From Tue Nov 9 13:15:09 2004
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 2004 16:36:10 -0600 (CST)
Subject: [NYTr] News Summary from RHC—Nov 8, 2004
Article: 195845
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;

Rapid Arctic Warming Threatens Millions of Livelihoods

Radio Havana Cuba, 8 November 2004

Oslo, November 8 (RHC)—Global warming is heating the Arctic almost twice as fast as the rest of the planet in a thaw that threatens millions of livelihoods, according to a new eight-nation report. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, funded by the United States, Canada, Russia, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Finland, said the accelerating melt could be a foretaste of wider disruptions from a build-up of human emissions of heat-trapping gases in the earth's atmosphere. Arctic temperatures are rising at almost twice the global average and could leap 4–7 degrees Celsius, or 7–13 Fahrenheit, by 2100, roughly twice the global average projected by United Nations reports.

Possible benefits like more productive fisheries, easier access to oil and gas deposits or trans-Arctic shipping routes would be outweighed by threats to indigenous peoples and the habitats of animals and plants. Many of the four million people in the Arctic are already suffering. Buildings from Russia to Canada have collapsed because of subsidence linked to thawing permafrost that also destabilizes oil pipelines, roads and airports. Indigenous hunters are falling through thinning ice and say that prey from seals to whales is harder to find. Rising levels of ultra-violet radiation may cause cancers. The report says that changes under way in the Arctic present serious challenges to human health and food security, and possibly even to the survival of some cultures.

Foreign ministers from Arctic nations are due to meet in Iceland on November 24 to discuss the report, but diplomats say they are deeply split with Washington, which is least willing to take drastic action. While President George W. Bush pulled the United States, the world's top polluter, out of the 126-nation Kyoto protocol on global warming in 2001, many are saying that the new report sends a clear message that Kyoto is not enough—that much more emissions will have to be reduced in the coming decades.