Last week Al Gore called out the media for failing to cover the shocking decline in Arctic ice this summer, and made the point that our democracy itself is in peril when enormous stories go unreported because they might be unpalatable or difficult for the right:
The whole North polar ice cap is disappearing in front of our eyes. Twelve massive million-dollar-plus climate-related disasters … and they keep coming … Just as [the media] did not report the truth about the proposal to invade Iraq, we are not getting the accurate impression about this challenge that we have to face. To stop putting 90 million tons of global warming pollution up into the atmosphere every single day … They aren’t only doing nothing about it, there’s hardly any discussion about it. It drives me crazy.
A week later, this reporter hasn't seen any more stories on polar ice, but has seen several hard-hitting editorials.
From The Los Angeles Times, on extremism and reality denial at the GOP convention:
There were other messages, of course. Some were mendacious, such as Ryan's misrepresentation of the effect of the Affordable Care Act on Medicare benefits and Romney's tired canard that the Obama administration has "thrown allies like Israel under the bus." Others were merely misguided. Both in their platform and in speeches, the Republicans left no doubt that extreme social conservativism and science-denial now define the party's orthodoxy.
Romney's gibe that Obama "promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet" was partly an attack on the alleged grandiosity of Obama's 2008 campaign, but it also reflected the Republicans' indifference to climate change, a term the GOP platform encloses in mocking quotation marks.
From The Denver Post:
Yet, despite the red flags, our political conversations during this presidential election year have largely skirted this important issue.
We were glad to hear the Obama administration last week announced strict new fuel economy standards. Those are projected to cut in half the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by cars and trucks by 2025.
It's a step forward, but others must follow. The evidence cannot be ignored.
The rapidly shrinking cap of ice that sits on the North Pole is not just a problem for polar bears and walruses, it will accelerate the warming process. That's because the light-colored ice reflected sunlight that a darker-colored sea will absorb.
According to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, the ice cap has shrunk to a record extent and likely will continue to do so. An area of ice equivalent to the size of South Carolina is melting each day. That's about twice the rate observed since 1979.
From The Washington Post, on the consequences of continuing to pump CO2 into the atmosphere:
What’s alarming [re: the Arctic] is that in recent years scientists have detected a feedback effect: The seasonal sea ice melts more quickly, and the decline results in more heat absorption by open water, which in turn leads to more warming
The sea ice is not the only part of the Arctic cryosphere that is melting. Overall, in the past 30 years, the rise in annual average temperatures has been twice as high over the Arctic as over the rest of the world. Evidence from lake sediments, tree rings and ice cores suggests that Arctic ice temperatures have been higher in the past few decades than at any time in the past 2,000 years.
The implications of this are profound, not only as an indicator of global climate change but also of changes in sea levels, freshwater, the Earth’s energy balance, the biosphere and the livelihoods of millions of people.
Climate change is happening, yet humans have been terribly slow to curb fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases and cause the atmosphere to warm. The United States, caught in political gridlock and lacking consensus on the global-warming threat, has failed to take the lead. The latest reports of the shrinking Arctic ice should shock Congress and the president into more aggressive action, but both branches of government have been timid in the face of one of the great challenges of our age — and one that will haunt future generations.
Or, as Giacomo Cardelli put it for the international Cartoon Movement: