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The melting of our Hopes
by Mirage
2007-01-09 09:53:13
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One of the remaining six ice shelves in Arctic, which is over 4.000 years old, separated from the land during the summer of 2005. NASA and the scientific community knew it since then, but made their announcement only 16 months later because they wanted to take enough time to study the phenomenon, so that when they will be asked, “Is it happening because of Global Warming?” They could give a definitive positive answer.

Over the last 100 years, 90% of ice shelves have detached from Arctic and Antarctica! Ice shelves are huge areas of ice attached to the land and resting on top of waters. They are thicker than floating icebergs as they are a continuation of the ice resting on top of the land. We could view them as ice islets glued to the land!

The detachment took place as a culmination of a process that is speeding up: the creation of cracks on the ice. In 2005, the Arctic lived through the hottest temperature ever (+2 C above “normal” average). Scientists studying the Arctic for more than 20 years counted a historical record of 50 huge ice fractures in an area of nine km2 only.

Consequently, just one very hot week during the summer of 2005 was enough to weaken the bond between the Ayles ice shelf and the Ellesmere Island in North Canada. This is an ice shelf of 66 km2, an area larger than the Hydra Island near Athens!

Observations made in Antarctica, show that the detachment of ice shelves speeds-up ice sinking from the land, resulting in faster creation of icebergs. Scientists estimate that the adverse effects of Global Warming may soon pass “tipping points” of earth systems. This term is borrowed from system theory, to depict a situation where negative feedbacks in a system are turned around into positive feedbacks, thus speeding up instead of putting “brakes” to a phenomenon.

Tipping points are unknown “thresholds” (CO2 concentration, temperature, ice percentage, etc.) that may trigger a domino effect on the earth system. These are eventually points of no-return!

This is how the Arctic looked like in 1979:



This is how it looked like only after about 25 years (in 2003):


The ice loss is immense, lamentable and unmistakable, as those photos taken by NASA speak for themselves!

On the other hand, civilized citizens of the countries around the Arctic (USA, Canada, Russia), as they have always done, envision huge opportunities for economic development. The area is rich in petrol amongst other things and the opening of the closed passages lead already some US business men to prepare for commercial transports through the Arctic Ocean.

These coastal countries also have one huge issue to resolve in the near future: who is going to rule the new sea that will be created! All of them have territorial claims (sic), none is thinking of leaving the sea to rest in peace … I am sure they must have started already preparing their business plans also for the colonization of Greenland by 2030 … This will be a land of tremendous business opportunities by then!

From National Geographic & other sources


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