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Arctic Catastrophe
By Denise Magditch

It almost seems to be of biblical proportions: floods, famine, pestilence, wars and riots. Extreme weather conditions giving way to a horror never before seen. Areas in the north and south buried under the depths of the sea, and the rest of the world consumed in war and death. Unfortunately, it may be a reality, as rapid global climate change is forcing the ice caps on either pole to melt at an alarming rate. This threat, many experts say, eclipses that of terrorism.

A report written for the Pentagon was released to President Bush and his administration this past February, warning of catastrophic events due to an acceleration of global warming. The report warns of disastrous events, stating that by 2007, violent storms and floods will render low-lying coastal areas uninhabitable across the globe, while by 2020, average European temperatures will drop by 6 degrees Fahrenheit. It also mentions that access to water will become a major area of strife, and that deaths from war and famine will increase dramatically until sustainable population levels are met.1 The reason, scientists say, is because of the rapidly melting polar ice caps. Measurements of the Greenland ice sheet taken recently show that an area of 685,000 square kilometers has melted, an area double that in 1992. Such an enormous amount of melting only encourages more ice to thaw, as the water pushes down on the glacier and runs through cracks that form. Cracks in the glacier are especially deadly, as they allow for more solar absorption.2

Scientists can explain how air pollution has increased the melting of the ice caps and contributed to global climate change. They have done this by using what is known as the Gaia hypothesis. The hypothesis states that life itself regulates the chemistry of the atmosphere, the oceans and the bedrock for life's collective benefit and that any disturbance of the process could have dramatic consequences.3 The consequences of driving a car or a power plant burning coal have essentially accelerated the progression of nature.

We can only hope that the Bush Administration is heeding the report sponsored by the Pentagon and taking steps to at least slow and possibly reverse the decay of our planet. Unfortunately, they feel that global warming is a myth. Our government has effectively weakened its own rules on requiring better emission controls and abstained from regulating mercury emissions.4 The coal industry is now rushing for permits to use more coal-burning plants, before a more environmentally-friendly administration takes control. What is even worse is that our country has energy efficient and renewable energy technology, and can find ways to not use any, especially not more, coal-burning plants. As Rob Gueterbock of Greenpeace states, "You've got a President who says global warming is a hoax, and across the Potomac River you've got a Pentagon preparing for climate wars. It's pretty scary when Bush starts to ignore his own government on this issue."5

1, Pentagon Study Describes Rapid, Catastrophic Climate Change, 24 February 2004
2 Molly Bentley, BBC News, Record Ice Loss in Arctic, 9 December 2002
3 Tim Radford, The Guardian, Climate Disaster 'Upon Us', 1 June 2004
4, Bush Opens Door to More Coal Burning, 2 April 2004
5 Mark Townsend and Paul Harris, The Observer, Now the Pentagon Tells Bush: Climate Change Will Destroy Us, 27 February 2004

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