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Tales of Sandwiches, Ice, and Oceans

June 10, 2009

Yesterday I attended a two hour side-event on melting arctic ice and today I attended one on climate change effects on the ocean. I really hadn’t planned to go to the latter, but there was a free lunch for anyone who attended. I planned to take a lunch and then go to a different session, but when I grabbed a sandwich, a delegate glared at me and said,

“HEY! Are you going to this oceans session?” I lied and said yes. Then I felt like I needed to stick around until the start and quietly slip out. Then I felt bad for lying, so I stayed.

The arctic ice presentation was made by Dr. David Carlson, who reported on projects from the International Polar Year (IPY). Dr. Carlson reported that the sea ice melting rate was faster than projected, which made sense because our emission rates are greater than those in  the model. Instead of predicting an ice-free arctic summer for 2050, there is a “probability that summer sea ice disappears before 2040, with the possibility that it disappears before 2015.” Whether it happens in two years or fifty years, it’s not good.

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The Role of Oceans on Climate Change was also interesting. The panel largely focused on the 520 million people who rely on fisheries for their livelihoods and how changes to the ocean was making it harder for those people to make a living. They handed out a map showing that 2/3 of the most vulnerable peoples are in the least developed countries.

The chief delegate from Palau described his personal story as an islander affected by climate change. When he told of  his grandfather teaching him that being a Palau means taking care of the island, everyone was caught up in the speech. Then a loud, salsa ring-tone interrupted, and we awoke to the rain outside and what was next on the schedule. It rang three more times. And so it goes.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Kasey permalink
    June 21, 2009 7:48 pm

    Why wouldn’t you want to go to the oceans session? Oceans are so neat! I’ve been learning tons about sea ice and ocean circulation and such so I’m well convinced that oceans are huge in climate change. Also, it is clearly important if they offer free lunch.

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