"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
The burning of fossil fuels has contributed to warming in the Arctic that is much faster and more dramatic than scientists previously believed at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the world, a new international report concludes.
Melting sea ice and thawing permafrost is rapidly altering the Arctic environment. The changes could drive seals, polar bears and other animals toward extinction, said the report issued yesterday.
Warming in the north will be felt worldwide, as global sea levels rise from melting ice in Greenland and elsewhere and inundate low-lying areas from Florida to Bangladesh.
Arctic warming even has the potential to slow or shut down ocean currents that bring warm, tropical water into the North Atlantic. That shift that could freeze Great Britain and Northern Europe, scientists said.
The study, based on moderate estimates of future emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, predicts that by 2090 average winter temperatures in the Arctic will rise 7 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit over land and 13 to 18 degrees Fahrenheit over the ocean.
"Climate warming (in the Arctic) is occurring right now and has been doing so for the last 30 years and at rates that exceed anywhere else on the planet," said Robert Corell, an American scientist and chairman of the international team of 300 scientists who worked on the report.
"Instead of climate being a future problem, it's a now problem."
We didn't create this situation overnight; we've been working on it since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Likewise, we can never solve the problem overnight; it will take decades, perhaps centuries, for corrective steps to have an effect. It is therefore all the more essential that we begin taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions immediately.
But that's not going to happen (emphasis supplied):
From Florida to Alaska and from coast to coast, nature's indicators show strong evidence of global warming in America, scientists said yesterday.
A report co-written by University of Texas biologist Camille Parmesan concluded that more than 40 scientific studies link climate change with observed ecological changes. In half of the studies, the link is strong, the report stated.
Satellite data and a century of temperature records have shown an overall increase in global temperatures to parallel the buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
But in a report released by the Pew Center for Global Climate Change, Parmesan and University of Colorado ecologist Hector Galbraith say there is growing and scientific evidence that now shows specific trends in the United States.
"What we were able to show is it's happening in everyone's back yard," Parmesan said.
In some cases, the buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases has caused plants and animals to shift their habitats northward. In others, the timing of natural cycles has been altered, the scientists said.
Despite the release of the studies, President Bush is unlikely to significantly alter his stance on the issue, a key White House official said yesterday.
Mandatory regulation or caps on greenhouse-gas emissions are unlikely for the foreseeable future, White House science adviser John Marburger told Scripps Howard News Service.
"Not in this administration," Marburger said.
Of course, we all know that the Empty Flight Suit prides himself in his optimism. It's very likely that he sees a silver lining in all these dark, gathering clouds.
Maybe he won't have to look far:
Rising global temperatures will melt areas of the Arctic this century, making them more accessible for oil and natural gas drilling, a report prepared by the United States and seven other nations said on Monday.