Thursday, December 30, 2004

Something else to warm you up - really

"God bless the grass," sang Pete Seeger. But truth be told, sometimes grass is something you don't want to see. Why? Because, the Australian told us on December 27, it has
become established in Antarctica, showing the continent is warming to temperatures unseen for 10,000 years.

Scientists have reported that broad areas of grass are now forming turf where there were once ice-sheets and glaciers.

Tufts have previously grown on patches of Antarctica in summer, but the scientists have now observed larger areas surviving winter and spreading in the summer months.

Some fear the change portends a much wider melting of the ice-cap that formed at least 20 million years ago.

"Grass has taken a grip. There are very rapid changes going on in the Antarctic's climate, allowing grass to colonise areas that would once have been far too cold," said Pete Convey, an ecologist conducting research with the British Antarctic Survey. ...

The latest research was carried out on the Antarctic peninsula, which juts northwards towards Cape Horn, and the islands around it. ...

Measurements made over the past three decades show the peninsula and islands are among the fastest-warming places on earth, with winter temperatures already 5C higher than in 1974.
Let's get this straight, folks: A rise in average temperature of 5o Celsius (9o Fahrenheit) in 30 years is not "natural variation" or caused by variation in sunspots or any of the "see no evil" excuses brandished by the nanny-nanny naysayers denying global warming. It's much too dramatic, much too fast. This is the result of an external forcing - that is, something added to the natural processes of climate.

Shall I be more direct? It's our - that is, people's - fault. We're doing it to ourselves. And the more industrialized we are, the more fossil fuel we burn, the more CO2 and other greenhouse gases we spew into the atmosphere, the more we look for economic growth as opposed to economic sustainability, the more we are to blame.

Footnote: The December issue of Extra!, the publication of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), has an excellent article using media coverage of global warming to show how a fetishistic devotion to "he said/she said" reporting can be "a form of informational bias" by allowing a small minority to create an image of controversy where none actually exists.

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