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Posted on on February 18th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (

Antarctic Sea Ice Shrinks to Smallest Ever Extent.

By Reuters
17 February 17

Data contradicts climate change skeptics, who have pointed to earlier increases in areas of sea ice to support their views.

Ice around Antarctica has shrunk to the smallest annual extent on record after years of resisting a trend of manmade global warming, preliminary US satellite data has shown.

Ice floating around the frozen continent usually melts to its smallest for the year towards the end of February, the southern hemisphere summer, before expanding again as the autumn chill sets in.

This year, sea ice extent contracted to 883,015 sq miles (2.28m sq km) on 13 February, according to daily data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).

That extent is a fraction smaller than a previous low of 884,173 sq miles recorded on 27 February 1997 in satellite records dating back to 1979. Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC, said he would wait for a few days’ more measurements to confirm the record low.

“But, unless something funny happens, we’re looking at a record minimum in Antarctica,” he told Reuters. “Some people say it’s already happened. We tend to be conservative by looking at five-day running averages.”

In many recent years, the average extent of sea ice around Antarctica has tended to expand despite the overall trend of global warming, blamed on a build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuels.

People sceptical of mainstream findings by climate scientists have often pointed to Antarctic sea ice as evidence against global warming.

Some climate scientists have linked the paradoxical expansion to shifts in winds and ocean currents.

“We’ve always thought of the Antarctic as the sleeping elephant starting to stir,” Serreze said. “Well, maybe it’s starting to stir now.”

World average temperatures climbed to a record high in 2016 for the third year in a row. Climate scientists say warming is causing more extreme days of heat, downpours and is nudging up global sea levels.

At the other end of the planet, ice covering the Arctic Ocean has been at repeated lows in recent years.

In the northern winter, sea ice expands and is at its smallest extent for mid-February, at 5.38m sq miles.

A Comment:

+1 # mashiguo 2017-02-17 15:21
it’s already too late.
the sleep walkers can take a load off and go back to watching ‘dancing with the stars’

those who are awake can buy up some soon-to-be-beach front-property in Kansas.



Posted on on January 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (



Kumi Naidoo | Don’t Bet on Coal and Oil Growth
Kumi Naidoo, Reader Supported News
Naidoo writes: “A mind-boggling sum of about $800 for each person on the planet is invested into fossil fuel companies through the global capital markets alone. … The amount of money invested into the 200 biggest fossil fuel companies through financial markets is estimated at 5.5 trillion dollars. This should be an impressive amount of money for anyone reading this.”


How the Coal Industry Impoverishes West Virginia
Omar Ghabra, The Nation
Ghabra writes: “There’s a joke circulating among Syrians who fled the brutal conflict devastating their country to the quiet mountains of West Virginia: ‘We escaped the lethal chemicals in Syria only for them to follow us here.’ Of course, what’s happening in West Virginia right now is no laughing matter.”


By Kumi Naidoo, Reader Supported News


25 January 14


mind-boggling sum of about $800 for each person on the planet is invested into fossil fuel companies through the global capital markets alone. That’s roughly 10 percent of the total capital invested in listed companies. The amount of money invested into the 200 biggest fossil fuel companies through financial markets is estimated at 5.5 trillion dollars. This should be an impressive amount of money for anyone reading this.


By keeping their money in coal and oil companies, investors are betting a vast amount of wealth, including the pensions and savings of millions of people, on high future demand for dirty fuels. The investment has enabled fossil fuel companies to massively raise their spending on expanding extractable reserves, with oil and gas companies alone (state-owned ones included) spending the combined GDP of Netherlands and Belgium a year, in belief that there will be demand for ever more dirty fuel.


This assumption is being challenged by recent developments, which is good news for climate but bad news for anyone who thought investing in fossil fuel industries was a safe bet. Frantic growth in coal consumption seems to be coming to an end much sooner than predicted just a few years ago, with China’s aggressive clean air policies, rapidly dropping coal consumption in the U.S. and upcoming closures of many coal plants in Europe. At the same time the oil industry is also facing slowing demand growth and the financial and share performance of oil majors is disappointing for shareholders.


Nevertheless, even faced with weakening demand prospects, outdated investment patterns are driving fossil fuel companies to waste trillions of dollars in developing reserves and infrastructure that will be stranded as the world moves beyond 20th century energy.


A good example is coal export developments. The large recent investment in coal export capacity in all key exporter countries was based on the assumption of unlimited growth of Chinese demand. When public outrage over air pollution reached a new level in 2012-2013, the Chinese leadership moved swiftly to mandate absolute reductions in coal consumption, and banned new coal-fired power plants in key economic regions. A growing chorus of financial analysts is now projecting a peak in Chinese coal demand in the near future, which seemed unimaginable just a couple of years ago. This new reality has already reduced market capitalization of export focused coal companies. Even in China itself, investment in coal-fired power plants has now outpaced demand growth, leading to drops in capacity utilization.


Another example of potentially stranded assets is found in Europe, where large utilities ignored the writing on the wall about EU moves to price carbon and boost renewable energy. Betting on old business models and the fossil-fuel generation, they built a massive 80 gigawatts of new fossil power generation capacity in the last 10 years, much of which is already generating losses and now risk becoming stranded assets.


Arctic oil drilling is possibly the ultimate example of fossil companies’ unfounded confidence in high future demand. Any significant production and revenue is unlikely until 2030, and in the meanwhile Arctic drilling faces high and uncertain costs, extremely demanding and risky operations, as well as the prospect of heavy regulation and liabilities when (not if) the first major blowout happens in the region. No wonder the International Energy Agency is skeptical about Arctic oil, assuming hardly any production in the next 20 years. Regardless, Shell has already burnt $5 billion of shareholders’ money on their Arctic gamble.


Those investing in coal and oil have perhaps felt secure seeing the global climate negotiations proceed at a disappointing pace. However, the initial carbon crunch is being delivered by increasingly market-driven renewable energy development, and by national level clean energy and energy efficiency policies — such as renewable energy support schemes and emission regulation in Europe, or clean air policies in the U.S. and in China. Global coal demand, and possibly even oil demand, could peak even before a strong climate treaty is agreed.


Investors often underestimate their exposure to fossil fuels, particularly indirect exposure through e.g. passively managed pension funds and sovereign debt of strongly fossil fuel dependent states. Assessing exposure, requiring fossil energy companies to disclose and reduce carbon risks, and reducing investments in sunset energy technologies will lead to profitable investment in a world that moves to cleaner and smarter energy systems.


Improving competitiveness of renewable energy, growing opposition to destructive fossil fuel projects, concerns on water shortage and the imperative of cutting global CO2 emissions all point in the same direction: Governments, companies and investors should all be planning for a world with declining fossil fuel consumption — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it makes economic sense. It is the direction the world will be moving to — faster than many yet anticipate.


Following our original posting, we watched today the Fareed Zakaria show at CNN/GPS and reporting from Davos – from the World Economy dialogues, he pointed out that 85 people own as much wealth as the lowest 3.5 billion people of the World.

Then he also mentioned that the 5 members of the family that owns Walmart own a disproportionate part of the wealth of the US – to be exact – just as much as 42% of all Americans.

He also said that there were no problem if everybody would improve their economic standing and the few at the top just grow more – but the reality is that the Middle class is receding and the explanation is that we moved from the human based Manufacturing Age to a machine based Manufacturing Age that does not need humans in the production line. This is endemic and this spiral is bound to drive us further down.
Now a big company like Apple employs only 50,000 Americans – so he has a true argument.

Because he mentioned Walmart this triggered my Sustainable Development thinking as I know that the Walmart company is in partnership with Mr. Jigar Shah in order to decrease their expenditure on electricity by allowing him the use of the roofs covering their stores to produce with photovoltaics the electricity they need. In effect they just did what the US government ought to campaign for. If they are so smart they indeed deserve being so rich – and they put the rest of us to shame because we do not have the initiative to improve our lives by ourselves.

In the context of this posting – why do we not rebel against those in Washington that insist the government sends dollars overseas to buy oil when there is no compelling reason to continue this man-made dependency on unneeded resources? Just think what array of industries could spring up from alliances like that of Jigar and Walmart? The whole Davos exercise ought to be reorganized – the apple of the economy is rotten not because of high-tech apples but because of the intentional subsidization of the old low-tech industries and the move to a globalized market that does not allow for globalized sustainability. You can bet safely that the Koch Brothers will push the US deeper in the hole of retardiness – this because it benefits their old ways of making money.


