Friday, February 25, 2005
But I really think this whole "global warming" thing is blown out of proportion. Probably needs LOTS more study, right? Besides, what have the polar bears done for me lately? I don't see them leaving fresh fish on my doorstep. From The Age of Icelessness:
Ice is melting everywhere – and at an accelerating rate. Rising global temperatures are lengthening melting seasons, thawing frozen ground, and thinning ice caps and glaciers that in some cases have existed for millennia. These changes are raising sea level faster than earlier projected by scientists, and threatening both human and wildlife populations.
Since the industrial revolution, human activity has released ever-increasing amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouses gases into the atmosphere, leading to gradual but unmistakable changes in climate throughout the world – especially at the higher latitudes.
Average surface temperatures in the Arctic Circle have risen by more than half a degree Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade since 1981. The extent of Arctic sea ice cover has decreased by 7-9 percent per decade. And the three smallest extents of summer ice ever seen there have all occurred since 2002. According to the latest forecasts, the Arctic could be ice-free in the summer by the end of this century.
The Arctic melt season has lengthened by 10-17 days, shrinking the amount of ice buildup that remains from year to year. As sea ice thins and recedes from coastlines, indigenous hunters and fishers are finding themselves cut off from traditional hunting grounds. Coastal communities face more violent and less predictable weather, rising sea levels, and diminishing access to food sources. Polar bears, unable to cross thin or nonexistent ice to hunt seals, will soon face a severely reduced food source.
Scientists fear that with continued melting, the bears may become extinct by the end of the century. Seals, walruses, and seabirds will also lose key feeding and breeding grounds along the ice edge.