Monday, September 10, 2012


MELTS MORE EACH YEAR - The Arctic sea ice cover has melted to its lowest extent since satellite observations of it began more than three decades ago, breaking a previous record low set in 2007. NASA and scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder report the Arctic sea ice extent  -  the amount of ice covering the sea surface – fell to 4.10 million square kilometers in Aug. 26, 2012.  And, with more days left in the summer melting cycle, they anticipate even more of a loss before the freeze cycle begins at the end of September. “By itself it’s just a number, and occasionally records are going to get set. But in the context of what’s happened in the last several years and throughout the satellite record, it’s an indication that the Arctic sea ice cover is fundamentally changing,” said Walt Meier, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado. Sea ice in the Arctic goes through a regular yearly cycle of growing and melting. While it doesn’t raise sea level, says Meier, it does have an effect on the climate systems through how much energy gets absorbed from the sun.

Since the Arctic sea ice observational record began in 1979,  the trend of ice melt went from slow and steady to more significant as time went on. Over the last 10 years, according to Meier, this trend quickly began to escalate, with record-breaking years of sea ice melt along the way. The significant drop in the amount of Arctic sea ice, says Meier, “is a kind of an exclamation point on the long term trend.” Meier worries about changes to the Arctic, and consequently Earth’s weather systems, should this trend of escalated sea ice melt continue. The sea ice is very reflective, it’s white and reflects most of the sun’s energy, says Meier. “As we lose that sea ice in the summertime. it gets replaced by the ocean which is very dark relative to the sunlight. It absorbs most of that energy, reflects very little of it, and that energy then heats up the ocean, which heats up the atmosphere and makes the entire Arctic warmer than it normally would be without sea ice,” says Meier. This causes greater warming, taking what has been the globe’s air conditioner and kind of “draining out the coolant,” explains Meier.  As a result, the ability and efficiency of that process to help cool the Earth is reduced as more and more sea ice is lost in the summertime.

The Northern Hemisphere's largest expanses of ice have thawed faster and more extensively this year than scientists have previously recorded. And the summer isn't over. The giant ice cap at the top of the world partly melts every summer and refreezes every winter. In recent years, the thaw has become progressively more extensive, and the refreeze has been smaller. “This year's melting season is a Goliath,” said geophysicist Marco Tedesco, from the City University of New York. “The ice is being lost at a very strong pace.” According to scientists, this loss of Arctic ice is massively compounding the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. Besides, to make room for these animals to graze, virgin forests are cleared and this prevents contaminated air can be renewed.

A 2006 report from the United Nations reveals the surprising fact that ‘raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined.’ Tens of billions of animals farmed for food release gases such as methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide through their massive amounts of manure. Animals such as cows and sheep, being ruminant, emit huge amount of methane due to flatulence and burping. “The released methane,” the report says, “has 23 times the global warming potential of CO2.” It is very alarming to note that the livestock industry alone is responsible for 37% of human induced methane emissions. To make room for these animals to graze, virgin forests are cleared. The livestock industry also needs vast stretches of land to raise mono crops to feed the animals. ... Alarming though these facts are I see in them a reason for hope. All that people all the world over have to do is to avoid meat eating.

Śrīla Pujya Swami Dayananda Saraswati
“A Solution for Global Warming”
Interview conducted by Dr. V. Swaminathan
Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, Saylorsburg, PA on Sept 7, 2008

Published by dasavatara das - "Vedic Views on World News"