Loss of Arctic sea ice ‘70% man-made’
Study finds only 30% of radical loss of summer sea ice is due to natural variability in Atlantic – and it will probably get worse.
The radical decline in sea ice around the Arctic is at least 70% due to human-induced climate change, according to a new study, and may even be up to 95% down to humans – rather higher than scientists had previously thought.
The loss of ice around the Arctic has adverse effects on wildlife and also opens up new northern sea routes and opportunities to drill for oil and gas under the newly accessible sea bed.
The reduction has been accelerating since the 1990s and many scientists believe the Arctic may become ice-free in the summers later this century, possibly as early as the late 2020s.
“Since the 1970s, there’s been a 40% decrease in the summer sea ice extent,” said Jonny Day, a climate scientist at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, who led the latest study.
[Photo credit: AlaskaStock/Corbis]
We deserve better from our federal regulators:
New Pipeline Safety Regulations Won’t Apply to Keystone XL
Proposed federal rules to strengthen pipeline safety won’t be in place before construction could begin on the Keystone XL or other new dilbit pipelines.
WASHINGTON—Efforts to beef up oversight of the nation’s oil pipelines are progressing so slowly that it’s unlikely any additional safeguards will be in place before construction begins on thousands of miles of new pipelines, including the proposed Keystone XL.
Part of the delay stems from how slowly the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)—the federal agency with the authority to issue new regulations—is moving on its rulemaking process. For instance, PHMSA began examining at least six safety regulations in October 2010, three months after a ruptured pipeline spilled more than 1 million gallons of oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. None of those changes is in effect nearly two years later.
Congress’s latest pipeline safety bill, which was signed into law in January, did little to speed up the process.
[Photo credit: Terry Heatlie, NOAA]
Powerful reminders to protect our planet on the anniversary of Kalamazoo
Coming off of the freakish extreme weather across the country the past several months, people are anxious for a break from the punishing weather and looking forward to a calmer July. Climate scientists, meanwhile, haven’t provided much solace on this front, amplifying warnings that the recent spate of brutal weather foreshadows the local effects of global climate change. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration strengthened this argument recently by noting that the odds of the ongoing record heat wave occurring randomly may be as small as 1 in 1,594,323.
Here’s another important statistic, though, also intimately related to our changing climate: 1,148,229. That’s how many gallons of oil the EPA estimates it has recovered from the Kalamazoo River in Michigan after an Enbridge tar sands oil pipeline ruptured in July 2010. The spill nearly reached the Great Lakes and was the largest and most expensive onshore oil spill in US history. Curiously, Enbridge maintains that the pipeline only ever leaked 877,000 gallons, so how the EPA managed to recover an unspilled 271,299 gallons remains a mystery. Nevertheless, July 25 will mark the two-year anniversary of the Kalamazoo tar sands oil spill. While all but one section of the Kalamazoo river has been re-opened to the public, clean-up and remediation along the impacted river will continue, even in the opened areas. Property values and the local community have been decimated, while residents near the epicenter of the disaster in Marshall, Michigan, are still sick from the spill’s toxins, experiencing seizures, unexplained rashes, headaches and memory loss.
[Image credit: Greenpeace]
Enbridge saw crack 5 years before Kalamazoo River oil spill
WASHINGTON – The chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board this morning said Enbridge Energy Partners detected the defect that led to a massive oil spill in south-central Michigan five years before it occurred, but failed to do anything about it.
Opening a hearing on the pipeline spill near Marshall in July 2010, NTSB Chairwoman Deborah A.P. Hersman said an investigation into the rupture of the 30-inch pipeline revealed several concerns, including a lack of regulatory oversight and a delay on the part of Enbridge to respond to the spill led to “significant” environmental damage.
She also said that at the time of the spill, Enbridge’s closest oil spill response contractor was out of state and more than 10 hours away.
[Photo of booms collecting oil on the Kalamazoo river, image credit: Andre Jackson / DFP]