21 Mar 2008

Arctic Meltdown

An excellent essay by a officer in the Coast Guard lays out the pros and cons of melting Arctic ice:
The environmental impact of the melting Arctic has been dramatic. Polar bears are becoming an endangered species, fish never before found in the Arctic are migrating to its warming waters, and thawing tundra is being replaced with temperate forests. Greenland is experiencing a farming boom, as once-barren soil now yields broccoli, hay, and potatoes. Less ice also means increased access to Arctic fish, timber, and minerals, such as lead, magnesium, nickel, and zinc -- not to mention immense freshwater reserves, which could become increasingly valuable in a warming world. If the Arctic is the barometer by which to measure the earth's health, these symptoms point to a very sick planet indeed.


The situation is especially dangerous because there are currently no overarching political or legal structures that can provide for the orderly development of the region or mediate political disagreements over Arctic resources or sea-lanes. The Arctic has always been frozen; as ice turns to water, it is not clear which rules should apply. The rapid melt is also rekindling numerous interstate rivalries and attracting energy-hungry newcomers, such as China, to the region. The Arctic powers are fast approaching diplomatic gridlock, and that could eventually lead to the sort of armed brinkmanship that plagues other territories, such as the desolate but resource-rich Spratly Islands, where multiple states claim sovereignty but no clear picture of ownership exists.
Bottom Line: We have to start acting -- even reacting -- to global warming. It would be nice if we made some good decisions (e.g., fixing long-running problems that will only get worse with global warming), but doing nothing creates a vacuum and invites trouble, wars, etc.

Global warming is here. Now. Turn down the volume and do something about it! Stop killing innocent people. Stop talking race as if it matters. Stop the War on People and start pretending to lead and act like a government! /rant