Seething With Anger, Probe Demanded into Exxon’s Unparalleled Climate Crime
“Anyone who’s lived through 25 years of phony climate debate, or who’s seen the toll climate change is already taking on the most vulnerable communities, has been seething at these revelations.”
—Bill McKibben, 350.orgAddressed to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the letter cites recent reporting by the Los Angeles Times and Inside Climate News—both of which offered devastating details into the manner and scope of the decades-long public deceit—and argues that a DOJ probe is warranted to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against the energy behemoth.
“Given the damage that has already occurred from climate change—particularly in the poorest communities of our nation and our planet—and that will certainly occur going forward, these revelations should be viewed with the utmost apprehension,” the letter states. “They are reminiscent—though potentially much greater in scale—than similar revelations about the tobacco industry.”
Kicked off by the investigative reporting and spearheaded by 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben—who staged a one-person civil disobedience action earlier this month to draw attention to the issue—the call for a federal investigation has been growing over recent weeks.
“Despite Exxon’s wealth and power, people were eager to sign on to this statement,” McKibben said on Friday. “Anyone who’s lived through 25 years of phony climate debate, or who’s seen the toll climate change is already taking on the most vulnerable communities, has been seething at these revelations. It reminds me of the spirit at the start of the Keystone battle.”
Just over two weeks ago, U.S. Reps. from California Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Walnut Creek) also wrote a letter to Lynch demanding an investigation and specifically called for RICO statutes to be used to determine whether or not the behavior of Exxon constituted a criminal conspiracy.
“If these allegations against Exxon are true, then Exxon’s actions were immoral,” Lieu and DeSaulnier wrote to the attorney general. “We request the DOJ investigate whether ExxonMobil’s actions were also illegal.”
Initiating a public petition campaign to bolster their call for the DOJ probe, McKibben sent a letter to members of 350.org on Friday morning in which he stated “very few things truly piss me off,” but that in his mind it seems that no corporation has ever “done anything bigger and badder” than what ExxonMobil has done in this case.
“Just think how much would be different if Exxon had told the truth,” he continued. “We wouldn’t fully have solved global warming but we’d be well on the way—there would have been no 25 year phony pretend debate. There’d be a lot more solar panels, and a lot less carbon in the air. There’d be a lot more green jobs, and a lot fewer communities, most of them low income and communities of color, dealing with the terrible health impacts of pollution. None of you would have had to fight simply to get climate change taken seriously; instead we’d all be hard at work on solutions.”
That, of course, is not how the last four decades have played out and for that, he stated, “I think we should be angry.”
The full text of Friday’s letter and list of signatories follows:
Dear Attorney General Lynch,
As leaders of some of the nation’s environmental, indigenous peoples and civil rights groups, we’re writing to ask that you initiate a federal probe into the conduct of ExxonMobil. New revelations in the Los Angeles Times and the Pulitzer-prize-winning InsideClimate News strongly suggest that the corporation knew about the dangers of climate change even as it funded efforts at climate denial and systematically misled the public.
Given the damage that has already occurred from climate change—particularly in the poorest communities of our nation and our planet—and that will certainly occur going forward, these revelations should be viewed with the utmost apprehension. They are reminiscent—though potentially much greater in scale—than similar revelations about the tobacco industry.
These journalists have provided a remarkable roadmap to this corporation’s potential misconduct. We would ask that you follow that map wherever it may lead, employing all the tools at your disposal to uncover the truth.
