September 14th, 2007

Summer 2007 — Stunning Record Loss of Arctic Sea Ice!

On Friday the 17th of August, 2007, a news report on NPR revealed that the extent of the Arctic sea ice had, surprisingly, just reached a new all-time low extent (area), a full six weeks ahead of the expected seasonal minimum, meaning that the low ice extent for 2007 would be a record low by a wide margin.

But today, the European Space Agency has reported that the Arctic sea ice has reached an extent of approximately only 3 Million square kilometers, down from a previous low of about 4 Million square kilometers in 2005 and 2006! And the peak loss is yet to come. This sudden and catastrophic loss of sea ice is yet another example of climate change spiraling forward rapidly, far beyond the expectations of climate scientists and glaciologists. This reduction in a single year is ten times the average annual reduction over the last 10 years.

The absence of the Earth's vast, white mirror on the top of the planet during the sunny summer is more and more causing utterly vast amounts of solar heat to be absorbed and retained by the Earth's surface and lower atmosphere that should be bouncing back harmlessly into space. The weather in the temperate latitudes depends in large extent on the weather in the Arctic and the weather in the Tropics, and the interchange of heat between the two. Our own weather is being broken, and fast.

The Northwest Passage is now fully open, for the first time in history.

This means that the volume of the Arctic sea ice is now only about 33 to 40% of what it was on this date in 1979.

So here is a useful tip for today: if you are a PG&E customer (Northern California utility), sign up for their new ClimateSmart program, which allows them to take your money (on average only $5/month) and to purchase offsets in a tightly verified way, to make your house carbon neutral. This works out to a very low price of just $11/ton.

Look for your ClimateSmart mailing (you should have just received it) or go to and sign up!

This program, and other CO2 offset programs do not mean that we won't still have to convert our entire power grid to carbon neutral generation, and to replace our natural gas and heating oil with biogas, conservation, etc., but it does help to offset our emissions by reducing other emissions that are cheaper to eliminate than our own. We need to do both.

Since PG&E is the first utility in the nation to offer this program, the rest do not offer anything like it. If yours is among them, please write to them to encourage them to follow PG&E's lead on climate issues.