March 29, 2017
By Arshad M Khan
Discusses climate change particularly the effects in the Arctic and Trump's new executive order on coal.
Climate change is not a belief: it is a measurable fact. Just about every major international scientific academy endorses it (ionalacademies.org/onpi/06072005.pdf) including the National Academy of Sciences here.
The Arctic has been experiencing record-setting surface air temperature for three years in a row. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted in its Arctic Report Card (released on December 8, 2016) an unprecedented warming of air temperature leading to a record-breaking delay in the fall sea ice freeze.
In the past quarter-century the region has lost nearly two-thirds of its volume of sea ice. The peer-reviewed report brings together the work of 61 scientists from 11 nations, and is key to tracking changes in the Arctic.
In the past quarter-century, the region has lost nearly two-thirds of the volume of sea ice, as well as snow cover. The increased exposure of water to sunlight leads to much greater absorption of heat, leading to more warming which in turn melts more ice and snow (Martin Jeffries, James Overland and Don Perovich, Physics Today, October 2013).
The scientific community is divided, however, on the effects of Arctic warming on weather in the mid-latitudes. Simulations have not yet yielded significant evidence. On the other hand, there is evidence on a local scale -- loss of sea ice in the Barents and Kara seas is linked to cold stormy conditions in eastern Asia through both simulation and field observations. There are perhaps some concerns about recent Canadian and U.S. weather on the Atlantic coast.
The melting arctic ice, the plight of polar bears, the pollution registered even in Arctic snow -- none of it is enough as President Trump signs an executive order on Tuesday (March 28, 2017) rolling back the prior administration's restrictions on coal. He said it would bring jobs back to the coal-mining communities. It may not be as easy as he thinks. Not only is coal the most polluting of fossil fuels, it is not as easy to use as natural gas of which there is an abundance at present.
Aside from climate-change deniers, there are other equally 'well-informed' cabinet-level officials: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin informed us in a speech on Monday the day before the new executive order that it would be a 100 years before artificial intelligence takes away human jobs. Gasps of disbelief from Silicon Valley!
Heaven help us ...
Arshad M Khan is a former Professor. Educated at King's College London, Oklahoma State University and the University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. He was elected a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a Chartered Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. He has been a CPA and CMA in the U.S. as well as a Registered Professional Engineer. For many years he has contributed occasionally to the print and electronic media.