Margie Alt, Executive Director of Environment America
Kenny Ausubel, Nina Simons, Founders of Bioneers
Sally Bingham, President and Founder of Interfaith Power and Light
May Boeve, Bill McKibben, Founders of 350.org
Michael Brune, Executive Director of Sierra Club
Robert Bullard, Author and John Muir Award winner, 2013
Andrea Carmen, Executive Director of International Indian Treaty Council
Faith Gemmill, Executive Director of REDOIL (Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands)
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network
James Hansen, Director, Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions Program, Columbia University Earth Institute
Reverend Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of Greenfaith
David Helvarg, Executive Director of Blue Frontier
Gene Karpinski, President of League of Conservation Voters
Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska
Steve Kretzmann, Executive Director and Founder of Oil Change International
Fred Krupp, President of Environmental Defense Fund
Winona LaDuke, Executive Director of Honor the Earth
Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace USA
RL Miller, President of Climate Hawks Vote
Matt Nelson, Managing Director of Presente.org
Brant Olson, Campaign Director at Climate Truth
Erich Pica, President of Friends of the Earth
Cindy Shogan, Executive Director of Alaska Wilderness League
Reverend Fred Small, President of Creation Coalition
Gus Speth, Former Dean Yale School of Forestry and the Environment
Tom Steyer, Founder of NextGen
Rhea Suh, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council
Vien Truong, Director of Green for All
Joe Uehlein, Executive Director of Labor Network for Sustainability
Tripp Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice
David Yarnold, President of the Audubon Society
Reverend Lennox Yearwood, President of Hip Hop Caucus
Trip Van Nopen, Earth Justice
Rich Stolz, Executive Director of OneAmerica
Resilience Collaborative, LLC
A Philip Randolph Institute
Energy Action Coalition
Divest Invest Individual
Bean Soup Times
Ecumenical Poverty Initiative
Beats Rhymes & Relief
Freddie Gray Project
Beloved Community Center
Neighbors United of Southeast Greensboro, NC
The Foundation of Women in Hip Hop
The Gathering for Justice/Justice League NYC
J Dilla Foundation
that revelations that the company knew about climate change as early as the 1970s, but chose to mislead the public about the crisis in order to maximize their profits from fossil fuels.
Rallying with Pope, Climate Justice Campaigners Hail ‘Shovel-Ready Solution’
An hour after Pope Francis spoke to Congress and issued “a call for a courageous and responsible effort […] to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity,” a rally on the National Mall highlighted a “shovel-ready solution” to the climate crisis.
Speaking at the Moral Action on Climate Justice demonstratoin Thursday, Larry Kopald, co-founder and president of organization The Carbon Underground, said it’s “a solution that will put carbon back in the ground, a solution that will feed us better, make us healthier, create jobs, and even boost our economy.”
“What is this magic solution?” he asked. “You’re standing on it […] It’s the soil.”
Kopald and his organization are not alone is calling for soil to be seen as part of a climate solution, with organizations including the Center for Food Safety, Organic Consumers Association, the Rodale Institute, and Vandana Shiva’s Navdanya also touting the approach. Regenerative agriculture’s ability to heal soil was also the focus of the Regenerative International Conference in Costa Rica this June, as well as the Soil Not Oil International Conference held earlier this month in Richmond, California.
Kopald explained the problem with the dominant method of food production, saying, “Industrial agriculture techniques have destroyed most of the soil. Seventy percent of the soil on earth is dead or dying, and all of that carbon that should be in the soil is now stuck in the atmosphere causing climate change.”
But healthy soil fed through agroecological methods can be an effective carbon sink, he explained.
“Here’s the good news: If we restore that soil, we can bring that carbon back. We can fix the climate. There are a billion acres of land in the U.S. alone used to grow food,” he said. “If we restore those acres, if we restore that soil, we we bring down 3 billion tons of carbon back from the atmosphere […] every single year.”
The current system in which “subsidies [are given to ] to farmers using chemicals destroying our soil and causing climate change,” needs to stop, Kopald continued, with the subsidies instead going “to farmers who are willing to restore our soil, and feed us better food, and help reverse climate change.”
“We need to tell President Obama and the next man or the next woman who lives in the White House that we’ve got to stop focusing on the problem and start focusing on the solution,” he said, urging rally attenders to send a message to lawmakers to “fix the soil, fix the climate.”
The event, which organizers stated on their website invited people to “join thousands of people of all creeds, colors and faiths, on the National Mall in asking our world leaders to #FollowFrancis to take bold action for climate justice,” also included speeches by the Moral Monday movement leader Rev. William Barber, Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo, and the musician Moby.
Twitter users captured parts of the event with the hashtag #FollowFrancis:
Record Cold ‘Blob’ in North Atlantic: Sign of Future Climate Woes?
Some scientists are saying that a record-setting area of cold water in the North Atlantic, revealed by recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data, could be a sign that climate change is causing the ocean current to weaken.
This trend could have dramatic consequences, including the alteration of temperatures on the European and North American continents.
