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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



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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

Protect soils to keep the garden in our state

Clean, plentiful water is New Jersey's lifeblood

A breath of fresh air for New Jersey?

Keep Liberty State Park free and open

A green agenda for Governor-elect Murphy

Life, liberty ... and a clean environment

New Jersey's aging water infrastructure

The land before time: NJ's Kittatinny Ridge & Valley

While bats hibernate, scientists hope for survival

Natural Resource Damages fund new parks and preserves

Save menhaden, a humble but mighty fish

Ballot question approval would lock in environmental funds

Sandy Millspaugh: Conservation Trailblazer

Extreme hurricanes highlight concerns about climate change

'Head start' for corn snakes

Protecting the Highlands - it's the water

When you could walk from New Jersey to Morocco

A bold plan for the planet

New Jersey's energy future at a crossroads

Tiny insect will have a huge impact on New Jersey

Protect New Jersey's Pine Barrens

Enjoy New Jersey's forests!

Maine-to-Florida urban trail celebrates 25 years

Rare plants and animals need help!

Ban offshore drilling and seismic testing off NJ coast!

Summertime and the digging is easy

Is the elusive bobcat here to stay?

NJ water supply plan rings alarm bells

NJ's Piedmont: Formed by volcanoes and erosion

Defend public health and safety in state budget

'Magical' early 17-year cicadas

June and open space: Perfect together

Hit the trails on June 3, National Trails Day

Socializing with nature

Preserve land - and state's in lieu of taxes program

New Jersey's 'marl' pits yield dinosaur discoveries

Vernal pools: Now you see 'em, now you don't

State targets illegal dumpers in parks and forests

Former governors and elected leaders stand up for environment

Join CSAs to support local farms, save money, eat better

Weather extremes may be New Jersey's new normal

Bald eagles and ospreys rebound in New Jersey

Pine Barrens prescribed fires: A renewal force


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