Tuesday, March 18, 2008

World's glaciers melting at alarming rate

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I haven't posted on the climate crisis in quite some time, and for that I have no excuse. For the warning signs -- and the reports of bad news -- keep coming. This, for example:

Most of the world's mountain glaciers, many of which feed major rivers and water supplies, are shrinking at an accelerating pace as the climate warms, according to a new report.

The report charts changes through 2006. It was issued Monday by the World Glacier Monitoring Service, which is based at the University of Zurich and supported by the United Nations Environment Program.

"The latest figures are part of what appears to be an accelerating trend with no apparent end in sight," said Wilfried Haeberli, the director of the glacier service.

The study included data from 30 glaciers spread around nine mountainous regions.

Several ice experts not associated with the report said year-to-year changes in the overall mass of ice locked in these moving frozen rivers did not always denote a trend. But they added that the long-term trend was clearly toward a warming world with less mountain ice -- and related water troubles, including both floods and shortages, from the Andes to the Himalayas.

Which means potentially huge demographic upheavals and, worse, potentially mass genocide, with thousands and perhaps millions dying as a result of flooding and drought around the world, notably in poorer regions with high population densities and inadequate resources to handle such changes.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, those who are doing nothing in the face of such overwhelming evidence, or, worse, those who deny that the evidence amounts to anything significant, those who deny the very reality of global warming, those who are actively working against action being taken to deal in a meaningful way with global warming and in a preparatory way for its likely and perhaps inevitable consequences, are enablers of future genocide.

It's that simple. And that much of an urgent challenge.

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