The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption is a work of investigative journalism by Dahr Jamail, conducted during the period April 2016 to July 2017 on the front lines of human-caused climate disruption. Having lived in Alaska for ten years (1996-2006), Jamail had witnessed the dramatic impact of global warming on the glaciers there.
Jamail’s original aim was to alert readers about “the urgency of our planetary crisis through firsthand accounts of what is happening to the glaciers, forest, wildlife, coral reefs, and oceans, alongside data provided by leading scientists who study them.” His reporting took him to climate disruption hot spots in Alaska, California, Florida, and Montana in the United States; Palau in the Western Pacific Ocean; Great Barrier Reef, Australia; and the Amazon Forest in Manaus, Brazil. His grief at what was happening to nature made him realize that “only by having this intimacy with the natural world can we fully understand how dramatically our actions are impacting it.”
Below are excerpts of assessments expressed to the author by scientists and other professionals working on the front lines.
The magnitude of change in Alaska is easy to miss because Alaska is such
a massive state, and largely undeveloped. That is why you’ve had no idea that
Alaska’s glaciers are losing an estimated 75 billion tons of ice every year. ~ Dr. Mike Loso, a physical scientist
with the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska.
[The rate of melting of Montana’s glaciers]
is an explosion, a nuclear explosion of geologic change. This is unusual, it is
incredibly rapid and exceeds the ability for normal adaption. We’ve shoved it
into overdrive and taken our hands off the wheel.” ~ Dr. Dan
Farge, a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research ecologist and director of the
Climate Change in Mountain Ecosystems Project, Montana.
This last summer , the Gulf [of Alaska]
warmed up 15℃ [59℉] warmer than normal in some areas… And it is now, overall,
5℃ [41℉] above normal in both the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, and has been
all winter long. ~ Bruce
Wright, a senior scientist with the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association
(APIA) and former section chief for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) for eleven years.
We hardly eat seals anymore, or the birds,
and people now get food stamps and social handouts and welfare and shop at the
store. When I grew up, we didn’t need any of that because we always had seals
and birds and fish to eat. If the fur seals aren’t here, neither will we be. ~Jason
Bourdukofsky Sr., the president of TDX, Alaska’s native corporation on St. Paul
Island, Pribilof Islands, Bering Sea.
The warming [of the oceans] we’re seeing now
is happening far too fast to allow for [coral] evolution…. So what we’re seeing
now is death. That’s what [coral] bleaching is…. Right now the largest
ecosystem on Earth is undergoing its death throes and no one is there to watch
it. ~ Dr. Dean
Miller, a marine scientist and director of science and media for Great Barrier
Reef Legacy, Australia.
Even if your home [in South Florida] may be
elevated, all the infrastructure and freshwater and sewage treatment and
getting rid of the sewage…all of this infrastructure is critically vulnerable
to sea level rise. ~ Dr. Ben
Kirtman, one of the leading sea level experts in the world and program director
for the Climate and Environmental Hazards program at the University of Miami’s
Center for Computational Science.
Sea level rise is going to accelerate faster
than the models, and it’s not going to stop. So the government [of the State of
Florida] has to have a plan that includes buyouts. It’s cheaper to buy this
area [Coral Gables] out than it is to maintain the infrastructure. ~ Dr.
Harold Wanless, professor and chair of the Department of Geological Science,
University of Miami, Coral Gables campus.
You know what the burden is? It’s looking up
through the political hierarchy above me to the state legislature, to the
governor, U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate, the White House, and you ask, Who is
minding the shop? Who else knows what I know?… What kind of morality allows
them to ignore what is going to happen? ~ Dr.
Philip Stoddard, mayor of South Miami and a professor in the Department of
Biological Sciences, Florida International University.
We need to educate people about what is
really going on with climate disruption…. I made a personal decision to not
have kids, because I don’t have a future to offer them. I don’t think we are
going to win this battle. I think we are really done. ~ Dr. Rita
Mesquita, a biologist and researcher with Brazil’s National Institute of
Amazonian Research (INPA), Manaus, Amazonas.
