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Sinking Polar Bears

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Melting Ice Caps And Thunder

By James Donahue
Eskimos and animals living in the Canadian Arctic tundra are experiencing something they have never seen or heard before. . . thunder and lightning.

Electric storms in the High Arctic are among a growing list of climate changes linked to global warming according to a study by the International Institute
for Sustainable Development in Winnipeg.

Researchers for the institute lived with the Inuit tribes to intensively document aboriginal knowledge of changes occurring in the Arctic environment. What they learned should be a shock to the people who still question the validity of claims that the earth is getting hotter.

During a year of research, workers talked to the natives in and around
Sachs Harbour, even accompanying them on hunting and fishing trips, and recorded their observations on videotape. They returned with a frightening record of melting permafrost, thinning ice and mudslides. Frozen permafrost has turned to mud in some places, causing buildings to tilt and making roads impassable.

The Inuit hunters say they are worried that the polar bears are in danger of falling through the thin ice while in pursuit of seals for food.

The people of Sachs Harbour now see robins and barn swallows in the spring. These birds are not known to migrate this far north.

Farther to the north, paleontologist Malcolm McKenna and a group of travelers who conducted a recent expedition from Norway to the North Pole, were shocked to discover a mile of open water 
right on the crown of the earth. McKenna returned with pictures of the newly formed lake and proclaimed it a "serious wake-up call."

A story from Reykjavik, Iceland, reported the Icelandic glacier
Breidamerkurjokull melting so fast it is breaking apart and disintegrating. David Evans, a spokesman for Glasgow University who has spent decades studying the glacier, said he believes the massive block of ice. . . the largest glacier in Europe. . . will collapse into the North Atlantic in the next few years.

Ice at the South Pole is faring no better. At least four massive ice burgs, one of them measuring 30 miles long and over 11 miles wide, have broken away from the Antarctic ice shelf within the past year. They are all adrift in the southern oceans where they will be a menace to passing ships until they melt away.

Elsewhere in the world, an estimated 15,000 glaciers in the Himalayan Alps, considered to be the largest body of ice in the world apart from the two polar caps, also are melting. The melt is causing flooding and severe problems for an estimated 500 million people living on the northern Indian plains.

The great volumes of melting ice are causing the surface of the world's oceans to rise. Tuiloma Neroni Slade,
United Nations ambassador to Samoa, recently reported to the UN conference on global warming in the Hague that low-lying countries like Samoa, the Maldives, the Marshall Islands and Mauritius are threatened with eradication because of the melting ice caps.

Not only are these places facing flooding, Slade said the island countries face the grim threat of additional hurricanes and typhoons because of the dramatic climate changes brought on by greenhouse gasses.

Slade, who appeared as chairman of the 43-country
Alliance of Small Island States, led a call for industrialized countries to implement the greenhouse gas reductions they agreed upon under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. 

That the world leaders stormed out of the all-important meeting without reaching any kind of agreement was a tragic turn of events. That George W. Bush was the winner of the controversial battle for the US presidential seat led to an immediate slacking off on our nation's push for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Bush, a known advocate for big oil companies, says he does not believe there is enough evidence that global warming exists. His administration has all but abandoned the commitments made at Kyoto.

Even if the nations had signed an agreement, the result would probably have been too little and too late to stop the impact of our blatant air pollution on the dying planet. But it would have signaled a willingness by world leaders to cooperate in a fight against a growing threat of plant, animal and human extinction.

Under the agreement reached by world leaders during the Kyoto meetings, governments aimed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than five percent from 1990 levels by 2012. There were 180 nations present to sign the agreement, but since then, only 30 have ratified. To date, little has been done, even in the United States, to actually reduce emissions of the deadly gasses like carbon dioxide. Government efforts to filter emissions from coal burning electric generating plants, and efforts to force auto-makers to build cars with engines that use alternative fuels, have been blocked by litigation that threatens to continue in the courts for years. Now, with Bush in the White House and a world-wide energy crisis in the making, the threat of more electric companies belching more coal soot into the already saturated atmosphere is growing. In the meantime, the level of toxic greenhouse gasses continues to rise all over the world.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to calculate that even a five percent reduction in gas emissions in the next 12 years will do little to control the extreme weather changes, the melting ice packs, extensive flooding and severe droughts occurring throughout the world. Some scientists are now saying emissions must be reduced by at least 60 percent to have any effect. Getting that done would mean drastic actions, including a general shut-down of the world's power generating plants, factories, cars and aircraft until alternative energy sources are developed. Home heating fuels might be all we could have left for the world's exploding population of over 6 billion people.

It appears that most people in the United States are still oblivious to the danger that lurks just around the corner. That so many would endorse Mr. Bush for their president was an indication where their heart is. They are not concerned about the environment, they believe the lies fed to them on their daily television opera, and expect business to continue as usual. What they don't realize is that dramatic and deadly change is looming.

We are all on the Titanic. The ship has already struck the iceberg and is in the midst of sinking. Most of the passengers want to pretend it didn't happen. They are still dancing and shutting their ears to warnings by the ship's crew that the end is near.

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