Home | About | Donate

The Arctic – Our Climate Canary in the Coal Mine – Issues Further Warnings


The Arctic – Our Climate Canary in the Coal Mine – Issues Further Warnings

Andy Rowell
What happens in the Arctic will soon affect us all.
"The “Arctic shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades”, starts the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s annual Arctic Annual Report Card reported in December." (Photo: NOAA)


Historically, geologists debated gradualism (think sedimentary rocks) versus catastrophism (think volcanoes & earthquakes) as models of the earth’s evolution. Ultimately, they correctly realized that both had their place. The potential ticking time bombs in the arctic, such as methane hydrates in the ocean and methane stored/generated under melting permafrost are potentially a catastrophic kick in the pants to those species that wear pants. It will potentially be a war of survival for many humans. The canary is on life support in ICU.


I would like to see metric used, degrees Celsius for example.

It is unhelpful to use the Fahrenheit scale:

Metrication in the United States (Wikipedia)
“Although all U.S. customary units have been redefined in terms of SI units, as of 2017 the United States is one of only seven countries, including Myanmar (Burma), Liberia,[1] Palau, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Samoa.[2] that have not officially adopted the metric system as the primary means of weights and measures.”


Now, for the article:

The increased amplitude of the jet stream’s sine wave pattern has been noted in previous articles, and as this article points out, the duration of the ‘events’ arising from the steering effects of the jet stream upon weather in the United States and Canada and even Mexico is also something that has occured.

This morning I noticed another strange jet stream pattern (since changed), and I noted especially the warm coasts of Greenland, both on the northwest and eastern coastal areas. It is still only mid January, and as this article points out for Alaska, temperatures are abnormally warm, by a ridiculous amount, such that the computer algorithms ‘rejected’ them.

This is reminiscent of the discovery of the ozone hole over the Antarctic many years ago, when computer algorithms did the same for ozone.

This abnormal and sluggish behavior seems to me a possible sign of an impending and dramatic state shift in the climate system - a feature of a so called chaotic system in the process of ‘tipping point’ change.

We need scientists willing to ‘report’ - from first hand on site investigative journalism type travel, on these topics.

At present too much science is still confined to the science journals, whereas we need day to day, week to week discussion here on Common Dreams of this - and other issues - such as biodiversity - resource scarcity (think phosphate and water for farming) - and the whole range of the perfect storm.

Of what use will an academic career be in an uninhabitable world of collapsed civilization.

I want Richard Alley, Lonnie Thompson. Lee Kump, James Hansen, Peter Ward, Edward Wilson, Paul Ehrlich etc etc front and center, talking to we the people.


And remember: Don’t forget your suntan lotion as you book your epic Carnival Arctic Adventure Cruise…


Feedback loops now fully engaged.

The rush to catastrophes that make this year’s hurricane season look like picnics is now underway.

Humans are capable of learning. Mostly, the hard way.


The Arctic has vast amounts of permafrost that is already beginning to thaw. This can release lots of methane from bacteria and significantly add to the increase in the global temperature once it occurs on a big enough scale. The result would be “unstoppable global warming” until it all thawed.


I was in Fairbanks the winter of 75/76. Now I can sadly say, I remember when.


Yeah. This isn’t even discussed in political circles. The greatest existential long term threat, EVER, isn’t even mentioned. Oh well no one can say the idiots weren’t warned. I’m glad I have no children to answer to. A few more choice feedback loops will render meaningless any future change in human governance or policy. Perhaps when the ocean currents stop flowing or, better, Miami becomes submerged along with half of Florida and the gulf coast. Or NYC. Or LA…etc.


Hell, I live in NM and I remember when winters sucked because they were colds and dry. Now they’re just dry and by all accounts getting dryer. All of us older crowd can remember when…The early 70’s were especially cold here.


Andy Rowell-----Thank you (and CD) for this piece that conveys extremely important information that few are paying attention to.

In the meantime “stock market optimism from pros reaches highest level in nearly 32 years”— the good ole djia was up over 300 points today (cue gag reflex :anguished: )

All this while our life support systems are dying. Actually I should say our life support systems are being murdered. To quote Utah Phillips: “Earth is being killed and the people who are killing it have names and addresses”.

For those who care about nonhuman life in addition to human life there is an increasing feeling of solastalgia—a term mentioned at the end of this article.
( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solastalgia)
Many people are (understandably) in a state of deep grief over the horrific changes throughout earth’s ecosystems wrought by humans.


The slowing or shutting down of the AMOC in addition to the changes in the jet stream are pivotal tipping points that will continue to wreak (increasing) havoc on humans and nonhumans.
Admission: I am not exactly reveling in being alive during a time period on earth that has recently been named the anthropocene!
In decades past (I imagine) there was some comfort to be found in the cycles of seasons that will be no more.
One can’t even find solace during times of despair in the Mary Oliver poem “Wild Geese” ------even that poem has been altered by anthropogenic climate disruption!

Dr. Jennifer Francis has been heroic in her efforts to educate people regarding changes in the jet stream due to human caused warming and the resultant arctic meltdown. For the most part the alarm she has been sounding has fallen on deaf ears and this extends to those that call themselves progressive or liberal.

As an aside, here is a question I’m tossing out to the CD community: does anyone know if jet stream disruption and the related (disastrous) effects on weather be less pronounced in the mid latitudes?


I am largely in agreement but want to caution that Jennifer Francis’ theories, while plausible and possibly correct, are not yet supported by data to the degree that her work convinces most of her fellow scientists. This is complex stuff.


