So what's been happening in the Arctic over the past decade?
The Arctic climate has been warmer over the past decade than during any 10-year period in 2,000 years, according to a study by an international research team that adds powerful new evidence that human-generated greenhouse gases have speeded the pace of the planet's recent warming.
The report from an international team of climate scientists concludes that climate change in the Arctic has accelerated since the Industrial Revolution, abruptly reversing a long-term worldwide cooling trend. [...]
In another sign of the drastic effects of global warming on the world's far northern regions, newly released photos of 40 Alaskan glaciers taken by a U.S. Geological Survey scientist show the glaciers are continuing to shrink more rapidly than ever.
Anything else going on up there?
"On a calm day, you can see 20 or more 'seeps' out across this lake," said Canadian researcher Rob Bowen, sidling his small rubber boat up beside one of them. A tossed match would have set it ablaze.
"It's essentially pure methane."
Pure methane, gas bubbling up from underwater vents, escaping into northern skies, adds to the global-warming gases accumulating in the atmosphere. And pure methane escaping in the massive amounts known to be locked in the Arctic permafrost and seabed would spell a climate catastrophe.
Man, none of that sounds good. So I'm sure people are getting more and more concerned, aren't they?
A significant proportion of the population have become more sceptical about climate change and the link with man-made emissions of greenhouse gases despite the fact that the scientific evidence has become stronger.
A survey of public opinion has found that 29 per cent of people believe claims that human activities are changing the climate are exaggerated compared with 15 per cent of respondents to a similar survey carried out in 2003.
Hmm. But at least the U.S. is taking serious action and not just trying to palm off responsibility on developing nations, since we've contributed three times more greenhouse gas to the atmosphere than any other country on the planet—right?
"Let me say bluntly that the tenor of negotiations in the formal U.N. track has been difficult," Mr. Stern told the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming. "Developing countries tend to see a problem not of their own making that they are being asked to fix in ways which, they fear, could stifle their ability to lift their standards of living."
Well, ok, but even if we don't make the emissions cuts that are mandatory right now to avert catastrophic climate change, can't we save ourselves with some kind of science miracle down the road? After all, it worked great for the ozone hole:
This is not the funny kind of irony: Scientists say the chemicals that helped solve the last global environmental crisis -- the hole in the ozone layer -- are making the current one worse.
The chemicals, called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), were introduced widely in the 1990s to replace ozone-depleting gases used in air conditioners, refrigerators and insulating foam.
They worked: The earth's protective shield seems to be recovering.
But researchers say what's good for ozone is bad for climate change. In the atmosphere, these replacement chemicals act like "super" greenhouse gases, with a heat-trapping power that can be 4,470 times that of carbon dioxide.
Now, scientists say, the world must find replacements for the replacements -- or these super-emissions could cancel out other efforts to stop global warming.
So it looks like the best we can hope for is that the zany geoengineering projects we eventually undertake in desperation to try to undo the disaster we've created—like shooting sulfur particles into the upper atmosphere—will at least have amusing side effects. Like, say, giant swarms of locusts in Washington, D.C.
In a nutshell: we're doomed.
Have a great weekend!