Remote Alaskan villages struggle with consequences of climate change

Sun, 2007-05-27 12:54Bill Miller
Bill Miller's picture

Remote Alaskan villages struggle with consequences of climate change

The global-warming juggernaut is creating climate refugees in northern settlements, where native residents once forced to abandon their nomadic ways are now faced with deserting villages where ragged wooden houses have to be adjusted regularly to level them on the shifting soil.

“We haven’t sat down as a society and said, ‘How are we going to adapt to this?’ ” said Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University and lead author of a recent report by a United Nations IPCC panel on the impacts and vulnerability presented by climate change. “Just like we haven’t sat down and said, ‘How are we going to reduce emissions?’ And both have to be done.”

Previous Comments

Anyone who is continuing to deny that there are dramatic human induced changes to the World’s climate should be sent to live in the small towns in Alaska, the Pacific Islands and the many other places where the imprint of human influence is so obvious. For them to continue to deny, deny is almost criminal. It is a sorry reflection of the narcissist and greedy lifestyle that so many people are choosing.

Ian Forrester

How did these folks up north make out in the 1930s and 1940s when scientists say the Arctic was as warm as it is now? Wasn’t that when we were just cranking up our narcissistic and greedy lifestyles?

I suspect if they can all hang on a bit longer, the Arctic will cool again as it did while we trampled the landscape with our big, sooty carbon footprints. Then, of course, Ian and the rest of the hair shirt crowd can take credit for having caused the cooling.

John Dowell, Denieralist, Despoiler of Gaia, Tree-Spirit Skeptic

“How did these folks up north make out in the 1930s and 1940s when scientists say the Arctic was as warm as it is now?”

Which scientists said this? Where did you get this information, and what did you do to verify it?

I think John must have read it in the Ottawa Citizen. It was probably on the same page as the article which called the recent season of skating on the Rideau Canal one of the longest on record :-)

Ian Forrester

I have seen several references in recent years but here’s the latest, an article recently appearing in the Journal of Geophysical Research. Dmitry Divine and Chad Dick (2006) of the Norwegian Polar Institute report on their use of historical observations of ice cover in the Nordic Seas region

They say records of ice extent in the Nordic Seas region date to the mid-17th century, primarily in the form of ship logs and diaries early in the record and airborne and satellite observations later in the record. The data are sparse until the latter half of the 19th century when sealing and whaling in the region became popular. Data from 1850 to present are considered to be rather complete and the sea ice data for this period collectively represent one of the few data sets with direct measurements of climate conditions dating back more than a century.

Divine and Dick note the importance of the period from a climate change perspective, as the 150+ years include well-known “Arctic cooling (1880s–1910s, 1960s–1970s) and warming (1920s–1930s, 1980s–1990s) events as well as the recent significant reduction of ice extent.

Divine and Dick also note that “a similar shrinkage of ice cover was observed in the 1920s–1930s, during the previous warm phase of the low-frequency oscillation, when any anthropogenic influence is believed to have still been negligible.”

So you see, Ian, the Arctic appears to go through cooling and warming cycles. Nothing to do with alleged AGW but you keep wearing your hair shirt if it makes you feel worthy of Mother Gaia.

Repeat after me, Desmoggers: The science is settled. There is a consensus. The science is settled. There is a consensus. OOOMMMMMMH The Goracle is our Messiah. OOOMMMMH

John, I’m guessing you got your information from World Climate Report which is a global warming sceptic site with Patrick J. Michaels as Chief Editor.

What that site does is give an interpretation of what Divine and Dick are saying. The author of the post is not shown. What you have done, John, is misinterpret even what the sceptic website is saying. You wrote: “…the Arctic appears to go through cooling and warming cycles. Nothing to do with alleged AGW…”

But even the sceptic site says:

“…However, (and this is a big caveat) Divine and Dick point out that “debate continues over whether the recent shrinkage of ice cover gives direct evidence of global warming caused by human activity or is mainly a part of a secular cycle.” The 30-year record of satellite sensing of sea ice “has shed light on the spatial and temporal patterns of seasonal and interannual variability in ice extent and concentrations, but is still too short for resolving the multi-year variability in ice cover.”…”

In other words, they do not know if it is part of a cycle or evidence of global warming; or both. Like typical scientists, they are saying they don’t know yet. They are not saying AGW has nothing to do with it. That is your misinterpretation, John.

Again, the sceptic site says: “…So, the recent decreases in ice extent are likely to be only partially related to anthropogenic causes…” So they have not dismissed AGW as a cause; just said it might be only one of the causes.

Here is the abstract of the paper by Divine and Dick, including this:

“…evidence was found of oscillations in ice cover with periods of about 60 to 80 years and 20 to 30 years, superimposed on a continuous negative trend…”

A “continuous negative trend” sounds like global warming to me. You know, like, there are cycles but there is also AGW. It’s quite possible to have both at the same time.

It’s too bad we can’t read the actual paper, instead of the interpretation and quotations of selected parts by a sceptic website.

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In less than a decade, climate change-induced sea level rise could force thousands of people to migrate from some small island developing states (SIDS), according to the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program.

The world’s 52 small island developing states (SIDS) increasingly share sea level rise and other escalating environmental threats that are further aggravated by economic insecurities, Achim Steiner added.

What makes this situation even more grievous is that the climate...

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