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    Climate change in the Arctic twice as fast as expected.
    Posted on Tuesday, November 02, 2004 @ 20:37:24 GMT by vlad

    General Overtone writes: And yet it melts

    Wednesday November 3, 2004

    The Guardian

    Some people still think the world is flat. Others firmly believe that the sun rotates around the earth. In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, they cling to their opinions based on the naive realism of what they can see with their own eyes and nothing else. In children or most adults, such beliefs are quaint or merely cranky at worst. But there is a class of events that too many people, and too many otherwise sensible people in positions of authority, refuse to see: climate change.

    True, the facts of global warming and its consequences are large, complex, slow-moving and depressing, and addressing it threatens to be expensive and difficult. But the evidence of climate change continues to move heavily towards the need to stop its causes. As with discredited ideas that the earth is at the centre of the universe or is flat, there will always be some who disagree. But climate change deniers, for all their easy scepticism and Popperesque deployment of arguments, cannot be allowed to outweigh the very real evidence that the world is in danger.

    The latest profound signs of global warming come from the frozen Arctic. Involving hundreds of scientists and six indigenous communities, the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment draws on a comprehensive survey carried out over four years in the eight countries that abut the North Pole. It reveals a catalogue of evidence that should prompt the most hardened sceptics to think again - especially those who argue that natural causes and variations are being mistaken for human-made climate change. The report, commissioned by the Arctic Council, states baldly that "human influences, resulting primarily from increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, have now become the dominant factor". The Arctic, it goes on, "is now experiencing some of the most rapid and severe climate change on earth" - twice as fast as previously estimated.

    There are a number of disturbing aspects to this report - not least the accusation by some European researchers involved that its publication was being delayed until after the US election to spare the blushes of the Bush administration. But the report's evidence speaks for itself: the Arctic's icecap is melting at an unprecedented rate, while the giant ice sheets of Greenland are under threat. But the most worrying aspect is the report's suggestion that at the current rate of warming, there may be no ice at all in the Arctic come the summer of 2070 - effectively killing one of the world's most distinctive and rich ecosystems.

    What happens now? Given the weight and scope of evidence, the report's conclusions that rapid efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions would slow down the pace of climate change must be followed. The international community has an early opportunity to make use of this report, when foreign ministers of the Arctic border nations - including the United States - meet in Iceland later this month. But until the US agrees to re-enter the negotiating process under which the Kyoto protocol was drawn up, there is little to be expected from the world's biggest polluter in making the sorts of cuts that would be required. There are other things that can be done to at least lessen the impact on the Arctic itself, such as cutting back on overfishing in the region - one of the factors that "threaten to overwhelm the adaptive capacity" of the Arctic's environment. In more direct terms, there are high hopes that today's conference in Berlin - being opened by the Queen, another convert to the cause of climate change - will charge the UK with an effective strategy for tackling greenhouse gas emissions. If we take this threat seriously we must face the hard facts that our patterns of energy usage and sources must change. The Arctic may be disappearing, but global warming will not.



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    "Climate change in the Arctic twice as fast as expected." | Login/Create an Account | 2 comments | Search Discussion
    The comments are owned by the poster. We aren't responsible for their content.

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    Re: Climate change in the Arctic twice as fast as expected. (Score: 1)
    by kurt9 on Wednesday, November 03, 2004 @ 08:39:52 GMT
    (User Info | Send a Message) http://www.metatechnica.com
    The Brits just need to build those 100 nuclear power plants. Then they have all the hydrogen they need for fuel cell powered cars as well as all of the electricity they need.

    The U.S. would need to build 400-500 new nukes. With changes in the regulatory climate, these could be build for about US$1 billion each, for a total cost of $400-500 billion over the next 20 years.

    This is a relatively small price to pay for energy independence from middle-eastern crude, even if you think global warming is horse puckey.

    Ultimately, unless ZPE is real, nuclear power (either fusion or fission) is the only option.

    Re: Climate change in the Arctic twice as fast as expected. (Score: 1)
    by ElectroDynaCat on Thursday, November 04, 2004 @ 06:30:56 GMT
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    Another scenario:
    Generate electricity from geothermal power, turn it into hydrogen. There's enough in the Western US to put a dent in our energy usage. It will require investment of a degree of magnitude greater than most in the private sector are willing to risk. When oil hits $60 a barrel, things might change.


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