China, Pursuing Strategic Interests, Builds Presence in Antarctica

One of our Indian team members today shared an interesting and worrisome article about China’s assumed ambitions to extract resources on Antarctica.  The article refers to the Antarctic Treaty, and how it now still protects the Antarctic Continent.  In 2048 however, this treaty may not be renewed which will leave this beautiful continent unprotected against exploration.  A very disturbing vista…

May 4, 2015 – published on the website NDTV.com

China, Pursuing Strategic Interests, Builds Presence in Antarctica

China, Pursuing Strategic Interests, Builds Presence in Antarctica

File Photo: View of China’s military base in the King George island in Antarctica. (Agence France-Presse)

Hobart, Tasmania:  Few places seem out of reach for China’s leader, Xi Jinping, who has traveled from European capitals to obscure Pacific and Caribbean islands in pursuit of his nation’s strategic interests.

So perhaps it was not surprising when he turned up last fall in this city on the edge of the Southern Ocean to put down a long-distance marker in another faraway region, Antarctica, 2,000 miles south of this Australian port.

Standing on the deck of an icebreaker that ferries Chinese scientists from this last stop before the frozen continent, Xi pledged that China would continue to expand in one of the few places on earth that remain unexploited by humans.

Read the entire article on the website of NDTV.com

 

Gigantic Antarctic Ice Shelf About to Break Off

This weekend several media reported about the impending rupture of a gigantic ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula.  Satellite images leave no doubt. A huge chunk of ice as big as North and South Holland combined, is about to break off from the Larsen C Ice Shelf at the South Pole. A clear signal of the thermometer of the planet.

Barbara Debusschere wrote in de Volkskrant:

A huge ice sheet as big as North and South Holland threatens to tear off from the part of Antarctica that is hanging in the sea. Alarming. We did not expect that global warming would already affect the largest ice shelfs,say researchers.

The gigantic chunk of ice that is about to break off is part of theLarsen CIce Shelf, the largest plate in the eastern part of the Antarctic Peninsula. Larsen C is an extension of the ice cap on land and has been there for thousands of years, possibly even a hundred thousand. All that time it was never subject to this type of decay.

Satellite Images

But based on satellite images British and German glaciologists show that one crack in a short time has become so large that it is now inevitable that a huge piece breaks off” – so they write in the journal The Cryosphere. In the least severe scenario 4,600 square kilometers will disappear in the sea, while in another 6,400 square kilometers. It means that the ice sheet loses respectively nine to twelve percent of its surface, good for an area as large as North and South Holland combined.

And that is disturbing. The breaking up of ice shelves pulls an important ‘plug’ from the glaciers of Antarctica. The ice shelf works like a brake’ without which the glaciers slide into the sea accelerated, which makes the sea level rise. In 2002, the smaller Larsen B Ice Shelf already disintegrated, which meant that the glaciers were no longer held back by the ice and flocked into the sea upto eight times fasterand the sea level did rise. This effect can also be expected on the Larsen C Ice Shelf.

Stability

The stability of the entire Larsen C Ice Shelf is now threatened. The researchers warn explicitly for this. “When this piece breaks off, the front of the ice shelf becomes unstable, and risks to collapse completely. That would be dramatic because then all glaciers in this area would slide into the sea very rapidly,” says Michiel van den Broeke, Professor of Polar Meteorology (University of Utrecht) and not involved in the research.

When the large piece breaks off, Larsen C will be smaller than ever since the last ice age. “A clear signal that things are heating up,” says Van den Broeke. “Larsen C is hundreds of meters thick. But now it warms up from two sides: through the warmer air and through the warmer seawater.” Since the eighties, experts see that as a result of this in the Antarctic Peninsula and West Antarctica, the warmest areas of Antarctica, more and more ice shelves are thinning or breaking down, and that because of this also the land ice is losing mass. Van den Broeke: “That even the Larsen C Ice Shelf, which is five times larger than the Larsen B Ice Shelf that already disappeared, now already no longer withstands the global warming, is unexpected. A clear signal of the thermometer of the planet.

Larsen C breaking off

The article by Barbara Debusschere – in Dutch – can be read on the webpages of de Volkskrant – please click here.

 

A visualization of how the ice shelf rupture impacts glaciers:

Glacier-ice_shelf_interactions_svg

For NASA report and images of the Larsen B Ice Shelf collapse in 2002: go here.

Climate Change at the World Economic Forum 2015

Last week, the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum was held in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. Even though climate change was one of the top priorities on the agenda, with beautiful quotes, only a fraction of CEOs worldwide – a humble 6% – say governments should make combating climate change a top priority – according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey of more than 1,300 CEOs from 77 countries worldwide released a day before the start of the WEF.

Among public policy priorities for 2015, nearly two-thirds of CEOs told researchers they want lawmakers to focus primarily on reducing taxes and providing access to skilled workers. Far fewer said they want government to focus on investing in public infrastructure, and just a fraction — 6 percent — said they think combating or mitigating the effects of climate change should be a government priority.  –  Read the whole article on the website of the International Business Times

Insurance companies seem to be far more aware of the impact of climate change – which is already costing billions of dollars. For insurance companies climate change is a top priority since several years and not a far-away, long-term risk. Where the risks of climate change are still ignored by many companies to the advantage of what seem more urgent, short-term challenges, insurance companies are ‘greening’, out of necessity. Read more on the website of Science Daily.

