Careless humanity batters the Arctic
The Arctic Battered by Careless Humanity
By Joshua S. Hill
July 3, 2007
I feel the need to say from the outset when I discuss topics such as Global-Warming that I am indeed a greenie of sorts, and I believe that the obvious downward spiral that our planet is taking is due to the careless attitudes towards the environment that the industrialized and predominantly white nations have taken over the past decades. I, as a note, am white, and have no qualms in pointing the finger at my own country (Australia) and others that we support, and that support us. In fact, I am ashamed to be one of the only two countries in the world not to have signed the Kyoto Protocol (the other, for reference, being the United States of America).
I am further ashamed at the fact that it has taken so many years for terms like global-warming’ and climate change’ to no longer be seen as the terms of alarmist scientists and advocates. I remember with deep regret the days — not so long ago — when I would hear on the news and in the papers politicians ridiculing those warning of El Niño and changes to our climate. Only now are people finally beginning to realize that they and their parents have begun a trend in the atmosphere and climate of our planet that will take generations to rectify.
The United States House of Representatives passed a bill, on the 27th of June that would divert towards the cause of remedying the devastation to our planet, by increasing their investments in basic research projects on climate change. Included in the bill was the move to establish a new commission to review scientific issues that need to be addressed.
And while this is at least a step in the right direction, one cannot help but look at the past several months of America’s stance towards this topic. It was about a month ago that we were seeing America’s diplomats fighting over the wording of the G8 Summit Declaration of Intent. One such clause that the negotiators struck was; “climate change is speeding up and will seriously damage our common natural environment and severely weaken (the) global economy … resolute action is urgently needed in order to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s must have been grinding her teeth when she later heard that Bush had revealed’ his plan for combating climate change. Labeled as a “do-nothing” approach by those who actually know what is happening (in league with those who don’t like anything Bush is doing), he called for a group of nations to come together to announce a target goal for carbon gas emissions; essentially what the German Chancellor had been calling for, along with Britain’s then leader Tony Blair, and even Cuba’s Communist leader Fidel Castro.
One has to look at the House’s declaration as the new way forward for America, thanks to the Democrats who now have control over the House, leaving Bush’ Republicans floundering along behind. In fact, it was with a margin of 272-155 that the bill passed, something that baffles me considering the sheer weight of information available to prove that the earth is indeed changing.
John Smol takes measurement of desiccated pond on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian High Arctic. Photo by Marianne Douglas
No more proof should be needed than a recent journal article from the soon to be published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). John Smol (Professor of Biology at Queen’s University and holder of the Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change) and Marianne Douglas (Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Director of the Canadian Circumpolar Institute at the University of Alberta), two of Canada’s leading scientists, have been making regular yearly field visits to some 40 pond’s on Cape Herschel, east-central Ellesmere Island, in the Canadian High Arctic.
What they have found has alarmed them, as they describe their research location as “ the miner’s canaries’ of the planet, showing the first signs of warming.”
Ever since 1983, the pair has been journeying to this remote spot in Canada’s Arctic region, and has noticed a downward trend of fresh water ponds. Back in the early 1990’s the ponds that they visited were simply undergoing a decrease in water levels, and a change in chemistry. However when they returned in 2006, some of the ponds had altogether dried up.
From Physorg.com’s article on the pair, Dr Douglas; “This study shows the value of long-term monitoring programs. Had we just arrived at Cape Herschel last year, we would have surmised that these were naturally temporary ponds. But we know instead that this was not the case — these had been permanent water bodies for millennia.”
The chemistry change’ spoken of is an increase in salt levels. Dr. Smol describes this by using an analogy of a pot of soup on the stove. “If you take the lid off, it is similar to what we are observing in these ponds. The soup will slowly decrease in volume and it will get saltier and saltier as the water evaporates, leaving the salts behind.”
“In the past, researchers like us have sometimes been accused of being alarmist when we discussed climate warming,” says Dr. Smol, winner of the 2004 NSERC Herzberg Gold Medal as Canada’s top scientist or engineer. “We now think we have been overly optimistic — the speed and magnitude of environmental changes are worse than even we imagined!”
Thankfully, people are beginning to listen to researchers like them’. The military leaders of the world are even getting behind the need for action on climate change. Retiring US Generals have composed a report, within which they describe global warming as a “serious threat to America’s national security”, and in all likelihood, to the rest of the world. The report describes that the lack of water and food supplies is most likely to hit those countries that are already in some form of political or social strife. “Climate change exacerbates already unstable situations,” says former U.S. Army chief of staff Gordon Sullivan to the Associated Press Radio.
The British head of armed forces, Jock Stirrup, has also stepped in to the debate, never one to let the Yanks’ get the last say. “Just glance at a map of the areas most likely to be affected and you are struck at once by the fact that they are exactly those parts of the world where we see fragility, instability and weak governance today.”
It’s only a few days until Live Earth kicks off the world’s largest ever combined concert, featuring 100 artists, broadcast to 2 billion people across the globe, from ecologically sustainable venues over 24 hours. Al Gore, one of the primary driving forces behind the event, has even managed to line up an act from Antarctica, the other’ continent that always gets left out. He’s met his claim to have a concert broadcast from the 7 continents.
It’s going to be a call across the nations to do something about climate change, global warming, carbon emissions, anything! It’s a call that must be met, if we are to provide our children, and our children’s children with a future that does not require adapted living’. I told you I was a greenie, but I think you can see why I am. I’ll do my bit for the environment for my children, and for this earth. Now you’ve got to do the same!