Recognise Climate Change Threat, as South East Asia’s Glacier Disappears
The study of glacier ice reveals evidence of past climate fluctuations, so if the only glacier in the Western Pacific/South East Asia disappears as expected in less than five years, it takes with it vital clues about the earth’s changing climate. Singapore author and environmental law expert Simon Tay believes climate change has the potential to unite the international community, as long as states recognise it as a threat and cooperate to achieve a policy that is both coordinated and inclusive. He is one of the notable speakers at the National Sustainability Conference in Singapore on 29/30 July.
AFP report (3 July 2010):
Jakarta: The only glacier in the western Pacific could disappear in less than five years, taking with it vital clues about the earth’s changing climate, a US scientist advises.
Ohio State University Professor Lonnie Thompson has just completed what he calls a “salvage mission” to extract ice cores from the glacier on Punjak Jaya, which soars above the tropical, reef-fringed waters of eastern Indonesia.
The ice core samples he collected after his 13-day trip to the Papuan central highlands are set to be shipped back to Chicago for further analysis.
But Thompson said one thing is clear: the glacier is dying.
“This is the only ice in the western end of the Pacific warm pool, which is the warmest water on earth. When it melts that history (from ice cores) is lost forever and there’s no way we can recapture it,” he told.
“My biggest concern is that we may be too late to capture that history. Some is already missing from the top and from the bottom. How much of that history do we still have?” Thompson estimated the glacier is disappearing at a rate of seven metres a year. As it is only about 32 metres deep, it could be gone in four or five years.
“Looking at the loss of ice that’s been occurring since the 1830s we thought that we were looking at decades (before the Punjak Jaya ice disappeared),” he said. “But I’ve never been to a glacier anywhere else in the world where it rains every day… If it rains on a glacier then that’s the death of the glacier.”
One of the world’s leading experts, Thompson has visited glaciers from Kenya to Peru. But he said he had never seen anything like what he experienced in Papua, where the ice was visibly melting under his tent.
“It’s the first glacier that I’ve visited where you can hear the water flowing underneath the ice,” he said. The 88 metres of ice samples from his expedition will be added to the Ohio State University’s valuable archive of tropical ice cores, where it will remain available for researchers years after the glacier itself may have gone.
The study of glacier ice reveals evidence of past climate fluctuations, which can then be referenced with samples from other parts of the planet to get a better understanding of current climate change.
“We hope to be able to reconstruct past temperatures, look at the history of the ice here and compare that with ice from around the world, particularly with ice from the other side of the Pacific Ocean,” Thompson said.
He said he hoped to publish his findings early next year.
National Sustainability Conference, Singapore 29/30 July:
Business Leaders and Policy Makers from both Asia and Australia will be presenting the latest sustainability research on topics such as Leadership, Achieving Sustainable Business Practices, the Economics of Climate Change, Green jobs and the future of the Environmental Economy in the Asia Pacific Region.
The Workplace Research Centre (University of Sydney) is a joint organiser of the upcoming National Sustainability Conference: Environmental Up-Skilling and the Green Collar Economy, scheduled for 29 – 30 July 2010 in Singapore.
Sustainable Development: Singapore’s Role in the Global Arena is the subject of the key note address at the National Sustainability Conference by Associate Professor Simon Tay, Chairman, Singapore Institute of International Affairs.
Simon Tay, a professor of law at the National University of Singapore, is former Chairman of Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) and a well-known author in Singapore.
In his new book, “Asia Alone: The Dangerous Post-Crisis Divide from America”, he elucidates such trends which have emerged pointing to Asia increasingly forging its own path, without America. He argues that, for the benefit of both sides, US and Asia should continue to engage each other and move towards a new relationship in the post-crisis world. Tay argues that the rise of Asia and the development of closer regional bonds can occur simultaneously with continued US engagement.
He is also the co-author (with Phir Paungmalit) of the paper released in March this year: “Climate change and Security in the Asia Pacific”
This paper explores the security implications of climate change with a special focus on the Asia-Pacific region. The core message is that climate change’s adverse impacts could act a “threat multiplier” and exacerbate existing political, economic and social tensions. In fragile regions, this could result in destabilization and conflict and pose a threat to national and international security. If countries fail to address this threat, climate change may trigger conflict within nations and between them.
This conflict could come about as a result of a natural disaster, resource scarcity, mass migration and others. However, climate change also has the potential to unite the international community, as long as states recognize climate change as a threat and cooperate to achieve a policy that is both coordinated and inclusive.
Besides Simon Tay, Business Leaders and Policy Makers from both Asia and Australia will be presenting the latest sustainability research on topics such as Leadership, Achieving Sustainable Business Practices, the Economics of Climate Change, Green jobs and the future of the Environmental Economy in the Asia Pacific Region.
The conference has been jointly organised with the Singapore Office of Environmental Sustainability, National University of Singapore. The guiding theme for the organisers was the future of sustainable development in the Asia Pacific Region with a focus on the sustainable workplace. Director of the Workplace Research Centre, Dr John Buchanan is a key speaker and will be giving a talk entitled ‘Skills for Greener Jobs.’
Other key speakers include:
* John Pearson, Head of the UK Regional Climate Change Network in Southeast Asia
* Ken Hickson, author of ‘The ABC of Carbon’ and Director of ABC Carbon
* Mann Young, Head of Sustainability, Lend Lease Asia
* Rob Moult, Vice President for Johnson Controls (Asia)
* Teo Lay Lim, Managing Director for Accenture Sustainability Services (Asia Pacific) and Country Managing Director, Singapore Accenture