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Antarctica, the Big Kahuna
There is no getting around the evidence that:
(1) CO2 absorbed into the oceans is killing coral reefs, home to nine million species;
(2) one-half the 20,000-year-old glaciers in the Andes have completely disappeared over the past 20 years, threatening the water resources for 100 million people;
(3) the world’s highest ski area, Chacaltaya (Bolivia), is bone dry and permanently closed because the glacier is gone;
(4) the enormous Columbia Glacier in Alaska has retreated 10 miles up the fjord in the past 30 years;
(5) the Arctic Ice Sheet is one-third its thickness of 30 years ago and it is expected to be ice-free within a decade, opening up a new bonanza of exploration for oil and gas;
(6) Greenland’s summer melt lakes are splitting apart surface ice and cascading down crevasses at the speed of Niagara Falls, possibly all the way onto bedrock one to two miles below that could be sliding the ice sheet towards the ocean;
(7) global drought conditions caused by an out-of-kilter climate are threatening humankind’s basic food supplies as agriculture becomes parched from Russia to Syria to the U.S. and around the world;
(8) storm patterns have become unpredictably destructive, e.g., New York City, and costly.
It is no accident that climate change is in an acceleration phase since the 1980s. That’s approximately when China did a U-turn, deciding to adopt state capitalism and special economic zones of capitalism. Ever since, CO2 emissions have been on a tear. China adds one new coal plant weekly and 40,000 new automobiles per day to the worldwide CO2 mix.
Remarkably, climate change is rapidly occurring in real time right before our eyes. Fortunately, so far, Antarctica has been impacted less by the changing climate than Greenland and the Arctic. However, it may be a good idea not to throw caution to the wind because the definition of climate change is to expect the unexpected.
The Big Kahuna
Antarctica, the only continent that experiences six months of total darkness and six months of continuous daylight, is the coldest, driest, and windiest of the seven continents. It has the highest average elevation of all continents. It is a desert with an annual precipitation of only eight inches along the coastlines but much less inland. The continent is huge at 5.4 million square miles—the size of the United States plus Mexico combined—and temperatures can reach -129 Farenheit (F.). The average summer temperature is 20 degrees F. and the average winter temperature is -30 F.
Antarctica is covered by a sheet of ice one-to-two miles thick. Ten years ago a drill core of 9,396 feet (nearly 2 miles deep) recovered ice that scientists say is 530,000 years old (European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica-EPICA, Environment News, March 14, 2002).
Antarctica is the Big Kahuna of the climate change equation and of the conundrum of rising sea levels because “Glaciologists are still far from divining the fate of Earth’s ice in a warming world, but they have finally agreed on what the past century’s warming has done to the great ice sheets and it isn’t pretty” (Richard A. Kerr, “Experts Agree Global Warming Melting the World Rapidly,” Science, November 30, 2012).
Antarctica is the world’s largest ice sheet and “The ice sheets would raise sea levels by more than 200 feet if they completely melted over centuries—not likely, but even a tenth of that would have catastrophic impacts on coastal areas” (Miguel Llanos, Environment and Weather Editor, NBC News, November 29, 2012; “Antarctica, Greenland Ice Definitely Melting into Sea, and Speeding up, Experts Warn,” taken from a study published in Science).
The National Academy of Sciences predicted in 2009 that seas could rise 1.3 to 4.6 feet by 2100, depending on how the planet responds to the changing climate. However, a quick perusal of scientific research over the decades casts doubt on any predictions because, as time marches on, scientists increasingly express surprise and concern over how much faster climate change is occurring, typically stating, “This is happening much faster than we thought it would just a few years ago.”
In a recent article, Richard A. Kerr wrote: “Glaciologists are especially concerned about the acceleration of losses…. In West Antarctica, the accelerating loss comes from the accelerating rush of glaciers to the sea, probably brought on by warmer seawater melting the underside of the glaciers’ floating ice shelves. The new analysis… also makes it clear that losses from Greenland and West Antarctica have been accelerating, showing that some ice sheets are disconcertingly sensitive to warming” (“Experts Agree Global Warming Melting the World Rapidly,” Science, November 2012).
