Malaysian authorities have finally determined that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean, but the liberal magazine Mother Jones blames the extended nature of the search on the effects of man-made climate change.
On Friday, prior to the country’s prime minister’s announcement that the plane had been located, the magazine claimed that expectations for where the plane might be were “vastly different from where investigators could have anticipated 30 years ago” because climate change and a once-thinning ozone layer have drastically altered ocean currents.
Scientists interviewed by Mother Jones worried that changes to the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the Indian Ocean Gyre, the area where the plane is expected to be, have thrown off the search, which relied on long-term current and weather forecasts. The shifts can be blamed on anthropogenic changes, they argue:
The potential plane debris spotted via satellite is in “this sort of boundary between the circumpolar current and the gyre; both of those currents are shifting south,” says Steven Rintoul, an expert on the southern oceans with Australia’s foremost scientific research agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) , in Hobart. “And it looks like that’s largely due to human activities, but not just greenhouse gases. Both the ozone hole and greenhouse gases are working together to change the winds over the Southern Ocean.”
The lack of attention paid to climate change has led to a shortage of data and misjudgments, Mother Jones determined. “When things happen in the Indian [Ocean], we find out how little infrastructure we actually have in place,” one scientist said.
“This is one of those grand challenges, one of those big things that is really hard. We have to grapple with Mother Nature and try to say, ‘Look lady, give us your secrets! We won’t get rough with you, please don’t get rough with us!’” she said.