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The Sciences

North pole ice to disappear this year?

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitJune 28, 2008 8:09 AM


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I don't know what to make of this report. We've had so much shrieking about global warming that I am actually a bit gun shy when someone predicts dire consequences. But The Independent is claiming that the northern ice cap on the Earth -- this planet, our planet -- is receding so quickly right now due to excess warmth that it might completely disappear by this September. That's this year, not 2050. This has never been seen before. Ever. In human history.

"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.

I don't know Serreze, but the NSIDC is a reputable research lab. Serreze seems reputable, too. Mind you, this may not happen. But what concerns me very greatly is that scientists are even contemplating that it might. This, on the heels of the northwest passage being open last year for the first time ever. Maybe this is just some cycle we're going through. Maybe it'll reverse itself. Maybe. But we've been reading these signs for a long time. If the north pole actually becomes ice-free for the first time in thousands of years, now, maybe then people like Senator Inhofe can admit they're wrong, and get off their butts and do something?

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