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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jane Lubchenko: "We're entering a no-analogue world"

TP GREEN: One of the things that people are talking about was the question of Arctic sea ice decline and positive feedbacks. Is it fair to characterize oil and gas exploration that’s opened up because of declining sea ice in the Arctic and thus increasing the amount of carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere, is that reasonable to call that another positive feedback loop –

LUBCHENCO: [Laughter.]

TP GREEN: — another manmade feedback?

LUBCHENCO: That’s an interesting way to frame it. You know, I think regardless of that the challenges are how do you provide clean energy for the country that addresses our energy security needs while also addressing the realities of climate change. And they’re really in a transition now and there are a lot of different things to be balanced.

TP GREEN: In all seriousness, looking at it from a global civilizational perspective, because the question of Arctic drilling is not solely a US one, but a global one –

LUBCHENCO: Absolutely.

TP GREEN: And you look at it from the basic carbon budget question and the reserves that are potentially locked up there –

LUBCHENCO: Less sea ice means greater access to reserves for gas and oil that are there.

TP GREEN: Is it fair to say that increased production of oil and gas means less sea ice?

LUBCHENCO: Yes, absolutely. That’s what’s driving the –

TP GREEN: Are there any plausible civilizational risks to a world without Arctic sea ice?

LUBCHENCO: Well, what happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. It has huge implications for the global system. And one of the reasons people are legitimately concerned about melting of sea ice are the uncertainties associated with the consequences of that for the rest of the planet. You know, we’re entering a no-analogue world here. We’ve never experienced the kinds of changes that we’re seeing now in the Arctic and elsewhere. And we don’t fully understand what the consequences of that are going to be.

TP GREEN: Thank you.

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