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Melting ice, rising seas, hotter planet
11/23/2016 Volume XLIX, No. 46

In November, Arctic sea ice is usually on the rise. But extraordinarily warm temperatures in the polar region are having the opposite reaction.

According to the Washington Post, researchers in the Arctic report that as of last weekend Arctic sea ice was still shrinking, during a season when short daylight hours usually mean bitter cold and ice growth.

Why does this matter? Arctic sea ice acts as the Northern Hemisphere’s air conditioner, keeping vast parts of our planet cool enough for human habitation. The ice reflects light and heat from the sun, rather than absorbing it as a dark ocean would.

Arctic sea ice is one of many climate change topics explored in Before the Flood, a new documentary produced by Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s recommended viewing for anyone who is interested in, or skeptical about, about climate change.

Leonardo and his team traveled the globe for two years to witness climate change firsthand and talk with experts about what can be done to prevent catastrophic consequences.

In Greenland, climatologist Jason Box describes how more than 30 feet of solid ice melted in just the past two decades, contributing to sea level rise. As the ice disappears, he explains, it disrupts global weather patterns, contributing to both flooding and droughts.

Before the Flood also takes viewers to Florida, where the mayor of Miami talks about “sunny day flooding” and a massive pumping project to buy his city another 50 years; to Beijing, China, where millions of people can’t go outside without face masks because of extreme air pollution from burning fossil fuels; to New Delhi, India, where millions of impoverished people without access to energy see coal as a solution despite its risks.

In the South Pacific, low-lying islands are being inundated by rising seas; in Sumatra, rainforests are burned to make way for palm oil plantations, destroying the last remaining places on Earth where elephants, rhinos, tigers and orangutans live together in the wild.

What are the solutions? Leonardo visits the Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada to talk with founder Elon Musk about his vision for a future powered by solar energy. Since the sun doesn’t shine all the time, Musk believes new super-batteries capable of storing enormous amounts of power gathered by solar panels can completely eliminate the world’s reliance on fossil fuels.

In Sweden, Stockholm University professor Johan Rockstrom tells Leonardo of his country’s plan to have “free energy forever” through solar and wind power. Sweden aims to become the world’s first fossil fuel-free country.

Those who question climate change get stern words from NASA Earth Sciences Director Dr. Piers Sellers, a former astronaut. “The facts are crystal clear: The ice is melting. The Earth is warming. The sea level is rising. Those are facts,” he says as he demonstrates NASA’s satellite mapping of Earth’s ocean temperatures.

Sellers, who is dying of pancreatic cancer, tells Leonardo he is confident Earth’s residents will come “out of the fog of confusion” and stop climate change: “We need to be realistic and find a way out of it – and there are ways out of it.”

Takeaways from Before the Flood:

  • Consumers need to change their ways on what they buy, what they eat and how they get power.
  • We need to support leaders who will fight climate change by investing in renewable energy, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and backing a carbon tax.

Before the Flood – which gets its name from a panel in a 500-year-old painting, Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch, depicting the fall of civilization – can be viewed for free online. Go to To check out the trailer first, go to

To read the Washington Post story about Arctic sea ice, go to

And to learn about preserving New Jersey’s land and natural resources, go to the New Jersey Conservation Foundation website at or contact me at



Still the Garden State!

Protect New Jersey's wildlife homes

Preserved lands protect clean air and water

To tree or not to tree?

Hard cider in the Garden State

Turkey Time

American shad return to New Jersey river after 173 years

Act now to avoid worst climate impacts

NJ Natural Lands Trust celebrates 50 years

Must love bats!

Move and improve your health!

Renewable energy: Save money and our land, water, air and health

Speak up for endangered species!

Save the bugs!

Check out New Jersey's fall bird migration

A little bit of respect...for native plants!

Explore New Jersey's wildflower meadows

All aboard floating classrooms

Catch the Perseids meteor shower!

Check out the 'fun' in fungi

Too hot to think? Studies shows heat affects your brain

Love NJ's outdoors? Take action now!

New Jersey's official reptile, the bog turtle

Sea level rise and New Jersey: Not perfect together

These New Jersey plants have an appetite for insects

Explore the Pine Barrens through paddles, hikes and tours

Like to jog? 'Plog' instead and keep NJ clean

Love Jersey fruit? Thank our native pollinators!

Good news for globally rare swamp pink lilies

Say cheese! Remote cameras aid wildlife research

Begone, single-use plastic bags!

3,000 birds and counting for 'bluebird grandfather'

The Pine Barrens gets some help from its friends

A clean energy future for New Jersey

Cowtown and rare grassland birds, perfect together

Fight light pollution during International Dark Sky Week

New film tells story of how Petty's Island was saved

Ten years of nipping invasive species in the bud

Welcome spring in a county park

Go for a walk and feel better!

Grab a friend and go outside

Recycle your way to zero waste!

Last call for winter wildlife watching on Jersey coast

Without its 'understory' layer, the forest will collapse

From whale songs to poetry, a remarkable journey

A cleaner, greener New Jersey

Let's keep New Jersey the Garden State, not the Pipeline State

New Jersey's winter hikes

'Trees don't vote' but Byrne saved Pine Barrens anyway

Governor-elect Murphy should set new course on the environment


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