The point of no return


(Pierre-Henry Deshayes/AFP/Getty Images)

So that’s it, then.

Global warming may have passed the “tipping point,” according to some scientists who have just released data showing the Arctic summer ice has reached its highest level of melting ever, and may be gone entirely by 2012. It was just three years ago that scientists calculated the ice would disappear in the summer of 2060. Whoops.

Tipping point: “the critical point in an evolving situation that leads to a new and irreversible development.”

Tomorrow (Thursday), James E. Hansen, who directs NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, will tell scientists at the American Geophysical Union scientific convention in San Francisco that “in some ways Earth has hit one of his so-called tipping points, based on Greenland melt data.”

Scientists, who have struggled to give us a sense of urgency on global warming issues, have now given us a new tipping point: hopelessness.

When the ice melts in the summer in the Arctic, we’re told, there’s no surge of Canadian air to collide over Minnesota with the warm air from the Gulf of Mexico and, so, it doesn’t rain anymore.

It’s not like we can just all make an extra tray of ice cubes for the Arctic, or turn off a light, or even wait for progress from Bali.

If we’ve reached the point of no return, what exactly are we supposed to do about it, other than laugh and wait for it?

  • pcomeau

    hmm… wonder how that’s going to affect the gulf stream?

    In other words.. thanks to global warming, Europe could end up with a much colder climate…

    The real issue (from my point of view) is that idiots are still dickering over whether or not global warming exists as opposed to researching best options to stop it. Heck we don’t even know if the Kyoto treaty is a good call as it was more driven by politicians than scientists…

    Next up evolution (like gravity) is just a theory.

  • cee

    Does any of this add up to Minnesota having any beach front property soon?

  • Bob Collins

    I have to admit that when I hear things like 2060, I do some quick math and figure, “well, at least I won’t be alive.” I hear 2012 and there’s no math to do. When things are “farther out,” it becomes more a theoretical discussion.