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Scientists shocked as Arctic polar route emerges

European scientists voiced shock as they showed pictures which showed Arctic ice cover had disappeared so much last month that a ship could sail unhindered from Europe’s most northerly outpost to the North Pole itself.

The satellite images were acquired from August 23 to 25 by instruments aboard Envisat and EOS Aqua, two satellites operated by the European Space Agency (ESA).

Perennial sea ice — thick ice that is normally present year-round and is not affected by the Arctic summer — had disappeared over an area bigger than the British Isles, ESA said.

Vast patches of ice-free sea stretched north of Svalbard, an archipelago lying midway between Norway and the North Pole, and extended deep into the Russian Arctic, all the way to the North Pole, the agency said in a press release. ..

The shrinkage of the Arctic icecap is viewed with alarm by scientists, as it appears to perturb important ocean currents elsewhere, notably the Gulf Stream, which gives western Europe its balmy climate.
(20 Sept 2006)

“The Great Warming” filmmakers aim to influence Americans at polls this year

As the midterm elections rapidly approach, the environment is one of many issues being debated among candidates — and Hollywood is having a say as well. Filmmakers Karen Coshof and Michael Taylor are set to release their new global warming film, The Great Warming, just weeks prior to the midterm elections. During today’s OnPoint, Coshof and Taylor discuss how their film may sway Americans as they vote during this year’s midterm elections. They talk about how their film differs from previously released global warming films. Coshof and Taylor also address whether making global warming a mainstream cause will have a positive or negative affect on the issue.
(25 Sept 2006)

Global meltdown feared: UN report

Scott Simpson, Vancouver Sun
A landmark climate change report coming early next year will reveal such a strong link between global warming and fossil fuels that the world will have to end its addiction to oil, says a leading Canadian climate researcher.

Ignoring the findings of the report will lead to widespread environmental catastrophes, Andrew Weaver added.

“We do not need more research to tell us what the first-order problem is, and what needs to be done,” said Weaver, Canada research chairman at the University of Victoria’s school of earth and ocean sciences.

He is one of the authors of a climate change report — the first major study since 2001 — that will be released next year by an international panel of scientists.

He was recently interviewed as part of The Vancouver Sun’s series on energy and the tough choices ahead for Canada in its role as the world’s most energy-dependent nation. Today’s stories look at how the warming climate is changing British Columbia’s forest environment and threatening migrating salmon.
(25 Sept 2006)
This article is today’s lead story on the Vancouver Sun’s website.
Related at the Vancouver Sun

Carbon offsetting is not just hot air

Tom Morton, Guardian
Opening our week of debate on aviation and climate change, Tom Morton of Climate Care argues that carbon offsetting really can help individual travellers reduce their impact on the environment
Everything we do has a carbon impact, either at the point of the activity or somewhere in the supply chain. Reducing this as much as possible is today’s emerging moral imperative. I admire George Monbiot for leaving his car behind 11 years ago and trying not to fly. In my own home, my family uses 40% less gas and electricity than a typical household of our size. We all need to do what we can to reduce our emissions.

Where I do not agree with George is on his statement that offsetting has no value. I believe we should offset the emissions that we cannot cut out. An offset is where you pay for an emissions reduction to be made on your behalf elsewhere. In effect, it is carbon trading for individuals.

George believes that this approach is “destructive” because it allows us to believe that we can carry on polluting as before. In fact the opposite is true. In a recent survey of our users, over 90% of respondents felt that carbon offsetting on its own was not the solution and 70% felt more informed after visiting our website. Offsetting plays a part in improving carbon literacy and helping people to lead a low-carbon lifestyle. What is measured is managed and what is managed is reduced.
(25 Sept 2006)