Saturday, October 17, 2009

Melting Arctic a U.S. concern

Why, climate change might affect military bases! That means it’s serious – as if we can’t find better reasons to avoid catastrophe.

Stephanie Travers in the Las Vegas Sun: In glum terms, an expert on Arctic politics told an audience at UNLV this week that if nothing is done to combat climate change, the United States could be thrown into an epic battle for Arctic supremacy. With the Arctic — the ice mass at the top of the world that separates Russia from Alaska, Greenland and Canada — melting at a rapid pace, its usually frozen waterways are opening up and sea levels are rising. This could expose the U.S. to a variety of problems, from oil wars to fights over territory to the inundation of dozens of major American coastal cities, said Charles Ebinger, director of the Brookings Institution’s Energy Security Initiative.

The melting of the Arctic ice cap could mean the submersion of entire countries and the relocation of tens of millions of people, including residents of American islands and territories who are vulnerable to the rising sea. Because of Nevada’s untapped renewable energy potential, the state could play a role in the solution, Ebinger said before the talk. If adequate transmission infrastructure can be built, secure, emission-free electricity could replace the polluting power sources of millions of Americans, reducing the output of greenhouse gases and slowing climate change.

Do nothing and the consequences for everyone could be dire, he told an audience of students and academics Wednesday evening. The ice pack has shrunk nearly 80 percent since the 1980s, causing ocean temperatures to change. That could destroy the Gulf Stream and the stability of key allies such as Great Britain, which depend on it for its temperate climate.

At the same time, rising seas would flood islands from Hawaii to the Azores, threatening people, wildlife and even strategic military bases….

A few frames from Atomic War #4 from 1963. Wikimedia Commons says it's in the public domain, but Atomicsteve also says he's publishing it under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

No comments: