Not just drunken trees - changes in human infrastructure from melting Arctic permafrost.

Many discussions of climate change impacts in the Arctic focus on the natural environment. Sea ice decline, shifts in animal migratory patterns, and the increasing number of snow free days are often among them. However, human endeavors are not exempt. Some of the infrastructure used to extract the fossil fuels responsible for climate change is now at risk itself due to melting permafrost. In a recent publication in Nature Communications, Jan Hjort et al. indicate that almost four million people and 70% of current infrastructure will likely be coping with the effects of near surface permafrost melt by the middle of this century. Besides the associated natural hazards and economic impacts, this will likely impact the aesthetic of the built environment in this region as well. From an artist’s perspective, the implication of this research is that historic buildings in older villages, which have been an important part of their local cultural landscape for many decades, are at risk of being damaged or destroyed.

Read the entire article here:
Degrading permafrost puts Arctic infrastructure at risk by mid-century

New Year's Rain.

I’m listening to the rain pound my window in New York on New Year’s Eve. The forecast refuses to even hint at snow for the next week, which is often one of the coldest of the year. I see “1-2 inches” and get excited, imaging what it would have been like as snow. Probably 1-2 feet, or at least enough to warrant pulling my gaiters on. Instead, dust collects on my cold weather gear, which seems out of place in this “new normal;” I’ve seen just a single significant snowfall this season. The ball is dropping in Times Square tonight, surrounded by thousands of people braving wind gusts over 40 miles per hour. Wind in New York City is nothing new. What caught my attention was the dramatic change of attire. Gone are the down jackets and wool hats, replaced by raincoats and rubber boots. The ball is dropping. I read several news stories today about the Paris Agreement and I imagined what could have been had we not dropped the ball, long before Paris.

But tonight we’re supposed to forget our worries and ring in the next year with all the optimism of the last. I for one, am still optimistic, thanks to the efforts of many cities, counties, and states who refuse to turn a blind eye to global climate change. They were spurred to action by you, by me, by individuals. We have much work ahead of us, but human ingenuity and perseverance are never to be underestimated.

Happy New Year.

A wish for Winter.

This is more. More than me. I was born in Winter in the upper Midwest so I knew cold as a child and cherished my snow days. They were days of wonder, pulling my mittens on as fast as I could to get outside. I spent hours carving trails in the snow through the frozen grasslands and evergreen forests. I was connected to the seasons, to the rhythms of life. I suppose this was my good fortune of growing up in a rural area. I moved to the Rocky Mountains as a young man out of college. When you walk on a glacier for the first time, you know there are things greater than money, greater than possessions, greater than you. This is more than me. 

Welcome, and thank you for joining me today. There is much more to come.