Posted on on December 20th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


China to expand presence in Antarctica with new research bases

China to expand presence in Antarctica with new research bases

Date: 20-Dec-13
Country: CHINA
Author: Ben Blanchard
China will expand its presence in Antarctica by building a fourth research base and finding a site for a fifth, a state-run newspaper said on Thursday, as the country steps up its increasingly far-flung scientific efforts.
Photo: NASA/Handout via Reuters

Putin calls Russia response to Greenpeace Arctic protest a lesson

Putin calls Russia response to Greenpeace Arctic protest a lesson

Date: 20-Dec-13
Country: RUSSIA
Author: Alexei Anishchuk
President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Russia’s response to a Greenpeace protest over Arctic oil drilling should serve as a lesson and Moscow would toughen steps to guard against interference in its development of the region.
Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool


Posted on on December 1st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (


Militarisation warning for Antarctica as China and Iran show increasing interest.

posted October 21, 2013


A Russian ice breaker in the previously pristine waters of Antarctica.A Russian ice breaker makes its way to Antarctica. Photo: Dan Smith

Australian academics have pointed to dangers that Antarctic bases are for the first time being militarised, despite the continent officially being called a land of peace and science.

Satellite systems at polar bases could be used to control offensive weapons, according to a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and little could be done to prevent it due to the loose nature of the Antarctic Treaty rules.

The report highlights a Chinese base inland in the Australian Antarctic Territory for its satellite intelligence gathering potential and also flags Iran’s recent interest in establishing a polar presence.

Abuses of the treaty’s strict controls on any use of military personnel are said to have already occurred with many countries not reporting their use in Antarctica, while Australia is neglecting to use defence assets there.

The report, “Cold Calculations”, released on Monday, warns that the increasing militarisation is occurring just as Australia’s Antarctic efforts face crippling budget restrictions.

“We run our Antarctic program on the smell of an oily rag,” said Australian Strategic Policy Institute deputy director Anthony Bergin. “For 2013–14, its overall budget is $169 million, an 8 per cent cut from 2012–13.”

The latest Defence White Paper said there was no credible risk to Australia’s national interests in the Antarctic that might require substantial military responses over the next few decades.

“But in the decades to come, military conflict between the major powers could well have an Antarctic dimension, given the possible role of Antarctic bases in surveillance and satellite monitoring,” Dr Bergin said.

“We’re not using our military resources to support our Antarctic program, even though many other nations use theirs. It’s part of the verification regime that they should report the use of military personnel, but many don’t.”

The central rule of the Antarctic Treaty for guaranteeing peaceful use of the continent is a agreement that any nation can inspect another’s operations.

However, the co-author of Cold Calculations, Sam Bateman of the University of Wollongong, questioned whether this inspection regime was up to assessing whether research was being conducted for non-peaceful purposes.

Professor Bateman said it was likely that Antarctic bases were being used increasingly for military research involving space and satellites.

“We could be moving towards the increased weaponisation of Antarctica through the use of Antarctic bases to control offensive weapons systems,” he said. “That possibility is worrying.”

The clear, interference-free skies of Antarctica make them suitable for space observation, and Professor Bateman pointed to China’s third Antarctic station, Kunlun, at one of the highest and coldest points on the continent.

“It’s ideally suited for sending, receiving or intercepting signals from satellites,” Professor Bateman said.

He said both China and India had active government programs and were seeking to increase the number of their bases – yet neither currently reported the use of military personnel and it may be time for the treaty to tighten reporting requirements.

“This might include, for example, widening reporting of introductions of military personnel into Antarctica to recognise the possible employment of private security contractors and other civilian personnel in activities of an essentially military nature.”

Iran’s foray into Antarctica as a maritime power was recently confirmed though the government’s semi-official Fars News Agency, which reported Rear Admiral Khadem Biqam as saying its first phase would involve co-operation with another nation.

At the same time, Australian Strategic Policy Institute executive director Peter Jennings raised doubt about the Australian Defence Force’s ability to sustain a maritime presence during a full Antarctic summer season.

“Our currently very limited capacity to operate in the far south is looking embarrassingly poor and not in keeping with the claim that this is part of the ADF’s primary operational environment.”

The strategic report comes as the Abbott government prepares to embark on developing a 20-year strategic plan, in a project to be led by the Antarctic Co-operative Research Centre’s executive director, Tony Press.

Dr Press said the relentless erosion of core budget capacity ran the risk of recreating a “Sir Humphrey Appleby hospital” in Antarctica: three research stations and a marine science capability – but no means to fund and support real scientific activity.



Posted on on December 1st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

The New York Times reminded us that –

“On Dec. 1, 1959, representatives of 12 countries, including the United States, signed a treaty in Washington setting aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve, free from military activity.”

This triggered our interest in the fact that the treaty was signed in Washington and not at the UN in New York – as well we remember having visited a Chilean military base in the Antarctica – “grandfathered” by the treaty as it was established before the signing of the treaty. As well – a large number of States have bases in the Antarctica – call them scientific – but be sure they may have military meaning as well. So far as science goes – the South Koreans have based their scientific work around the Chilean military base.

Looking up the internet we found for THE ANTARCTIC TREATY:

A lot of the major powers of the world (UK, Australia, Russia, and I’m sure some others) all have bases on Antartica. All are scientific, and I’m pretty sure the American ones are run by the military. I know the McMurdo Base (American) is huge in comparison to all the others. I think it staffs a couple thousand people, too. It’s all science though, no wars or anything being fought down there (though others may beg to differ.)

www.upi.comBusiness NewsSecurity IndustryFeb 20, 2012 – Chile is going ahead with a multibillion-dollar plan
that includes Antarctica, including defense and tourist options.

Some important provisions of the Treaty:


Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only (Art. I)


Freedom of scientific investigation in Antarctica and cooperation toward that end … shall continue (Art. II).


Scientific observations and results from Antarctica shall be exchanged and made freely available (Art. III).


Among the signatories of the Treaty were seven countries – Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom – with territorial claims , sometimes overlapping. Other countries do not recognize any claims. The US and Russia maintain a “basis of claim”. All positions are explicitly protected in Article IV, which preserves the status quo:


No acts or activities taking place while the present Treaty is in force shall constitute a basis for asserting , supporting or denying a claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica or create any rights of sovereignty in Antarctica. No new claim, or enlargement of an existing claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica shall be asserted while the present Treaty is in force.


To promote the objectives and ensure the observance of the provisions of the Treaty, “All areas of Antarctica, including all stations, installations and equipment within those areas … shall be open at all times to inspection ” (Art. VII).


“Signed in 1959, the Antarctic Treaty provides the legal framework for the region beyond 60º South latitude. It reserves the region for peace, promotes scientific investigations and international cooperation, requires an annual exchange of information about activities, and encourages environmental stewardship. Representatives of the 29 voting nations (Consultative Parties) and the 21 non-voting (Acceding Parties) meet regularly to discuss Treaty operations.


Agreements negotiated within the Antarctic Treaty system include environmental protection measures for expeditions, stations, and visitors; waste-management provisions; a ban on mining; establishment of specially protected areas; and agreements for the protection of seals and other marine living resources.”
The original Parties to the Treaty were the 12 nations active in the Antarctic during the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58.

The Treaty was signed in Washington on 1 December 1959 and entered into force on 23 June 1961. The Consultative Parties comprise the original Parties and other States that have become Consultative Parties by acceding to the Treaty and demonstrating their interest in Antarctica by carrying out substantial scientific activity there.


The primary purpose of the Antarctic Treaty is to ensure “in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord.” To this end it prohibits military activity, except in support of science; prohibits nuclear explosions and the disposal of nuclear waste; promotes scientific research and the exchange of data; and holds all territorial claims in abeyance. The Treaty applies to the area south of 60° South Latitude, including all ice shelves and islands.


The Treaty is augmented by Recommendations adopted at Consultative Meetings, by the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (Madrid, 1991), and by two separate conventions dealing with the Conservation of Antarctic Seals (London 1972), and the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (Canberra 1980).

BUT – The Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities (Wellington 1988), negotiated between 1982 and 1988, will not enter into force.



The Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) is now held annually. During each ATCM, there is also a meeting of the Committee for Environmental Protection (CEP). The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) is an observer at ATCMs and CEPs, and provides independent scientific advice as requested in a variety of fields, particularly on environmental and conservation matters.


For more information on the Antarctic Treaty, please visit the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat website.


By phone
+ 54 11 4320 4250
+ 54 11 4326 2174
By Fax
+ 54 11 4320 4253
By Email
By Post
Secretaría del
Tratado Antártico

Maipú 757 Piso 4
C1006ACI – Buenos Aires


The Antarctic Science meetings cycle can be found at:

Logo for 33 SCAR, Auckland, 2014

XXXIII SCAR Meetings and Open Science Conference

22 August – 3 September 2014, Auckland, New Zealand.

The Open Science Conference will be held on 25-29 August. A draft list of sessions is available.
Abstract submission is open until 14 February 2014.

'New!' Second Circular now available.

For more information, please see the [pdf] Second Circular and visit the Conference website.




Posted on on May 26th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Center of gravity in oil world shifts to Americas.

By , Published The Washington Post: May 25, 2012.

LOMA LA LATA, Argentina — In a desertlike stretch of scrub grass and red buttes, oil companies are punching holes in the ground in search of what might be one of the biggest recent discoveries in the Americas: enough gas and oil to make a country known for beef and the tango an important energy player.

The environment is challenging, with resources trapped deep in shale rock. But technological breakthroughs coupled with a feverish quest for the next major find are unlocking the door to oil and natural gas riches here and in several other countries in the Americas not traditionally known as energy producers


A tectonic shift in oil supply

Click Here to View Full Graphic Story

A tectonic shift in oil supply

That is quickly changing the dynamics of energy geopolitics in a way that had been unforeseen just a few years ago.

From Canada to Colombia to Brazil, oil and gas production in the Western Hemisphere is booming, with the United States emerging less dependent on supplies from an unstable Middle East. Central to the new energy equation is the United States itself, which has ramped up production and is now churning out 1.7 million more barrels of oil and liquid fuel per day than in 2005.

“There are new players and drivers in the world,” said Ruben Etcheverry, chief executive of Gas and Oil of Neuquen, a state-owned energy firm that is positioning itself to develop oil and gas fields here in Patagonia. “There is a new geopolitical shift, and those countries that never provided oil and gas can now do so. For the United States, there is a glimmer of the possibility of self-sufficiency.”

Oil produced in Persian Gulf countries — notably Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq — will remain vital to the world’s energy picture. But what was once a seemingly unalterable truth — that American oil production would steadily fall while the United States remained heavily reliant on Middle Eastern supplies — is being turned on its head.

Since 2006, exports to the United States have fallen from all but one major member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the net decline adding up to nearly 1.8 million barrels a day. Canada, Brazil and Colombia have increased exports to the United States by 700,000 barrels daily in that time and now provide nearly 3.4 million barrels a day.

Six Persian Gulf suppliers provide just 22 percent of all U.S. imports, the nonpartisan U.S. Energy Information Administration said this month. The United States’ neighbors in the Western Hemisphere, meanwhile, provide more than half — a figure that has held steady for years because, as production has fallen in the oil powers of Venezuela and Mexico, it has gone up elsewhere.

Production has risen strikingly fast in places such as the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, and the “tight” rock formations of North Dakota and Texas — basins with resources so hard to refine or reach that they were not considered economically viable until recently. Oil is gushing in once-dangerous regions of Colombia and far off the coast of Brazil, under thick salt beds thousands of feet below the surface.

A host of new discoveries or rosy prospects for large deposits also has energy companies drilling in the Chukchi Sea inside the Arctic Circle, deep in the Amazon, along a potentially huge field off South America’s northeast shoulder, and in the roiling waters around the Falkland Islands.

“A range of big possibilities for oil are opening up,” said Juan Carlos Montiel, as he directed a team from the state-controlled company YPF to drill while a whipping wind brought an autumn chill to the potentially lucrative fields here outside Añelo. “With the exploration that is being carried out, I think we will really increase the production of gas and oil.”

Because oil is a widely traded commodity, analysts say the upsurge in production in the Americas does not mean the United States will be immune to price shocks. If Iran were to close off the Strait of Hormuz, stopping tanker traffic from Middle East suppliers, a price shock wave would be felt worldwide.

But the new dynamics for the United States — an increasingly intertwined energy relationship with Canada and more reliance on Brazil — mean U.S. energy supplies are more assured than before, even if oil from an important Persian Gulf supplier is temporarily halted.

The fracking ‘revolution’

Perhaps the biggest development in the worldwide realignment is how the United States went from importing 60 percent of its liquid fuels in 2005 to 45 percent last year. The economic downturn in the United States, improvements in automobile efficiency and an increasing reliance on biofuels all played a role.

But a major driver has been the use of hydraulic fracturing. By blasting water, chemicals and tiny artificial beads at high pressure into tight rock formations to make them porous, workers have increased oil production in North Dakota from a few thousand barrels a day a decade ago to nearly half a million barrels today.

Conservative estimates are that oil and natural gas produced through “fracking,” as the process is better known, could amount to 3 million barrels a day by 2020.

“We have a revolution here,” said Larry Goldstein, director of the Energy Policy Research Foundation in New York. “In 47 years in this business, I’ve never seen anything like this. This is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane.”

All of this has happened as exports from Mexico and Venezuela have fallen in recent years, a trend analysts attribute to mismanagement and lack of investment at the state-owned oil industries in those countries. Even so, there is a possibility that new governments in Mexico and Venezuela — Mexico elects a new president July 1, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has cancer — could open the energy industry to the private investment and expertise needed to boost production, analysts say.

“There’s a lot of upside potential in Latin America that will boost the oil supply over the medium term,” said RoseAnne Franco, who analyzes exploration and production prospects in the region for the energy consultant Wood Mackenzie. “So it’s very positive.”

Political elements

Much of the exploration, though, will not be easy, cheap or, as in Argentina’s case, free of political pitfalls. Price controls on natural gas and import restrictions have made doing business in Argentina hard for energy companies. And last month, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s populist government stunned oil markets by expropriating YPF, the biggest energy company here, from Spain’s Repsol.

But the prize for energy companies is potentially huge. Repsol estimated this year that a cross section of the vast Dead Cow formation here in Neuquen province could hold nearly 23 billion barrels of gas and oil. That followed a U.S. Energy Information Administration report that said Argentina possibly has the third-largest shale gas resources after China and the United States.

“All the top-of-the-line companies are here,” said Guillermo Coco, energy minister of Neuquen province, including ExxonMobil, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell. Although only about 200 wells have been drilled, Coco said companies here talk of drilling 10,000 or more in the next 15 years.

Wells on the horizon

On a recent day here in a dusty spot called Loma La Lata, German Perez oversaw a team of 30 technicians from the Houston-based oil- services giant Schlumberger as they prepared to frack a well.

The operation was huge: Trucks lined up with revving generators. Giant containers brimmed with water. Hoses used for firing chemicals into wells littered the ground. Cranes hoisted huge bags of artificial sand into mixers. Then, 1,200-horsepower pumps blasted water, chemicals and sand nearly 9,000 feet into the earth. “This is a hard rock, so we create countless cracks and fissures, for the gas and oil to flow,” Perez said.

Staring at the stark landscape, broken up here and there by oil rigs, Perez said he thought many companies would one day arrive in search of oil and gas. “The projections are pretty good,” he said. “In our case, we have been here a year and a half and we have tripled the equipment we have. And we think we will double that in another year.”


Posted on on September 14th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

From the following we see that money from China comes with conditions attached i.e, – don’t see the Dalai Lama!


Posted on on April 29th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Nominations open for the 2011 Martha T. Muse Prize – Last date 1st May 2011.

The “Martha T. Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica” is a US$ 100,000 unrestricted award presented to an individual in the fields of Antarctic science or policy that has demonstrated potential for sustained and significant contributions that will enhance the understanding and/or preservation of Antarctica. The Tinker Foundation’s goal is to establish a prestigious award that recognizes excellence in Antarctic research by honoring someone in the early to mid-stages of their career. The Prize is inspired by Martha T. Muse’s passion for Antarctica and is intended to be a legacy of the International Polar Year 2007-2008.

