THE ARCTIC

By Gunnar Eigener

Recent events have focused media attention on changes to the environment of Antarctica, brought about by both natural and anthropogenic effects. Yet the Arctic should remain higher on the list of priorities, for challenges it faces are not merely regional, but global. 

The Arctic Council, which consists of the eight countries with territory within the Arctic Circle, produced a report ‘Snow, Water, Ice, Permafrost in the Arctic’ (SWIPA), which stated the area of sea ice has decreased by over 50% over the past 30 years. The report goes on to estimate that the Arctic will be ice free by 2040 (although some other reports suggest 2037). Regardless of the exact year, the thickness of Arctic sea ice is falling dramatically. In the central Arctic ocean, the ice has declined by up to 65% between 1975 and 2012. It was in 2012 that the lowest area of was recorded, at 4.1 million square kilometres. The previous record was set in 2007 with 4.17 million square kilometres.Continue Reading

ANTARCTICA: THE CANARY IN THE COAL MINE

By Gunnar Eigener

The calving of a 5,800 square-kilometre section of the Larsen C ice shelf has been recorded. Although it is only half the size of the largest ever recorded iceberg (B15 broke off from Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf in 2000, measuring 11,007 square-kilometres), it nonetheless represents yet another loss of ice – not just in Antarctica, but globally.Continue Reading

COMMODITY PRICES, REVOLUTIONS, AND CLIMATE CHANGE

by Sam Alston

You can probably be excused for failing to notice that commodity prices on the whole have been falling. The price of gold (19.5% fall over the year), wheat (20% fall), and oil (over 30% fall) on global markets have all dropped recently. This has left mainstream finance reporters rather excited. As with house prices rises, commodity price falls are apparently a fundamentally good thing.  However it’s worth considering what this commodity price movement actually means.

Lower commodity prices means lower production costs for net importers of commodities (much of the western world), thus supposedly lower prices. The continual rise in the price of things like energy and bread that we have seen in the past few years should abate.  Since it has been made clear over the last few years that society no longer guarantees the right to commodities needed to live (like food), a reduction in these prices would potentially be the best step to stop people starving.

Those of a more revolutionary bent, may be slightly disappointed. A high cost of living has helped to bring down dictatorial governments in places like Tunisia, helped prompt the occupy movement, and just last week promoted an uprising in Burkina Faso that saw the parliament burnt to the ground.Continue Reading