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2012-10-29  |  Paul Beckwith

Melting Arctic sea ice aims Frankenstorm Sandy directly at the Big Apple

By Paul Beckwith

Frankenstorm Sandy is a scary beast. A hybridization between a tropical hurricane and a mid-latitude cyclone, her behavior is not natural at all. Moving northward off the east coast, Sandy is turning left toward land instead of right toward the sea. Sandy’s being blocked from moving north by a high pressure area of enormous magnitude, and being sucked west by a low pressure region of very exceptional (and highly unusual) strength. Thus the designation “Frankenstorm”.

Because the Earth rotates on its axis, circulating air deflects toward the left in the Southern Hemisphere and to the right in the Northern Hemisphere. This deflection is called the...

2012-10-11  |  Gordon Edwards

 

Gordon Edwards is President of the
Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility
.

 

Increasingly, nuclear power appears be a future technology whose time is past.

This was already evident as far back as 1978 – the last year that a CANDU nuclear plant was ordered in North America.  In that year the Ontario Royal Commission on Electric Power Planning – in its Report on Nuclear Power in Ontario entitled “A Race Against Time” – summed up two years of hearings by saying: “Far from offering...

2012-09-28  |  Paul Beckwith

By Paul Beckwith

Push something and it moves a little. Push it a little more and it moves a little more. This is called a “linearity” response. But sometimes a little push can lead to something totally unexpected! This is called “nonlinearity” and, contrary to what one might think, nonlinearities are inherent in most systems - like our atmosphere, for example. In fact, abrupt and unexpected change happens at some point in most systems - we even have a saying for such unexpected outcomes: a tipping point.

Until recently, our atmosphere and oceans behaved like linear systems: incremental dumping of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere caused incremental changes, like rising temperatures and predictable rates of ice melt. But things are now changing unexpectedly fast – nonlinearity is kicking in! We only have to look at the rapidly vanishing arctic icecap for astonishing evidence.

A few years ago, I felt compelled to...

2012-09-23  |  John Bennett

The climate change issue reached new heights in Canadian public dialogue this week. It wasn’t because of the unprecedented melting of Arctic sea ice this summer, the phony-baloney announcement about Canada’s ‘progress’ toward meeting its greenhouse gas targets, or government’s caving on real regulations for coal plants. Nope, it wasn’t because of any of these worrisome situations.

Fighting climate change was selected by the Harper government for use as an all-purpose distraction -- a fog machine -- for the new parliamentary session. Now it didn’t have to answer to a number of pressing issues (like the rapidly melting Arctic icecap or 1.4 million unemployed Canadians). So when the leader of the opposition rose to ask his first question he was promptly attacked as an economy-destroying peddler...

2012-09-21  |  Paul Beckwith

By Paul Beckwith

About 5 million years ago continental drift pushed North and South America together, creating the Isthmus of Panama where the Central American Seaway ocean passage had previously existed. The Pacific and Atlantic were no longer connected, drastically altering global ocean currents and atmospheric circulation patterns. As the Atlantic Gulf Stream strengthened, it carried vast amounts of moisture into the northern regions. The Arctic eventually cooled and it’s estimated sea ice cover has existed continuously in the Arctic Ocean for 3 million years, possibly for as long as 13 million years.

Slow cycling between cold and warm periods occurred on Earth many times due to the planet's changing orbit, tilt, and position relative to the sun. This caused the sea ice to wax and wane in size but it always persisted, never vanishing. Not any longer. The sea ice will disappear for longer and longer periods over the coming years until it is finally...

 
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