The dire position we’re in now is solid
evidence of the fact that the predominant civilization does not have a handle
on all the interrelationships between humans and what we call the natural
world. If it did, we wouldn’t be facing this dire situation. ~ Stan
Rushworth, elder of Cherokee descent who has taught Native American literature
and critical thinking classes focused on Indigenous perspectives.
Jamail concludes that we are already facing mass extinction. We can’t remove the heat now stored in the oceans, yet we keep on pumping 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. Our future is uncertain. Writing this book was his attempt to bear witness to what we have done to the Earth. “I am committed in my bones to being with the Earth,” he writes, “no matter what, to the end.”
Dahr Jamail, a reporter for Truthout, is the author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, and The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Disintegration of a Nation (co-authored with William Rivers Pitt). Over the past fifteen years, Jamail has also reported from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. An accomplished mountaineer who has worked as a volunteer rescue ranger on Denali, Alaska, he won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism and is a 2018 winner of the Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism. Jamail is also the recipient of the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, and five Project Censored Awards.
With atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations having reached a “symbolic and significant milestone” in 2015—and with no signs of them abating this year—the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said Monday that “a new era of climate change reality” is upon us.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at Paris Agreement Ratification Ceremony. From Paris to Hangzhou – Climate Response in Action. H.E. Mr. XI Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China and H.E. Mr. Barack Obama, President of the United States of America present the instrument for the Paris Agreement to the Secretary-General.
The campaign to hold Exxon accountable for their climate cover-up just took a big step forward.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on September 20, 2016, that they’re opening an investigation into whether Exxon has failed to account for the risk climate change and climate regulations could pose to their business model.
Here’s how our top four presidential candidates propose to address climate change.
Hillary Clinton – Democratic Party
I won’t let anyone take us backward, deny our economy the benefits of harnessing a clean energy future, or force our children to endure the catastrophe that would result from unchecked climate change.
~ Hillary Clinton, November 29, 2015
A Green New Deal: Create millions of jobs by transitioning to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture, and conservation.
Protect Mother Earth: Lead on a global treaty to halt climate change. End destructive energy extraction: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal, and uranium mines. Protect our public lands, water supplies, biological diversity, parks, and pollinators. Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe. Protect the rights of future generations.
The year 2015 saw the toppling of several symbolic mileposts: notably, it was 1.0°C warmer than preindustrial times, and the Mauna Loa observatory recorded its first annual mean carbon dioxide concentration greater than 400 ppm. Beyond these more recognizable markers, trends seen in recent decades continued.
~ American Meteorological Society, State of the Climate 2015, August 2016.
DOWNLOAD STATE OF THE CLIMATE 2015 The report, compiled by NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate at the National Centers for Environmental Information is based on contributions from scientists from around the world. It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments located on land, water, ice, and in space.
Last week, we were among a handful of organizations who received a letter signed by 13 members of Congress claiming that we may be violating Exxon’s right to free speech. They’re requesting that we divulge any communication we may have had with state officials and many private organizations with regard to looking into what Exxon knew about climate change and when. At face value this request is a threat to constitutional rights.
The new film Disobedience about the global movement to break free from fossil fuels is now available for free download and streaming at watchdisobedience.com!
The film is a powerful journey, featuring Break Free organizers in Canada, Germany, Turkey and the Philippines as they prepare to mobilize for major actions this May. It shows that the global movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground is growing in size and courage.
Disobedience features author and activist Naomi Klein, 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, as well as board member Lidy Nacpil and dozens of inspiring voices from front-line fights around the world.
It’s about 40 minutes long, and I think it makes for inspiring watching ahead of the Break Free wave of action starting a few days from now.
If you’re inspired by what you see — and I think you will be — then I hope you will both share the film, and join thousands of people across the planet in Break Free actions next month. Across the United States, people are standing up to the power and pollution of the fossil fuel industry — from the frack fields of California, to the tar sands networks of the Midwest, to the oil train rail lines in the Northeast. This is where you can go to join Break Free.
Onwards, to a future beyond fossil fuels,
In a move many are hailing as a “turning point” in the climate fight, 20 state Attorneys General on Tuesday launched an unprecedented, multi-state effort to investigate and prosecute the “high-funded and morally vacant forces” that have stymied attempts to combat global warming—starting with holding ExxonMobil and other industry giants accountable for fraud and suppression of key climate science.