Sunday, September 09, 2007

Sea Ice Melting

On the news yesterday and in some newspapers was a long report about the Arctic sea ice. Satellite images showed that since 1979, about 40% of the ice has melted.

That's a lot of ice.

Sure, the ice could freeze up again--if we had a few very cold winters and cool summers. But Arctic ice isn't like ice in your freezer. It acts as a giant white mirror reflecting the sun's rays back out into space. When the white ice is gone, those rays heat up the surrounding water, making the remaining ice melt even faster. This starts a cycle of warming and melting that speeds up. It's like trying to make ice in your freezer when the ice tray is sitting on top of a warming pan--and the temperature of the warming pan is slowly rising.

As the ice is released into water and the ice mirror effect fades, the world's climate will go through drastic changes, starting with the drowning of the coastlines.

What sickens me is the response of the four Arctic nations who have no doubt been observing this change for years. Canada, Denmark, Russia, and the US are all staking claims to the Arctic seabed.

Because it contains 25% of the world's remaining oil supply.

They see environmental disaster as an economic opportunity. They sound no alarm bells, wage no international campaigns to save the earth. Instead,, they stake their claims. There is money to be made in this disaster.

Never mind the irony that it's the burning of fossil fuels that has caused a lot of the global warming. They would cheerfully add more fuel to that fire if it made them a few bucks.

That is perhaps the saddest part of this story: the greed and self-centredness it exposes. Rather than try to save our planet, our leaders are lining up to be the first to push it over the edge.


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