Washington Post reporter Chris Mooney highlighted the thesis on Thursday, pointing out a cold blob in the ocean south of Greenland and Iceland. While NOAA’s findings that 2015 has so far seen the hottest eight month stretch in recorded history were widely publicized, the North Atlantic cold spot is lesser known. It is seen below in the dark hue denoting “record coldest” temperatures.
Deke Arndt, chief of the climate monitoring branch at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, confirmed to Mooney that the cold temperatures are not a fluke, stating: “For the grid boxes in darkest blue, they had their coldest Jan-Aug on record, and in order for a grid box to be ‘eligible’ for that map, it needs at least 80 years of Jan-Aug values on the record.”
Prior studies have predicted such a trend. Climate scientists Stefan Rahmstorf (Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research) and Michael Mann (Penn State) published a paper in the March issue of Nature Climate Change which found that the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, or AMOC, is growing weaker.
The scientists hypothesized that “conspicuous cooling” in the northern Atlantic could be “due to a reduction in the AMOC over the twentieth century and particularly after 1970.” A possible contributor to this trend is the “melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet,” which they say is infusing the area with cold, fresh water, which is then interfering with the interplay between the varying temperatures and levels of salinity that drive the current.
Mooney is careful to point out that there is no scientific consensus, as of yet, that the cold spot identified in NOAA’s data is a clear result of the trend highlighted by Rahmstorf and Mann. But here’s what Mann had to say:
I was formerly somewhat skeptical about the notion that the ocean ‘conveyor belt’ circulation pattern could weaken abruptly in response to global warming. Yet this now appears to be underway, as we showed in a recent article, and as we now appear to be witnessing before our very eyes in the form of an anomalous blob of cold water in the sup-polar North Atlantic.
Mooney writes that, if this trend continues, “there could be many consequences, including rising seas for the U.S. East Coast and, possibly, a difference in temperature overall in the North Atlantic and Europe.”
A paper written in July by former NASA scientist James Hansen and 16 other prominent climate researchers, which had not been peer reviewed, speculated: “If the ocean continues to accumulate heat and increase melting of marine-terminating ice shelves of Antarctica and Greenland, a point will be reached at which it is impossible to avoid large scale ice sheet disintegration with sea level rise of at least several meters.”
Amid Runaway Warming, Richest Nations Spend $200 Billion Backing Fossil Fuels
One of the greatest contradictions of our time is that while world leaders profess concern over a rapidly warming planet, they continue to spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars subsidizing the fossil fuel industries that are driving climate change.
In fact, according to a new report released on Monday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)—a global forum on economic policy—the world’s richest nations spend roughly $160-200 billion each year supporting fossil fuel consumption and production.
“We’re totally schizophrenic,” said Angel Gurría, secretary-general of the Paris-based organization. “We’re trying to reduce emissions, and we subsidize the consumption of fossil fuels. These policies are not obsolete, they’re dangerous legacies of a bygone era when pollution was viewed as a tolerable side effect of economic growth. They should be erased from the books.”
Further, Gurría pointed out that governments “are spending almost twice as much money supporting fossil fuels as is needed to meet the climate-finance objectives set by the international community, which call for mobilizing $100 billion a year by 2020.”
The OECD Inventory identified 800 separate spending programs and tax breaks used by the governments of its 34 member countries, plus six key emerging economies—Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa—that encourage oil, gas, and coal development.
“The measures counted by the OECD covered some of the most obscure pieces of national tax codes—including direct controls on gasoline prices, depreciation allowances for oil drillers, breaks for refiners, credits for infrastructure like pipelines and stimulus for technology to clean up coal emissions,” Bloomberg reports.
Such subsidies, the report notes, distort costs and prices, “create inefficiencies in the way we generate and use energy,” are costly for governments, and—most importantly—”undermine efforts to make our economies less carbon-intensive while exacerbating the damage to human health caused by air pollution.”
The warning comes as representatives are preparing to meet in New York for the UN Sustainable Development Summit next week to set new development goals ahead of the upcoming COP21 climate talks in Paris in November and December.
“The time is ripe for countries to demonstrate they are serious about combating climate change,” Gurría added, “and reforming harmful fossil fuel support is a good place to start.”
