Tag Archives: permafrost

‘Wake Up Call’: Rapidly Thawing Permafrost Threatens Trans-Alaska Pipeline

“The implications of this speak to the pipeline’s integrity and the effect climate change is having on pipeline safety in general.”

By Common Dreams. Published 7-11-2021

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline going north. Photo: olekinderhook, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Alaska’s thawing permafrost is undermining the supports that hold up an elevated section of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, putting in danger the structural integrity of one of the world’s largest oil pipelines.

In a worst-case scenario, a rupture of the pipeline would result in an oil spill in a delicate and remote landscape where it would be extremely difficult to clean up. Continue reading

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‘This Is Climate Denial’: Biden Goes to Bat for Massive Alaska Drilling Project Approved Under Trump

“Burning that oil would create nearly 260 million metric tons of CO2 emissions—about the equivalent of what is produced by 66 coal-fired power plants.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-27-2021

A map showing the location of the Willow Master Development Plan. Graphic: Bureau of Land Management

The Biden administration is facing backlash from climate activists and scientists after filing a court brief Wednesday in defense of a major Trump-era Alaska drilling project that’s expected to produce up to 160,000 barrels of oil a day over a 30-year period—a plan that runs directly counter to the White House’s stated goal of slashing U.S. carbon emissions.

“This is a complete denial of reality,” said Jean Flemma, director of the Ocean Defense Initiative and former senior policy adviser for the House Natural Resources Committee. “The project is expected to produce about 590 million barrels of oil. Burning that oil would create nearly 260 million metric tons of CO2 emissions—about the equivalent of what is produced by 66 coal-fired power plants.” Continue reading

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Humans May Have Passed the ‘Point of No Return’ in Climate Crisis, Says Study—But That Doesn’t Mean All Hope Is Lost

In order to roll back catastrophic carbon emissions, humans must “start developing the technologies for large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere,” says one of the study’s lead authors.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-12-2020

Melting permafrost in Canada’s Northwest Territories sends carbon-rich sediment into the Mackenzie Delta. (Photo: Charles Tarnocai/Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

Humanity may have passed the “point of no return” in the climate crisis—even if everyone on the planet stopped emitting all greenhouse gases at this very moment, according to a study published Thursday.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed British publication Scientific Journals, alarmingly asserts that “the world is already past a point of no return for global warming” and that the only way to halt the catastrophic damage caused by greenhouse emissions is to extract “enormous amounts of carbon dioxide… from the atmosphere.” Continue reading

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‘Demented’: Oil Giant Refreezing Rapidly Melting Permafrost So It Can Keep Climate-Killing Arctic Drilling Alive

The effort represented such “mindless idiocy” for many that 350.org ran a “help us out with this caption” contest in response.

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-19-2020

An oil pipeline stretches across the landscape outside Prudhoe Bay in North Slope borough, Alaska. “New absurdities from Big Oil,” said the Energy Watch Group, which advocates for renewable energy, in response to the reporting. “What do you do when the Arctic is melting, threatening your drilling infrastructure—but you really don’t want to stop drilling? Right, cooling the ground beneath the infrastructure and keep on drilling.” (Photo illustration: Original by Bonnie Jo Mount/via Getty Images/with overlay)

Reporting out Monday detailing how oil giant ConocoPhilips’ obsession with drilling in the arctic regions of Alaska is so intense that it has devised ways to artificially freeze rapidly melting permafrost to maintain its drilling operations has climate campaigners howling over the ironic—and destructive—absurdity of the situation.

According to journalist Nat Herz, reporting for the Guardian with support of Fund for Environmental Journalism (FEJ), “ConocoPhillips had a problem” as it continued to drill for oil and gas beyond the Arctic Circle: Continue reading

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‘Warning Sign of Major Proportions’: Number of Siberian Forest Fires Increase Fivefold in Week Since Record High Temperature

“The Arctic is figuratively and literally on fire.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-27-2020

This photo taken on Friday, June 19, 2020 and provided by ECMWF Copernicus Climate Change Service shows the land surface temperature in the Siberia region of Russia. (Image: ECMWF Copernicus Climate Change Service/AP)

The number of fires in the vast north Asian region of Siberia increased fivefold this week, according to the Russian forest fire aerial protection service, as temperatures in the Arctic continued higher than normal in the latest sign of the ongoing climate crisis.

