One wonders what the Wicked Witch of the West must have been thinking in
that terrifying moment in the Wizard of Oz after Dorothy doused her with
water, when she realized that she was melting and no amount of evil spells
was going to change that? With the recent deluge of melting glaciers and
warming seas, it seems we residents of planet Earth may be reaching a very
by Lucinda Marshall
December 10, 2005
Our glaciers are melting at an ever quickening pace and there seems to be
little we can do to stop it. According to recent studies, the Helheim
glacier, one of the largest in Greenland, is melting at a rate much faster
than expected. If it continues, Greenland will likely become much smaller
and SEAS COULD RISE AS MUCH AS THREE FEET DURING THIS CENTURY. The
accelerated melting is attributable to Greenland's warming temperatures
which have risen five degrees Fahrenheit in the last ten years.
One of the most critical side effects of glacial melting is the threat posed
to the Gulf Stream which could be shut down by the rising ocean water
levels. The Gulf Stream protects Northern Europe from freezing
temperatures. THE LAST TIME THE GULF STREAM FAILED, BRITAIN WAS COVERED IN
PERMAFROST FOR MORE THAN 1000 YEARS.
A new scientific report by British oceanographers found that the overall
movement of the Gulf Stream seems to have slowed down by 30% in the last
fifty years. The slowdown is caused by increased glacial melting and
warming ocean temperatures. While this has long been expected, scientists
are alarmed to see these changes so soon.
Unfortunately, Greenland is only one of the many areas where glaciers are
melting. In the Himalayas, whole villages are being destroyed by
floodwaters from lakes overflowing with water from melting glaciers.
Glacier lake catastrophes used to happen once a decade, now they occur every
Ultimately the Himalayan glaciers will shrink to the point that their
meltwaters will die out and the rivers that have been fed by the melting
will all but evaporate, causing a severe shortage of drinking and
irrigation water. Hydroelectric plants that supply power to the region will
also be affected. The region is already experiencing a loss of vegetation
that in the long term could lead to starvation for the region's population.
Ice in the Arctic region is melting as well. If current warming trends
continue, WITHIN 100 YEARS THE ARCTIC MAY BE ICE-FREE IN THE SUMMER,
something that has not happened in a million years. The melting ice in the
Arctic bodes badly for polar bears, seals and other animals in the region.
What scientists stress in all of these situations is that the process of
melt-off has reached such a level that it may well be unstoppable; we may be
at a point of needing to adapt and respond to the very harsh realities of
global warming. A chilling thought.
We are already feeling the impact of global warming in a number of ways.
Rising ocean temperatures have caused what scientists term a catastrophic
drop in sea and bird life numbers in the Pacific Northwest. Populations of
seabirds such as cormorants and fish such as salmon and rockfish are at
record lows. Similar events are taking place in the North Sea.
In addition to the impact on our oceans and seas, a recent report found that
CARBON DIOXIDE LEVELS ARE THE HIGHEST THEY HAVE BEEN IN 650,000 YEARS. The
World Health Organization has found that 150,000 DEATHS AND FIVE MILLION
ILLNESSES ARE DIRECTLY ATTRIBUTABLE TO GLOBAL WARMING.
But that's not the bad news. The bad news is that these stories tend to get
buried on page A18 of the newspaper (if they're covered at all), pre-empted
by the latest car accidents, political foibles and other human interest
Climate change should be a Page One headline and at the top of our national
agenda as well. Yet our media refuses to connect the dots and we have
elected leaders who seem to think we are exempt from global reality. No
need to act, just stay the course and keep driving those SUVs up the river
One wonders what part of deep brown smelly stuff our media and pols fail to
grasp? Do we perhaps need to send the lot of them to see "Chicken Little"
so that they can practice saying, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling"?
No, best to leave our heads firmly planted in the sand.
Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the
Founder of the Feminist Peace Network, www.feministpeacenetwork.org. Her
work has been published in numerous publications in the U.S. and abroad
including, Awakened Woman, Alternet, Dissident Voice, Off Our Backs, The
Progressive, Rain and Thunder, Z Magazine , Common Dreams and Information
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