Indeed, a separate report published by Greenpeace on Monday argues that it is possible to reach 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 if countries “prioritize keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground while accelerating the transition to clean energy like wind and solar.”
Last week, climate activists staged a symbolic ‘tug-of-war’ between polluting fossil fuels and renewable energy as they protested outside a meeting of Europe’s Environment Ministers as they hashed out EU’s negotiating position for the Paris climate summit.
EU leaders have agreed to cut emissions by 40 percent compared to 1990 levels by 2030, and said they won’t settle for anything less than legally binding targets that will be reviewed every five years. In comparison, the U.S. has put forth a non-binding pledge to cut emissions by 26-28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025.
Environmentalists, backed by statements made by the UN’s own climate chief Christiana Figueres, agree that such pledges fall drastically short of what’s needed to keep global warming beneath 2°C global warming target.
Melting Permafrost Could Cost World Economy $43 Trillion by 2100: Study
The melting of the Earth’s permafrost could unleash hundreds of billions of tons stored CO2 and methane by the end of this century, warned prominent researchers on Monday, with resulting economic costs that could reach $43 trillion in damages related to the runaway impacts of climate change.
In a paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, Prof. Chris Hope of Cambridge University and Prof. Kevin Schaefer, from the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, say their study shows that because the “Arctic is warming roughly twice as fast as the global average” and if current trends continue, the melting of huge sections of permafrost in the coming decades could result in hundreds of billions of ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) and billions of tons of methane (CH4) being released into the atmosphere.
Such an enormous increase of greenhouse gases would result in both economic and non-economic impacts, the researchers said. Computer models run by Hope and Schaefer found that melting permafrost would lead to higher chances of catastrophic and cascading events, such as the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets which would lead to increased flooding and more extreme weather around the world. Economic impacts cited included direct influence on the gross domestic product (GDP) of countries—such as the loss of agricultural output and the additional cost of coping with floods and heatwaves—while non-economic impacts included negative effects on human health and natural ecosystems.
The extra impacts that could be created by the melting permafrost, the researchers found, are “sufficiently high to justify urgent action” on the part of policy-makers and government leaders.
“These results show just how much we need urgent action to slow the melting of the permafrost in order to minimize the scale of the release of greenhouse gases,” said co-author Dr Chris Hope from the Cambridge Judge Business School.
In 2013, as Common Dreams reported, a separate team of researchers exploring the possible economic impacts of melting permafrost—sometimes described ominously as the “methane bomb“—could ultimately cost the global economy as much as $60 trillion.
Hope and Schaefer argue that if an aggressive strategy to reduce emissions and slow Arctic melting was achieved, it would reduce the long-term costs by as much as $37 trillion. As anew global energy analysis published by Greenpeace on Monday revealed, the cost of replacing the world’s fossil fuel-based energy system with one that is run on 100% renewables is not only possible, but increasingly cost-effective.
Hope says that by linking scientific and economic models together, humanity will be better prepared to examine the true costs of moving to curb emissions or taking other actions.
He concluded, “We need to estimate how much it will cost if we do nothing, how much it will cost if we do something, and how much we need to spend to cut back greenhouse gases.”
According to this latest study, at least, the cost of “do nothing” has many, many zeroes behind it.
Colorado Supreme Court to Decide if Citizens Can Ban Fracking
Do the citizens of a town have the right to ban something they perceive to be detrimental to their health and quality of life? Even if the state supports the practice? The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday announced it will weigh in on this debate as it prepares to hear the cases of two communities which, despite the state’s pro-fossil fuel stance, voted to ban fracking within their borders.
The court will hear cases from Longmont, where voters banned the oil and gas drilling practice in 2012, and Fort Collins, where voters approved a 5-year moratorium in 2013. After their passage, both grassroots efforts came under fierce attack by both the drilling industry as well as the pro-fossil fuel state government, led by the outspoken fracking advocate Gov. John Hickenlooper (D). The bans were both thrown out in 2014 by two back-to-back district court rulings. The cities and several environmental groups appealed.
“I would say this is pretty huge,” said Tanya Heikkila, an associate professor at the University of Colorado Denver who studies fracking policy debates, in regards to the upcoming hearing. While the state generally allows local governments to participate in decisions about how drilling and fracking occur, it refuses to cede municipalities the power to prohibit such activities, even if there is a clear citizen opposition.
