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Theatre of the ‘Grim’ and ‘Absurd’: NOAA’s Arctic Report Card and UN Climate Change Conference

The “grim” grade to NOAA’s Arctic Report is given by Julia Whitty, writing at Mother Jones. You can see the NOAA report here.

From Mother Jones: (emphasis added)

NOAA published its seventh annual Arctic Report Card this week and though they didn’t hand out a grade as they have in the past it might as well be marked ‘G’ for grim. Here are six of the biggest problems up north.

Virtually the entire length and width of the surface of the Greenland ice sheet melted for the first time in 2012. …

Snow cover extent in both Eurasia and North America hit new record lows in June–the third time in five years that North America has set a new record low and the fifth year in a row that Eurasia has. …

Arctic sea ice reached its smallest coverage, or extent, on record, 18 percent smaller than the previous record low set only five years ago and 49 percent below the 1979-2000 average. …

Arctic sea ice used to persist for many years getting older and thicker with each passing year. Nowadays not only is the area or extent of sea ice dwindling but its volume too. …

High primary productivity created by blooms of phytoplankton are normal at the edge of sea ice. But when this image was captured scientists at sea discovered a massive bloom reaching up to 62 miles / 100 kilometers under the thinning ice–yet another change in yet another Arctic ecosystem.

The loss of the polar ice cap over the Arctic Ocean exposes the waters to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide like never before.

Meanwhile, the UN’s 2012 Climate Change Conference, in Doha, Qatar, is scheduled to conclude today. For some background, see an earlier post here.

One take on the conference, from Daniel Mittler, of Greenpeace, via EcoWatch: (emphasis added)

CLIMATE TALKS: Absurdity, Urgency and the Battle for Our Future

If I were in Doha … I would be part of what The Economist has quite aptly termed the UNFCCC ‘theatre of the absurd.’ … I would lament with colleagues that the Doha theatre is failing to alter the disastrous play that is our business-as-usual future. Some old hands would recount how they used to think, that the negotiations would get less absurd once the urgency of climate action was more widely accepted.

Instead, today, one of the most disturbing absurdities of all is how the very leaders who are responsible for the crisis come to places like Doha to warn of the fossil-fueled future we face in the starkest terms. When even the World Bank President fails to ‘shock the world into action’ by pointing out just how unattractive a much warmer world will be, you have to wonder whether governments will ever get real. Certainly, I have to accept, the bits of absurd theatre I, together with others, have engaged in at climate meetings over the years … didn’t quite succeed in changing the power dynamics just yet Power.

That is indeed the reason for the absurd situation we face. Too much of it, wielded–with brute grim reaper force–by the wrong people. If our governments were acting on behalf of their citizens we would not be watching them play childish ‘I won´t if you won’t’ and ‘I will, but only after you’ games with our future

Post Hurricane Sandy, even the vast majority of Americans back climate action. The fossil fuel industry, however, has captured too many governments in North and South. On Capitol Hill, just like in Caracas, Brasilia or New Delhi, oil, coal and gas still rule still, not the people.

Fracking, tar sands extraction, “clean coal,” deep sea drilling and accompanying toxic chemical “clean-ups” … whatever it takes to keep the fossil fuel moguls happy, no matter how grim and absurd the environmental consequences.

(Greenpeace at Doha 2012 UN Climate Change Convention via EcoWatch)

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