The news of the increase comes a week after the small Siberian town of Verkhoyansk reported a high temperature of 100.4° F on June 20, a reading that, if confirmed, would mark the hottest day ever recorded in the region. Continue reading

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A military perspective on climate change could bridge the gap between believers and doubters

A soldier stands guard at the damaged entrance to Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida, Oct. 11, 2018, after Hurricane Michael. AP Photo/David Goldman

Michael Klare, Hampshire College

As experts warn that the world is running out of time to head off severe climate change, discussions of what the U.S. should do about it are split into opposing camps. The scientific-environmental perspective says global warming will cause the planet severe harm without action to slow fossil fuel burning. Those who reject mainstream climate science insist either that warming is not occurring or that it’s not clear human actions are driving it.

With these two extremes polarizing the American political arena, climate policy has come to a near standstill. But as I argue in my new book,“All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change,” the U.S. armed forces offer a third perspective that could help bridge the gap. Continue reading

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Deep Trouble for Arctic and Beyond: NOAA Climate Report Warns of Feedback Loop That ‘May Already Be Underway’

“If this were an annual health check-up, I think we’d have to say that the Arctic is chronically sick and getting worse.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-11-2019

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 14th annual Arctic Report Card includes a section that features commentary from Indigenous Peoples living along the Bering Sea. (Photo: NOAA/YouTube)

In addition to warning that “the feedback to accelerating climate change may already be underway,” the U.S. government’s latest report on conditions in the Arctic reveals that temperatures in the region are persistently warming, leading to land and sea ice melting, permafrost thawing, species being threatened with extinction, and putting Native communities at risk.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday published its 14th annual Arctic Report Card (pdf), which warns that “the Arctic marine ecosystem and the communities that depend upon it continue to experience unprecedented changes as a result of warming air temperatures, declining sea ice, and warming waters.” Continue reading

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UN Climate Report on Oceans, Frozen Regions Warns ‘Unprecedented Transitions in All Aspects of Society’ Needed to Sustain Life on Earth

Describing scientists’ latest warnings as “chilling and compelling,” environmentalists called for “enacting radical policies” that protect marine ecosystems and fully phase out fossil fuels.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-25-2019

An iceberg floats in Disko Bay, near Ilulissat, Greenland, on July 24, 2015. (Photo: Saskia Madlener/NASA/Flickr/cc)

A landmark United Nations climate report published Wednesday details the observed and anticipated future impacts of planet-heating emissions from human activity on the world’s oceans and frozen zones—and warns of the emerging consequences for humanity, marine ecosystems, and the global environment.

The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) is a product of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a U.N. body that assesses the latest science related to the human-caused climate crisis. It follows recent IPCC reports on the consequences of 1.5°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels and the necessity of reforming land use practices worldwide. Continue reading

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‘The Changes Are Really Accelerating’: Alaska at Record Warm While Greenland Sees Major Ice Melt

“The numbers needing relocation will grow, the costs are going up, and people’s lives and cultural practices will be impacted.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-14-2019

The Sawyer Glacier in Alaska, July 2016. The Arctic is enduring unprecedented warming this year, affecting Alaska and Greenland specifically. (Photo: Ian Keating, Flickr)

The climate crisis is rapidly warming the Arctic, and the effects are being felt from Alaska to Greenland.

The northernmost point on the planet is heating up more quickly than any other region in the world. The reason for this warming is ice–albedo feedback: as ice melts it opens up land and sea to the sun, which then absorb more heat that would have been bounced off by the ice, leading to more warming. It’s a vicious circle of warmth that’s changing the environment at the north pole.

In Alaska, the crisis led this year to the warmest spring on record for the state; one city, Akiak, may turn into an island due to swelling riverbanks and erosion exacerbated by thawing permafrost and ice melt. Massachusetts-based Woods Hole Research Center scientist Susan Natali told The Guardian that what’s happening in Akiak is just an indicator of the danger posed to Alaska by the climate crisis. Continue reading

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Thawing Permafrost Emitting Higher Levels of Potent Greenhouse Gas Than Previously Thought: Study

Nitrous oxide is nearly 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-16-2019

Point Barrow, the northern-most location in the United States sits between the Chukchi Sea (west) and the Beaufort Sea on the east. (Photo: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team/Flickr)

As the Arctic enters an “unprecedented” state of warming, a new study shows that emissions of a potent greenhouse gas from thawing permafrost in the planet’s northernmost region may be 12 times higher than previously thought.

That’s according to a study published this month in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. The paper’s findings add even more weight to scientists’ urgent warnings about the mounting threats of permafrost thaw. Continue reading

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