“The Supreme Court decision will clarify that issue,” Heikkila said.
In Colorado, the ties between the drilling industry and politics are as murky as frackingwastewater.
Last week, Hickenlooper unveiled the state’s supposed “Climate Action Plan,” which local environmentalist and activist Gary Wockner dubbed “a slick, glossy, amalgam of smooth rhetoric, pretty pictures and soft-ball recommendations” that will effectively increase, rather than decrease, Colorado’s carbon emissions.
Further, a recent investigation published in the Boulder Weekly revealed the influence that a handful of wealthy conservatives, through a network of faux grassroots organizations, have had on the state’s environmental policies.
Marine Mammals Get Reprieve as US Navy Finally Agrees to Back Off Sonar Testing in Key Areas
Animal welfare groups and conservationists are declaring victory on behalf of marine mammals off the coast of both Hawaii and California after a federal judge on Monday signed a settlement in which the U.S. Navy agreed to limit its use of underwater sonar and explosives in particularly sensitive areas for scores of vulnerable species.
Environmentalists have been challenging the U.S. military’s testing of mid-frequency sonar and other activities deemed harmful to whales, dolphins, and other species for many years, but the agreement signed Monday by U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway in Honolulu only came after a ruling by the same judge earlier this year which said the U.S. Navy had other opportunities to perform such testing in places where its negative impact would not be so dire.
“If a whale or dolphin can’t hear, it can’t survive,” said David Henkin, an attorney for the national legal organization Earthjustice, who brought the initial challenge to the Navy’s latest round of training and testing on behalf of Conservation Council for Hawai‘i, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Ocean Mammal Institute. “We challenged the Navy’s plan because it would have unnecessarily harmed whales, dolphins, and endangered marine mammals, with the Navy itself estimating that more than 2,000 animals would be killed or permanently injured. By agreeing to this settlement, the Navy acknowledges that it doesn’t need to train in every square inch of the ocean and that it can take reasonable steps to reduce the deadly toll of its activities.”
As the Los Angeles Times reports:
The litigation centered on a disagreement about how many marine mammals might be harmed by the Navy’s training regimen. Mollway ruled that the Navy had vastly underestimated the threat.
According to the environmentalists, the settlement calls for a ban on mid-frequency sonar and explosives on the eastern side of the Big Island and north of Molokai and Maui, in an effort to protect whales and Hawaiian monk seals. Surface ships would be required to use “extreme caution” to avoid hitting humpback whales.
Off Southern California, the Navy is banned from using mid-frequency sonar between Santa Catalina Island and San Nicolas Island, also near blue whale habitat off San Diego, the environmental groups said. The same extreme caution would be required for ships in the feeding habitat and migratory corridors for blue, fin and gray whales.
The Navy asserted its training could kill 155 whales over five years. Environmentalists said the number of those killed or injured would be much higher.
“This settlement proves what we’ve been saying all along,” said Marsha Green, president of Ocean Mammal Institute. “The Navy can meet its training and testing needs and, at the same time, provide significant protections to whales and dolphins by limiting the use of sonar and explosives in vital habitat.”
Scientific studies have documented the connection between high-intensity mid-frequency sounds, including Navy sonar, and serious impacts to marine mammals ranging from strandings and deaths to cessation of feeding and habitat avoidance and abandonment. Despite those scientific warnings, until now the Navy has refused to set aside biologically important areas to minimize such harm to vulnerable marine mammal populations.
Until it expires in late 2018, the agreement is designed to protect habitat for the most vulnerable marine mammal populations, including endangered blue whales for which waters off Southern California are a globally important feeding area; and numerous small, resident whale and dolphin populations off Hawaii, for which the islands are an oasis—their only home.
“This is a huge victory for critically endangered species like the insular population of Hawaii’s false killer whale, which is down to only about 150 animals,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity.
To Defend Rights and Set Precedent, First Nation Targets Logging Plan
Hoping to set a precedent on Indigenous peoples and environmental rights, the Grassy Narrows First Nation is heading to court on Monday in a legal bid to stop Ontario’s plan to allow clear-cutting near the community’s traditional territory.
