Climate Crisis, From the Arctic to the Amazon

According to new predictions, the Arctic Ocean could be free of sea ice during the summer by the year 2013. The gloomy forecast was made during a presentation by Warwick Vincent, director of the Centre for Northern Studies at Laval University in Québec.

Climate change has led to a dramatic warming of the Arctic Ocean, and the rapid melting of sea ice. Last year, the Arctic sea ice cover reached its minimum extent during the month of September, with an average area of 4.67 million square kilometers. It was the second-lowest area recorded, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The extent of sea ice was 34% below the average minimum for the years 1979 to 2000. With the loss of Arctic sea ice, climate change accelerates. Open water absorbs a lot more sunlight compared to ice, leading to increased temperatures.

Meanwhile, researchers in the southern hemisphere have found that droughts can lead to huge releases of greenhouse gases from rainforests. A severe drought in 2005 killed trees in the Amazon Basin, leading to emissions that exceeded the annual total for Europe and Japan combined. The comprehensive study was carried out by RAINFOR, a research team that has monitored the Amazon for the past twenty-five years.

The RAINFOR study has unsettling implications. Tropical rainforests usually absorb lots of carbon dioxide. If the rainforests are harmed by droughts caused by climate change, dying trees may release billions of tonnes of greenhouse gases. With forests dumping carbon instead of absorbing it, global warming accelerates.

Once again, we see why it is important for us to take action now. Please take a moment to write to Members of Parliament, to ask them to support Bill C-311 (the Climate Change Accountability Act). Voice your concerns by signing the KYOTOplus online petition. Let’s send a strong message to the federal government: we need to take action now, to avoid dangerous climate change.

            

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