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Submission by the Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG) to the Environment Audit Committee’s Inquiry on Arctic Sustainability

Arctic sea Ice Extent

Dear EAC members,

 

AMEG submitted evidence to the EAC five years ago, in early 2012.  Since then the Arctic situation has deteriorated markedly, much as we had predicted.  But we now have a much clearer understanding of how the Arctic is getting locked into a low albedo state and the implications, particularly the effect of weather extremes on food security and the effect of sea-level rise on low-lying cities and conurbations, thanks a great deal to the work of Sir David King (currently the UK’s Special Representative for Climate Change).  We now have a much clearer idea of what needs to be done and can be done to cool the Arctic and save the sea ice.  But most importantly we now recognise the exciting possibility of reversing climate change and restoring the Earth System to a sustainable state for the benefit of future generations.

 

In our submission, we have assumed that the EAC is capable of digesting and appreciating our scientific and technical points.  The EAC contains talented people with diverse backgrounds and expertise, some of whom may find our submission baffling.  Whereas you (the EAC) are used to considering the geo-political dimension of problems, we have gone into the scientific dimension of the Arctic situation and proposed an engineering solution.  We have given relatively little consideration to geo-political dimension.

 

Therefore, given the shorter time for the EAC to deliberate on evidence due to the snap General Election, the gravity of the situation as we see it, and the huge change in policy we are proposing, we suggest making a more thorough presentation of our case to you after June 8th in a setting where you feel free to ask detailed questions having studied our written submission.  

 

You should then be able to fulfil your duty of environment audit seriously: to grapple with the reality of an existential threat and recommend action to stave it off.   As far as we know, you are the only committee in the world tasked to consider such threats and capable of responding without political bias.

 

With “business as usual” (BAU) the world is heading for the dangerous global warming of 2°C by 2040, even without the Arctic contribution of heat and methane.  With the Arctic in the process of switching to a seasonally sea-ice-free state within a decade, and with the risk of the Arctic getting locked irreversibly into this state, the urgency for action to save the sea ice could not be greater.  If we consider food security alone, the Arctic with its perennial sea ice has been crucial for world agriculture to be viable for at least two reasons:

  1. It has kept the jet air streams (see “Introduction” below) within the behaviour range which makes agriculture viable; whereas with BAU, the jet air streams will very likely be well out of this range by 2025 if not sooner.
  2. It has kept gigatons of methane from entering the atmosphere and causing a runaway warming that would make agriculture unviable; whereas with BAU, such devastating methane releases could, quite conceivably, happen within a decade or two.

 

So, therefore, if we don't restore the ice, we are making an incredibly reckless and immoral gamble regarding the viability of world agriculture, and, by extension, the viability of our civilization.

Arctic Methane: Why The Sea Ice Matters