When 16th and 17th century European explorers sailed west in pursuit of a trade route to Asia, their search for a Northwest Passage was foiled by Arctic ice.
Five hundred years later, melting icecaps have set off a global race to control new shipping lanes over the North Pole. Just as the discoveries of Ferdinand Magellan and Vasco de Gama gave seafaring Portugal routes around Cape Horn and the Cape of Good Hope, the opening of the Arctic, with its shortcut from the Atlantic to northeast Asia and its untapped oil reserves, can redraw the geopolitical map and create new power brokers.
Category Archives: Climate
Scientists are struggling to explain a slowdown in climate change that has exposed gaps in their understanding and defies a rise in global greenhouse gas emissions.
Often focused on century-long trends, most climate models failed to predict that the temperature rise would slow, starting around 2000. Scientists are now intent on figuring out the causes and determining whether the respite will be brief or a more lasting phenomenon.
So there are modeling problems. As I said a couple of years ago, when you calibrate a model based on data within a certain range, and then go outside of that range, then your model might not work correctly. When I heard scientists confidently explain how good their climate models were, I knew we were in for trouble. Because a real scientist would understand that moving into new territory is always dangerous.
Now Beijing wants even more dough. The Doha conference produced one advance for climate activists by establishing the principle that developed nations have a responsibility for compensating poorer ones for damage due to climate change. The rich had previously agreed to provide assistance for clean energy and other purposes but had not acknowledged an obligation for fixing the changing climate.
That changed in Doha. “It is a breakthrough,” said Martin Khor of the South Centre, an organization of 52 developing states, to the BBC. “The term Loss and Damage is in the text—this is a huge step in principle. Next comes the fight for cash.”
The World Bank has produced a massive 450 page report on the potentially devastating impact climate change is likely to have on Arab countries. This matters to everyone and not just from the standpoint that we should all empathize with and seek to relief suffering.
The harsher the conditions get, the more restive and radical the populations of Arab states are likely to become, with hugely destabilizing consequences for all of us.
Unusually high rainfall allowed a population boom between 440 and 660 A.D., but subsequent dry conditions between 660 and 1000 A.D. aligns with known periods of political instability in the Mayan civilization, Kennett theorizes.
The dry climate conditions, which may have included extended periods of drought, may have hastened the Maya collapse, the researchers say.
Large volumes of methane – a potent greenhouse gas – could be locked beneath the ice-covered regions of Antarctica, according to a new study.
It says this methane could be released into the atmosphere as ice retreats, contributing to climate warming.
The findings indicate that ancient deposits of organic matter may have been converted to methane by microbes under the ice.
The recent Antarctic Peninsula temperature rise and associated ice loss is unusual but not unprecedented, according to research.
Analysis of a 364m-long ice core containing several millennia of climate history shows the region previously basked in temperatures slightly higher than today.
However, the peninsula is now warming rapidly, threatening previously stable areas of ice, the study warns.
The work is reported in Nature journal.
- A drought unparalleled in recent Syrian history lasted from 2006 to 2010 and led to an unprecedented mass migration of 1.5 million people from farms to urban centers.
- Because the Assad regime’s economic policies had largely ignored water issues and sustainable agriculture, the drought destroyed many farming communities and placed great strain on urban populations.
- Although not the leading cause of the Syrian rebellion, the drought-induced migration from farm to city clearly contributed to the uprising and serves as a warning of the potential impact of climate change on political stability.