ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Scientists on Monday painted a gloomy picture of the effects of global warming on the Arctic, warning of melting ocean ice, rising oceans, thawed permafrost and forests susceptible to bugs and fire.
"A lot of the stories you read make it sound like there's uncertainty," said Jonathan Overpeck, a professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona. "There's not uncertainty."
Scientists predict the summertime Arctic could be ice free before the end of the century, opening up northern sea routes but threatening the existence of polar bears, a marine mammal that depends on sea ice to live.
Other scientists ticked off the effects of warming on fish, forests and tundra.
Shrubs have thrived in the greater warmth and in turn accelerate warming. Like open water in the ocean, shrubs darken what otherwise would be a mostly white, reflective snow-covered environment, Sturm said.
If warming trends continue, Overpeck said, the globe eventually will get a nasty message from the Arctic: a rise in sea levels. Higher oceans will flow into low-lying parts of the world such as New Orleans, making recovery in that hurricane-ravaged city moot.
"It's hard to imagine why we're wanting to rebuild if we're going to allow global warming," Overpeck said.
It's had for me to believe that we're just going about our business as if none of this were happening. The ability of the human psyche to engage in denial cannot be exaggerated.
While we're on the subject, take a look at the title of another article: "Global warming threatens Tibet rail link". Here's an excerpt:
BEIJING (Reuters) - Global warming could threaten the new Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the world's highest, within a decade, a Chinese researcher said in remarks published on Sunday.
Wu Ziwang, a frozen soil specialist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the official Xinhua news agency his research over three decades revealed large areas of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau showed signs of shrinking, as they were frozen less of the time.
This could threaten the new railway, which is to start operations this year, Wu said.
"Fast thawing of frozen soil in the plateau might greatly increase the instability of the ground, causing more grave geological problems in the frozen soil areas where major projects such as highways or railways run through," Wu added.
A separate report by the academy's desert institute showed that temperatures on the plateau have been rising markedly since 1984 and that winter temperatures could rise by another 1-2 degrees Celsius by 2050.
It relieves me to know that I'll be dead by then. But of course, that's a selfish attitude, really. The children being born today will be very much alive. Do we not care what happens to them? Bush's future grandchildren will be in their prime in 2050. Is he not interested in what kind of planet they will inherit?