Saturday, September 16, 2006

Glaciers Heading North, Polar Bears (and Illegal Immigrants) Heading South

I've previously mentioned one of the more saddening aspects of global warming, polar bears drowning in the open sea due to a lack of Arctic ice.

Now there's more evidence of global warming's devastating Arctic impact. More polar bears are drowning, and the surviving ones are getting drastically thinner. And climate change is forcing a redrawing of maps:

"We know about three new islands this year that have been uncovered because the glaciers have retreated," said Rune Bergstrom, environmental adviser to the governor of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago about 1,000 km (600 miles) from the North Pole. The largest is about 300 by 100 meters, he told Reuters.

But in one of the biggest journalistic stretches I've ever seen, apparently there's an upside to global warming:

For some, the unseasonal warmth is good news. It was 5 C (41 F) on Friday in Longyearbyen, the main village on Svalbard. "Last year the first snow fell here on September 11 and stayed all winter," said Bergstrom. "A lot of people here have boats to go out hunting in summer and go to cabins. So it's a good year for them -- the ice melted earlier and they can still use the boats," he said.
Your grandkids may never see a polar bear in the wild except on old videotapes ... but hey, we can get more use out of the boat. Great tradeoff.

And while finding that polar bear picture just now, I noticed this story about global warming's impact in Alaska:
Portage Glacier has retreated so far, it no longer can be seen from the multimillion-dollar visitors center built for it in 1986. Tourists have to cross a lake to see the glacial ice that looks sky blue on a cloudy day.
Off the topic, but a must-read ... see what happens when Republican state and federal officials crack down on illegal immigrants in one Georgia town. Here's a hint ... it doesn't revert to 1950s Pleasantville. More like 1890s ghost town.

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