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Potent greenhouse-gas methane has been rising

Peter N. Spotts, Christian Science Monitor
Methane levels in the atmosphere rose in 2007 after 10 years. Scientists are trying to find out why.

After nearly a decade of holding relatively steady, levels of methane in the atmosphere appear to be rising, and scientists are trying to find out why.

The uptick is tiny, especially compared with the growth in carbon-dioxide emissions from industrial activity and land-use changes. But the shift has still raised eyebrows.

Pound for pound, methane is 25 times more effective as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. So powerful is its effect that some experts have proposed that the world could meet climate targets more readily if it made big strides in reducing methane and other greenhouse gases that are less abundant but more potent.

If the increase seen last year continues unabated, researchers worry that over the long term, it could help bring on significant additional warming.
(28 April 2008)

Anglican Leader Brings Climate to the Pulpit
(text and audio)
Christopher Joyce, NPR
One thing climate experts often say is that people need to change their behavior to slow climate change. And they also acknowledge that they still have a lot of convincing to do before that will happen.

One man, Martin Palmer, argues that religion is a better messenger than science and politics – that it can do things the others cannot.

Palmer is the founder of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation, a small group working out of Bath, England. Its credo is that religions from Buddhism to Zoroastrianism are the perfect groups to become climate activists.

For one thing, these religions are in for the long haul. So they can tackle long-lasting problems like climate change. They also know how to talk to people – and not with scientific data.

“There are tens of thousands of scientists who do that perfectly well,” Palmer says. “What we want to bring is the passion, the commitment … and the interpretation of meaning that religion brings to that data.”
(29 April 2008)

We should warm to the idea of melting poles

Barry S. Zellen, Globe and Mail
… The long-frozen, seemingly impenetrable polar sea is starting to thaw, unexpectedly rapidly, opening up larger and larger portions of the Arctic Ocean to seasonally ice-free conditions for longer and longer periods.

So quickly is the ice melting that the prospect of a navigable, ice-free Arctic Ocean is no longer the stuff of fanciful imagination, and has been the topic of two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Ice Centre-sponsored conferences (Naval Operations in an Ice Free Arctic symposium, April, 2001; Impact of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations symposium, July, 2007).

Within our lifetimes, and possibly in less than a single generation, we may witness the opening up of Arctic sea lanes that are fully navigable year-round: The strategic, economic and diplomatic consequences will be enormous.

… But in the Arctic region itself, the melting ice will open up an entire ocean that has been ice covered for millenniums, bringing an end to what we can think of as the final chapter of the last Ice Age. As the polar ice melts, we’ll witness the gradual emergence of a brand new world, unlocking what just a few years ago would have been unimaginable economic opportunities, as the long-closed Arctic waterways open up to rising volumes of commercial shipping and naval traffic, and as the thinning (and later disappearing) ice makes it more cost effective, and technologically viable, to explore the region’s undersea natural resource potential, and to fully develop those new discoveries.

Barry Zellen is the author of Breaking the Ice: From Land Claims to Tribal Sovereignty in the Arctic , which examines the evolution of land claims and self-government in the Western Arctic region. He directs the Arctic Security research project at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Contemporary Conflict
(28 April 2008)
So, the countries who caused global warming (N. Europe, N. America) will profit from the opening of the Arctic. Meanwhile the tropics and sub-tropics, who were the least to blame for climate change, will suffer the most through droughts and sea level rise. -BA