Arctic Thaw Affects Northern Natives
The floating cap of sea ice on the Artic ocean shrank this summer to what it probably its smallest size in at least a century, continuing a trend toward less summer ice and the shift is hard to explain without attributing it in part to human-caused global warming.
OSLO - (Reuters - by Alister Doyle) Indigenous peoples urged tougher action to slow global warning on September 29th after a U.S. report showed the Arctic icecap had shrunk to its smallest size in at least 100 years.
The U.N. Environment Program also said the shrinking ice was yet more alarming evidence of an Arctic thaw that could portent worldwide disruptions including stringer hurricanes, desertification and rising sea levels.
“This is another reminder of the fast melt in the Arctic,” said Alona Yefimenko, acting head of the Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat in Copenhagen, Denmark. “All the indigenous political leaders are trying to bring the message to reduce (greenhouse gas) emissions, not only in the United States but in Europe,” she added.
According to Yefimenko, shrinking ice is threatening traditional lifestyles. Polar bear and seals hunters risk falling through thinning ice. Reindeer herders often find their animals now struggling in mud on what was permafrost.
Arctic leaders especially want the United States, the world’s biggest polluter, to cap emissions of heat-trapping gases from power plants, factories and cars blamed by most scientists for global warming.
Most of the other rich nations have agreed to curbs under the United Nation’s “Kyoto Protocol” but President George W. Bush pulled out of Kyoto in 2001, saying it would be too costly and wrongly exclude developing nations.
Indigenous leaders dismiss Bush’s views that more research is needed, and point out climate change is already happening. Yefimenko, from the Russian Far East, asserts one can no longer take snowmobiles across frozen lakes and be sure of reaching the other side without sliding in the water. Around the Arctic, water flows in rivers are unpredictable and it’s very difficult for reindeer herders to cross those rivers.
The U.S findings backed a report by 250 experts last year that forecast the Arctic ice could disappear in summers by 2010, driving polar bears toward extinction. The impact would be largely negative but could open the Arctic for oil and gas, mining, logging or trans-polar shipping routes between the Pacific and Atlantic.
According to the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment group, Artic ice melts faster than at the remainder of the earth because darker water and ground, once exposed, traps heat more rapidly than ice and snow.
“The U.S. report,” said Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the U.N. Environmental Program, “is yet further evidence that climate change is no longer a prediction for the future but a phenomenon that is already happening. The world might risk catastrophic and abrupt changes unless some measures are quickly acted upon.” Are Katrina and Rita representative of abrupt climatic changes?
“An already very bad trend seems to be getting worse” asserted Steve Sawyer, who heads up climate and energy policies at Greenpeace. ”Apart from the Arctic sea ice, there are worrying signs of a melting of the Greenland icecap. A complete meltdown of the icecap could raise ocean level by 7 meters.”
A meter is equal to 39.37 inches so 7 meters would equal 275.59 inches or almost 23 feet. There goes most of Florida not to mention sea coast cities and communities around the globe.
The time has come to take this problem seriously enough to contact your congressman and senators concerning global warming. It’s a given!
Submitted by Threeze Sharpensteen
It was October and the Indians on a remote reservation asked their new chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he had been raised in an urban society, he was never taught much about the old ways. When he looked up at the sky he was unable to predict what the winter was going to be like.
Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was, indeed, going to be cold and the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared. Being a practical leader, he came up with a solution to his problem several days later. He went to the phone booth, called the national weather service and asked, "Is the coming winter going to be cold?"
"It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold," the meteorologist at the weather station responded.
The chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared. A week later he called the national weather service. "Does it still look like it's going to be a very cold winter?"
"Yes," the man at the national weather station again replied, "It's going to be a very cold winter."
The chief went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find. Two weeks later the chief called the national weather service. "Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?" he asked.
Absolutely," the man replied. "It's looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters ever."
"How can you be so sure?" asked the chief.
The weatherman replied, "The Indians are collecting firewood like crazy."
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