I offer a better solution. Instead of forcing the scientists to become journalists, why not instead insist on journalists to investigate scientific journals and report on the news in these journals?


Not the same Paul !

There are excellent science journalists out there, but it is never the same as from the horse’s mouth, particularly a top flight scientist, as each of those I cited most definitely is.

When the stakes are this high - I want the very best talking right to me. The perspective simply cannot be matched by a second hand report.


Just found this Paul.

Not the EXACT scientists I was thinking of, but the idea is the same.


Society didn’t learn about E=MC^2, because Einstein included his 1905 Special Relativity papers in the morning news.

The way in which you communicate science is very different from forming a discussion of history in relation to the past. At one point in your earlier comment you suggest that scientists describe reports on site, where data is most likely collected. However one data site is not enough significant data to form an accurate interpretation of concluding events. That’s why scientists publish studies, which collect all their data points and calculations to come to a conclusion in following with the scientific method.

There is also the issue of communicating their reports to the public. If this information is to be understood by the general public then it needs to be communicated in laymens terms, which often is very difficult especially for current and specific scientific findings. Just based on the education requirements of the US education system, the majority of Americans will barely look into trigonometric classical mechanics (simplified Newton Laws primarily). This science is 300 years old.
At the collegiate level the basics in meteorology include Calculus 1 and 2, Mechanics and Thermodynamic Classical Physics, Electricity and Magnetism Classical Physics, Chemistry, Hydrology, Thermodynamic Meteorology, Radar Meteorology, Atmospheric Dynamics, and Computer Science. This is for a bachelors degree.

Now this is not to say that modern scientists should not communicate to the public. One of the greatest physicists ever, Richard Feynman, explained that the greatest way to understand knowledge is to teach the subject to someone else. We see that some of the best engineers and scientists are those that are able to communicate information to other people who may not be in their respective fields. However, there is difference between talking to someone with a understanding of basics sciences and the general public that may not understand the laws of thermodynamics (incredibly important and fundamental not only in climatology, but the majority of scientific fields). We even see evidence of this by some of the greatest speakers in engineering and science like Bill Nye and David Suzuki, as they debate different topics with “uneducated” people. If you are not aware of fundamentals in physics there conclusions that may not make sense to you. Just as a recent example- a lot of people are confused how colder temperatures can be linked to a warmer atmosphere, because instead of associating warmer with more energy in the atmosphere they simply think warm as in the temperature I measured on a thermometer.

In my opinion forcing scientists who are the epitome of their field to communicate current findings in laymens terms to the general public is waste of their time, when we have industries whose entire purpose is to take information and process it for the general public to understand specific points.

Additionally, while I would like educational discussions on topics as they relate to the environment, specific works by climate scientists can and typically do take more than a couple of weeks to change. Especially for climatology the data you are comparing is typically in 5-10 year cycles, as you observe changes in an environment over long periods to illustrate climatic change as opposed to observational weather patterns.


I appreciate your remarks.

But I believe you are missing an essential point.

The FACT that scientists are not doing (in the main) as I suggest is all important. It is not essential that the public understand the science.

We are talking the humanities here.

What we the people will see if these scientists do as I suggest, or something akin to it - is the CONCERN and COMPULSION that is driving them - something not yet present.

It is the very attempt at OUTREACH - attended by the scientists’ own fears for the future - that will have the major impact.

None but a few ever understood what Carl Sagan was talking about. It was his humanity that won the day - and, admittedly, a sense of theatre - a Spielberg-like ability for sentimentality and inspiration.

While many scientists will not be a Sagan - today this is not important.

Today the only thing that is important is that the public understand the gravity of the situation.


having seen a video of a starving polar bear i don’t think i want to be on any of the cruises some of you have talked about. it’s right there in plain sight and yet the repubs won’t admit it. shame…shame…shame.


If all the masters in fields of study are now responsible for informing the public, what exactly is the purpose of journalists? If scientists, politicians, historians, engineers etc. are informing the public on the weekly basis, why do reporters, journalists and the news itself exist?


Another point I want to make, is that there are actually a lot of scientific media sources in which science is communicated the general public.

Every US National Laboratory has a YouTube channel, a general FAQ page, and holds forums on scientific discoveries to the general public every year. However, I would be very surprised if you knew this, because this outreach is never communicated by reporters or journalists. In addition there the US Department of Energy has articles based on your level of education from kids to high school to college to advanced.

There are also other very good sources where engineering information is communicated to the public like in Engineering News Record (discusses mostly civil, structural, and construction engineering), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (discuses electrical engineering and energy projects), and others in respective fields (there are others, but it depends on what youre interested in).

Also as you point out Carl Sagan, there are a lot of books made by scientists that are written for the general public. Carl Saga, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Richard Feynman, Brian Greene, Michio Kaku, Stephen Hawking, Richard Hawking etc. This list is ridiculously small for the amount of books out there for laymen to read about scientific topics, but yet you rarely have ever heard of their books.

Despite all of this outreach and information communicated to the general public Fox News and MSNBC still have a far greater amount of views. You know why? Because this information, while interesting and educational does not give people the same emotional response as Kim Kardishian’s baby or Donald Trumps response to a book. We as a society have decided that science is advancement done by other people. We rarely put in the effort to actually learn and educate ourselves about a new topic in science, because its much easier to get upset about a celebrity’s dress, then read a book. The problem is not the scientists -its US… We are the problem, because we are ignorant and refuse to learn despite the abundant amount of information out there.

However, I recently saw this video that while I don’t entirely agree with makes a decent point: