Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Tipping point ???

I watched this show on the ABC the other night called "Tipping point" - about the artic melting and whether we had reached tipping point yet.

It was a 4 Corners special reportand well worth watching!

Anyway, I found the link to the story about the show and an online free video link at

Tipping Point
Reporter: Marian Wilkinson
Broadcast: 04/08/2008

While Australians argue about when or whether to confront global warming, the top of the globe is melting away.

The Arctic sea ice – sprawled across an area roughly the size of Australia - is in retreat. Scientists now fear that in less than 25 years from now, for the first time in human existence, there will be no sea ice in the North Pole in parts of the summer.

These scientists are scrambling to model and measure the pace of the melt and to comprehend the enormity of the consequences – not just for the immediate ecosystem of polar bears and plankton, but for the world’s weather and its ability to feed itself.

At the same time governments and corporations scramble to be first at the table for a new resources feast of oil, gas and minerals. It’s being dubbed a "Cold Rush" as retreating sea ice opens new opportunities and faster, cheaper shipping routes.

Four Corners journeys to the Arctic Circle to explore how the melt is challenging human understanding of global warming. The Four Corners team* joins scientists on board a Canadian icebreaker, Louis S St Laurent, as they scout for icebergs, bears and evidence of a changing seascape. Across the scientific community there is a quest for answers: How fast is the melt happening? Is it stoppable? What may be lost? What riches will be unlocked? How much global warming is caused by people and how much by nature?

The Louis S St Laurent is bound for the legendary Northwest Passage where early explorers, among them a Tasmanian governor, strove vainly and often tragically to find a short cut shipping route across the top of the world.

Last September climate scientists were stunned when the waters of the Northwest Passage became virtually ice-free for the first time on record. No one knows if that will happen again this northern summer, but the broad trend is less and less sea ice…

Increasingly urgent predictions of an ice-free Arctic Ocean alarm veteran scientists on the icebreaker like Robie Macdonald. After more than 30 years working in the Arctic he almost takes it personally. "Not only do I see the change happening but it’s like they’re moving the goalposts towards me," he says. "The Arctic Ocean has not been seasonally clear of ice for a couple of million years at least, maybe longer, so this is very extraordinary."

But vanishing sea ice is only part of what worries Macdonald’s colleagues. Their gravest fears are landbound – that the melting of glaciers, the ice sheet covering Greenland and the permafrost that, so far, has safely locked millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases under frozen ground, may be accelerating and unstoppable. That is when the planet may approach "Tipping Point" – an Arctic journey on Four Corners at 8.30 pm Monday August 4, on ABC1.

Video available free online at:

No comments: