First Sign of Climate Change


World Wildlife Fund: Climate Change


World Wildlife Fund

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Dr. Martin Sommerkorn: We have lost Arctic sea ice at a drastic rate over the last couple of years, especially in 2007.  2007 has seen only 40 percent of the summer sea ice compared to the long-term average.

Here we see something like a canary in the coal mine.  The Arctic is our indicator of climate change happening.  And what concerns us most is that the canary is not only singing anymore it is actually almost dead.

Out of the Arctic there can come feedback mechanisms.  These are processes that are triggered by the warming in the Arctic that feedback and accelerate the global warming.  They so to say increase the speed or increase the magnitude at which we will experience climate change.

There are several mechanisms that come out of the Arctic that can provide this positive feedback, one of which we have already triggered.  The Arctic has warmed at twice the global rate over the last fifty years.

Half of that heat is actually produced in the Arctic itself and this is already accelerating the global warming.  We do see less snow cover and less ice cover and the exposed dark lands and darker ocean water has accumulated that heat.

So here we have an effect of change in the Arctic that accelerated the accumulation of heat in the global system and global warming itself.

Dr. Neil Hamilton: The Arctic give us the greatest wake up call for the need for change.  That change needs to occur at all levels.

For the individual, its about making choices of how you live.  For the corporation, its about seizing the opportunities that we know already exist.  For nations, its about leadership.  Its about showing that you can make these changes and that they are politically viable.

WWF has been working in the Arctic for a long time, for more than 15 years.  Now, the Arctic is a key climate change issue, so the work we do is global in fact.  We try to bring the message about whats happening in the Arctic to the world.

We try to explain to people that the Arctic is the first sign of climate change.  The impacts are already profound.  People know about the polar bear, they know about the sea ice, and now we need to help them understand that they can change, they can make a difference, and we can protect the Arctic.