When Antarctica was Green
A university-led study by Alan Buis (Jet Propulsion Lab, Pasadena), Robert Perkins (University of Southern California) and Zac Lemoine, (Louisiana State University), in concert with NASA, discovered in June 2012 that the ancient Antarctica climate of 15-20 million years ago—40 million years after dinosaurs became extinct—was much warmer and wetter than previously understood. The climate was suitable to support substantial vegetation, including stunted trees along the edges of the continent. Studies showed temperatures as high as 45 degrees F. during the Miocene Period.
“Warm conditions during the middle Miocene are thought to be associated with carbon dioxide levels of around 400 to 600 parts per million (ppm). In 2012, carbon dioxide levels climbed to 393 ppm, the highest they’ve been in the past several million years” (Alan Buis, et al).
Fossil fuels—i.e., oil, natural gas, and coal—currently account for 84 percent of all energy consumed worldwide. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, it will take 70 years—assuming the current rate of conversions—to replace electrical generating capacity with renewables, including hydroelectric, wind, solar, wave, geothermal, biomass, and waste.
However, that rate of conversions can be dramatically accelerated. According to Mark Jacobson (Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University) and Dr. Mark Delucchi (Institution of Transportation Studies, University of California/Davis), the U.S. Energy Information Administration timeline can be trimmed by 30-50 years. They claim the entire conversion from fossil fuels to renewables can be accomplished in 20-40 years. “Based on our findings, there are no technological or economic barriers to converting the entire world to clean, renewable energy sources,” said Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering: “It is a question of whether we have the societal and political will” (“The World Can be Powered by Alternative Energy, Using Today’s Technology, in 20-40 years,” Mark Z. Jacobson, Stanford University News, January 26, 2011).
The Jacobson/Delucchi plan provides for wind (50 percent) and solar energy (40 percent) contributing 90 percent of electricity with 10 percent from other sources such as hydro. The researchers envision vehicles, ships, and trains powered by electricity and hydrogen fuel cells. Aircraft would be powered with liquid hydrogen.
The pitfall to renewable energy has always been variability of wind and solar power, but Jacobson foresees no problem. The variability problem refers to meeting requirements for the “base load,” which is the minimum amount of energy required to meet customer demand at any given hour of the day. Jacobson says this would be handled by creating a Super Grid with long-distance transmission and precise computer-generated management that is orchestrated to fill in the gaps. Whether the gap is filled by hydro, solar, or wind, the Super Grid would make allowance for weakness in one part of the grid by accessing strength in another, or converting to hydro to pick up the slack. The point is: With modern-day computerization techniques the Super Grid can be programmed to always meet the base load, regardless of weather conditions in any part of the country.
Jacobson and Delucchi calculated the number of wind turbines needed to implement their plan, as well as the number of solar plants, rooftop photovoltaic cells, geothermal, hydroelectric, tidal and wave-energy installations. The footprint needed to power 100 percent of the world for all purposes from wind, water, and solar resources is about 0.4 percent of the world’s land (mostly solar footprint) and the spacing between installations is another 0.6 percent of the world’s land for wind-turbine spacing. In total, by utilizing 1 percent of the world’s land, humankind could have 100 percent renewable, non-polluting, non-putrid air, and clean oceans forever. “This really involves a large scale transformation…. It would require an effort comparable to the Apollo moon project or constructing the interstate highway system,” according to Jacobsen. However, with the upcoming energy conversion, this is not a requirement. All of the technology is fully operational and ready for installation.
A Zogby Analytics Poll, as of November 15, 2012, shows that, among all voters surveyed across party lines, renewables received twice the support as fossil fuels.
Also, in states where the XL Pipeline played a prominent role in the November election, the anti-pipeline candidates swamped the pro-pipeline candidates. For example, in Florida, Senator Bill Nelson was repeatedly attacked by his opponent for opposing the Keystone Pipeline. The Nelson race was considered a “showdown on Keystone” and Nelson won in a blowout. In fact, all the senators who opposed the Keystone Pipeline won their races this past November. Sixty-five percent of respondents for the Zogby Poll said the political leaders must act now in order to address future climate problems.
The public will for conversion from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewables is solid and the technology is available. The only missing component is political leadership.
Robert Hunziker is a freelance writer. He lives in California.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.