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Jul. 26 2009 - 12:00 am | 4,062 views | 5 recommendations | 35 comments

More of the Arctic ice photos kept secret by the Bush Administration

Almost two weeks ago, the Obama Administration declassified about 1,000 satellite photographs of Arctic ice the Bush Administration had kept under wraps. The photos didn’t make much of a splash until this morning, however, when two English newspapers, the Guardian and the Daily Mail, published this startling specimen:

satellite-images-of-polar-006But that’s just the beginning of a series of disturbing images anyone can view at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Global Fiducials Library. Here’s a six-year change in the Beaufort Sea:

beaufo_640x480

And evidence of the retreat of the Bering Glacier:

bering_640x480

The photographs were taken by spy satellites, then requested by scientists as part of a program that allows scientists to request classified photographs of environmentally sensitive areas. At the time, the Bush Administration released the photographs to the scientists but deemed them unsuitable for public release. Earlier this month, the National Academy of Sciences recommended the Obama Administration declassify the photos. The Interior Department released the photos to the public the same day, as reported July 16 by Reuters.

I’ll be sending copies of these to my Aunt Edna. I recommend you do the same.


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  1. collapse expand

    Wow.
    Scary.
    And not that surprising that Bush sat on these. I’m going to pass this around, would you like me to credit you for the find? I’ll let you know what my Aunt Edna’s say.

  2. collapse expand

    Its not just a sign that Bush denied the issue. He just brushed the evidence under the carpet until he was gone. Too much of a slacker to want to address yet another boring issue and add to his daily workload.

    And anyway, all his buddies (who were actually Cheney’s buddies) in big business seemed eager for him to cover over so in Bush’s mind he nailed it. 2 birds with one stone. Less effort and “everybody’s” happy.

  3. collapse expand

    Jeff,

    I saw this story this morning on the Guardian website. The images are astonishing. Rendered in the bleak black and white, they take on ab even more serious tone. This is such a short amount of time we are talking about here, also. The majority of us do not live in areas where visible signs of receding ice can be seen, so it’s important for us to see it. Pictures of Mount Kilimanjaro’s vanishing snow-cap over time have the same effect, though many claim that one is not due to global warming. Thanks for covering this stuff.

  4. collapse expand

    Thanks, Nick. A few months ago, the Guardian also published photos of the changes in the Himalayas over 50 years–the gradual appearance of a lake where once there was ice.

    • collapse expand

      Those photos are incredible as well. Thanks for sharing. Aside from these stories, what I am really interested in is the local perspective on these changes. A culture who is not tapped into the science jargon or the global warming might have their own mythological reasoning for the changes. Have you come across any of that kind of stuff in your research?

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    I’m not even sure if irrefutable evidence of global environmental disaster is enough to sway the Global Warming deniers or even relevant in that regard: Most, especially on the far fringes of the right, are pretty much preparing for the end anyway. Guess we should get in on the new hot beachfront Real Estate in Barrow, AK while it’s hot!

  6. collapse expand

    This may be completely off the wall, but one of my first thoughts was, could this be the real reason Palin got out? She had to know about those areas that are in her state, Bering Glacier, Alaska. And she probably knew these photos were coming out soon. Well, the main thing is thanks for letting us know this even more startling than ever news about the deterioration of our planet. Another thought I have about this is that, evidently, there are many, many people who do not “believe” in global warming even though the hard evidence is staring them in the face. Many of these same people profess absolute, unquestioning faith to a supernatural, devine being, with their eyes closed to what the planet is showing them. . .and this could be a message from God!

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    Environmental reporting recruited me 25 years ago—on my first day as a reporter for my college newspaper, when I discovered my college was discarding radioactive waste in the regular city trash. Since then I've written hard news for dailies, including the Arizona Republic, and slanty news for alternative weeklies, including Newcity. I've written a column for New Times, stories on the Web for Forecast Earth, essays for PEN International and other magazines. I lived in an idyllic California village nestled among volcanoes and vineyards until my batteries were full of sunshine, and then I returned to my origins on the South Side of Chicago, where hope persists with no illusions about the struggle ahead. I cross the asphalt jungle by bicycle and el, mostly to get to the University of Chicago, where I teach journalism. But what matters more than any of this is a lifelong love for the natural world. We are all born with it, I believe, but some turn away.

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