Poyser: "Holy shit" enviro-news 

Another week in environmental news where all you can say is "holy shit."

Let's start off with the worst news, just in case you only have the capacity to take on ONE bit of news. Reuters this past week (March 5) quoted leading polar expert Warwick Vincent, director of the Center for Northern Studies at Laval University in Quebec, predicting that summer ice in the Arctic would be melted by 2013. See: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090305/wl_canada_nm/canada_us_canada_arctic;_ylt=AoDM8otE8AUUNKN.5b6VWvlvaA8F

Wasn't long ago, folks, that scientists were predicting 2100 as the date for the Arctic melt. So... things are just a little ahead of schedule.


This is bad news for various reasons, but because climatologists are looking at nothing BUT bad news, world wide, the focus is on the significant triggers and tipping points like the Arctic sea ice melt. And that is one mean mo'fo' trigger there. Because as soon as that sun stops bouncing off the ice and instead is absorbed into the sea (commonly called the albe-doh! effect), then the ocean warms further and temperatures go up and then all sorts of unpredictable events start to happen, like the methane stored in the permafrost (now affectionately called the "tempafrost") is released, jacking temperatures even higher.

Want to keep going?

The ocean in fact provided an entire, ahem, tsunami of troubling news this week, as an editorial in the London Times (March 7; http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article5853261.ece#cid=OTC-RSS&attr=3392178) by Richard Girling so eloquently and chilling stated. See, the warmer the ocean gets, the more acidic its content. The more acidic the content, the harder it is for tiny marine life and mollusks of all kinds to survive. Girling says "...the chemistry of the oceans is changing, and that, unless we act decisively, the limitless abundance of the sea within a very few decades will degrade into a useless tidal desert." We're talking habitat collapse on a grand scale - it's like our consumption excesses are pulling Jenga blocks from the edifice of the sea. At some point it all just falls apart.

I guess no matter what, the ocean can always be a place where we throw stuff away.

Which brings us to yet another story this week about the Pacific Garbage Patch or the Eighth Continent or the Island of Human Crap, whatever you want to call it, that giant floating layer of plastics and other trash that floats, marooned, in the north Pacific gyre. Yale Environment 360 published a story (http://e360.yale.edu/content/digest.msp?id=1772) reporting on a TED conference talk by Charles Moore, the dude who stumbled on to the Island of Human Crap - so if you're not up to reading about this, you can always watch the video.

Which now leads to this story, published on March 8 the London Observer: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/mar/08/climate-change-flooding. Basically, like pretty much everything else we're finding out about the environment, things are happening faster than predicted, scientists are now saying "...pose a far greater danger to the planet than previously estimated." These scientists, in fact, are saying we're in — literally -- deep trouble by 2100, but as you can imagine, if the Arctic ice melt of 2013 prediction comes through, a rising sea level will be one of the lesser problems we'll be facing on this scorching earth.

Out of the ocean... and into the fire. There was a charming little story on March 6, recalling that in 2005 the Amazon rainforest went from a carbon sink to a carbon emitter, a terrifying reminder that even what we have going for us, can turn against us: http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/revenge-of-the-rainforest-1638524.html

There was other bad news, but you're probably as weary as I am at this point.

And if you've read this far, then I don't need to tell you what to do: bicycle instead of drive, reduce consumption, buy local, yadda yadda yadda. You already know and you're already doing what you can do and are trying to do better.

A week like this, though, adds a few more "to-do" items for your list, like:

* Fix up that garage for those future eco-migrants who will be fleeing their uninhabitable homelands.

* Stop reproducing offspring so dang much.

* Bone up on your snorkeling skills.

* Practice kissing your ass goodbye.

These days, I do have one new idea concerning "what to do" about global warming.

Take five minutes in a quiet place and just breathe. Breathe.

Feel the breath in your body, the blood flowing, the atoms and molecules swirling about. Then say to yourself "Everything is connected."

Say that a few times. Take it in. Deep. Breathe.

Everything is connected.

Now that shit IS holy.

And once you get that, things will start to fall into place.

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About The Author

Jim Poyser

Jim Poyser

Jim Poyser is Executive Director of Earth Charter Indiana, a statewide organization that was one of over two dozen nonprofit partners in Greening the Statehouse. A former managing editor of NUVO, he won HEC’s Environmentalist of the Year Award in 2013.

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