24 Quotes on Climate Change from Davos 2015 – By Ian Sanders

World Economic Forum

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations

  • “Growth has freed millions of people from poverty and hunger… but growth is also associated with pollution and an increase in emissions.”
  • “Climate change has happened because of human behaviour, therefore it’s only natural it should be us, human beings, to address this issue. It may not be too late if we take decisive actions today.”
  • “We are the first generation that can end poverty and the last generation that can take steps to avoid the worst impact of climate change. Future generations will judge us harshly if we fail to uphold our moral and historical responsibilities.”
  • “It’s not only government. Government cannot do it alone. The UN cannot do it alone. There should be full partnership… then we should have civil society coming together. Even one normal citizen – they have a role to play.”
  • “All these policies should be people centered – without people they are meaningless.”

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

  • “It’s a collective endeavour, it’s collective accountability and it may not be too late.”
  • “At this point in time, it’s macro critical, it’s people critical, it’s planet critical.”
  • “As I said two years ago, we are at risk of being grilled, fried and toasted.”

Jim Yong Kim, President, The World Bank

  • “We have to have a plan equal to the challenge… we need to think about how we bring public and private together to achieve these goals.”
  • “We need to change the relationship between growth and poverty in a way that has a bigger impact.”
  • “We have to wake up to the fierce urgency of the now.”

Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever

  • “Tackling climate change is closely linked to poverty alleviation and economic development; I would call them different sides of the same coin.”
  • “We need sustainability – this is a planet that needs to be around for generations to come.”
  • “The first thing we need from the business community, and the business leaders themselves, is commitment. If you’re not committed, you’re more destructive at the table than if you’re really committed and you want to solve it.”
  • “At the end of the day we are talking about a moral framework, we are talking about opportunities not for us, but for people who can’t be here  – do you want to be the one that misses that opportunity?”
  • “If you’re not yet involved – get involved, if you are involved, simply give it a bit more.”

Michael Spence, William R. Berkley Professor in Economics and Business, NYU Stern School of Business, Italy

  • “I’m very encouraged, this year has been a turnaround… I think humanity is on board.”
  • “We have a choice: between a energy-efficient low carbon path and an energy-intensive high carbon path, which at an unknown point of time ends catastrophically. This doesn’t seem like a very hard choice.”
  • “We have to go very quickly… we have a window of a very small number of years… after which we cannot win the battle to mitigate fast enough to meet the safety goals… if this year goes badly it would be a massive missed opportunity.”
  • “This is the chance to do something we’ve never done before, to come together in a process of top down agreement, and bottom up energy, creativity and commitment. It will be a moral victory.”

Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda

  • “We must involve everybody, and involving everybody means equality as well. Women in Rwanda represent 52% of the population. You can’t keep 52% of the population out of meaningful economic activity, that’s not intelligent.”
  • “We are not making a choice between environment and prosperity; but we are rather looking at how we combine both.”
  • “We have put in place policies, that every activity – whether it’s education, agriculture or health – we have integrated aspects of our environment.”
  • “Everyone is talking about the urgency – that is a big step in itself. The next big step is we need to do it.”

Read the article on the WEF website…

The World Economic Forum Global Risks 2015 Report can be downloaded here.

 

 

NASA Facts about Climate Change … with Compelling Photographs

Icemelt_Alaska_McCarthy_Glacier-s
July 30, 1909                                                          August 11, 2004

McCarty Glacier melt, Alaska – 1909 picture taken by Ulysses Sherman Grant. 2004 picture taken by Bruce F. Molnia. Source: Glacier Photograph Collection, National Snow and Ice Data Center/World Data Center for Glaciology.


FROM NASA’S WEBPAGES ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change is real, and the current warming trend is alarming because it is most likely human-induced and developing at a rate unprecedented in the past.

The Earth’s climate has changed throughout history. In the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives.

Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree that the current climate-warming trends are very likely due to human activities.

The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated already in the mid-19th century. Carbon dioxide levels have increased tremendously since the 1950’s.


Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.

The evidence for rapid climate change is compelling:

  1. Sea level rise
  2. Global temperature rise
  3. Warming oceans
  4. Shrinking ice sheets
  5. Declining Arctic sea ice
  6. Glacial retreat
  7. Extreme weather events
  8. Ocean acidification
  9. Decreased snow cover


IMAGES OF CHANGE

An astonishing series of images of change can be found on NASA’s website – click here.


Pine Island Glacier calving, Antarctica

Pine_Island_Glacier_1920x1200
October 28, 2013                                                   November 13, 2013

An iceberg estimated to be 35 by 20 kilometers (22 by 12 miles) separated from Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier between November 9 and 11, 2013. Such events happen about every five or six years but this iceberg, designated “B-31,” is about 50 percent larger than its predecessors in this area. A team of scientists from Sheffield and Southampton universities will track the 700 square-kilometer chunk of ice and try to predict its path using satellite data.

