Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The End of Arctic Ice?

The Globe and Mail covers a new study predicting the end of summer ice at the north pole by 2040.
Arctic sea ice is retreating at such a rapid rate that north pole summers could be ice-free by 2040.

New research published in Tuesday's edition of Geophysical Research Letters indicates that the next few decades could produce dramatic changes that will drastically change the ecology of the far north.


Of course no one knows for sure if this is going to happen. Skeptics will readily point out that previous predictions on climate change have been inaccurate.

On the other hand, the skeptics began by saying that global warming was not really happening. Then they agreed that it was happening, but said it wasn't happening as fast as what the proponents of policy change were alleging. Now they agree that it is happening, and they also agree that it is happening as fast, if not faster, than what the proponents previously said, but, they now say, it's not really attributable to human activity. It's all part of a natural warming process that would not be slowed even if we ceased burning all forms of fossil fuel.

For my own part, I don't know if the proponents are right, I don't know if the skeptics are right, and frankly I don't really care. Let's pretend, for example, that you are driving your car down the road at 80 miles an hour. Up ahead you see two reflective dots. Some proponents in your back seat argue that the dots are a moose standing in the road. Some skeptics in the back seat theorize that it couldn't possibly be a moose, and that the most likely explanation is that it's a road sign. At this point you can (a) slow down until you figure out what the dots are; or (b) barrel on. Let's add this too: if you slow down, you will not get to where you are going quite as quickly; and if it's a moose and you don't slow down, you will crash your car and die. Let me think about that for all of .8 seconds: It's time to slow down, people.

Coincidentally, or perhaps not, NASA this week announced plans for a permanent base on the Moon. Interesting thing, that. By 2060, I am guessing, it won't matter if you are a kid growing up on the Moon or on Earth, you will still have to put on a spacesuit to go outside to play.

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