Saturday, April 04, 2009

Antarctic ice shelf goes, global warming to blame

Amid all the gloom of the world economic downturn, the entire discussion about climate change seems to have retreated into the background. It has been suggested in some new reports that maybe with the drop in economic growth, the growth in emissions will come down; and anyhow, with companies and governments running into monetary problems, how will they be able to spend the kind of money required to address climate change ? Well, except for a few skeptics, the theory of an accelerating climate change has been accepted as a reality that is affecting our world.
From time to time, we hear that global warming is actually happening faster than many scientists had predicted. The predictions of melting of polar ice are coming true, and these will spell doom for coastal regions (it is predicted that Greenland itself has enough land ice to cause a raise in global water levels, and Antarctica has significantly higher ice levels). Consider this case of ice levels in Antartica (link to article):

One Antarctic ice shelf has quickly vanished, another is disappearing and glaciers are melting faster than anyone thought due to climate change, U.S. and British government researchers reported on Friday. They said the Wordie Ice Shelf, which had been disintegrating since the 1960s, is gone and the northern part of the Larsen Ice Shelf no longer exists. More than 3,200 square miles (8,300 square km) have broken off from the Larsen shelf since 1986.
"The rapid retreat of glaciers there demonstrates once again the profound effects our planet is already experiencing -- more rapidly than previously known -- as a consequence of climate change," U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a statement. "This continued and often significant glacier retreat is a wakeup call that change is happening ... and we need to be prepared," USGS glaciologist Jane Ferrigno, who led the Antarctica study, said in a statement.

The US was a laggard in acknowledging climate change, and taking steps to counter it. In addition, climate change has so many politics involved in it that it is difficult to get agreements. Poorer nations argue (with some logic, but still hurting the campaign against climate change) that they have contributed significantly lower to current emissions and hence should bear less of the liability, while developed nations claim that developing nations are also potentially huge contributors and should pony up their part of the effort. And in all this, global warming marches on.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 8:29 AM