from Revenge of the Tundra, in today’s Counterpunch

. . . Later that night a colleague sent me a link to a You Tube fragment: Part of a talk given by Ken Ward. The subject was climate change and the apparent structural inability of environmental, political, or societal institutions to deal with (or even acknowledge) the problem.

Ward, who toiled for decades inside major national enviro outfits, told me today that he was booked at Tufts University to give a short talk — the usual Power Point deal — as part of a panel on climate change. But, he said, “I’ve been giving 20 minute talks for 20 years,” to little effect. Driven by the emerging bad news, he chucked the canned presentation and offered a bracing and candid appraisal.

He spoke the unspeakable, telling the assembled, “I am essentially saying what everybody really kinda knows (or many people kinda know). But we have no way of saying that in public because our leadership, and our organizations, and our structure is based on raising money and being “positive” and optimistic. And we have a whole set of polls going back 20 years that say if we tell people the truth it will bum them out. So we don’t tell the truth. So as a result nobody knows what’s going on and we’re f**ked.”

The scale and rapidity of climate warming and glacial melting rapidly escalates. As forests turn from carbon sinks to carbon emitters, long-frozen methane deposits boil out of arctic seabeds and tundra, polar areas turn from reflective white to absorbent blue/ brown / green, and other “positive feedback loops” gather force, the prospect of an iceless planet begins to heave into view.

Ward cautioned that based a now easily foreseeable 3 to 4 degrees Centigrade global temperature increase, “The (resultant) amounts of sea level rise are humongous… simply beyond what civilization can sustain … losing 50 percent of species … Hollywood movie-type stuff.”

University of South Florida academic Martin Schonfeld describes the increasingly unstable ice sheet regime as “poised to lurch.” He notes the cascading sea level-rise (SLR) effects of melting the main planetary ice sheets: “West Antarctica = 19ft SLR, Greenland = 24ft SLR, East Antarctica = 170ft SLR.”

Losing all three ice shields, Schonfeld calculates, takes the oceans up 213 feet: “Think Statue of Liberty up to her neck in water.”

Can we talk?

http://www.counterpunch.com/rhames05082009.html

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