The prize-winner can be from any country and work in ANY field of Antarctic science or policy, including Climate change, Life Sciences, Geo Sciences, Physical Sciences, Antarctic Politics. The goal is to provide recognition of the important work being done by the individual and to call attention to the significance of understanding Antarctica in a time of change. The Prize is awarded by the Tinker Foundation  and administered by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).

Please visit for further details. Online nominations will close on the May 1st, 2011.

Dr Renuka Badhe
Administrator, Martha Muse Prize
and Executive Officer, SCAR Secretariat
Scott Polar Research Institute
Lensfield Road
Cambridge CB2 1ER
United Kingdom

Skype:  renukabadhe

The original posting said:

The Tinker Foundation’s goal is to establish a prestigious award that recognizes excellence in Antarctic research by honoring someone in the early to mid-stages of their career.

The Prize is inspired by Martha T. Muse’s passion for Antarctica and is intended to be a legacy of the activities following the International Polar Year 2007-2008. Martha T. Muse is active with the New York Explorers Club and besides the normal interest of the Club in feats of heroism by exploration of nature, Martha tried to lead the Club also in a direction of review of the human impact on nature, and we wrote about her in our past articles – this including the effects of human induced climate change.
We hope that the Tinker Foundation has also picked up on this angle of Martha´s musing and we strogly recommend to our readers to apply for these grants. (this is a comment from the editor of

The prize-winner can be from any country and work in ANY field of Antarctic science or policy, including Climate change, Life Sciences including biodiversity and its management, Geo Sciences, Physical Sciences, Antarctic Politics. The goal is to provide recognition of the important work being done by the individual and to call attention to the significance of understanding Antarctica in a time of change. The Prize is awarded by the Tinker Foundation  and administered by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).

Please visit for further details. Online nominations will close on the May 1st, 2011.


Posted on on April 6th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


Discovery News > Earth News > Antarctica Growing Green With Grass.

Analysis by Tim Wall 
Tue Apr 5, 2011 08:01 AM ET 


Will Antarctica be the next market for lawnmowers?

The rapid warming of the Antarctic has been a boon for two native plants. As the temperature warms ancient peat decomposes into a nitrogen buffet for the Antarctic pearlwort (Colobanthus quitensis) and Antarctic hairgrass (Deschampsia antarctica).

A study by British and Australian scientists suggests that one of those plants, hairgrass, is able to absorb that nitrogen buffet up to 160 times faster than their mossy competitors.

“We think of the Antarctic as a land of snow and ice. But in summer, on the Antarctic Peninsula and the islands surrounding the frozen center of the continent, the snow melts and many areas become green with mosses and two species of native flowering plant,” said one of the authors of the study, Bangor University scientist Paul Hill in a press release from the school.

BLOG: King Crabs Invade Antarctic Waters

“Recently, as global temperatures have increased, and Antarctic summers have become longer and warmer, one of these flowering plants, Antarctic hairgrass (Deschampsia antarctica), has become increasingly widespread,” Hill said.

Mosses formerly dominated the two percent of Antarctica that can support plant life.

D._antarcticaBut the polar regions, including the Antarctic, have warmed far faster than the rest of the planet during the past 50 years. Now thevascular plants are taking over.

BLOG: Antarctic Melting as Deep Ocean Heat Rises

“Plants need nitrogen to grow successfully. In coastal Antarctica, most of the nitrogen is locked in organic matter in the soil, which has been slow to decompose in the cold conditions. This is now becoming more available as temperatures increase,” said Davey Jones of Bangor University, another author of the study published recently in Nature Climate Change.

The researchers found that hairgrass acquires nitrogen through its roots as short chains of molecules, or peptides, produced early in protein decomposition. That allows the plants to acquire nitrogen over three times faster than if they had to wait for bacteria to break proteins down into amino acids, nitrates, or ammonium.

Mosses just can’t match nitrogen absorbing speed like that.

BLOG: Ancient Animals Fled to Antarctica to Escape Warming

IMAGE 1: Antarctic hair grass, Deschampsia antarctica, at Petermann Island (Wikimedia Commons)

IMAGE 2: Antarctic hair grass, Deschampsia antarctica at Collins Glacier, Antarctica (Wikimedia Commons)


Posted on on July 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

WORLD NEWS – JULY 29, 2010…
Climate report shows Earth has heated up over 50 years.

Which in the printed Wall Street version was rechristened – “CLIMATE STUDY CITES 2000 as WARMEST DECADE.” This appropriate to the US inward look of New York, while the above title is clear better positioned for the world at large –


A new assessment concludes that the Earth has been getting warmer over the past 50 years and the past decade was the warmest on record.

The State of the Climate 2009 report, published Wednesday as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, was compiled by 300 scientists from 48 countries and drew on measures of 10 crucial climate indicators.

Seven of the indicators were rising, including air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, sea level, ocean heat and humidity. Three indicators were declining, including Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere.

“Each indicator is changing as we’d expect in a warming world,” said Peter Thorne, senior researcher at the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, a research consortium based in College Park, Md., who was involved in compiling the report.

The report’s conclusions broadly match those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body, which published its last set of findings in 2007. The IPCC report contained some errors, which further stoked the debate about the existence, causes and effects of global warming.

The new report incorporates data from the past few years that weren’t included in the last IPCC assessment. While the IPCC report concluded that evidence for human-caused global warming was “unequivocal” and was linked to emissions of greenhouse gases, the latest report didn’t seek to address the issue.

The report “doesn’t try to make the link” between climate change and what might be causing it, said Tom Karl, an official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration involved in the new assessment.

The report said, “Global average surface and lower-troposphere temperatures during the last three decades have been progressively warmer than all earlier decades, and the 2000s (2000-09) was the warmest decade in the instrumental record.” The troposphere is the lowest layer of the atmosphere.

The scientists reported that they were surprised to find Greenland’s glaciers were losing ice at an accelerating rate. They also concluded that 90% of planetary warming over the past 50 years has gone into the oceans. Most of it had accumulated in near-surface layers, home to phytoplankton, tiny plants crucial to virtually all life in the sea.

A new study has found that rising sea temperature may have had a harmful effect on global concentrations of phytoplankton over the past century.



You will also see there the Washington rot as in the following: Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the US, formerly in charge of energy with the powerful CSIS, said the new report would not change people’s minds. “It’s clear that the scientific case for global warming alarmism is weak. The scientific case for [many of the claims] is unsound and we are finding out all the time how unsound it is.”

You will find that there was no doubt about the implication that it is humans who did it except in the words of that outspoken minority of industry lobbyists that hold power over Washington.


NOAA finds “human fingerprints” on climate

July 28th, 2010  by Fiona Harvey

A report from the NOAA in the US has found that data from ten key climate indicators all point to the same finding: the scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable.

It is the first major piece of new research since the “Climategate” scandals.

It found that, relying on data from multiple sources, each indicator proved consistent with a warming world. Seven indicators are rising: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, ocean heat, humidity, and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface. Three indicators are declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers and spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere.

Read the full report here:…

Research says climate change undeniable

By Fiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent

Published: July 28 2010 – print and on-line.

International scientists have injected fresh evidence into the debate over global warming, saying that climate change is “undeniable” and shows clear signs of “human fingerprints” in the first major piece of research since the “Climategate” controversy.

The research, headed by the US National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration, is based on new data not available for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report of 2007, the target of attacks by sceptics in recent years.

The NOAA study drew on up to 11 different indicators of climate, and found that each one pointed to a world that was warming owing to the influence of greenhouse gases, said Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring at the UK’s Met Office, one of the agencies participating.

Seven indicators were rising, he said. These were: air temperature over land, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, ocean heat, humidity, and tropospheric temperature in the “active-weather” layer of the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface. Four indicators were declining: Arctic sea ice, glaciers, spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere, and stratospheric temperatures.

Mr Stott said: “The whole of the climate system is acting in a way consistent with the effects of greenhouse gases.” “The fingerprints are clear,” he said. “The glaringly obvious explanation for this is warming from greenhouse gases.”

Environment ThumbnailSome scientists hailed the study as a refutation of the claims made by climate sceptics during the “Climategate” saga. Those scandals involved accusations – some since proven correct – of flaws in the IPCC’s landmark 2007 report, and the release of hundreds of emails from climate scientists that appeared to show them distorting certain data.

