Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Some issues rise quickly to alarming proportions. They might have been simmering for a long time, but suddenly they are pressing as if ignited by hidden force. Thinning of arctic sea ice is one such issue that has swiftly changed global opinion and made warming an issue that cannot be escaped. No matter what the White House says about causes of global warming, we are now aware that the sea is rising, that glaciers are retreating in both Greenland and Antarctica, that deep water circulation of the central Atlantic is slowing and that the world is changing in ways that affect how we live. In the US we are experiencing warm winters and violent weather patterns, all forecast by climatologists studying global warming. We are seeing severe droughts that were also forecast. But, no matter how good our weather-prediction systems are, we cannot control the change. We can only watch it with a sense of fear about the outcomes.

That is why environmental issues are now a part of nearly every organization and why corporations like General Electric, are moving quickly to capitalize on the opportunities provided by the global shift. GE is spinning public relations gold for itself as it gets into windmills and more efficient turbines and "green" locomotives. Other companies are not far behind.

But I wonder if we would be as worried were it not for the dramatic thinning of the arctic sea ice. I suspect not because environmental issues are now more than 40 years old, and concern was not as generally expressed as it now.


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