Thursday, February 08, 2007

Beyond Drowning Polar Bears...

Last week's announcement from Paris that global warming is real and that humans are in part to blame should come as a surprise to almost no one. This musn't become a divisive political issue here in the US. I thought An Inconvenient Truth was a great film, but I know that many Republicans can't tolerate Al Gore, and that the notion of him as the poster child for global warming is repugnant to tham. These are rifts we don't need at this time.

We know that polar bears are drowning in the Arctic. Their highly specialized hunting skills are dependent upon a certain standard of sea ice which is rapidly disappearing as the oceans warm up. But we seldom hear about the other victims of global warming. The study, "Extinction risk from climate change," measured the responses to current change and habitat limits of 1103 species in many habitats, and found that climate change is "...likely to be the greatest threat in many if not most regions."

The red fox is heading north and can now be found in Arctic regions where winters have become less severe. That's bad news for the cold-hardy arctic fox, because it can't compete with its larger, more aggressive cousin.

Earth's warmer areas are also affected. Tiny animals called coral polyps build huge reefs in warm ocean water. Reefs come in many different colors. Fish dart around the reefs. Lots of other creatures call coral reefs home. But many coral reefs are in trouble. Because of global warming, ocean water is heating up. If the water near a reef gets too warm, the polyps die. Then the once colorful reef turns white. When a reef dies, fish and other creatures have to find new homes, or they die too.

And it's not just animals and plants but the very shape of the Earth that is at risk. The tiny nation of Tuvalu in the South Pacific is comprised of nine coral atolls. Tuvalu has no industry, burns little petroleum, and creates less carbon pollution than a small town in America. This tiny place nevertheless is on the front line of climate change. At just 15 feet above sea level at its highest point, Tuvalu may soon find itself joining Atlantis.

What can you do? Stop emitting CO2. Save energy. Put pressure on major offenders. Don't politicize.

(Facts and figures in this post lifted from various places around the internets)

(Polar bear photo by Howard Ruby)


Blogger pigatschmo said...

Sadly, Rush Limbaugh is denying that the polar bears are drowning. He's says they're being exploited for political reasons. Then he scoffs at Hans Blix's recent statement that global warming poses more of a threat to the world than terrorism. All of which inspired my most recent letter to the editor (see pigatschmo)

8:59 PM  

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