The Canadian tribe says a proposed forest management plan, which would see clear-cutting of about 50,000 hectares of the Whiskey Jack Forest, would “prolong and deepen the ongoing tragedy of mercury poisoning” in local waterways, thereby violating their “rights to security and freedom from discrimination,” according to a press statement.
The case could become the first to successfully use the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect people against harm and discrimination arising from environmental degradation.
“We’re trying to protect our people’s health here, our fundamental human rights,” Chief Roger Fobister told CBC News.
“It saddens me that we are forced to fight in court to protect our children from the dangerous mercury impacts of clear-cut logging,” Fobister added in a statement. “I hope that the court will finally end Ontario’s long legacy of forcing harmful decisions on our families and our homeland.”
Research shows (pdf) that clear-cutting can release methylmercury—a neurotoxin—into the environment.
What’s more, many of the lakes and rivers in areas where logging will take place already face fish consumption restrictions due to the past industrial dumping of mercury.
In late August, the Grassy Narrows First Nation declared a state of emergency due to a prolonged lack of access to safe drinking water.
And in June, 50 years after a nearby pulp mill dumped its effluent into a northern Ontario watershed, a study commissioned by the provincial government and the Grassy Narrows First Nation showed that mercury continues to rise in some lakes where the people of Grassy Narrows continue to catch and eat fish.
“When I was pregnant I couldn’t afford to buy food at the store, so I ate what my grandfather brought home—mostly fish,” said Grassy Narrows mother Sherry Fobister, an applicant in the lawsuit. “Now I cry because I fear that my daughter may suffer for her whole life. She deserves to live a good life and be happy. This pain is never going to end if Ontario allows clear-cut logging to add even more mercury into our river.”
Despite abundant evidence, Ontario refused Grassy Narrows’ request for an individual environmental assessment of the impacts of clear-cut logging on the health of the community, its waterways, and its fish. In fact, the 1,200-page logging plan approved by Ontario does not even contain the word ‘mercury.’
It it with all this mind that the community filed its lawsuit.
“We are asking the court to intervene to ensure that the basic rights of all Canadians, including the right to be safe from harm imposed by the government and the right to be free of discrimination, are finally upheld in Grassy Narrows,” said Joseph Castrilli, legal counsel at the Canadian Environmental Law Association, which is representing the tribe. “Our clients believe that the members of Grassy Narrows have endured far too much harm and, therefore, are owed the highest degree of precaution and environmental justice.”
Global Glaciers Melting up to Three Times Rate of 20th Century
The 21st century has already seen a record-smashing decline in the world’s glaciers, which are melting at up to three times the rate of the 20th century and will continue to disappear even without further climate change, an alarming new study concludes.
Entitled Historically Unprecedented Global Glacier Decline in the Early 21st Century, the research was published Monday in the Journal of Glaciology and adds to the growing body of evidence that human-made climate change is heating the planet to unseen levels.
The World Glacier Monitoring Service, based at the University of Zurich, compared trends in the first ten years of the 21st century (2001 to 2010) with “all available earlier data from in-situ, air-borne, and satellite-borne observations as well as to reconstructions from pictorial and written sources,” according to a report summary.
“The observed glaciers currently lose between half a meter and one meter of its ice thickness every year—this is two to three times more than the corresponding average of the 20th century,” explained Michael Zemp, lead author of the study and director of the World Glacier Monitoring Service, in a press statement about the report.
“Exact measurements of this ice loss are reported from a few hundred glaciers only,” Zemp continued. “However, these results are qualitatively confirmed from field and satellite-based observations for tens of thousands of glaciers around the world.”
Researchers concluded that the current rate of disappearance is “historically unprecedented” and that “centennial glacier retreat is a global phenomenon.”
Perhaps most alarmingly, they also found that global warming has led to glacier imbalance that has a momentum of its own. Zemp warned: “These glaciers will suffer further ice loss, even if climate remains stable.”
The findings come on the heels of a separate paper released last month by former NASA scientist James Hansen and 16 other climate researchers. They found: “If the ocean continues to accumulate heat and increase melting of marine-terminating ice shelves of Antarctica and Greenland, a point will be reached at which it is impossible to avoid large scale ice sheet disintegration with sea level rise of at least several meters.”