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Antarctic Warming Continues At A Pace

Posted by in Eco News Blog on Nov 11, 2007 . .

The BBC have reported this week of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s alarm at the pace of climate change after his two-day fact-finding trip to southern Chile.  

Mr Ban, who has vowed to make the fight against global warming a key issue during his tenure at the UN, went to Antarctica on Friday where he heard from scientists how rising temperatures have caused huge ice shelves to collapse into the sea.

He also saw the Grey glacier, the front face of which is covered in cracks, which experts believe are due to the warmer weather conditions.

Mr Ban is gathering information to take to a major UN conference on climate change next month on the Indonesian island of Bali.

According to Gino Casassa, one of Chile's leading experts on climate change and a member of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),  the Antarctic peninsula is one of the three climate change hotspots on earth and the temperature increase there over the last 50 years has been up to 10 times the global average.

He described the changes as "astonishing” and commented on the fact that nobody had predicted that they would happen so fast.

As warmer air migrates south it warms up the ice and melts it, and as it does, the ice just collapses into the ocean.  "We are having to reshape the whole glacialogical theory thanks to what we've been witnessing on this peninsula."

As reported by the BBC, the UN secretary general said the world had to do more to safeguard the future of the planet.  "I'm not here to frighten you, I'm not scaremongering," he said. "But the world is changing, the glaciers are melting ... the change is now progressing much faster than I had thought. It's alarming."

At the King Sejong research station, also on the Antarctic peninsula, scientists have monitored the impact of global warming on a glacier which has retreated over 1km (0.62 miles) in the past half century.

"Very, very serious global warming is taking place," said the head of the base, Sang Hoon Lee.

For years, many scientists cast doubt on the existence of global warming but these days the sceptics are dwindling in number.  "Even when I was studying for my PhD I didn't think there was enough evidence," Mr Casassa said. "It was less than 10 years ago that I was converted."

When Mr Ban travels to Bali next month he will bring to the fore negotiations aimed at agreeing a follow-up to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse emissions.


Ecofreak Comment 

“Astonishing” and “alarming” say it all really. I am no expert on climate change and I try to take a pragmatic view of the situation in the knowledge that most of us will not make difficult changes to our behaviour until the alternative hits us directly, either in the pocket or in our immediate environment. Indeed, many of the products we sell at Ecofreak are aimed at making changing behaviour easier or simply making good use of eco-products that happen to be kind to the environment as well.

However, reports like this I find deeply worrying. I have young children, and I would like them to live in a world which has not been wrecked by our actions and the actions of our predecessors. I really do think it is time we all (myself included) started to wake up to the consequences of our own excesses. 

This issue will continue to grow and grow in importance and unfortunately the severity of the consequences of climate change will grow also. How many international disasters, such as widespread flooding, will it take before we, the average people on the street, decide to devote more of our efforts to reducing our own impact on the environment?

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