“This confirms that while all of this [Climategate] was going on, the earth was continuing to warm. It shows that Climategate was a distraction, because it took the focus off what the science actually says,” said Bob Ward, policy director of the Grantham Institute at the London School of Economics.

But the report nonetheless remained the target of scorn for sceptics.

Myron Ebell, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute in the US, said the new report would not change people’s minds. “It’s clear that the scientific case for global warming alarmism is weak. The scientific case for [many of the claims] is unsound and we are finding out all the time how unsound it is.”

Pat Michaels, a prominent climate sceptic, ex-professor of environmental sciences and fellow of the Cato Institute in the US, said the NOAA study and other evidence suggested that the computerised climate models had overestimated the sensitivity of the earth’s temperature to carbon dioxide. This would mean that the earth could warm a little under the influence of greenhouse gases, but not by as much as the IPCC and others have predicted.

“I think it is the lack of frankness about this that emerged with Climategate, and that seems to continue [that make people doubt the findings],” he said.

Steve Goddard, a blogger, said the conclusion that the first half of 2010 showed a record high temperature was “based on incorrect, fabricated data” because the researchers involved did not have access to much information on Arctic temperatures.

David Herro, the financier, who follows climate science as a hobby, said NOAA also “lacks credibility”.

But Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of NOAA, said the study found that the average temperature in the world had increased by 0.56° C (1° F) over the past 50 years. The rise “may seem small, but it has already altered our planet … Glaciers and sea ice are melting, heavy rainfall is intensifying, and heat waves are more common.”


Developing Nations See Cancun Climate Deal Tough.

Date: 29-Jul-10
Country: MEXICO
Author: Brian Ellsworth

Reaching a binding climate deal at the upcoming U.N. conference in Mexico will likely be difficult, delegates from a group of developing nations said on Monday, spurring further doubts about a global climate accord this year.

Environment ministers from Brazil, South Africa, India and China — known as the BASIC group — meeting in Rio de Janeiro said developed nations have not done enough to cut their own emissions or help poor countries reduce theirs.

Delays by the United States and Australia in implementing schemes to cut carbon emissions has added to gloomy sentiment about possible results from the Cancun meeting.

“If by the time we get to Cancun (U.S. senators) still have not completed the legislation then clearly we will get less than a legally binding outcome,” said Buyelwa Sonjica, South Africa’s Water and Environment Affairs minister.

“For us that is a concern, and we’re very realistic about the fact that we may not” complete a legally binding accord, she said.

BASIC nations held deliberations on Sunday and Monday about upcoming climate talks, but the representatives said those talks did not yield a specific proposal on emissions reductions to be presented at the Cancun meeting.

“I think we’re all a bit wiser after Copenhagen, our expectations for Cancun are realistic — we cannot expect any miracles,” said Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

He added that countries have failed to make good on promises for $30 billion in “fast track” financing for emissions reduction programs in poor countries.

“The single most important reason why it is going to be difficult is the inability of the developed countries to bring clarity on the financial commitments which they have undertaken in the Copenhagen Accord,” he said.

Hopes for a global treaty on cutting carbon emissions to slow global warming were dealt a heavy blow last year when rich and poor nations were unable to agree on a legally binding mechanism to reduce global carbon emissions.

More than 100 countries backed a nonbinding accord agreed in Copenhagen last year to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, but it did not spell out how this should be achieved.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday postponed an effort to pass broad legislation to combat climate change until September at the earliest, vastly reducing the possibility of such legislation being ready before the Cancun conference begins in December.

Australia has delayed a carbon emissions trading scheme until 2012 under heavy political pressure on from industries that rely heavily on coal for their energy.

The U.N.’s climate agency has detailed contingency options if the world cannot agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, whose present round expires in 2012 with no new deal in sight. {But the article does not spell them out and we wonder if they are any different from what we suggested – moving the deliberations away from the UNFCCC – to a much smaller group of Nations modeled along the lines on the evolving G20 with a united EU and a representation of AOSIS/SIDS and Highest suffering countries like Bangladesh on-board,}

Kyoto placed carbon emissions caps on nearly 40 developed countries from 2008-2012. {But Left out any responsibilities for the remaining countries including the above BRICS. Copenhagen was a success in the sense that it made it clear that the BRICS must be part of any agreement if it is going to happen – so, in this trspect, at Copenhagen there was progress – the first time since the beginning of the negotiations within UNFCCC.}


The comments in green are those made by us – the editor of

From the Wikipedia: Karen Christiana Figueres Olsen (born August 7, 1956) was appointed Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 17 May 2010, succeeding Yvo de Boer[1] [2]. She had been a member of the Costa Rican negotiating team since 1995, involved in both UNFCCC[3] and Kyoto Protocol[4] negotiations. She has contributed to the design of key climate change instruments.[5] She is a prime promoter of Latin America’s active participation in the Convention,[6] a frequent public speaker,[7] and a widely published author.[8] She won the Hero for the Planet award in 2001.[9]

For Latin America, in the BASIC group, speaks Brazil which has created for itself the image of an oil-rich country. This might create further difficulties for Ms. Figueres and we do not yet say that Brazil steaked out a final position for Cancun. In effect, the October 3, 2010 elections will have brought to the fore-front a new President for Brazil and we are yet to see his or her position.


Posted on on May 18th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Nominations close 1st June for 2010-11 Martha T. Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica.

The “Martha T. Muse Prize for Science and Policy in Antarctica” is a US$ 100,000 unrestricted award presented to an individual in the fields of Antarctic science or policy that has demonstrated potential for sustained and significant contributions that will enhance the understanding and/or preservation of Antarctica.

The Tinker Foundation’s goal is to establish a prestigious award that recognizes excellence in Antarctic research by honoring someone in the early to mid-stages of their career. The Prize is inspired by Martha T. Muse’s passion for Antarctica and is intended to be a legacy of the International Polar Year 2007-2008.

The prize-winner can be from any country and work in ANY field of Antarctic science or policy, including Climate change, Life Sciences, Geo Sciences, Physical Sciences, Antarctic Politics.

The goal is to provide recognition of the important work being done by the individual and to call attention to the significance of understanding Antarctica in a time of change. The Prize is awarded by the Tinker Foundation  and administered by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR).

Please visit for further details. Online nominations will close on the June 1st, 2010.

from    Renuka <>


Posted on on April 18th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

We wrote about this in regard to the earthquakes and follow-up tsunamis, now we learn that we are not the odd-balls we thought we were – others say now that the melting glaciers in Iceland will bring about further volcanic eruptions. These eruptions will be more frequent and stronger. This reminds us also of the prediction for future hurricanes. watch the words of Freysteinn Sigmundsson, a vulcanologist at the University of Iceland.

Ice Cap Thaw May Awaken Icelandic Volcanoes

April 10, 2010, Oslo, by Alister Doyle for Reuters.

A thaw of Iceland’s ice caps in coming decades caused by climate change may trigger more volcanic eruptions by removing a vast weight and freeing magma from deep below ground, scientists said on Friday.

They said there was no sign that the current eruption from below the Eyjafjallajokull glacier that has paralysed flights over northern Europe was linked to global warming. The glacier is too small and light to affect local geology.

“Our work suggests that eventually there will be either somewhat larger eruptions or more frequent eruptions in Iceland in coming decades,” said Freysteinn Sigmundsson, a vulcanologist at the University of Iceland.

“Global warming melts ice and this can influence magmatic systems,” he told Reuters. The end of the Ice Age 10,000 years ago coincided with a surge in volcanic activity in Iceland, apparently because huge ice caps thinned and the land rose.

“We believe the reduction of ice has not been important in triggering this latest eruption,” he said of Eyjafjallajokull. “The eruption is happening under a relatively small ice cap.”

Carolina Pagli, a geophysicist at the University of Leeds in England, said there were risks that climate change could also trigger volcanic eruptions or earthquakes in places such as Mount Erebus in Antarctica, the Aleutian islands of Alaska or Patagonia in South America.



“The effects would be biggest with ice-capped volcanoes,” she said. “If you remove a load that is big enough you will also have an effect at depths on magma production.”

She and Sigmundsson wrote a 2008 paper in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters about possible links between global warming and Icelandic volcanoes.

