Will there be one event that finally galvanizes international action on climate change? Something so shocking that it becomes a tipping point for politicians to finally take this issue seriously.

It did not happen after Hurricane Katrina. Nor did it happen after the European floods or heatwaves. Maybe the news, from today’s Independent, that for the first time in human history, ice is on course to disappear entirely from the North Pole this year, could be such an event.

The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice, making it possible to reach the Pole sailing in a boat through open water, would be one of the most dramatic – and worrying – examples of the impact of global warming on the planet. Scientists say the ice at 90 degrees north may well have melted away by the summer.

“From the viewpoint of science, the North Pole is just another point on the globe, but symbolically it is hugely important. There is supposed to be ice at the North Pole, not open water,” said Mark Serreze of the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado.

“The issue is that, for the first time that I am aware of, the NorthPole is covered with extensive first-year ice – ice that formed last autumn and winter. I’d say it’s even-odds whether the North Pole melts out,” said Dr Serreze.

Ironically an ice-free Arctic could be such a tipping point for action on climate, but rather it will be seen as a business opportunity to look for more oil and gas, causing only climate change…


  • Why just focus on the N pole. This is suposed to GLOBAL WARMING. Global means the whole world not just one spot. The S pole has more Ice that ever!!! ( both floating and on land. The total (N S polar ice) is much the same as 25 years ago.

    And the surface temperature of the earth has not warmed for Ten years and indeed cooled last year. It might be that the sun determines that the Earth will get COOLER from now on. We would feel right clowns if we diverted all our energy into trying to prevent, Warming if the real problem we face is cooling. Cooling will resulting in the dimunition of crop yields.

    No ice at the N pole is something that happens from time to time It is not new. Whilst most events seem to have been caused by temperature the present loss of ice might have been exacerbated by soot. Soot does not reflect as much heat as clean snow, thus causes melting of the ice/snow.

    Before getting in a stew about disaster — find out it it is a natural event.

    The world will be OK

  • It’s unclear yet what impact this may have on the planet. Does this mean the climate is changing more rapidly than earlier predictions? Or is the Earth going through normal ebb and flow in its polar regions?

    I’m not a tree-hugger, per se. But I do use the low-energy light bulbs, keep the AC at a respectable temperature, walk or bike when I can and recycle, recycle, recycle. The U.S. Department of Energy has a list of tips for people interested in saving energy.

    One person alone can’t make a difference. But one person times a few million – better yet, a few billion – can have an impact.

    Whatever happened to the good old days when the worst thing we worried about were starving kids in Third World countries if we didn’t eat our peas and carrots?


  • ‘The overall growth in Antarctica’s sea ice over the past two decades masks significant regional declines in the Bellingshausen and Amundsen Seas – the destination for glaciers flowing from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Researchers say these glaciers are losing ice to the sea faster than snow is replenishing the ice. Thus, the large regional drops in sea ice could also signal the presence of “a very big threat to glacier ice” on the continent, says Xiaojun Yuan, a polar scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y. The leading suspect: relatively warm water upwelling near the coast as a result of global warming’s effect on wind patterns in the region.’

    What’s “William’s” ip address? He may be on Exxon’s payroll.

  • In short, William’s proposal is to accept that the world will be OK if we just keep burning oil, making greenhouse gases, and avoiding embarassment. Well, the scientific community concertedly believes that man-made global WARMING is the real problem for climate. A recent study in Nature Journal showed Sun brightness has had negligible impact on global climate. The US National Snow and Ice Data Center has a media advisory out about the consequences of arctic ice loss – it’s bad. Meanwhile, NASA studies show that West Antarctic ice is increasingly threatening to slide off into the ocean because of ice shelf loss. The US National Climatic Data Center reports that 2007 had the 5th warmest global land and ocean surface temperature on record. The UN International Panel on Climate change confirms that the last 10 years are the warmest on record. And food crop yields – don’t get me started.

  • People who gobble up popular science are utterly ignorant about the fact that science is but a story in itself – a story which follows and appeases reason in that what it discovers by experimentation or accident is only what was originally expected to occur, for the most part…Of course most scientists are employed by either government or businesses both large and small…This means that their discoveries, if applicable in a marketplace sense – are indeed marketed as quickly as lawyers and governmental liasons can get it out there…And this means that unintended consequences be damned…Now try to be a whistle blower, as a scientist and a person of conscience knowing the probable nefarious or poisonous backlash or boomerang effects some ‘successful’ product having come out of one of these ‘vested’ labs will unleash on the unsuspecting people of Earth…I guarantee you will be silenced or marginalized and the more you attempt to reveal what the corporation or governmental agency which employed you know is detrimental – down the line sometime – the more likely you, as scientist will need to flee this country…So, how are we who are ever the guinea pigs for all these scientific ‘marvels’ to understand what’s what? We don’t…What tinkering with nature engenders is a crap shoot and most scientists, to give them the benefit of the doubt – have no clue as to what the future ramifications of any new invention foisted upon the Earth and its denizins might be…No use arguing over a future, no matter how bleak if those whose self-interest or naive belief in ‘progress’ of a scientific nature are determined to insist on their denialist attitudes…Obstinancy is not a cousin of fortitude but a sort of derelict old friend who came to stay a few days and instead stayed on a few years – until you gave him the boot…

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