Ice reports and wider discussion on the Artic


In this weeks Economist there are a host of articles that I imagine would be of great interest to those conerned with the environment and ''our'' collective attempts to do somehing to protect.

The Arctic’s glaciers, including those of Greenland’s vast ice cap, are retreating. The land is thawing: the area covered by snow in June is roughly a fifth less than in the 1960s. The permafrost is shrinking. Alien plants, birds, fish and animals are creeping north: Atlantic mackerel, haddock and cod are coming up in Arctic nets. Some Arctic species will probably die out.

Perhaps not since the 19th-century clearance of America’s forests has the world seen such a spectacular environmental change. It is a stunning illustration of global warming, the cause of the melt. It also contains grave warnings of its dangers. The world would be mad to ignore them.

The melting north
The science
Uncovering an ocean
Pity the copepod
Too much to fight over
One man and his dogs
Hidden treasure
Short and sharp
Climate change
Cold comfort

Sooner or later such arithmetic is going to force governments to get serious about dealing with climate change. It is already clear what is required: policies to put an appropriate price on carbon emissions, through a tax or market-based system, that is sufficient to persuade polluters to develop and adopt cleaner technologies. These are already available, and so is the ingenuity needed to force down their costs and bring them to market. Indeed, it is evident in the Arctic: the technological feats that oil companies display there are inspiring.

With prompt action, the worst outcomes of a warmer Arctic can still be avoided. The shrinking ice cap may find a new equilibrium. Most of the permafrost may remain frozen. But the Arctic will nonetheless be radically changed, to the detriment of a unique polar biome. This much is already inevitable.