That report said that about 10 percent of Iceland’s biggest ice cap, Vatnajokull, has melted since 1890 and the land nearby was rising about 25 millimetres (0.98 inch) a year, bringing shifts in geological stresses.

They estimated that the thaw had led to the formation of 1.4 cubic km (0.3 cubic mile) of magma deep below ground over the past century.

At high pressures such as under an ice cap, they reckon that rocks cannot expand to turn into liquid magma even if they are hot enough. “As the ice melts the rock can melt because the pressure decreases,” she said.

Sigmundsson said that monitoring of the Vatnajokull volcano since 2008 suggested that the 2008 estimate for magma generation was “probably a minimum estimate. It can be somewhat larger.”

He said that melting ice seemed the main way in which climate change, blamed mainly on use of fossil fuels, could have knock-on effects on geology. The U.N. climate panel says that global warming will cause more floods, droughts and rising seas.


Posted on on April 9th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) is attending the Antarctic Treaty Meeting of Experts in Svolvaer, Norway, from April 6 to 9 and has submitted four information papers to the meeting.  ASOC is the NGO observer to the Antarctic Treaty System.  The papers are:

-Antarctic Krill Fisheries and Rapid Ecosystem Change (

-Antarctic Penguin Response To Habitat Change (

-Environmental and Economic Benefits of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Antarctica (

-The Future of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet  (

The meeting is an important opportunity for Antarctic Treaty parties to further discuss climate change and its impact on Antarctica.


Norway takes strong interest in both poles. As such we got also the following e-mail:

Hurtigruten invites you to learn about our special voyages to some of the world’s most untamed
reaches. Hurtigruten’s 116 year history has made us an authority in offering a wide range of year-round travel opportunities for those who seek the unusual and extraordinary while still enjoying the creature comforts of a fabulous cruise vacation. Join us for an educational webinar to learn all about your next dream vacation!

Highlights include:

• Spectacular Coastal Voyages through the Norwegian Fjords
• Awe-inspiring expeditions through Antarctica
• The Mysteries of the Vast Icebergs of Greenland
• Exciting Arctic expeditions through Europe’s last wilderness – Spitsbergen

No fee, this educational seminar is totally free.

Thursday March 18 at 8pm (5pm PST)


Posted on on February 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Shackleton’s Whiskey Found Buried Near South Pole.

Lauren Frayer
Contributor to
(Feb. 6, 2010) — It’s probably the most sought-after scotch in history – crates of whiskey buried in Antarctica by the famed explorer Ernest Shackleton a century ago. He abandoned them on a failed attempt to reach the South Pole in 1909, and they’ve been on ice – literally – ever since.

Researchers from New Zealand found the crates while restoring a hut Shackleton built and used during the expedition. He and his team were forced to cut short the trip and abandon supplies, including their booze, to sail away before winter ice trapped them there.

The New Zealand team first spotted two crates underneath the hut’s floorboards in 2006, but they were too deeply embedded in ice to be salvaged. Researchers returned to the site this past week, and finally extracted the crates after drilling into the ice around them. The surprise was that there were three more crates than expected – one more of whiskey and two of brandy.

The second trip was backed by the same Scottish company that distilled Shackleton’s whiskey, Mackinlay’s Rare Old Scotch. It could be the longest booze run in history. The Whyte and Mackay distillery hopes to replicate the whiskey, which hasn’t been made in a lifetime after the original recipe was lost.

“Given the original recipe no longer exists, this may open a door into history,” the company’s master blender, Richard Paterson, said in a release posted on the company’s Web site. He called the find “a gift from the heavens” for whiskey lovers.

“If the contents can be confirmed, safely extracted and analyzed, the original blend may be able to be replicated,” Paterson said.

Experts will try to extract the historic brew delicately. Some of the crates have cracked and ice has formed inside. Icebergs surrounding the crates smelled of whiskey, and there may have been leakage, according to Al Fastier, a restoration expert with the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust who made the find.

He told the BBC he heard the slosh of liquid inside the crates when they were moved, and is confident that much of the liquor is still inside.

Shackleton’s expedition ran short of supplies on a long trek to the South Pole that began in 1907. He had to turn back about 100 miles from the pole in 1909. The team had to move quickly to escape as winter ice began to form, so they were forced to abandon all but essential equipment and supplies – including their whiskey. No lives were lost.

A Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, was first to reach the South Pole two years later, in 1911.

As for what the future holds for Shackleton’s whiskey, there are international treaties preventing the removal of artifacts from Antarctica, but Paterson wrote on his blog that he hopes to get his hands on at least a sample of the whiskey, if not a couple bottles.

“What you all want to know is: How will it taste?” Paterson wrote. “To which the answer is: Cold.”


Posted on on January 4th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (


By Manuel Manonelles, BARCELONA, (IPS) Posted by Other News January 3, 2009.

Little by little, it is being confirmed that the melting of the polar ice caps, whether in Antarctica or the Arctic, is happening significantly faster than initially predicted. The consequences of this for peace, one of the main victims of climate change, are enormous.

Glaciers and areas of high-altitude mountains that were previously considered zones of perpetual snow are now melting. A paradigmatic case is that of the alpine border between Switzerland and Italy where during a recent routine verification, certain sections of ice or perennial snow that had been on the map since 1861 were found to be missing. In this case, the two countries have enjoyed long periods of peaceful coexistence and are approaching the problem in a logical and cordial fashion, forming a commission to find a technical solution.

However, the possible implications of cases like this in other geographical areas are very worrisome. The destabilising potential of a similar development on the India-Pakistan border would be enormous, particularly in the zone of Kashmir or the Siachen glacier, where more than 3000 soldiers of both countries have died since 1984. The same is true of the tense China-India border, or the deeply problematic border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which will grow increasingly porous with melting, contributing to a rise in destabilisation in what are already two of the most unstable countries on the earth.

Another major effect of global warming is the gradual opening of major global shipping lanes in areas that had previously been impassable because of ice. The Northeast Passage along the north of Russia, used recently for the first time in history, shortens travel between the ports of China, Japan, and Korea and Hamburg, Rotterdam, and South Hampton by 4,000 kilometres. With the Northwest Passage along northern Canada, travel between the China and the ports of the eastern United States is similarly shortened.

The opening of these new routes will completely change the dynamics of intercontinental trade and might render irrelevant places that until now were considered geostrategically essential, such as the Panama and the Suez Canal.

Add to this the draw of massive reserves of raw materials expected to be present in the Arctic, ever more accessible as the ice recedes, which is provoking a race for control of the area – including an arms race – and is stoking tensions particularly between Russia, Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. The Russian news agency TASS has calculated oil reserves in the area at over 10 billion tonnes. Last year Canada approved an extraordinary 6.9 billion dollar arms bill to strengthen its military presence in its arctic zone, while Russia has resumed tactical flights of nuclear bombers in its polar region, triggering the protests of numerous countries.

This also explains, in part, the speed with which the European Union is processing the application for EU membership of bankrupt Iceland, which would place the body in the best possible position for future negotiations and territorial claims in the area with regard to future access to the “Arctic banquet”.

The melting of the ice caps is also the major cause of rising sea levels, which have other irreversible territorial, social, and economic consequences, such as the physical disappearance -partial or total- of certain small island states of the Pacific likely to occur within a few years -the Maldives, Samoa, Kiribati, among others. Obviously the implications are vast, including – in addition to the personal, environmental, cultural, and national trauma – the political and legal status of future states that have no territory. The principal components of the global infrastructure, from ports and refineries to airports and nuclear plants, are also seriously at risk, and will find themselves near or at or even below sea level.

It is important to note in this context that the majority of the global population lives in areas close to the sea, starting with megacities like Mumbai, London, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Buenos Aires, and densely-populated areas like the Ganges delta in Bangladesh, where rising sea levels are already wreaking havoc in the form of water pollution and related effects. Recent studies indicate the possibility of some 200 million new environmental refugees in coming years -refugees who would only increase the already considerable humanitarian pressures and tensions in these areas and exacerbate existing or latent conflict.

The Global Humanitarian Fund issued a report this year that shows unequivocally that climate change today is responsible for some 300,000 deaths per year. Numbers for the medium and long-term are even higher. In this context, the urgency of fighting climate is a pre-condition for a peaceful future. Therefore, the international community has no other option, specially after the fiasco in Copenhagen, to spring into action as soon as possible. It is about climate, but also about peace and human lives.


