Climate fears as Arctic ice sheet thins to record low
POLAR ice is melting faster than previously believed and could have reached a "tipping point" beyond which it may not be able to recover, a report warns today.
The warning from environmental pressure group WWF came as 21,000 responded to the draft Scottish Climate Change Bill, the largest number of replies to a public consultation since the Scottish Government asked for public views on the smoking ban.
The report, Arctic Climate Impact Science – An Update Since ACIA, reveals that in September 2007 the amount of Arctic sea ice shrank to 39 per cent below its average for 1979-2000, leaving the lowest amount since satellite monitoring began in 1979.
The report also found the Greenland ice sheet was shrinking at a faster rate than predicted by scientific models. If the entire ice sheet were to melt, sea levels would rise by a devastating 7.3 metres.
The report findings came as the consultation process into the draft Scottish Climate Change Bill finished yesterday.
Dr Dan Barlow, WWF Scotland's acting director, said the report into Arctic melting showed urgent action was needed.
"These findings underline the need for action from governments across the globe to tackle climate change," he said.
"Here in Scotland, we have an opportunity to lead the way with the Scottish Climate Change Bill, perhaps the most important piece of legislation this country will see in a generation."
Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, a coalition of groups including WWF, Friends of the Earth Scotland and RSPB Scotland, is campaigning for the Scottish Government not to stop at its commitment in the Climate Change Bill to cut emissions by 80 per cent.
The group also wants the law to include annual emission reduction targets of at least 3 per cent, and for the legislation to include emissions from aviation and shipping.
More than half of the consultation responses came from abroad, which Mike Robinson, chairman on Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, said showed "the eyes of the international community are on us, looking for us to take a lead on the world stage".
He added: "It is time for the government to respond to that by showing genuine political leadership and making the tough decisions necessary."
Dr Martin Sommerkorn, one of the authors of the WWF report, said: "The magnitude of the physical and ecological changes in the Arctic creates an unprecedented challenge for governments, the corporate sector, community leaders and conservationists to create the conditions under which Arctic natural systems have the best chance to adapt."
He added: "It is now in the hands of the Arctic nations to act upon this evidence for climate impacts. They can make a difference if they act strongly, and fast. It is not too late to throw the wheel around. It is just way too late for business as usual."
Richard Lochhead, Scotland's environment minister, said: "Government, business and all of the people of Scotland must be ready to rise to the challenge of climate change. I was delighted to see such a huge public response to the consultation."
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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