Article 1

Summary

In her article on global warming in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on 4th August, 2008, Marian Wilkinson ponders the rising effects of global warming in the Arctic Circle. Scientists and ice experts say the entire northern ice cap could possibly vanish within ten to twenty years. They predict “ice-free” North Pole as early as 2013, due to the consistent increase in climate change that is presently occurring at the northern ice caps. According to US National Snow and Ice Data Centre, as the ice continues to melt daily at a gradually, increasing rate, the chances of the sea ice fully recovering seems to be unlikely. The scientists are also predict occurrences of extreme storms and rainfall as a result of ice melt (Wilkinson 2008).

What are the diverse views being expressed about the topic? Who are the key stakeholders? Why do they express their views?

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Wilkinson (2008) writes that the affected are not just the human and animal inhabitants in the northern ice caps, but also the entire worldwide population. Sir John Franklin, a former governor of Tasmania says that the icebreaker’s route revealed thick sea ice at the entrance to the fabled Northwest Passage where over the centuries many navigators perished. Dr Mark Serreze, a researcher at The Snow and Ice Data Centre, recaps that an “ice-free” Arctic Circle would cause weather effects such as longer rains, floods, droughts, etc. In addition, A US Interior Secretary, Dirk Kempthorne, reported the speedy loss of Arctic sea ice had resulted to listing of polar bears as endangered species because their populations could collapse within a few decades.

How are the roles of engineers and/or technologists around this topic represented in the media?

Technologists specializing in ice caps, climate, and global warming are regarded by the media as the people who hold the key to finding solutions that may save the entire world of the impending disaster that may be caused by global warming. Don Perovich, another researcher with the US Army’s points out that loss of the sea ice in would be unfortunate in human history (Wilkinson 2008).

Are there discussions concerning changes through history regarding this or similar topics? How?  Why?

Robie Macdonald, an oceanographer on board the Louis said, “Only a few years ago, climate modellers predicted the sea ice would not disappear in summer until at least the end of the century. They afterwards  said 2070, then 2050 and eventually 2030,”. He adds that, Not only does he see the change, but it is actually drawing closer (Wilkinson 2008).

Article 2

Summary

This article informs that Australia wants to reduce global warming by reducing large amounts of greenhouse emissions. The National Association of Forestry Industries (NAFI) says that under current tax arrangements for forestry plantations, new plantations could sequester one-fifth of the emissions required to meet a 20 per cent reduction target by 2020 (Taylor 2008).

Why is this topic controversial?

Conservation experts’ campaign for permanent forests to be counted towards mitigation efforts, and various rural communities and conservative politicians, who say the present tax breaks are too generous and that plantations are taking over arable farm land and destroying country communities. Furthermore, Australian government is considering changing the Kyoto Protocol rules, which do not recognise carbon stored in wood products made from harvested timber (Taylor 2008).

What are some of the diverse views expressed about the topic? Who are they key stakeholders? Why do these stakeholders express their views?

According to the author, NAFI indicates that forestry could contribute even more if the Government extends forest plantation tax breaks and succeeded in persuading other countries that carbon stored in trees felled to make timber products should also count towards reduction targets. The author also reports that Australia this issue is up for discussion at the UN climate change talks (Taylor 2008).

How are the roles of engineers and/or technologists around this topic represented in the media?

The experts from organizations like the National Association of Forestry Industries are assisting in finding out ways in which the carbon emmisions in trees could be reduced. The author portrays the efforts by NAFI, to be very critical in informing as well as coercing the government of the day in taking appropriate steps that would enhance a reduction in carbon emissions. It is through this kind of efforts that the author notes that the Australian government has put the issue of carbon emissions in the agenda up for discussion on the UN climate change talks (Taylor 2008).

Are there discussions concerning changes through history regarding this or similar topics? How? Why?

In the article, NAFI says that new plantations could sequester one-fifth of the emissions required to meet a 20 per cent reduction target by 2020, providing 4500 new jobs. However, the author does mention that there may be great reduction in greenhouse emissions rates only if the prescribed measures are going to be adopted (Taylor 2008).

References

Taylor, L2008, “Trees to cut into emission targets”, The Australian, Sydney.

Wilkinson, M 2008, “A voyage into the great Arctic meltdown”, Sydney Morning Herald, 4, Sydney

 

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