This and all “other news” issues edited by Roberto Savio can be found at


Posted on on December 10th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

Giant Iceberg Heading Toward Australia

CNN (Dec. 9) — A massive iceberg — more than twice the size of New York’s Manhattan island — is drifting slowly toward Australia, scientists said Wednesday.

The iceberg, measuring 140 square km (54 square miles), cleaved off an ice shelf nearly 10 years ago and had been floating near Antarctica before commencing on its unusual journey north.

Named B17B, it was about 1,700 km (1,056 miles) off the coast of West Australia, according to the country’s Antarctic Division.

“B17B is a very significant one in that it has drifted so far north while still largely intact,” said Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist Neal Young, who spotted the slab using satellite images taken by NASA and the European Space Agency.

Iceberg B17B

Australian Antarctic Division/AFP/AP

A massive iceberg, labeled B17B, is believed to have broken off from the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica.

“It’s one of the biggest sighted at those latitudes.”

It is unlikely to drift too close to the coast in its current form, Young said. The warmer waters will cause it to melt.

“As the water warms up, the iceberg is slowly breaking up, resulting in hundreds more smaller icebergs in the area,” Young said on the Australian Antarctic Division Web site.

In November, an iceberg estimated to be 500 meters wide and 50 meters high was spotted close to Macquarie Island in the southern Pacific drifting towards New Zealand.

Scientists working on the island were astounded by its size.

“We pulled out the binoculars that we use for work on the seals and, sure enough, it was a huge floating island of ice basically and, yeah, it was an incredible sight,” Australian researcher Dean Miller told CNN affiliate TVNZ.

The Australian Antarctic Division said the iceberg was part of a flotilla that would have broken off from a larger ice flow that possibly came from the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica’s largest.

Although shipping lanes in this region are not particularly busy in November, the icebergs prompted Maritime New Zealand to issue navigation warnings.

Three years earlier, another family of icebergs led to a small tourist boom when they drifted along the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island.

Oceanographer Mike Williams told Radio New Zealand the icebergs had “pretty much the same origin” but that some had probably been trapped in the icy seas of Antarctica for longer, before being carried north by the currents.

However he was reluctant to cite global warming as the reason for the large-scale movement of ice. “We do have to change our position a little because in 2006 we thought this was a ‘once in a lifetime’ event.

“But large ice shelf carvings, where the ice comes from, are still only carving on a 30- to 50-year period.”


Posted on on January 20th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

Mountain Is Reflected In A Bay That Used To Be Covered By The Sheldon Glacier On The Antarctic Peninsula

Date: 20-Jan-09
Author: Alister Doyle

Photo: Staff Photographer

A mountain is reflected in a bay that used to be covered by the Sheldon glacier on the Antarctic peninsula, January 14, 2009.

The glacier has shrunk by about 2 km since 1989, probably because of global warming. Picture taken January 14, 2009.


Posted on on January 9th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (

ENVIRONMENT: Climate Change Forcing Penguins North?
By Adrianne Appel*

Magellan penguins in the Malvinas/Falkland Islands, in the South Atlantic.

Credit:Photo Stock

BOSTON, Dec 31 (Tierramérica) – Warm ocean currents may have confused some 2,500 penguins from Argentina’s Patagonia region that washed up — dead and alive — on Brazil’s northern coast.

About half the penguins that were found on Brazilian beaches in October were dead, and the others were starving and in very bad shape, said Valeria Ruoppolo, an emergency veterinarian with the International Federation for Animal Welfare (IFAW), in Sao Paulo, who coordinated the rescue of many of the penguins.

“Of the live ones, about 50 percent survived,” Ruoppolo told Tierramérica.

Magellan penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) live in relatively warmer climates than other penguin species, and breed and nest in burrows in the southern hemisphere spring and summer, from October to February, in southern Chile and Argentina, in a temperate and dry climate.

They travel out to sea during the winter, from March to September, to follow anchovies, their favourite food, in order to fatten up.

Juveniles also migrate north. This year, about 2,500 disoriented juvenile penguins traveled more than 2,500 kilometres beyond the normal point, coming ashore in Salvador, in Bahia state, 1,400 kilometres north of Sao Paulo, to the amazement of beachgoers. The penguins were rescued by IFAW and the Centre for Marine Animal Recovery, with help from other organisations and Brazilian environmental authorities.

After months of care and feeding, the 372 surviving penguins were banded and loaded onto a C-130 Hercules military plane and transported to Cassino Beach, in Pelotas, in southern Brazil.

After an overnight rest, they were released into the South Atlantic ocean, along with a few other rescued adult penguins, with the hope that they would guide the younger ones safely home to Patagonia.

About 200 people cheered them on as they waded into the surf. It was the largest penguin rescue on record, a success for animal welfare experts — but a terrible omen for the penguin population.

“We always have a few strandings here and there. In 1994 and 2000 we had big strandings. But not like this year. More than 2,000 penguins is unheard of,” Ruoppolo said.

Magellans are one of 17 species of penguins, which all live in the southern hemisphere, including the Antarctic. Magellans are among the largest, weighing just over four kilograms, with striking colouring: a white chest and a white band around a black back and black head.

The Magellan penguin population is fragile, as their numbers have plummeted by about 20 percent, with about one million breeding pairs today, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. The penguins are at risk due to the effects of climate change, tourism, oil leaks from tankers and shrimp nets.

“We are going to try and understand what happened,” using the identification bands as a tool, Ruoppolo said.

Once the penguins reach their home colonies, volunteers and researchers there will notify Ruoppolo. She will aggregate data about the climate, ocean currents and food sources, to learn about the strandings.

“One thing that was different is that the surface of the Atlantic ocean was one degree Celsius warmer. The penguins follow the fish, especially their favourite, the anchovies. Probably what happened this year is the anchovies went deeper into the ocean for the cold water. And the penguins couldn’t reach their food and they stranded because they were starving,” she said.

However, Ruoppolo warned, “We don’t know yet if we can link the strandings to climate change. Soon we will be able to say.”

According to Sybille Klenzendorf, a scientist with the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), “It’s probably not going to be unusual for some of these things to happen,” given the rise in temperature of the ocean.

The ocean environment of the southern tip of Patagonia especially is undergoing alterations, Klenzendorf said. Due to glaciers melting, the salinity of the water there is changing.

“The salt content is becoming less. It’s not just the temperature that is changing,” she told Tierramérica.

WWF scientists recently warned that allowing the earth’s surface temperatures to rise an average 2 degrees Celsius further — which is expected within 50 years even with a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions — will severely endanger Emperor (Aptenodytes forsteri) and Adelie (Pygoscelis adeliae) penguins and other Antarctic wildlife.

The current targets for reducing greenhouse emissions “aim at stabilising the climate at 2 degrees higher than it is today. But what we’re saying is we need to be more conservative than 2 degrees,” Klenzendorf said.

Furthermore, stress from the ocean changes would exacerbate an already dwindling source of fish for the penguins, due to aggressive commercial fishing in the region, she said. During nesting season, male penguins are swimming further each day to feed, compared to their normal forays, according to P. Dee Boersma, a penguin expert at the University of Washington.

Boersma, who has a research station in Punta Tombo, home to the largest colony of Magellan penguins, on the coast of the southern Argentine province of Chubut, says the changing climate has included more rain in recent years.

Coastal Patagonia is normally very dry, and the increasing rains mean that wet penguin chicks die of exposure, Boersma says in research published recently in the journal BioScience.

“Penguins are sentinels of the marine environment, and by observing and studying them, researchers can learn about the rate and nature of changes occurring in the southern oceans,” she says.

Punta Tombo is a tiny peninsula near the city of Rawson. Its widest point is less than one kilometre, and it is teaming and crowded with penguins — and tourists — during breeding season. About 105,000 people visited the penguin colony in 2007. Local efforts are underway to protect the penguins from further encroachment.

In 1982, the Punta Tombo colony was saved from Japanese commercial interests, which wanted to slaughter the birds and use their pelts to make golf gloves. The area was turned into a penguin preserve and research centre, led by Boersma.

(*This story was originally published by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank.)


Posted on on November 12th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Science Proves Warming of Antarctica.

