Thomas Homer-Dixon

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Standing on the deck of this floating laboratory for Arctic science, which is part of Canada’s Coast Guard fleet and one of the world’s most powerful icebreakers, I can see vivid evidence of climate change. Channels through the Canadian Arctic archipelago that were choked with ice at this time of year two decades ago are now expanses of open water or vast patchworks of tiny islands of melting ice.

In 1994, the “Louie,” as the crew calls the ship, and a United States Coast Guard icebreaker, the Polar Sea, smashed their way to the North Pole through thousands of miles of pack ice six- to nine-feet thick.…  Seguir leyendo »

To the relief of climate scientists around the world, it appears that the polar ice cap hasn’t shrunk as much this summer as it did last summer.

The ice cap usually reaches its smallest extent around now, and although the total area of ice in September fluctuates from year to year, in the last two decades it has generally declined, probably because of carbon-driven global warming. Last year, the ice cap shrank at a record-breaking pace; at its minimum it was almost 39 percent smaller than the average from 1979 to 2000. This year it’s down about 33 percent.

A couple of years’ rapid melting may be a random event.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Arctic ice cap melted this summer at a shocking pace, disappearing at a far higher rate than predicted by even the most pessimistic experts in global warming. But we shouldn’t be shocked, because scientists have long known that major features of earth’s interlinked climate system of air and water can change abruptly.

A big reason such change happens is feedback — not the feedback that you’d like to give your boss, but the feedback that creates a vicious circle. This type of feedback in our global climate could determine humankind’s future prosperity and even survival.

The vast expanse of ice floating on the surface of the Arctic Ocean always recedes in the summer, reaching its lowest point sometime in September.…  Seguir leyendo »

Does climate change threaten international peace and security? The British government thinks it does. As this month’s head of the United Nations Security Council, Britain convened a debate on the matter last Tuesday. One in four United Nations member countries joined the discussion — a record for this kind of thematic debate.

Countries rich and poor, large and small, and from all continents — Bangladesh, Ghana, Japan, Mexico, much of Europe and, most poignantly, a large number of small island states endangered by rising seas — recognized the security implications of climate change. Some other developing countries — Brazil, Cuba and India and most of the biggest producers of fossil fuels and carbon dioxide, including China, Qatar and Russia — either questioned the very idea of such a link or argued that the Security Council is not the right place to talk about it.…  Seguir leyendo »