of the loss of polar ice. Starting from the simple but extraordinary physics of water, he shares his fascination and enthusiasm for this isolated region which today is immensely important for our whole earth system.

The key themes are that our planet is far more sensitive and fragile than many people realise, and the Arctic is possibly the most sensitive and fragile region of all. Climate is changing in the Arctic twice as fast as elsewhere. This speed of Arctic ice melt, turning the north pole from a white reflector to a black absorber of heat, is creating accelerating feedback loops that will make warming momentum very hard to stop. If unchecked, the range of tipping points will severely disrupt prevailing climate patterns across the whole planet, posing grave and immediate dangers for global economy, society and ecology.

The increasing flow of warm water into the Arctic region could melt all summer ice this decade, causing a cascading series of disruptions, including accelerated sea level rise. Despite this scale of emergency, we should remain hopeful and optimistic that rapid innovation will be able to protect and repair and restore the climate. Just as the Arctic melting is the most clear signal of climate change, it can also be the first place where measures to stabilise the climate are tested, enabling international cooperation for world peace and security. For that to happen, we need a philosophical shift, to get people to see our planet as a single system. Such a cultural change of thinking is needed in order to build understanding and support for the measures needed to preserve the astounding wealth of biodiversity and the complex systems of human civilization.
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Chris OConnor
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Robert, that was a great post and I'm looking forward to learning more about global warning and its effects on our lives. One thing you said that really struck me is, "This speed of Arctic ice melt, turning the north pole from a white reflector to a black absorber of heat, is creating accelerating feedback loops that will make warming momentum very hard to stop." I've never heard that said before but it makes perfect sense.
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Robert Tulip
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To encourage others to read A Farewell to Ice or at least engage in the conversation here, The Guardian has a good review, and Peter does a good TEDx talk.

Watch these then buy the book at Amazon.

I highly recommend Peter’s Ted Talk as a quick introduction. Here is a summary.

The arctic is warming three or four times faster than the rest of the planet, and far faster than was predicted by models. Hence the importance of Peter’s submarine echo sound analysis of ice thickness, as I mentioned in my first comment on Chapter One. He showed with this scientific research that three quarters of sea ice has melted since the 1970s. Measuring ice volume shows a death spiral toward an ice free summer.

The worrying impacts of feedback systems are accelerating. Replacing ice with water reduces planetary albedo, the reflection of sunlight back to space. Same happens with replacing snow by trees. The ice and snow albedo loss from the North Polar region in recent decades has warmed the planet by half as much again as CO2 emissions, an enormous feedback.

Greenland is piling fresh water into the ocean, as the main cause of sea level rise. The UN has been complacent about sea level rise, which could be two metres this century, flooding all coastal lowlands with catastrophic effects on rich and poor.

This is all worsening the release of methane, which in the short term is 100 times worse than CO2 as a warming agent. A big methane release from permafrost melt would cause sudden warming.

The warmer Arctic is slowing the high level winds of the Jet Stream, causing extreme events in mid northern latitudes where most food is grown.

We won’t reduce emissions fast enough, so we have to use geoengineering fixes, such as injecting seawater into clouds, and moonshot thinking of getting rid of carbon dioxide, with methods such as direct air capture. This is the Manhattan Project we need to save the world.
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Taylor
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I read Pete Wadhams “A Farewell to Ice” a year ago or so. So when I seen that it would be the next non-fic topic I pulled my copy from my shelf and did a thumb through. There is no less than a dozen dog eared corners. I have a habit of doing the dog ear thing when I think I’ve read something really important.

This book is ideally written to anyone with a limited but curious understanding of earth climate systems. Those systems start with water. The formation of ice at the poles it turns out is an exiting story and Pete Wadham tells it professionally.

Stacked on top of Eelco J. Rohling’s “The Oceans” I’ve no doubts that climate science is a complex issue that is being conducted by some of the best and brightest people in history.
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Harry Marks
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Okay I bought the book. So far (Intro) it has certainly captured my attention. Taylor reading it before it was selected is a high recommendation, as is Robert's recommendation. Let's do this.
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DWill
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I'll get the book. I thought I'd take a break from the book discussions, but I'm too likely to learn something from the book and others reading. And Robert is the guy for this.
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Robert Tulip
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Webinar with Peter Wadhams

Topic
Healthy Climate Initiative Webinar Series: The Need for Carbon Dioxide Removal.
Description
EMINENT SPEAKER: Dr. Peter Wadhams
Dr. Peter Wadhams is a professor of Ocean Physics, and Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge. He is the UK’s most experienced sea ice scientist, with 40 years of research in sea ice and ocean processes in the Arctic and the Antarctic. He is involved in research sponsored by the EU and by the US Office of Naval Research on the rapid sea ice retreat in the Arctic, and the implications of sea ice disappearance for the global climate.