By Adrianne Appel*

BOSTON, Nov 12 (Tierramérica) – The Antarctic holds the world’s largest amount of fresh water in its icy grip, and it is most certainly warming as a result of greenhouse gases, say new scientific studies.

“We’re able for the first time to directly attribute warming in both the Arctic and the Antarctic to human influences,” said Nathan Gillett of the University of East Anglia, in Britain, who led the study.

Evidence of global warming, caused by the release of carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the air, has been found on almost every continent on Earth. The exception was the Antarctic, which holds 90 percent of the world’s ice and 70 percent of the world’s fresh water.

Antarctica, about 1.4 times as large as the United States, has just 20 weather stations from which to gather data, and for this and other reasons, less has been known about the icy continent.

Scientists can see that the warmer parts of Antarctica, including the Western Antarctic and Antarctic Peninsula, which juts north toward South America and is home to millions of seals and penguins and other birds, are seeing temperature increases.

But the frigid East Antarctic, with ice 2,226 metres thick, has seen no significant change in air temperature during the past 50 years — in fact it has shown evidence of cooling — and this has made overall conclusions about the greenhouse gas effect inconclusive.

The Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that Antarctica was the only continent where human-caused temperature changes had not been detected, possibly due to insufficient data and observation.

Gillett’s work “demonstrates convincingly what previous studies have suggested: that humans have indeed contributed to warming in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions,” said Andrew Monaghan, of the U.S. National Centre for Atmospheric Research, a close colleague of the researchers.

The team used all data available from 1900 to 2000 from the 20 research stations, and complex computer predictions to reach its conclusions.

The scientists created four computer models, including one that included the impact of greenhouse gases and one that did not. The model with the greenhouse gases produced predictions that matched actual temperature observations up to this point in time, according to their report, “Attribution of polar warming to human influence”, in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience.

Taking averages across all of Antarctica produced findings of “overall warming” of a few tenths of a percent, Gillett said.

But the team found temperature increases on the Antarctic Peninsula of up to 3 degrees Celsius since the 1950s, among the largest increases on Earth, Monaghan said. Still, the average monthly temperature is 1 degree to minus -15 degrees C.

Several large glaciers in the West Antarctic are melting and contributing to a rise in global sea levels, due to warmer ocean currents that are hitting the ice sheets. The average monthly temperature there is -12 C to -35 C.

“This melting of ice shelves has implications for sea level rise,” Gillett said. In 2002, a huge ice shelf on the Peninsula, called the Larsen B, broke apart and melted. It was 3,250 square kilometres in size, he pointed out.

In addition, the team noticed data pointing to a warming along the coasts of East Antarctica, and they expect this warming to accelerate.

Gillett hypothesised that the South Pole cooling may be due to a severe loss of ozone in the Pole’s atmosphere, due to pollution.

He believes that because of his research, scientists can draw a more accurate picture of what the future may look like for Antarctica. Calculations about the melting of ice can now include the impact of global warming.

“We won’t see anything catastrophic in the next century if things continue at the current rate. But the melt could accelerate,” Monaghan said.

The IPCC was unable to include complete and accurate predictions of global sea rise because it did not have adequate Antarctic data. It predicted an increase of between 18 and 59 cm, Gillett said.

In January, IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri made a personal plea to scientists to step up their research on Antarctica and Greenland.

“My hope is the next [IPCC] report, if there is one, will be able to provide much better information on the possibility of these two large bodies of ice melting, in what seems like a frightening situation,” Pachauri said.

Research about warming in the Antarctic Peninsula has been building.

Earlier this year, Eric Rignot, of the University of California, reviewed satellite images from 1996 to 2000 and found that ice is definitely melting on the Antarctic Peninsula and in the West Antarctic.

West Antarctica lost about 132 billion metric tons of ice in 2006, compared with about 83 billion metric tons in 1996, Rignot said. The Antarctic Peninsula lost 60 billion metric tons in 2006.

The ice melt would have been enough to raise the world’s sea level by 0.5 mm, if not for a simultaneous ice accumulation in frigid East Antarctica, Rignot said.

Research that shows humans are causing global warming may help bolster efforts to slow the emission of greenhouse gases, primarily by the United States and China, said Meg Boyle, a climate change expert with the environmental watchdog group Greenpeace.

“In the United States, we have a small percentage of the world’s population but we produce 25 percent of the world’s global warming pollution. It is time for us to step up,” she said. She expressed hope that United States President-elect Barack Obama will be more willing to participate in global climate agreements.

(*This story was originally published by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Environment Programme and the World Bank.)


Posted on on September 9th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Arctic Oil and Gas Rush Alarms Scientists.

Stephen Leahy, IPS, from UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 8, 2008, (brought to our attention by Roberto Savio).

As greenhouse gas pollution destroys Arctic ecosystems, countries like Canada are spending millions not to halt the destruction but to exploit it.

Late last August, Canada announced a 93.7-million-dollar prospecting programme to map the energy and mineral resources of the region. There are “countless other precious resources buried under the sea ice and tundra,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said during the announcement. The government’s mapping effort is expected to trigger 469 million dollars in private sector resource exploration and development.

“It is estimated that a quarter of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas lies under the Arctic,” Harper said.

This scramble to exploit some of the most environmentally delicate regions of Earth has alarmed international experts who are meeting this week in Iceland to make recommendations to the United Nations and world governments on how to protect the polar regions.

“Many experts believe this new rush to the polar regions is not manageable within existing international law,” says A.H. Zakri, director of the United Nations University’s Yokohama-based Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), co-organisers of the conference with Iceland’s University of Akureyri.


“Pressure on Earth’s unique and highly vulnerable polar areas is mounting quickly and an internationally-agreed set of rules built on new realities appears needed to many observers,” Zakri said in a statement.

In Iceland, leading scholars will detail fast-emerging issues in international law and policy in the polar regions caused by such developments as the opening up of the Northwest Passage. They will identify priorities for law-making and research and offer their best advice to governments about what they should be doing now and in the future, said conference chair David Leary of UNU-IAS.

“Climate change is the number one issue for the polar regions. Iceland experienced its hottest day in history this summer,” Leary told IPS from Akureyri in northern Iceland. “I expect some strong recommendations on climate change to come from this meeting.”


As climate change opens the Arctic Ocean to shipping, fishing, and other resource exploitation, pollution will pose another major threat to the region, he said.

“Arctic sea routes are among the world’s most hazardous due to lack of natural light, extreme cold, moving ice floes, high wind and low visibility,” said Tatiana Saksina of the World Wildlife Fund’s International Arctic Programme.

The Arctic marine environment is particularly susceptible to the effects of pollution and cleaning up oil spills would be extremely difficult if not impossible. “Yet there are no internationally binding rules to regulate operational pollution from offshore installations,” Saksina said in a statement. “Strict standards for the transportation of Arctic oil are also urgently needed.”

Saksina also noted that overfishing, often illegal and unreported, is already occurring in the Okhotsk and Bering Seas.

Ships also bring foreign species in their ballast waters. These “invaders” can push native species into extinction and fundamentally alter aquatic ecosystems, and have done so in many parts of the world. Arctic waters are particularly vulnerable and therefore very strict standards for ballast water exchange will be needed, said Leary.

Internationally-binding standards for construction, design, equipment and manning of ships are needed since many tourist ships plying the Arctic and Antarctic are not ice ships, he says. Tourism is driving up the number of ships visiting both poles — the once-remote Antarctic region now sees more than 40,000 tourists every year.

“Accidents are going to happen. How will an oil spill be cleaned up? Who will rescue crew and passengers?” asked Leary.


Last November, a tourist ship carrying more than 150 people capsized off the tip of Antarctica after hitting some ice. Fortunately, other ships were close by and everyone was rescued. There was no oil spill. However, not all accidents will be so fortunate, he said.

“There is an urgent need for a comprehensive international environmental regime specially tailored for the unique arctic conditions,” noted the WWF’s Saksina.

The urgency stems from the reality that the ice in the Arctic is melting quickly, leaving the region without a solid-ice cover in summer starting just five years from now, according to some estimates. Without international environmental rules, unplanned and unregulated development is likely to damage the very resources most necessary for a sustainable future in the Arctic, she said.

“There is no time to waste and no reason to wait,” Saksina concluded.