Friday, June 27, 2008

Move Along Santa: North Pole Likely To Melt Next Month

In another frightening sign of how fast the earth’s climate is changing, the British newspaper The Independent reports this morning that, for the first time in human history, the odds are better than 50:50 the ice cap at the North Pole will melt this summer.

The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one of the most dramatic examples of the impact of global warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90’ north may well have melted away by mid-summer.

"From the viewpoint of science, the North Pole is just another point on the globe, but symbolically it is hugely important. There is supposed to be ice at the North Pole, not open water," The Independent quotes Mark Serreze of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado as saying.

The only good news coming from this revelation is that perhaps, finally, the climate change deniers like Oklahoma Sen. Inhofe will shut up, and Congress will tackle the issue in a meaningful way.

Seasoned polar scientists believe the chances of a totally ice-free North Pole this summer are great because the normally thick ice formed over many eons at the Pole has been blown away, replaced by huge swathes of thinner ice formed over a single year. This one-year ice is highly vulnerable to melting during the summer months. Satellite data coming in over recent weeks shows that the rate of melting is faster than last year, when there was an all-time record loss of summer sea ice at the Arctic.

Inuit tribes who have lived in Canada’s Arctic north since before the Alaska-Siberia land bridge disappeared, and who have a strong oral history tradition, say that their fishing and hunting takes – on which their survival depends – have been diminishing for the past decade and now are at the lowest levels ever known. Natives living near Baffin Bay between Canada and Greenland are reporting that the sea ice there is starting to break up much earlier than normal and that they are seeing wide cracks appearing in the ice where it normally remains stable.

Meanwhile, John McCain is continuing his call for a summer gas tax holiday to encourage people to drive more, and off-shore drilling to produce more oil and gas, both of which only exacerbate the climate change crisis. So much for his pretending to be an environmentalist of convenience. It reminds me of when Ronald Reagan said trees are the biggest polluters.

By no means am I a “tree hugger.” But the evidence of global warming is so overwhelming, and reports such as The Independent’s means it is happening at a faster clip than even the most pessimistic predicted, that anyone who cares about the future of their children and grandchildren and their grandchildren’s grandchildren – to say nothing of the planet we all inhabit – better stop talking green and start acting green.

No one person, business, organization or government can do it alone. The phoney campaign hype of a $300-million prize for a new battery – McCain’s solution – only distracts the country and the world from the ravages mankind has brought on a planet that’s provided so much for so long to so many. It is long part time for genuine change.


UPDATE 28.06.08 - My good friend Susan, an activist who lives in Washington, sent me an email about this item and she makes a strong point:

"The enviros have painted themselves in a corner (using lead-free paint of course). You cannot expect individuals to take action on global warming when the message from the enviro leadership is “we’re all going to die.” Changing lightbulbs or recycling is greenwashing at best, insignificant at worst. Our planet did not degrade in a day, and it will not improve in a day—metaphorically speaking—either. It will take serious long-term policy, economic and lifestyle changes if we are going to reverse our disastrous course. It requires coordinated, international action that involves every segment of our society thinking and working creatively and morally. The Supreme Court’s recent gift to ExxonMobil is an example of what we do NOT need. But scare tactics don’t work either (see life post 9/11). Shared sacrifice toward a common goal (our survival) is the only way. "

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