Images taken by the Operational Land Imager onboard Landsat 8. Source: NASA Earth Observatory.


Muir Glacier melt, Alaska

Icemelt1
1882                                                                         August 11, 2005

1882 photo taken by G.D. Hazard; 2005 photo taken by Bruce F. Molnia. Courtesy of the Glacier Photograph Collection, National Snow and Ice Data Center/World Data Center for Glaciology.


Solar power growth, Spain

Andasol_1920x1200
September 5, 1987                                                September 11, 2013

In March 2009, Andasol-1 in southern Spain became the first solar thermal collector station in Europe. Andasol-2 and Andasol-3 were added in 2009 and 2011. In contrast to photovoltaic systems, these parabolic trough power plants store the sun’s energy in a “heat reservoir” of molten salt and generate electricity for up to 200,000 people via thermal turbines. Water from the nearby Sierra Nevada mountain range cools the system.

Images taken by the Thematic Mapper onboard Landsat 5 and the Operational Land Imager onboard Landsat 8. Source: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Landsat Missions Gallery “Andasol Solar Power Stations,” U.S. Department of the Interior / USGS and NASA.

Join Heroic Explorers

The history of Antarctica emerges from early Western theories that a vast continent, known as Terra Australis, should exist in the far south of the globe. European explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries started the exploration of the Southern hemisphere and their travels gave rise to the assumption of the existence of another, undiscovered continent to the south of the known world. In the 17th century it was proven that there was this continent surrounded by sea – a continent in its own right.  Only in the 18th century, was the Antarctic Circle first crossed.

Join one of below circles of heroic explorers by sponsoring the IAE 2015 – sponsor levels upon request.

 

‘JAMES COOK CIRCLE’
cook-circle Captain James Cook, FRS, RN (7 November 1728 – 14 February 1779) was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. Cook’s second expedition (1772-1775) circumnavigated the globe at an extreme southern latitude. Captain Cook became one of the first to cross the Antarctic Circle on 17 January 1773.
‘ERNEST SHACKLETON CIRCLE’
Shackleton Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton, CVO, OBE, FRGS (15 February 1874 – 5 January 1922) was a polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic, and one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. He and his team reached their Farthest South point at 88°23’S, a mere 97 nautical miles (180 km) from the pole, on 9 January 1909. The increase of more than six degrees south from Robert F. Scott’s previous record was the greatest extension of Farthest South since Captain Cook’s 1773 mark.
‘ROBERT F. SCOTT CIRCLE’
captain-scott Captain Robert Falcon Scott, CVO, RN (6 June 1868 – c. 29 March 1912) was a British Royal Navy officer and explorer who led two expeditions to the Antarctic regions: the Discovery Expedition, 1901–04, and the ill-fated Terra Nova Expedition, 1910–13. On the first expedition, he set a new southern record by marching to latitude 82°S and discovered the Polar Plateau, on which the South Pole is located. During the second venture, Scott led a party of five which reached the South Pole on 17 January 1912, only to find that they had been preceded by Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian expedition. On their return journey, Scott’s party discovered plant fossils, proving Antarctica was once forested and joined to other continents.
‘ROALD AMUNDSEN CIRCLE’
amundsen
Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen (16 July 1872 – c. 18 June 1928) was a Norwegian explorer of polar regions. He led the Antarctic expedition (1910–12) that was the first to reach the South Pole, on 14 December 1911. He was among the key expedition leaders, including Douglas Mawson, Robert Falcon Scott, and Ernest Shackleton, during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

Source: … Wikipedia!

Robert Swan 2041 Expedition Film

What is the International Antarctic Expedition about?  It is about inspiring and informing young leaders to return to their societies as ambassadors for Antarctica and a sustainable future.

Watch the expedition film by Robert Swan and 2041, to understand what the IAE is all about. It is amazing…!

 

How New Collaborations are Enabling the Change

Yesterday I attended the New Year’s Reception of De Baak, a leading Insitute for Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Personal Development where leadership, organizational and business development are embedded in the guiding principles of a sustainable society. Klaas Knot, President of De Nederlandsche Bank, addressed the audience and in his keynote shared his optimistic perspectives on the recovery of the Dutch economy. One of his key messages: creative collaborations are making us stronger and hold a promise for the future.

Mr. Knot referred to a beautiful example of such collaboration: the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle track that was developed in a partnership between Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde and Heijmans N.V., a major European construction-services business with Dutch-based headquarters.

 

Van-Gogh-Roosegaarde-2

The Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle track in Nuenen (NL) was opened on
November 12, 2014.

 

The cycle path, with a design inspired by van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ is made of thousands of twinkling stones, coated with photo-luminescent paint, that gather light energy during the day and glow at night. Solar-powered LED’s help to light some of the bends in the path on nights when the stones haven’t been able to absorb enough sunlight. The intensity of the glow was balanced so that it does not disturb the natural habitat of animals and at the same time makes streetlights superfluous.

 

van-gogh-starry-night