Arctic Warming Highlights Need For Action on Climate Change

A new scientific report by the Arctic Council shows that manmade global warming is already having disastrous impacts on people and wildlife in the Arctic. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, written by 300 scientists from the U.S. and other countries, warns that Arctic warming will likely lead to species extinctions and the destruction of Inuit and other traditional societies unless manmade greenhouse gas pollution, mostly from the burning of fossil fuels, is reduced immediately.

"The report underscores the need for swift action to cut the greenhouse gas pollution harming the Arctic, public health and the economy world-wide," said Environmental Defense climate scientist Dr. James Wang.

Impacts to be detailed in the report include:

  • A temperature increase in the Arctic over the past several decades that is twice as large as the global average.
  • Rapid melting of glaciers, which has contributed to sea level rise around the world.
  • Melting of permafrost, which damages buildings and roads that are built on top of it.
  • Shrinking of sea ice, which makes it difficult for native communities and polar bears to hunt.

Most industrialized nations have already adopted mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Following President Vladimir Putin's signature yesterday of Russia's ratification, the treaty will enter into force early next year. The refusal of the U.S. to join the fight continues to isolate America from other nations that are beginning to take action.

"This is a wake-up call from the planet," said Environmental Defense climate change policy specialist Melissa Carey. "Senators McCain's and Lieberman's Climate Stewardship Act takes on global warming in an effective and sensible way. This market-based approach will foster the innovation needed to cut greenhouse gas pollution. It's time to end U.S. environmental isolationism and get to work against the major environmental threat of the 21 century."

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