Is the Arctic Melt Going to Cost Us Dearly?
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  • John Stephens

    Clearly MASSIVE expansions of government power and spending are in order! Can’t these people find some new excuse for pillaging the taxpayers? Their lack of imagination is becoming an embarrassment.

    • Andrew Allison

      The real embarrassment is the relentless hyping of the excuse du jour for the failure of increased CO2 to bring an end to life as we know it, or even to increase global temperature for the past 16 years. Given the collapse of the “settled science”, unproven hypotheses such as this (along with ocean warming, aerosols, etc.) should, as Prof. Mead points out, be treated with skepticism. There has yet to be a climate model which actually models climate.

  • Corlyss

    Remind me again why we should believe ANY of these predictions?

    • klem

      Can’t anymore, since none have been correct so far.

  • Anthony

    “What we really need is more research and less sensationalizing” as well as less partisanship… This is an important story and healthy skepticism is in line with science tenets.

  • Mark Michael

    Dr. Judith Curry posted about this study on her website. See:

    http://judithcurry.com/2013/07/25/arctic-time-bomb/

    DR. JUDITH CURRY’S QUOTE – last paragraphs of the post:

    Melting of the Arctic Sea Ice

    Climate Dialogue has an excellent post on Melting of the Arctic Sea Ice, which includes essays by myself, Walt Meiers and Ron Lindsay, as well as an extended summary by the moderators. If you haven’t visited this discussion, I encourage you to do so. I was the nominal skeptic in the bunch, but the disagreement among us wasn’t all that large. None of the three subscribed to the ‘spiral of death’ scenerio whereby an ice free arctic is plausibly ice free within a few years.

    With regards to climate models, there is a new paper by Jiping Liu in PNAS that infers from CMIP5 climate model simulations that the Arctic will be ice free in September by around 2054-58. Liu et al. selected the climate model runs that agreed most closely with the observed sea ice decline. So even the climate models with a CO2 sensitivity that is arguably too high don’t predict an imminent ice free Arctic.

    Methane hydrates and contemporary climate change

    Given the dire consequences of a major methane gas release triggered by ongoing warming the latest science now says that such a release of methane will not happen for several hundred years. Nature has a paper by Carolyn Ruppel entitled Methane hydrates and contemporary climate change. From the conclusion:

    Catastrophic, widespread dissociation of methane gas hydrates will not be triggered by continued climate warming at contemporary rates (0.2ºC per decade; IPCC 2007) over timescales of a few hundred years. Most of Earth’s gas hydrates occur at low saturations and in sediments at such great depths below the seafloor or onshore permafrost that they will barely be affected by warming over even 1000 yr. Even when CH4 is liberated from gas hydrates, oxidative and physical processes may greatly reduce the amount that reaches the atmosphere as CH4.

    JC comment: The plausibility of Wadhams’ scenario rests on two assumptions:

    the ‘spiral of death’ loss of arctic sea ice

    connection of the sea ice loss to a massive release of methane hydrates into the atmosphere on the time scale of a decade

    Each of these assumptions is highly implausible, based upon my understanding; the combination of these two assumptions into a single scenario seems impossible to me.

  • If, as these authors claim, the pace of arctic melting is going to increase dramatically over the next couple of decades, then we should
    expect the costs *and* the benefits to increase as well.

    The worst thing about these scientists’ study isn’t even their $60 trillion estimate of the costs, but their non-existent estimate of the benefits of arctic melting. On the last page of the study, the authors throw in this gem of a disclaimer:

    “To find out the actual cost, better models are needed to incorporate feedbacks that are not included in [the study] such as […] estimates of the economic costs and benefits of shipping.”

    The disclaimer itself is a half-truth; in fact, they never use their climate model to calculate *any* of the benefits that would accrue from accelerated arctic melting, not just those related to shipping.

    It is intellectually dishonest (and more than a little unethical, given the public’s blind faith in scientists) to claim that “costs will outstrip any benefits by three or more orders of magnitude,” when you have not, as a matter of fact, conducted a cost-benefit
    analysis.

    • klem

      Exactly, its not the cost of something that is important, its the net. We hear claims that green projects will create 1000’s of jobs, but they never say how many jobs it will kill. Its the net that counts.
      The melting arctic might correctly cost $60 trillion but if it generates $61 trillion in new business then we have a net benefit. They never mention the net, though the net is really the only number that counts.

  • Kavanna

    The right answer is already there: the Arctic melting is regional — not “global” warming — and mainly due to soot from east Asia. The soot lows the albedo (reflectivity) of the ice, which then absorbs more sunlight.

    The solution is implied in the answer and requires no apocalyptic scenarios.

    • klem

      You know what’s weird, when snow has been piled up at the far end of parking lots. Every year I watch it and observe the same thing; The dirtiest blackest pile of snow is the one which melts last. This is not supposed to happen.

  • lukelea

    See Lubos Motl for the “science” behind this article: http://motls.blogspot.com/2013/07/arctic-methane-bubbles-will-destroy-12.html

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