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Re: "Be sorried, be very worried" Time magazine's headline

Mar 26, 2006 11:48 AM
by Vincent


--- In, "TimeStar" <timestar@...> wrote:
> The planet may be sitting pretty in 25,000 years, as Carlos says, 
but the
> next 100 years will be a hell of a ride.   Best regards, Krsanna
> <> 
> Be worried, be very worried
> The climate is crashing, and global warming is to blame
>  ( <> ) -- No one can say 
> what it looks like when a planet takes ill, but it probably looks 
a lot like
> Earth.
> Never mind what you've heard about global warming as a slow-motion 
> that would take decades to play out. Suddenly and unexpectedly, 
the crisis
> is upon us. 
> From heat waves to storms to floods to fires to massive glacial 
melts, the
> global climate seems to be crashing around us.
> The problem -- as scientists suspected but few others appreciated -
- is that
> global climate systems are booby-trapped with tipping points and 
> loops, thresholds past which the slow creep of environmental decay 
gives way
> to sudden and self-perpetuating collapse. That's just what's 
happening now.
> It's at the north and south poles -- where ice cover is crumbling 
to slush
> -- that the crisis is being felt the most acutely. 
> Late last year, for example, researchers analyzed data from 
Canadian and
> European satellites and found that the Greenland ice sheet is not 
> melting, but doing so faster and faster, with 53 cubic miles 
draining away
> into the sea last year alone, compared to 23 cubic miles in 1996.
> One of the reasons the loss of the planet's ice cover is 
accelerating is
> that as the poles' bright white surface disappears it changes the
> relationship of the Earth and the sun. Polar ice is so reflective 
that 90
> percent of the sunlight that strikes it simply bounces back into 
> taking its energy with it. Ocean water does just the opposite, 
absorbing 90
> percent of the light and heat it receives, meaning that each mile 
of ice
> that melts vanishes faster than the mile that preceded it.
> This is what scientists call a feedback loop, and a similar one is 
> melting the frozen land called permafrost, much of which has been 
frozen --
> since the end of last ice age in fact, or at least 8,000 years ago.
> Sealed inside that cryonic time capsule are layers of decaying 
> matter, thick with carbon, which itself can transform into CO2. In 
> like the southern boundary of Alaska the soil is now melting and 
> As fast as global warming is changing the oceans and ice caps, 
it's having
> an even more immediate effect on land. Droughts are increasingly 
common as
> higher temperatures also bake moisture out of soil faster, causing 
> regions that live at the margins to tip into full-blown crisis. 
> Wildfires in such sensitive regions as Indonesia, the western U.S. 
and even
> inland Alaska have been occurring with increased frequency as 
> grow more parched. Those forests that don't succumb to fire can 
simply die
> from thirst.
> With habitats crashing, the animals that call them home are 
succumbing too.
> In Alaska, salmon populations are faltering as melting permafrost 
pours mud
> into rivers, burying the gravel the fish need for spawning. Small 
> such as bushy tailed rats, chipmunks and pinion mice are being 
> upslope by rising temperatures, until they at last have no place 
to run. 
> And with sea ice vanishing, polar bears are starting to turn up 
> "There will be no polar ice by 2060," says Larry Schweiger, 
president of the
> National Wildlife Federation. "Somewhere along that path, the 
polar bear
> drops out."
> So much environmental collapse has at last awakened much of the 
> particularly the 141 nations that have ratified the Kyoto treaty 
to reduce
> emissions. The Bush administration, however, has shown no 
willingness to
> address the warming crisis in a serious way and Congress has not 
been much
> more encouraging.
> Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman have twice been unable to get 
even mild
> measures to limit carbon emissions through a recalcitrant Senate. 
> A 10-member House delegation did recently travel to Antarctica, 
> and New Zealand to meet with scientists studying climate 
change. "Of the 10
> of us, only three were believers to begin with," says Rep. Sherman 
> of New York. "Every one of the others said this opened their eyes."
> But lawmakers who still applaud themselves for recognizing global 
> are hardly the same as lawmakers with the courage to reverse it, 
> increasingly, state and local governments are stepping forward. 
> The mayors of more than 200 cities have signed the U.S. Mayors 
> Protection Agreement, pledging, among other things, that they will 
meet the
> Kyoto goal of reducing greenhouse emissions in their own cities to 
> levels by 2012. Nine northeastern states have established the 
> Greenhouse Gas Initiative for the purpose of developing a program 
to cap
> greenhouse gasses.
> Click here
> <,9171,1176081,00.html?
> for the entire cover story on Time.
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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