15 Mar 2009

New dramatic warning on ice sheets

This week we saw the headline "Melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica force UN scientists to issue dramatic warning" in The Independent - yet it shouldn't be a surprise that sea-levels are rising faster than expected. Scientific reports continually reveal that climate change is more serious than we thought previously.

Photo: Artist Marten Junet on politics - we are the hares on mushrooms - the foxes are the politicians

Perhaps what is astonishing is that all three big political parties in the UK still fail to adopt the right targets, fail to pursue the full package of policies necessary to meet even their inadequate targets, and continue to pursue some policies that go in exactly the wrong direction.

As a Prof John Whitelegg, Green Party spokesperson on sustainable development commenting on the failure of the big three parties said: "This is another observable pattern....And another one is the way the bulk of the UK media manage to avoid spelling out the fact that there is still only one political party that has always had the right targets and the full range of policies needed to meet those targets in an economically viable and socially just manner. The public needs to know this. The public gets most of its information on matters like this most of the time via the mass media. In a democracy, this gives the media a significant responsibility. So instead of just reporting on what must be done, and on the fact that it isn't being done, when are Britain's newspapers going to begin stating this simple fact: if you want the right action taken on the climate crisis, you're going to have to elect more Greens."

So what did The Independent say - well sea levels are now predicted to rise twice as fast as was forecast by the United Nations only two years ago, threatening hundreds of millions of people with catastrophe. Rapidly melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are likely to push up sea levels by a metre or more by 2100, swamping coastal cities and obliterating the living space of 600 million people who live in deltas, low-lying areas and small island states.

This means that low-lying countries with increasing populations, such as Bangladesh, Burma and Egypt, could see large parts of their surface areas vanish. Experts in Bangladesh estimate that a one-metre rise in sea levels would swamp 17 per cent of the country's land mass. Even Britain could face real challenges in lower-lying areas along the east coast, from Lincolnshire to the Thames estuary, with a much greater risk of catastrophic "storm surges" such as the great flood of 1953 that killed 307 people.

At least on Friday we saw Nicholas Stern, the economist commissioned by Gordon Brown to analyse the impact of climate change say politicians have failed to take on board the severe consequences of failing to cut world carbon emissions. See Guardian article here. Lord Stern, also says he underestimated the risks of global warming and the damage that could result from it.

The good news is surely that there's is now no excuse for not doing anything. We have the knowledge base and we have the technologies, and we have this tremendous realisation that the chance for economic and social development in the future is dire if we don't realise that we need to change our energy sources. What more do we need? A Green vote this June will make the others listen and get us more Greens to show there is a way forward.

Apols but the comment facility has been turned off as I am on a blog holiday until the end of the month - more scheduled blog entries are due before then.

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