I have said it before and I will keep on repeating it, as I believe transparency is one of the most important features that human society will need going forward: I am an alarmist. Although this term has been devised by pseudo-skeptics who wish to undermine the public's perception of Global Warming and thus delay any policy that might interfere with their ideology of unfettered capitalism based on the sociopathic economic concept of unlimited growth, I willingly embrace it as a 'geuzennaam' like it's called in the Netherlands. You see, I honestly believe there is a lot to be alarmed about, AGW just being one of many interconnected ingredients in what I like to call the crisis cocktail. By the way, pseudo-skeptics themselves are usually pretty alarmist themselves, but let's not go into that. And I won't go into explaining those ingredients either, as the subject matter is too complex for me and goes way beyond the scope of this blog.
You know, it's not easy being an alarmist, having to continually try to walk the fine line between living life in a normal, care-free way and worrying too much about the state of the world. If you worry too much you lose sleep and people find you either boring or too fanatical when you want to explain the current situation in the Arctic or want to discuss the implications of high oil prices for the economy. If you are sticking your head in the sand too much and get completely engulfed in day to day life, you've got that little voice in the back of your head, also known as 'conscience' or 'moral compass', that tells you your lifestyle is keeping you part of the problem, and not the solution.
In addition to this difficulty the alarmist faces a considerable dilemma and for me the Arctic sea ice is a great example of this. Like I've explained in the introduction to this blog, the increased melting of Arctic sea ice could be a first clearly emerging signal of Global Warming, and if the sea ice extent continues to decrease like it has, this will have a very big impact on the public's perception.
Thus it is only logical for an alarmist to hope that the sea ice extent keeps diminishing. In fact, an ice-free Arctic might be the perfect wake-up call for the whole world to seriously start discussing what to do about AGW. It might perhaps even point people toward the underlying root problem that threatens human society in more ways than just Global Warming. So, melt, baby, melt, yeah! Show those (pseudo-)skeptics who's been right all along!
But hold on a minute...
I also said in my introduction to this blog that "an ice-free Arctic ocean has consequences for regional weather and the global climate as a whole". These consequences cannot be quantified at the moment (darn those scientists!), but it's not so irrational or alarmist to think that all that extra energy due to the ice albedo effect could trigger a seasonally ice-free Arctic, potentially leading to increased methane releases in Siberia and northern Canada, further increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, leading to more warming, in other words: positive feedbacks. Furthermore, an ice-free Arctic has geopolitical consequences in an increasingly energy-starved world, and the powers that be will greedily jump at the opportunity of drilling and mining the pristine Arctic regions. Although things aren't as black and white as oil and ice, this prospect worries me greatly.
So should the Arctic sea ice melt as fast as possible in the summer, crippling the PR effort of the pseudo-skeptics? Or should we hope for a gradual transition to an ice-free Arctic so there is enough time to act and mitigate/adapt? Do I want pseudo-skeptics like Steven Goddard to be right and successfully parade their Galileo-martyrdom? Aaarrrggghhh...
Sure, it's a cliché, but very appropriate:
To be or not to be– that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And, by opposing, end them.