The Independent today reports on the story we blogged on yesterday about disappearing sea-ice reported by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. However it is even worse – another NASA study – this time by the Goddard Space Flight Centre, in Maryland, shows that the perennial ice melting rate, has also accelerated rapidly.

As the Independent says: “If climate change is not checked, the Arctic ice will all be gone by 2070, and people will be able to sail to the North Pole. But if these new rates of melting are maintained, the Arctic ice will all be gone decades before that. The implications are colossal. It will mean extinction in the wild – in the lifetime of children alive today – for one of the world’s most majestic creatures, the polar bear, which needs the ice to hunt seals”.

Yesterday, Jim Hansen, the leading climatologist and director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in New York, issued a now-or-never warning to governments around the world, including his own, telling them they must take radical action to avert a planetary environmental catastrophe. He said it was no longer viable for nations to adopt a “business as usual” stance on fossil-fuel consumption. “I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change … no longer than a decade, at the most,” he said.