SYNOPSIS:
Reductions in CO2 emissions alone will slow down the rate of global warming but cannot stop it or reverse it. The only way to restore the climate is to actually remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Dr. Wadhams will discuss the various ways that are being investigated to accomplish this.
Time
Sep 20, 2020 11:00 AM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Zoom Registration Link
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DWill
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I have it on my calendar, and I hope I'm not distracted by something that day and miss it. By the way, Robert, I was not aware of the global effort to greatly reduce hydrofluorocarbons in air conditioners and refrigerators, known as the Kigali Amendment. The Washington Post reports that "cutting these emissions...could avert a 0.5 degree Celsius global temperature rise by the end of the century" (no authority cited). Surprisingly, the U.S. Senate has agreed to implement the goals of Kigali, without actually signing on to the amendment. Somehow I doubt that this half-degree reduction applies to the IPCC's target of 1.5 C by 2100. How the .5 degree drop is figured should be looked at; it may be less significant than presented. But from my point of view, this is an easy win that should be considered mandatory for the world, even if the real effect on temperature is slight. We need a thousand such cuts, at least. Perhaps you have some thoughts on this.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate- ... house-gas/
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Robert Tulip
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The webinar presentation yesterday by Peter Wadhams on the implications of ice loss for climate change is available at this link, with his talk starting at 16:20 minutes into the video. It is an excellent summary of key issues in A Farewell To Ice. https://www.facebook.com/10446638446166 ... 406129973/

From 50 minutes 30 seconds, Peter Wadhams provides the following simple explanation of his views on climate policy:
What can we do about all this? It looks pretty nasty and it is. Everybody says we have to reduce carbon emissions. It’s the standard solution which I don’t think is a solution at all. To say that if we reduce carbon emissions then we will be reducing global warming. But we won’t! Because CO2 stays in the atmosphere for at least a thousand years. When you add CO2 it doesn’t go away. Even if we reduce the rate of carbon emissions we are still increasing the CO2 level, which means we are still getting warming, and there is no way we can bring the climate back to a liveable level. It is very serious and people are finally beginning to realise we can’t solve our problem by reducing emissions. Even by cutting emissions down to almost zero, which can’t be done anyway, we won’t be able to restore the climate. The only way is to take CO2 out of the atmosphere, to get the CO2 level back to what it was before industrialisation.
At 1:10:20 I asked about the collapse in sea ice volume toward a summer blue ocean event, noting that on the 2001-2010 rate of decline this zero ice volume would have occurred in 2016, but it has not yet happened. Peter responded
“There was a very very strong trend so it would have been reasonable to continue to extrapolate that trend. Nothing that we know of happened to stop that trend. It is still a kind of mystery. But one trend that has continued is the year-round average volume of ice. The summer minimum has hung itself up, and there is still ice there in the summer, but if you take the year as a whole and take the average volume, then there is a continued rapid decrease. I showed a slide of the reduction of volume. What has taken over from the midsummer value going down to zero which is what looked likely was happening, is that the midsummer value is hovering on, and still existing, but the overall ice thickness and average volume has continued to decrease very rapidly. I would still expect the sea ice in midsummer to go to zero before very long, but the bigger trend that is definitely not changing is the reduction of volume averaged over the entire year.”
Last edited by Robert Tulip on Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
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DWill
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Peter Wadhams doesn't come across as a dangerous radical, does he? As if to underline the part from his talk that you quoted, in the Washington Post yesterday appeared an article by Sir David King and Rick Parnell that makes the same point about the insufficiency of emissions reduction. This is the first time I've seen carbon removal as the central topic in a mainstream publication.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/ ... story.html

It's worth pointing out, though, that emission reduction fits nicely with carbon removal and is even essential to CR's success. As Wadhams said, it only makes sense to reduce the amount of new CO2 so that the expensive process of removal can be more effective. As well, CR machinery should be powered by carbon-free energy such as solar or geothermal, or what is the point of doing it? There is some hope that once climate activists understand that carbon removal won't enable us to pollute without worry--because we need at the same time to cut emissions--they will look more positively on CR.

The status of geoengineering is left somewhat vague, in both Wadhams' talk and the David King article. Clearly, there is more comfort with carbon removal. But what about the long time-lag for both massive renewables installation and scaled-up carbon removal technology? We could be adding 3 ppm per year of CO2 to the atmosphere for many years before these technologies can help much.

I don't know about Australia, but in the U.S. I think there's a good chance of moving ahead with CR--if we have a change of administrations!

A different article in the Post, on BP's transition to an alternative energy company, said that in order for the world to get to net-zero by 2050, the largest solar installation in the world will need to be duplicated every two days. Now, that does seem impossible to me. Perhaps that makes carbon removal and geoengineering even more urgent.
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I agree - this is an extremely important and relevant book, we need to understand better what we are doing to planet earth - this is the inheritance of our children, the future generations.

Actually, it is the requests of young children to adopt a "green culture" and sustain the environment which has popled me to find out more about this book.
sabrinabena
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yes the topic of the book is important, I already have it and I want to share it with you
you can have it on pdf here for free : http://bit.ly/3f4Q9XW
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