Thursday, August 11, 2005

Alarming news on climate change

Every morning I log onto the Guardian - a very fine British newspaper - and read the the headlines along with selected articles. This morning I was distressed to read an article by science correspondent Ian Sample entitled, "Warming hits 'tipping point'". The subtitle reads:

Siberia feels the heat; It's a frozen peat bog the size of France and Germany combined, contains billions of tonnes of greenhouse gas and, for the first time since the ice age, it is melting.

I feel like printing out the article and joining Cindy Sheehan (who's camped outside the president's ranch) and then demanding that Bush read the article. Of course, he's bragged that he doesn't read. Heck, I'll read it to him.

Here's an excerpt:

It is a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying "tipping points" - delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the Earth's temperature can cause a dramatic change in the environment that itself triggers a far greater increase in global temperatures.

The discovery was made by Sergei Kirpotin at Tomsk State University in western Siberia and Judith Marquand at Oxford University and is reported in New Scientist today.

The researchers found that what was until recently a barren expanse of frozen peat is turning into a broken landscape of mud and lakes, some more than a kilometre across.

Dr Kirpotin told the magazine the situation was an "ecological landslide that is probably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climatic warming". He added that the thaw had probably begun in the past three or four years.

Climate scientists yesterday reacted with alarm to the finding, and warned that predictions of future global temperatures would have to be revised upwards.

Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth, said the following:

If we don't take action very soon, we could unleash runaway global warming that will be beyond our control and it will lead to social, economic and environmental devastation worldwide. There's still time to take action, but not much.

The assumption has been that we wouldn't see these kinds of changes until the world is a little warmer, but this suggests we're running out of time.

We are running out of time. Why aren't the powers-that-be paying more attention? It's something I just cannot, for the life of me, understand.

UPDATE: I just got an email from Environmental Defense with a link to an article entitled, "Near the tipping point?" about the oceans. You might want to take a look at that one too.

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