Two articles in the Guardian last week caught my attention and stayed with me. So this post has nothing to do with bicycles. It is about ice. It is also about global warming.
Let me say up front that global warming is not, or should not, be a political issue. There are virtually no reputable scientists in the world that deny its existence. To do so for political gain is the most shameful and immoral conduct imaginable. Yet there are still politicians who do exactly that. There may, however, be some reasonable dispute over its speed and effects.
The most recent article, Scientists fear ice caps melting faster than predicted describes the speed at which the Greenland Ice Cap is melting. A few quotes:
The glacier at Ilulissat, which supposedly spawned the iceberg that sank the Titantic, is now flowing three times faster into the sea than it was 10 years ago.The second article, Loss of Arctic ice leaves experts stunned, discusses the melting of arctic Ice cap, all that stuff floating in the arctic ocean. Quotes:
Prof Correll, director of the global change programme at the Heinz Centre in Washington, said the estimates of sea level rise in the IPCC report were conservative and based on data two years old. The predicted rise this century was 20cm to 60cm, but it would be at the upper end of this range at least, he said, and some believed it could be two metres. This would be catastrophic for European coastlines.
He had flown over the Ilulissat glacier and "seen gigantic holes in it through which swirling masses of melt water were falling. I first looked at this glacier in the 1960s and there were no holes. These so-called moulins, 10 to 15 metres across, have opened up all over the place. There are hundreds of them."
He said ice-penetrating radar showed that this melt water was pouring through to the bottom of the glacier creating a lake 500 metres deep which was causing the glacier "to float on land. These melt-water rivers are lubricating the glacier, like applying oil to a surface and causing it to slide into the sea. It is causing a massive acceleration which could be catastrophic.
The Arctic ice cap has collapsed at an unprecedented rate this summer and levels of sea ice in the region now stand at record lows, scientists have announced.
Experts say they are "stunned" by the loss of ice, with an area almost twice as big as the UK disappearing in the last week alone.
So much ice has melted this summer that the Northwest passage across the top of Canada is fully navigable, and observers say the Northeast passage along Russia's Arctic coast could open later this month.
If the increased rate of melting continues, the summertime Arctic could be totally free of ice by 2030.
It is important to remember that the melting of floating ice does not raise sea level. However, it may well cause a far more serious disaster, the likely collapse of the Gulf Stream. This, in turn, would cause profound climate change for the US east coast and Europe.
This is too complicated a topic to fully discuss here, but I urge you do a bit of research on your own.
"This summer we've got all this open water and added heat going into the ocean. That is going to make it much harder for the ice to grow back."
Changes in wind and ocean circulation patterns can help reduce sea ice extent, but Dr Serreze said the main culprit was man-made global warming.
"The rules are starting to change and what's changing the rules is the input of greenhouse gases."
As for me, I'm going for a nice bike ride along a cool trout stream today. When I return I'll savor a little ice with a splash of pastis. Might as well enjoy it while we can.